Reality’s a fantasy

Just finished Zola’s ‘L’Assomoir’ (‘The Drinking Den’), and once again been pondering the fantasy / reality gap. Zola saw himself as a Realist; closely allied with the Impressionists, he sought to create a prose equivalent to their vivid, journalistic depictions of everyday Parisian life. Zola and the Impressionists broke cultural and aesthetic taboos, and both […]

Gnosis, meatware, cinema and the Cathars

Well, I’m off to a conference today and tomorrow about branding nations – should be fascinating, might well post about it – so an early morning post, written on Sunday. It’s today for me, yesterday for you, so one or other of us is travelling in time. Whoah… Anyone, I was pottering round the flat […]

Your 20th century boy

In the context of yesterday’s comments about the self-justifying self, I’ve been thinking about Michael Moorcock’s ‘Between the Wars’ series of books (‘Byzantium Endures’, ‘The Laughter of Carthage’, ‘Jerusalem Commands’, ‘The Vengeance of Rome’), dealing with the adventures of Maxim Pyat in the 20th Century. Maxim’s a fascinating character. Both naïve adventurer and lethal manipulator, […]

Space is Deep

A.R. Yngve’s comment below set me thinking about the deepness of space, and a writer who’s dealt with its profoundly dislocating emptiness more successfully than most – A. E. Van Vogt. Van Vogt’s ‘Voyage of the Space Beagle’ (or ‘Space Bagel’, as it’s known round these parts) couldn’t really exist without that awareness. Its protagonist, […]

Flesh eggs, scarlet tracings

Bringing Iain Sinclair’s book of poems, ‘Buried at Sea’, into work this morning made me think about the impact his selected poems ‘Flesh Eggs and Scalp Metal’, and his novel ‘White Chappell Scarlet Tracings’, made on me when I first read them. I was at a very conservative boarding school in Dorset; every so often […]

A heart of darkness

Felt a bit bummed out yesterday, so that inevitably made me think of William Hope Hodgson’s ‘The Night Land’, the book that nearly gave me a nervous breakdown over New Year 1999 / 2000. Normally, I love William Hope Hodgson. His berserk imagery, unhinged sense of space and time, and deep nautical experience (at times […]

The Wall game

Monday again, and time to think about Alan Wall, as he has a ‘how to’ book on writing out. This is very exciting, because he’s a magnificent writer. First book of his I read was ‘China’, which was hugely enjoyable (in part because it’s very well written, in part because it’s mostly set around five […]

Why Alan Moore is god #2,734

Quite apart from the fact that he’s actually met John Constantine twice (‘I’ll tell you the ultimate secret of magic. Any cunt could do it.’), and worships Paris Hilton headed puppet snake deity Glycon, Alan Moore is god because of the original comic version of ‘V for Vendetta’. It’s haunted me ever since I was […]

Lovecraft’s tentacles

In an introduction to a Lovecraft collection, China Mieville points out that H. P. Lovecraft introduced tentacles – and indeed the squamous in general – into horror fiction. That squamousness signifies a wider fascination with negotiable identities. One of the key tropes of Lovecraftian horror is that your place in the cosmos – indeed, the […]

Matrices old and new

I’ve been pondering The Matrix movies lately. Key pieces of plot and character information were offered in animes, computer games, and so on. Back in the day, I thought this was lazy and exploitative. Now, I think I was wrong. Narrative is getting old school. For thousands of years, the great public stories were built […]