Freewheeling

For a round-up of good late Summer reads go to The Fortnightly Review  

Post-Summer Reading:

Hebdomeros
by Giorgio de Chirico; introduction by John Ashbery (1992 edition)

Exact Change | 258 pp | £14.93 $17.95

.
Tales I Told My Mother 
by Robert Nye

Calder and Boyars, 1969; republished by Marion Boyars, 1992 | 172pp | £5.21 $13.48

.

Dandy Bogan
by Nick Ascroft

Boatwhistle 2018 | 96pp | $6.17 £8.19

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Footnotes
by C. Perricone

Boatwhistle 2018 | 144pp | $5.75  £5.51

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Apropos Jimmy Inkling
by Brian Marley

GrandIOTA, UK, 2019 | 320 pp | $13.20 £2.05

.
Wild Metrics
by Ken Edwards

GrandIOTA, UK, 2019| 246pp | $7.30 £5.69

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Sarong Party Girls
by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

William Morrow/Allen and Unwin, 2019 | 320pp | $9.66 £3.42

.

 

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Bullingdon

Viscount Bullingdon is the son of the Right Honourable Sir Charles Lyndon, the deceased husband of Lady Lyndon, who Redmond Barry, Irish adventurer and opportunist, inveigles into a marriage that will be advantageous to him. He does so by the most underhand means; calling out rivals to the extremely wealthy widow’s affections, wounding one such suitor (the one she prefers) savagely on the duelling ground, whilst blackmailing her with letters she had sent him, some years earlier, whilst under the impression that he, Redmond, was a noble European chevalier at Spa, a watering place on the Continent.

Bullingdon is Redmond Barry (nee Lyndon’s) nemesis. He has nothing but animosity for this renegade – “the tall dark man at Spa with the cast in his eye, who used to make my governor tipsy and sent me the sword: his name is Mr Barry.” While Barry lays claim to roots in the Protestant Irish ruling class, and mythic kinship with ancient Irish kings, “Bully” inclines towards Catholicism. Barry Lyndon is free to fritter away Lady Lyndon’s wealth during her lifetime. But while generally successful when making his way upwards in society, once established among its upper exchelons, Barry’s luck deserts him: he cannot maintain his status – while a master of gaming at all the card-tables of Europe, he is no match for the perfidious teamwork of the English nobility, and this is partly because he no longer has a partner in his uncle (who formed part of a team with Barry in Europe) but now he must engage with chance on his own.

 

Lady Lyndon’s estate is entailed on Bullingdon, only son of her first husband. Right from the start of the new marriage it is clear that the boy has no love for his step-father, and, for all his avowals of even-handedness, it is apparent that Barry has him horsed, and canes him mercilessly, so that eventually he runs away. Thought to have died whilst fighting against the United States, he turns up, years later, alive, to champion the cause of Lord George Poynings, the cousin of Lady Lyndon and the suitor chosen for her by her family, and indeed the suitor of her choice, who has been out-finessed and nearly killed by Barry. Eventually, after Barry has squandered most of her fortune, Lady Barry is wrested from him by this aristocratic rescue-party, and as a result, Redmond Barry spends nineteen years in a debtor’s jail, writing memoirs truncated only by his death.

 

The Hindu caste system divides people into four main categories – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. Many believe that the groups originated from Brahma, the Hindu God of creation. Outside of this Hindu caste system are the the Dalits or untouchables. At the top of the hierarchy are the Brahmins who are mainly teachers and intellectuals and are believed to have come from Brahma’s head. Then come the Kshatriyas, or the warriors and rulers, supposedly from his arms. The third group are the Vaishyas, or the traders, who are created from his thighs. At the bottom of the heap are the Shudras, who came from Brahma’s feet and do all the menial jobs. The Dalits are beneath even these lowly beings – they are well and truly outcasts. In the British caste system, thanks to Henry VIII, Kshatriyas claim superiority over Brahmins, but otherwise, things are much the same.

