Animus

An obscure little prose You have to build your difference, they say. 
You are divided for love. 
But I don’t know who you are. 
Do you know who I am? 
I can feel your fingers reaching out to me, 
so close to having material form it hurts 
like an unstruck sound in my heart.

You are surely a reflection, 
but when I look for you in the mirror 
the only me there is I. 
I project the idea onto all of my lovers,
trying to understand the shape of you, 
then when they are gone, I retract you
back into the darkness of shadow.

I saw you in the theatre last night. 
Three stages, three shows, three facets of you. 
I danced with each in my dreams.
You had raw, bleeding knees from the crawl;
an attempt to save yourself from fiction, no doubt.
But one tug on my necklace, one cry from within
and I knew the fall was real. 

Homage to Steve Erickson

Books written by our favourite authors are like old friends, who have accompanied us through years of our lives and seen us at various stages of togetherness. They have occupied that intimate space between the inner workings of our minds that only we know, and the external world. They have fed into our moods, perceptions and understandings. They have comforted and inspired us.

The first book I read by Steve Erickson was The Sea Came in at Midnight, back in 1999. He had published 5 novels before this, but my particular introduction to his work was a short paragraph written about this one in The Times newspaper. I no longer remember the description, but it sounded like nothing I’d read before and I knew I had to get a copy. I wasn’t disappointed. I was thrilled in fact, and having felt much the same about all of his other novels since, he has become my favourite contemporary author.

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2. The Howling Woman

This is a continuation of the story that began here: The Old Woman, the Stag and Me. You may like to read that first if you haven’t already, but it isn’t a prerequisite.


As it turned out, it was the materialisation of the myth ‘The Howling Woman’ that finally gave us our omen to leave the village. Here’s how events panned out.

Among the stag’s clients there was a gentle dowager who cried almost all of the time. She had lost her daughter, she said, though there were no records of her ever having one. It was generally surmised among the village folk that what she had lost was in fact her marbles, as a result of her husband coming to grief at a trial for treason and subsequently being hanged. She lived all alone in the years that followed, and most were disdainful towards her with no rational cause. She came to the stag for a finding potion, and begged of him to take her sorrow.

Finding potions weren’t known for their usefulness when dealing with people who didn’t exist, so at first he went down the route of anguish-removal. He tried spells made from Buddhist proverbs, in attempt to align her to the idea that sorrow, like pleasure, was a fleeting thing that must be allowed to come and go like the wind. He tried filling her with warming light, that it might kindle her own inner glow. And he tried an elixir – just two drops per day – made from pure euphoria and tears of joy. It was unheard of for such things to fail, but the daughter remained lost. Putting on a jester performance raised a smile or two, but the sadness in her eyes seemed insurmountable.

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American Gods – Neil Gaiman

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I am a fan of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics, but surprisingly this is the first of his novels I have read.

The premise is a man, Shadow, who has just been released from prison and finds his wife has died in a car crash. Feeling lost and numb, he accepts the offer of a job from a strange character he sits beside on his plane journey home called Mr Wednesday. He accompanies Mr Wednesday around America, meeting all manner of strange beings and becoming unwittingly involved in an altercation far bigger than he ever expected.

It is no spoiler to say that this book is packed full of deities and myths from around the world who have been brought to America by their believers, and in most cases stranded with very little support remaining. They are portrayed in wonderfully unique ways. For example there are deities in prison for fraud, working in funeral homes, turning to prostitution, and becoming insane and eating nothing but roadkill. It is written in a very fun way and is always entertaining.

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Ulysses – James Joyce

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Ulysses is one of those books that has been sitting on my shelf for years but I’d never quite gotten round to reading it. It’s not so much the huge page count (930 pages in my edition) that was off-putting, but the fact it is well known to be a difficult read that needs perseverance. Yet I knew I wanted to read it, having seen it cited in the works of so many other writers and thinkers, in particular CG Jung and Robert Anton Wilson.

There are literally hundreds of reviews of Ulysses, and even full study papers on the style and in-depth analysis of particular references made in the book. Yet it was difficult to actually get a grasp on what the book was about before starting it. Few reviewers make comment on the overall content and refer instead solely to the style and literary significance. Even the cover (of my edition at least) simply boasts its importance as a classic. So what is it about? The story follows main character Leopold Bloom through a single day – 16th June 1904 – in Dublin. It is about his relationships with colleagues, family and friends, the places he goes, his thoughts, and his attitude to fundamental life issues such as birth, marriage and death. It is about the complexity of ordinary human experience, and just how much is involved in a seemingly ordinary and perhaps boring day for a civilised human. It is organised in chapters that correspond to The Odyssey, an epic ancient greek poem attributed to Homer. Continue reading “Ulysses – James Joyce”

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