The Alienist Magazine and Equus Press blog
A Secure Sense of Falsity
A number of the Equus press publications begin their back cover blurb with words to this effect...
"It would be erroneous of us to attempt to describe what this novel is about except to say that it must first be experienced and then interpreted on an individual basis."
I am paraphrasing, but this is the general idea. When I first saw words similar to these introducing Richard Makin's 'Mourning' (Equus Press 2015) I instinctively knew that I had discovered like-minded literary comrades existing and fully functioning in this very same universe and decade, some even in this very same month and town!
My excitement was palpable.
I am a fan of the obscure. The obscurer the better. I am insulted, no, even worse, bored, when artists, writers, directors or anyone for that matter, deem it necessary to spell out their actions to me. I am guilty of doing this on many occasions, but the one place where I keep my gob shut is when sharing experimental writings.
These are sacred. These are untouchable.
'Glass House' by Louis Armand
- Equus Press 2018
This novel must be experienced to be understood.
I cannot tell you about it.
Like an acid trip, or love, or your favourite word. Comparisons might be made, and authors who may seem similar in style could be listed, but this would be insulting to Louis Armand's singular voice emerging from this particular form of experimental literary logic/illogic; a singular voice which is distinctive and strong throughout his work, from his poetry to his academic writings.
These are collages; tapestries of Alienist intent. Louis exhibits himself by hiding himself behind the disguise of exhibiting a veritable alien front! He writes in such a way as to tempt his readers into unpacking his sentences one by one or be damned for not having read what he has read and studied what he has studied. He does however lure those who may feel alienated by his unscrupulously weaponised erudition into trusting him enough to understand the work on a whole other level; this being a level one may have always wanted to shift to but have never quite been open relaxed enough to consider a viable and practical intellectual pursuit.
Louis' goal is to change EVERYTHING, but in a way which has not been thought of yet and ideally will never be labelled when it is thought of so that, in its cloak of namelessness, it may retain its tantalisingly beautiful, fresh, beckoning hope forever.
If William Burroughs spiked Raymond Chandler's whiskey with LSD, read Einstein's Theory of Relativity to him and demanded he quoted back what he had just heard in the style of Isaac Asimov's android avatar, Glass House is what you might get.
Louis said once that he had received a critique that he was 'too intelligent' in his writings and that there was 'too much' to unpack. An incredibly blinkered review. Bamboozling excess is exactly the point of Louis' writing, much like the intoxicating philosophical essays of Georges Bataille. This is exactly where the gorgeous gorgeosity lies. He doesn't put 'too much' in there! It's the sheep-like, fucked up, Fast Mood society which is too damned lazy too give literature like this the time it deserves. He puts A LOT in there and that is the gift of the work.
The chapters are named after the novel's characters.....
I am forced to stop myself here as I was about to talk about something I know nothing of. Louis Armand would be the first to ask whether this was actually even a 'novel' or something entirely different. One could say this of all experimental literature of course but by asking this question we are opening up the possibilities for alternative views of a world which has become tired of its own bullshit. Louis has not given up and he wants to change.
Don't kid yourself that the linear, classical novel format does anything more than lull us into a dulled and soporific sense of security whilst the outside world spirals out of control.
When the art we look at or listen to or read does not mirror society in as much as it attempts to branch out beyond the trappings of non-unanimous normalcy, we should not panic. We should embrace the thinkers who take that step outside of the idea of thinking forwards or backwards or sideways, and think everything and nothing at the same time in order to collapse the ego and stomp on it so badly that not one person alive could hazard a guess at how to reconstruct the 'something' we lost that we didn't want in the first place.
Louis Armand & Richard Makin are alive and doing this. I would say more about Richard also but you really have to experience the book before you.....
'A Second Through Brain' (1920) - by Melchior Vischer - Translated by David Vichnar & Tim Konig
(Translation published in 2015 by Charles University Philosophy Faculty)
I cannot tell you about this book either.
Except to say....
This book is a real find. The first Dadaist novel to come out of the Czech Republic. It's old and it's a beaut'!
David and Tim's work on the translation is remarkable. The flow of the book is never lost despite the near impossible task of translating a Dadaist text.
This reads easily and Melchior's sense of play shines throughout. As with Louis' Glass House there are characters and situations which surface from chapter to chapter but the locations and the 'plot' remain wonderfully obscure.
I will mention briefly also David's work on the novel 'H' by Philippe Sollers (1973 - translated by David Vichnar and Veronika Stankovianska in 2015) which I am currently reading. This, as with Second Through Brain, is a magnificent volley of words, a maelstrom of ideas, a Kaleidoscope of visions, emotions and none of your goddamn business.
My excitement at finding, first Richard Makin's 'Mourning' in Club Centrala's library and then being introduced to all these amazing texts by the Alienist* gang, is nothing less than that of a child on Christmas morning.
Melchior Vischer did meet Tristan Tzara (the French Dadaist extraordinaire) but their relationship was inauspicious. That there was a Czech Dada group at all has been kept relatively quiet over the years and it is thanks to Equus Press that this oversight has been corrected. The incredible thing is that Second Through Brain has in fact been confirmed as the first Dadaist novel ever published!
Unfortunately for me, these books are extremely difficult to critique or review in that they are simply put perfect.
To consider adjusting even one sentence of these books I have mentioned would be like judging a brisk north easterly gale for being wrong!
*ALIENIST is a magazine concept which is so subversive that to even attempt to describe the content could mean forcible removal from this universe and decade. I have promised to try but it is going to take a little longer for me to invent some new way of using words, or images, so that the ALIENIST idea is not understood by the wrong people to be something which it most definitely is not.
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HERE and HERE
The ALIENIST Magazines (hard copies) and a large number of Equus Press publications will be available for purchase at Obejvak Project Space during the next three weeks at our Xmas Pop Up shop located at Vnitroblock, Holesovice, Prague. Details to be found by clicking on the pic below.
See you at the soft opening this Black Friday the 29th November 2019.
Life must be experienced to be understood.
I cannot tell you about it.
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