 

Bullingdon is of a lineage that occupies the heights of this hierarchy. The Viscount epitomises the maintenance of the status quolargely achieved by keeping wealth “in the family” – which is why he favours Lord George, as his widowed mother’s suitor. His name – though a fictitious one created for us not by Brahma but by William Makepeace Thackeray – identifies the club at Oxford University that dedicates itself to booting the upwardly-mobile back down the stairs. This club, drawn from alumni from public schools such as Eton and Harrow, is notorious for vandalism and assault, and members firmly believe in their own justification, not so much by the “grace” of God, but by the “grace” of rank. Those with rank are born into honour, and no downright dirty deed besmirches that. Therefore they can do no wrong. And while it is clear, from Barry Lyndon, that the upper class is prepared to rat on itself, cheat any other member of it, murder a brother if advantage can be had from it (as in James Hogg’s The Confessions of a Justified Sinner), and that the rule of life is that dog will eat dog, the Bullingdon Club is united in keeping its boot on the lid of any vaunted change from below. Be it Irish blackleg Redmond pushing up against that lid, or the Socialists, or the Palestinians – for while Charles Rothschild was the prey of “Jew-hunting” when at Harrow, these days, perhaps by dint of indebtedness and American pressure, the British ruling class have come to an accommodation with Zionism.

 

Members of the Bullingdon club have gone on to become leading figures within Britain’s political establishment. These include the former Prime Minister David Cameron, Jeremy Hunt, former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Billionaire Nat Rothschild, former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Nick Hurd, current Minister of State for Northern Ireland.

Further understanding about “Justification” can be found in my essay on Immoralism. And Thackeray’s brilliant novel may be considered in both the immoralist and the picaresque tradition – discussed in my essay on The Grotesque.

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Worker in Dotage

x
What can I do but go in search of the rose
Although I feel contempt for my persistence?
Why can’t I appreciate the twilight of existence?
Withered, if appropriate, companionship?
x
An aged bee, why is that gaunt contemporary
Mere pantomime? For all the lack of buzz,
This is no more at the end of its day than I am.
Why must these enfeebled vanes hanker after the essence;
x
Still demand such nectar as blooms alone secrete?
My nature, it’s my nature, being a harvester:
I’ll drone on and on about it – till I drop down dead.
Will she be there in the garden this afternoon?
x
Her potential for my arbour scents her petal bed.
If lift-off’s still available, I’ll go pay her court,
Scorn my self-disdain as mere faint-heartedness,
Breach her threshold, harbour in her port.

x

x

More in a similar dark vein at From Inside, published by The High Window Press in 2017, and in terms of aesthetics, readers may also be interested in my essay on Immoralism.

 

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Grey Suit Editions Launch – Autumn 2019

Here is the link to our Launch for Grey Suit Editions on 20 Sept 19

Two books for the price of one – only at this free event!

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The South African Information Scandal

Here are some quotes from The Life of Secret Agent turned Hollywood Tycoon Arnon Milchan by Meir Doron and Joseph Gelman Gefen Books 2011. They concern the attempt to erase criticism of apartheid from the world media between 1977 and 1979.

“If there was one key financial facilitator in South Africa’s covert glob­al propaganda campaign to improve the image of South Africa, it was Milchan. “I acted at the request of my own country,” Milchan told us. Eschel Rhoodie directed a steady flow of funds from the Department of Information’s front company Thor Communicators, through European accounts controlled by Milchan, who created multiple front companies to purchase key media outlets critical of South Africa.

He and South African operatives David Abramson and Stuart Pegg focused at first on African media such as West Africa, an important maga­zine published by Afrimedia International Ltd. He purchased adminis­trative control over African Development, a quarterly magazine. He was involved in the purchase of EurAfrique, a monthly magazine read in all of the French-speaking African states. He then spearheaded an effort to gain control of the British publishing giant Morgan-Grampian, which was to be the crown jewel of the operation.

Through Morgan-Grampian, the plan was to take control over several prominent newspapers and magazines in the West, including the Observer in England, L‘Expresse in France, and the Washington Star in the United States. “What better vehicle than Morgan-Grampian to be in charge of such takeovers?” Eschel Rhoodie wrote in his 1983 book The Real Information Scandal.

In November 1977, Rhoodie released $1.8 million for the purchase of enough shares to assume control of the Investors Chronicle in the UK, a deal that failed to materialize. Essentially, Rhoodie and Milchan, acting as partners, coordinated all of these activities using the secret funds. It would explode in their faces.”

P 117-8

“The South African Information Scandal was a worldwide sensation that detailed a campaign involving dozens of projects to cow the opposi­tion press at home and buy friendly coverage abroad. (In 1978) Rhoodie took the brunt of the blame in the scandal while the key financial figure, Arnon Milchan, dodged the bullet. …..

