Joe Linker comes bearing gifts


Two days ago it gave me great pleasure to introduce you to Jose Diez Faixal’s extraordinary paper in ‘The Lyre not the Flute’. One thing I have reason to understand is the gnawing compulsion that follows a gift of vision, gnawing in his case for forty years. (In mine for a little longer) Finding a language in which to convey something that arches across creation, snakes deeply beneath superficial appearances, surfaces only for long enough to catch a glimpse before submerging, and runs contrary to all received opinion makes for a prolonged loneliness.

The labours of Sisyphus must roll vision against the collective gravity of opposition. ‘Who are you anyway?’ echoes in the mind, and enlarges because vision is a gift not unlike  that described by Virgil Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. ( I fear the Greeks even when they come bearing gifts). 

The Trojan Horse is an apt reference with the capacity to destroy the citadel of sanity.

The compulsion of an idea carries with it a sense of being unworthy for it and inadequate to find a language to do it honour. What makes it worse is the prevailing climate of hostility to anything that challenges orthodoxy, and the assumption that as ‘beneficiary’ of the idea the unfortunate visionary sets himself ‘above’ those he hopes to reach. Who would seek his place when the mockery, disparagement, cynicism, and open hatred is almost constant? Yet he is a Gurkha on Everest, burdened with an obligation to keep trying, if only to shift the load of responsibility, and set it down.

Jose Faixal admitted that he was not looking for what happened. ‘I was focused on vivential and theoretical research of non-dual Reality. I had no intention of proposing any evolutionary hypothesis. But intuition “fell from the sky” and I felt compelled to check its validity. I’ve been 35 years trying to make the testing with the scientific data that I found’.

It gave me such pleasure to walk with him a little way, and take his arm.

Joe Pizza Face by Emily

Can anyone understand what receiving a similar arm unexpectedly yesterday might have meant to me? Joe Linker’s response to Involution came late at night, unheralded, and like a fresh wind off the sea. Not just because he wrote what he did ‘this is a book to live with’ but because I sensed that he understood what saying it might mean to me. Such gifts come from the same place as the original ideas do.

Just when I had resolved to turn from it, and walk away, it gave a wave through him. ‘I might be Okay’

Here is Joe’s gift to me, and it might stretch to being shared. Today gratitude is impossible to express!

Involving “Involution,” a book by Philippa Rees

Review of Go Set a Watchman- Harper Lee

Review of Go Set a Watchman- Harper Lee.

Hot words before the tears dry and the work is desiccated by analysis.

Review of Wood,Talc and Mr J by Chris Rose.

Wood,Talc, and MrJ by Chris Rose.

‘You weren’t supposed to be clever where I came from…’

Readers who are used to Walkers Crisps in portioned packets will find opening this unfamiliar shrink wrapped alternative challenging. I certainly did. The first taste is of something indefinable; salty and lime flavoured, with more than a hint of sea, of vinegar, of jellied eels and certainly bracing. This book takes a willingness to be persuaded, but becomes increasingly addictive, as you bite into separate scenes, and ride a great many buses in pursuit of Sheffield United, the possibility of ‘gear’ or a good dust up with Skin heads or Rockers, and those who fail to appreciate the finer distinctions in Motown and Soul. This is not a world I know anything about, yet something in the self-effacing and evocative staccato began to mesmerize. It got better and better, once the idiom lodged, and more compelling.

I am not sure I can analyse why, or even that I garnered half of what its sharp language referred to, for it is a new language, and describes a world as unfamiliar as Bangladesh, although it only asks me to travel as far as Sheffield, Ilkley, Barnsley, Skegness and environs. Names and words encircle. Well that’s not all: it asks me to take on trust Sheffield in the seventies, through the eyes ears and nostrils of Phillip, its narrator and interpreter of the author’s sardonic, nostalgic and dismissive memory. Into Phillip he pours his unstated affection for his home but like a shirt tail that should not escape but does. If a reader is tempted to sympathy, it quickly disappears.

I feel I begin to get a little closer to its hooking summons to travel with it: Phillip is disarmingly devil-may-care on the surface. He refuses any self indulgence; his affectionate love of Grom (his grandmother-Edith) is epitomized by his refusal not only to take the same bus with her to work, (in Hell’s Satanic Mill) but a different bus route entirely. Her habit of torturing him by eating pungent and unsavoury food with gusto (and without teeth) and in public is politely avoided without resentment on either side.

This family understands one another. They are diffident, tolerant, undemonstrative, and loyal, and the influence of Grom permeates, even when she is absent. His father’s moral rectitude about the obligations of work and discipline, however unrewarded (except in affording legitimacy to weekends letting rip) stem from Grom, almost everything retains integrity, below the surface of seeming chaos. Phillip is quintessentially English in his refusal to disclose more than is decent about his feelings, except about music and song titles for these are safe pegs on which to define himself. They were unfamiliar to me but that was unimportant in this rollicking ride through period, seaside arcades, scooter racing, police check points, imminent catastrophe dared to come out by jeering at it, and his friendship with Jed,JustAbout, Paul, Pete, Mick and Uncle James. His names are minimalist,(his girl friends loved and moving past and on) but as expressive of the time as they are of the character of Phillip, who takes all as it comes (and goes). As must the reader, for this is a ride through affectionate memory of those loved and lost and a world being unwrapped from its confines in maturity; from Batty with her purple hair and his brother Sam’s gradual growth, closely observed.

There is little of ‘story’ in any external sense unless a rite of passage from adolescent to adulthood is story, and for most of us writers until it is told, other stories cannot get top billing or full attention. But it is the poetic vernacular that springs the surprises; they allow dandelions to bloom between the paving stones, tossed over the shoulder prolifically and without stopping; those ‘wagged schooldays’, ‘Madame Shake ‘n’Vac’, ‘heart-splintering honesty’ and ‘prematurely ripened humbug’. This is an extraordinarily original writer seemingly with an endless ability to dislocate the image until the cartilage gleams in the joints of small agonies. Because Phillip pities himself not at all, you feel for him and want to steady him with a hand before he trips on his shoelaces or cuts his feet. Poor Phillip. He will remain with you long after the book is closed. Open it and stay with it, for it is rich, and new. Then read it a second time.

Review of Gaia’s Children by Paul Kieniewicz

Since the author of this work, Paul Kieniewicz, writes such excellent reviews of the work of others it is daunting to do his work justice without giving too much away. This is a deeply philosophical work but the philosophy is worn very lightly, and well camouflaged within a plot that wholly engages on its own terms.

It would be tempting for the genre fundis* to call this science fiction, but as this work itself reveals what was fiction once is fiction no longer. An imaginative genetic interspecies is now plausible, given the recent announcement of the hubris of science to construct its own variations on what evolution has painstakingly refined over millennia. The world of ‘synthetic genetics’ is already upon us, with inbuilt self-destruct genes in case things go badly wrong. Which goes to show that irresponsibility is now tossed off with ‘we’ve made provision for our possible thoughtlessness, calm down dear…’

Continue reading “Review of Gaia’s Children by Paul Kieniewicz”

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