... off tomorrow for ten days or so. Itinerary goes: Wellington, Palmerston North, Ohakune, Rotorua, Hamilton, Huntly, Auckland. Should be able to climb on a few mountains, circumambulate a few lakes, soak in a few thermal pools ... I hope ...


on not getting very far

When my elder son was quite small and coming down from one of his alarming tantrums, he would sometimes say by way of explanation: I'm a bit tie-red. He meant tired but that's how he said it, tie-red. The other one, if we were out walking and he started to fall behind, was: I can't get very far. Both said in a forlorn sort of voice. I'm thinking of those remarks because that's how I am today: a bit tie-red and unable to get very far. Although it's probably a contributing factor, Sunday's folly is not the real reason for this. It's more of a deep mental weariness and it came over me this morning just after I finished the first draft of Zone of the Marvellous. It's a very ragged first draft, especially in the later stages, and it's about 10,000 words too long but because it is now one whole thing I can begin to forget about it for a while. I don't usually work on more than one book at a time but this past twelve months or so circumstances have dictated otherwise. My book on Ludwig Becker, retitled The Supply Party, has also been through two and a half drafts over this period. That one is much more finished, there's just the final edit to do now, which I'll begin whenever the editor contacts me - this or next month probably. I don't think I want to be in this position again, it's too hard. There were days when I literally didn't know to which book the sentence(s) in my head belonged. Especially lately. And lately too I've had a constant and disturbing sense that some of these sentences have failed to make the transition from mental event to linguistic expression. Lost forever perhaps. I don't work much from notes because too often I've found writing the note neutered the thought; so I have to keep things somehow alive in memory or mind until they can be written down properly. That may be where the mental tiredness comes from, I don't know. It is anyway a mysterious process, the summoning of the long term concentration required to write a book. As if some subterranean stream, an underground river, runs below all other daily and nightly activities and surfaces only during the actual act of writing. I suppose you could say three concurrent books, since the shorter pieces that make up The Evolution of Mirrors were mostly set down during the same period: but that book is different, it was written in a spirit of free-wheeling free association at the end of whatever day it was when I could let my mind roll away in any direction it wanted to go and as such was more purely pleasurable to do than the morning's task of grinding out 1000 words or whatever. And while on that line, today I learned a new word: Hypnogeography, which perfectly describes some of the dream excursions in TEOM. And one other thing: I don't know why Werner Droescher's name should have come to mind the way it did two nights ago but I'm very glad it happened: the inadvertent recovery of a piece of the past I had completely forgotten and really did not know that much about. Perhaps I have gone further than I know.



So I was looking in a notebook of mine, right at the point where Luca Antara ends and the next book begins (don't know what this next book is/was) when it suddenly occurred to me that I'd left something out. The whole episode of Hitler in Adelaide. I made a few notes and then remembered there was a book about it. I'd have to get hold of a copy of that book. I'd left the relevant papers in a low cold flat under a hill. More tunnel than flat. I didn't live there any more but thought I could probably still get in. I knew my things would still be there. It's a dream place, I've visited more than a few times over the years. First I dropped in on a couple of friends who live nearby. They are real people who used to like to pretend they're re-incarnations of Robert Graves and Laura Riding. I mentioned the book and he shrugged in that louche way he has and said Of course. He meant there was a copy on their shelves. There at the back of the room. So I didn't have to go to my old flat after all, that was a relief. I'd never been happy there. However I did have to search the shelves ... took a while but I found it. 600 pages long. A kind of straw yellow hard back, large format, crudely made. Co-authored by two sisters, their name, along with Adolf's, was on the spine but I've forgotten it: Droescher maybe? Anyway the focus of my inquiry was on where exactly in Adelaide Hitler had lived and what he did there. There was a fold out map in the front of the book that turned out to be 3D and interactive. I saw the City of Adelaide morph into being, it was a view both top down and from the street. Beautiful. It was Adelaide, I remember how the City is disposed from my only visit there, many years ago now. But this was the business district, he didn't live here but somewhere in the suburbs. Ah, said the voiceless voice that comes to us in dreams, he had a hat shop. Or perhaps he sold caged birds. Something like that. And worked as a jockey. Then I saw Hitler himself, dressed in silks, getting ready to ride in a race. Except his body would not do, it was one of those limbless bloody screaming trunks out of a Francis Bacon painting. We would have to substitute him if we wanted our horse to win. I remember dressing the other jockey, I remember translating Hitler into another realm or dimension so our girl could ride in his place. His post-war refuge in Adelaide did not last long of course. He and the Droescher sisters were soon found out and had to flee further afield. Their book ... who was the publisher? What a rarity it must have been. Unreadable as Mein Kampf no doubt but there are people who have read Mein Kampf. To think I have held it in my hand. As I woke from the dream there was one further image that I carried over into consciousness: in hard, chunky, geometric capitals the legend: HITLER IN ADELAIDE.

Note(s): There’s a crypto-fascist news agency based in Adelaide called Nuca Antara—it is mentioned in passing in my book Luca Antara. Werner Droescher was the name of an anarchist professor of German I knew when I was a student. He had fought with the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War and was married to the writer, Greville Texidor. He had tried to encourage us to form a cell on campus at Auckland University in 1970. The whole question of places that exist in dreams and may be visited again and again over the years is one that perhaps needs further investigation.

Not the Aurignacian Dog


Cut Price Mirror Sale

Mark Young's Otoliths imprint is this month publishing a collection of shorter prose pieces of mine, most of which have appeared here or at one or other of my two other weblogs over the last year or so. The collection is available at a reduced price until the book is officially launched later this month - if you want to get in early, go here.