Shortly before the fall of apartheid, South Africa transferred almost all of its nuclear ma­terial to Israel, including the tritium and its six existing bombs. The South African government then reported to international agencies that it had “dismantled” all of its nuclear weapons.

While ambivalent toward apartheid at first, Arnon gradually grew to oppose it in an active way.”

P 126

And today one wonders whether a similar operation has not led to the takeover of the BBC, the Guardian, countless other media outlets and, of course, Hollywood itself (consider the white helmets), in order to erase criticism of Israel’s policy towards Palestinians and its neighbours since Netanyahu came into power, if not before – and has this operation extended into the British and US secret services – or did that begin long long before?

For more about conflict in the Middle East see Consciousness (with Mutilation) – my recent non-fiction novel.

See also Mint Press Genesis and Evolution of the Jeffrey Epstein Bill Clinton relationship.

 

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Grey Suit’s new books have arrived

Our new books

These have just arrived from the printer. Click on the link above to discover the blog for Grey Suit Editions. There’s a home page and a page for posts which will get updated as we publish more.

 

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Dental Poems

PARTIAL OBJECT

My bridgework becomes me, everyone says, but will it ever
Become me? Fitted betwixt the last of
What was once an upper row. It has been brought
Into existence so recently! My gums making whatever
Impression they could muster in the dental clay
Pressed into that queer metal horseshoe; whereas
I assumed my being ages ago, though it does seem only
Yesterday that I was obliged, whatever I might want,
To wear a brace designed to rescue me from a buck-toothed
Rabbit slant, while at the same time pushing out the jaw.
Once installed, it sagely scuppered speech.
“Put it in!” would shut me up effectively. Only
Wore the thing at night, and here I am, a little left me,
Fitting my “look” in by day. Not quite the share
That cleaves the turf, turning over the rich clod, that it was,
My bite. I hesitate to go ploughing through a lunch.
Not only that, a gap in the clouds prompts us all
To set off on a walk. We cross the park, stroll along the canal
And then enjoy the marshes where willow merges with willow
On a humid afternoon, and it turns out I can’t pronounce Corot.

THE LOST KISS

The kiss is a bygone reality, though most of me
May still be here. At the foreground of intimacy
I have become a cyborg. Earlier on, there was my thumb;
That at least was mine, unlike these travesties.
I recall the unconscionable betrayal of the dark

Dug that began it all; how I saw it exiled
On her breast as I grew estranged out of my toddle.
When our lips connect, all I want is you in there:
You in my mouth as I am in yours
When you offer me the agreement of your tongue.

There is something prophylactic about a denture, I’m afraid,
Very much afraid of what’s next in an abstract way.
The little beast comes loaded with intimations, which
It intimates from its glass; first thing it does in the morning.
Last thing it does at night, when I unhook myself.

IMPLANTS

Drugged up to the nines,
From the bridge he occupies
He should be staring out at space,
But mouthless green aliens
Have his station covered.

They use a language of numbers
And block his view of the stars,
Yet it’s as if he didn’t care,
Can only do as they expect
As they clamp a hatch apart below.

Weightless, he’s been tilted
Almost upside-down
For jointed things to work on him.
He senses he’s being
Altered – made correct.

Will he be an alien,
Once finally transformed?
Their drills rotate and grind
As he leaves his sad, old
And toothless world behind.

TRIM

And today it’s a ball that I am
In the hands of Islam.
Caring hands, they fuss
Around the dorsal carapace.
This artist does his thing
As I lose my Leonardo look.
Admittedly it didn’t work.
This is not the Renaissance,
As I can tell by a glance
Into the mirror’s mirror now.
Perhaps a little bit more.
Off at the back? I think so, yes.
Giving him my new smile,
I doff my nape. He does precisely
What I suggest, shows me
Again. I nod this time.
He removes my gown
And tissue collar and I rise
To go, at the rate for an O.A P.,
Out onto Tottenham High Street,
Admiring what I see of me
In Peacocks’ window, quick
To pull my stomach in,
Look as if I were truly slim
And ten years younger than I am,
Curling a disdainful lip
At the doleful crew I overtake
With a certain bounce to my step.

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