A review of Nothing Man

Nick Jackson has done a very insightful review of my ebook:

http://www.kissthewitch.co.uk/seinundwerden/nothing_man.html

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NOW AVAILABLE: NOTHING MAN

Here is the link to the ebook, which should soon be available via alternate vendors as well…

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/314450

Nothing Man is the follow-up to Marc Lowe’s collection, “Sui Generis” and Other Fictions (2010, ISMs Press). “Lowe’s stories hack body and mind apart and sometimes put them back together in a new way. They disrupt comfortable logic and expectation with a Surrealist-infused Gothic prose tinged with hints of Borges and Poe.” Rob Stephenson, author of Passes Through

Thank you (whoever and wherever you are) for reading!

~m

Conversation Piece (Words by David Bowie)

I took this walk to ease my mind
To find out what’s gnawing at me
Wouldn’t think to look at me,
that I’ve spent a lot of time in education
It all seems so long ago
I’m a thinker, not a talker
I’ve no-one to talk to, anyway

I can’t see the road
for the rain in my eyes
Ahhh …

I live above the grocer’s store,
owned by an Austrian
He often calls me down to eat
And he jokes about his broken English,
tries to be a friend to me
But for all my years of reading conversation,
I stand without a word to say

I can’t see the bridge
for the rain in my eyes
Ahhh…

And the world is full of life
Full of folk who don’t know me
And they walk in twos or threes or more
While the light that shines above the grocer’s store
Investigates my face so rudely
And my essays lying scattered on the floor
Fulfill their needs just by being there
And my hands shake, my head hurts,
my voice sticks inside my throat
I’m invisible and dumb,
And no-one will recall me

And I can’t see the water
for the tears in my eyes

From my forthcoming collection…

The Study of Professor Herbert Hand

They say he started the study on February 26, 20—.  Ever since that day, no one has seen or heard from him.  E-mails have gone unanswered, his Facebook account has not shown any activity whatsoever, and his “wall” remains as it was prior to undertaking the study: blank.  His subject, they say, is archaic, arcane, esoteric.  It is not something that we would have the capacity to understand, they say.  Whatever it is, it’s apparently become an all-consuming obsession for Professor Herbert Hand.  Something to do, they say, with quantum physics, with universal energy, with authors who killed themselves, with electronic musics composed by dead musicians, with ancient philosophies and spurious texts.  Something about schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, depression, various obsessions and compulsions, sex.  Something so complex, so overwhelmingly broad, that a single mind could not possibly contain all of it at one time without imploding.  And yet, Professor Hand has taken it on.  That is, indeed, what they say.

Professor Hand was what one might call an eccentric.  Though he did not smell, he rarely changed his clothes, or perhaps he had multiple suits of the same exact color and style.  (This is in the past tense because, for all we know, he may already be dead.)  He smoked unfiltered cigarettes, drank whiskey (straight, never on the rocks), and was known to be a lover of films from the 1950s, especially noir.  He played chess, practiced Tai’chi Chuan and Yoga, and ate canned salmon straight from the can.  He was rumored to be homosexual, though no one ever saw him with either a woman or a man (though he did seem to own, or at least to regularly feed, an orange cat, probably a stray he picked up off the streets, for it had a large nick in one of its ears and a scraggly half-tail).  He was left-handed, left-leaning in terms of his political views, but decidedly right-brained.  He alternately painted pictures of rotten fruit and/or women with large, pendulous breasts and crooked smiles.  He was a chronic insomniac and slept for less than three hours a night.  Or, well, at least, so they say.

As it has been related to me: He began his study on February 26, his birthday.  In fact, he had thought about the topic for a good year prior to beginning the heavy research and writing, but it wasn’t until that day that his work became his obsession.  He decided from that moment on not to leave his apartment for any reason.  (The door is still locked, the windows boarded up, though his rent was prepaid on February 25 for the duration of the contract—one year—on the condition that he not be disturbed, even if the apartment were burning down to the ground.)  He had borrowed from the library, bought at used bookstores, or otherwise ordered from online vendors, all of the books he would need for at least a year (possibly longer), and hunkered down to complete his project, which he claimed (this on good authority) would be the largest study of its kind, one to “rival Robert Burton’s encyclopedic The Anatomy of Melancholy” (in the words of my source, who claims they were spoken directly by Hand himself).

Some say his studies have driven him mad, and that he is determined never to leave his apartment again, even if he runs out of money to pay the rent (they say he’ll put up a fight, to the death, if necessary).  Others say that he hasn’t completed anything, that the entire thing is a scheme, a farce, a stupid prank he has played on the public and which it has fallen for hook, line, and sinker.  Yet others believe that he is a genius, and that he will one day emerge with a finished work that will blow both the laymen and the scholars away. 

Yet others claim that Professor Herbert Hand maybe never really existed, that maybe he was just a figment of our collective imagination(s).  For no one can remember ever having interacted with him, ever having had a conversation or even exchanging a few words.  Our memories of him seem to come from some place located within, or if not within than beside, the subconscious mind; perhaps we all just dreamed him up at the same time, and the apartment where some claim he lives (in fact, it’s not the same apartment, depending on who you talk to and what they “know”), for some insist that it is in fact no more than an abandoned room with the doors and windows all locked up to keep out vagrants or would-be burglars; that is: decidedly not the residence of our legendary scholar. 

My feeling, if you would like to know, is that Hand is simply beyond us.  He has entered the realm from which some never return, the realm of bottomless wells, querulous conundrums, flawed logic and illogic and anti-logic.  It matters to me not whether he ever turns up, or whether his study ever surfaces.  It’s really beside the point, in my book.  For, when you think about it, nothing is ever really completed, and no one is ever really found.

And so, we end on an uncertain note.  But let me glance at my calendar here, for as we’ve been passing the time, shooting the breeze, discussing what they say, February 26 has again crept up on us all.

I hear the sound of a distant ambulance as the wind rushes in through the crack in the window, blows thousands of my papers around the room, blinding me momentarily.

And the next day…

The new Bowie CD (deluxe edition + Japanese-only bonus track) found its way into my happy hands earlier today, and it is truly a very good one.  I’d say it’s the best thing he’s released since Outside, and it’s certainly much better than Reality — his last studio album prior to this one, released in 2003.  The bonus tracks are all very good as well, and — surprise — one of them (“Plan”) is actually an instrumental — the first since 1999!  The closer on the album-proper, entitled “Heat,” sounds a lot like something by Scott Walker (“The Electrician”?), and is perhaps my favorite David Bowie track since “The Motel.”  At any rate, I’m very hopeful that Bowie will record/release at least one more album before he declares himself finished with music forever.  There’s great momentum on this, and I can imagine that whatever he puts out next could very well best it.  I’ll also mention that his voice sounds fantastic here; he experiments with some vocal styles that I haven’t heard in a while — bits of this remind me of Lodger or Scary Monsters, which is definitely a good thing.

I’m currently listening to the new David Sylvian / Stephan Mathieu collaboration, Wandermude.  This, too, is brilliant, albeit in a very different way from The Next Day.  It’s a reworked, all-instrumental (if this word can be used to convey “all-electronic sans vocals”) version of Sylvian’s 2003 masterpiece Blemish. Very ambient and glitchy — really love the sound/style of it.  Also, earlier this month, I acquired two other new releases that I’m still quite excited about: My Bloody Valentine’s M B V (their first in 22 years!) and How to Destroy Angels’ Welcome Oblivion (their first full-length release).  Been a great month for music so far.  Hopefully these new sounds will inspire me to “compose” something new of my own — via words — in the coming weeks…

~m