Archives for category: novel series

It’s written against the times. Against the easy, easy times.

It moves slowly, it’s like the land beneath our feet, the ground itself.

It’s not going to go away, it accumulates gradually, like mountains.

It’s not about destinations, it’s not about journeys. It’s greater than that, and more humble. It’s not about conquest, not about mastery; it’s not about moments, or years; it’s not about you.

It’s not straightforward, but, importantly, it’s not facile. It’s not about the end. There are no maps to it, and it possesses no exterior. It isn’t an object. It isn’t a riddle. It isn’t about winning, or losing. It isn’t about knowing, or finding, or being lost.

It will change you, certainly – but then, what doesn’t change you?

It’s like anything you take up and put down: it returns to itself, and waits.

It’s banal, and modest: a sprinkling of salt on a few green leaves, the light of the setting sun on a line of plane trees in early summer – the shadows your fingers make as you turn a page, the landscape passing as you sleep on a suburban train…

It’s simple, and it waits, serene and alien as a deserted lake: it’s now, it’s here, it’s gone…

It’s Dustless.

%e2%80%a2dustless-fin14

 

Where may I find immortal moments?

Dustless | Volume 10 | Mask [ii]

01     •     02     •     2017

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So the boy slept. He woke again, and I will tell you of that in a moment. But let him sleep for a while now. He deserves a little peace, doesn’t he?

It will be obvious to you, I imagine, that I have some affection for the boy. I have followed him closely through this story, never letting him out of my sight for very long.

It will not always be like this. There are too many voices, and too many stories.

We are not set up to listen to one story alone, however much we may want to. But equally, we are not set up to hear every story.

We must choose, for the most part, which stories we attend to, and which stories we tell.

Only the damned, perhaps, have no choice in this matter.

And yet, as we turn away from this story, and listen to that – as we grow deaf to this story, and attentive to that – isn’t there a kind of betrayal going on?

I think so.

Only, even now, I am not sure who is betrayed.

Well, well – never mind. We are not set up for too many stories. Let us concentrate on the one in hand.

For after all, only a man of flames can live in a house of fire. Only a child can live in the house of children.

Listen, and I’ll tell you about it.

Excerpt from Fire House, Volume 6 of Dustless

•DUSTLESS-FIN6


Re-post | Original post December 2014

Between two peaks, the night sky rests;
between two lovers, silence.

I sing a sad song.

Between two seasons, a wind blows;
between autumn and summer.

I sing a sad song.

Between two banks, a river flows;
between two lovers, silence.

I sing a sad song.

Between a bell’s chimes, no bell sounds;
between silences, tolls a bell.

I sing a sad song.

Between two moments, midnight comes;
between two lovers, silence.


 

Excerpt from Dustless | Volume 20 [in preparation],
The Lover in the Snow [v]

Please explore…

Dustless | Volume 1

Dustless | Volume 1 is approximately 20 pp./a5

status | published 11 02 2013

Amazon Kindle Store:
India | Dustless | Volume 1
UK | Dustless | Volume 1
US | Dustless | Volume 1

ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) | B00BEZL4ZU

 

Here we sit, the mirror, my shilka doll and me.
It is still early: the moon, hardly risen, has a long way to go.

What great light upon the lake. What cheerful company.
Yet we are quiet, the mirror, my shilka doll and me.

I wonder, who will be the first to speak?

ooo


Excerpt from Dustless | Volume 20 [in preparation],
The Lover in the Snow [v]

Please explore…

Dustless | Volume 1

Dustless | Volume 1 is approximately 20 pp./a5

status | published 11 02 2013

Amazon Kindle Store:
India | Dustless | Volume 1
UK | Dustless | Volume 1
US | Dustless | Volume 1

ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) | B00BEZL4ZU

We walked by the SilOso
on the fire side of the city
among the market crowds
near the Bridge of Dreams.

It was cold, and the first snow fell
among our footsteps.
Winter snow falling, and footsteps falling
slowly, by the Bridge of Dreams.

Thoughts, and the memories of thoughts.
Boats, and the reflections of boats –
the empty boats, tied up beside
the SilOso, rocking in a gentle breeze.

What is the fall of snowflakes?
We parted, as winter came.
You went to your home
across the Bridge of Dreams.

Your home, on the side of ice.
My home, on the side of fire.
And the snowflakes of winter falling,
and footsteps, in between.


Excerpt from Dustless | Volume 26 Master Darkness [vi]

Be Dustless | Master darkness…

Dustless | Volume 9

Imagine what it’s like to be Zysoshin, a small boy torn away from his father and sister – the only people he had ever known. Taken by a strange warrior lord from the outskirts of an empire where no soul had passed before. Discover why he is feared by this lord, and explore a vast empire that Zysoshin never knew existed. Journey with him to the heart of the empire and learn, as Zysoshin learns, of an even greater power that exists within the endless Still Building of the mind.

Imagine / Taken / Discover / Journey

Dustless | Volume 1

Dustless Volume 1 | US
Dustless Volume 1 | UK

There is some debate as to which work can claim to be the world’s longest novel.

Issues debated include the question of what constitutes a single novel as opposed to a cycle or series of connected, but discrete, novels. And if a work is accepted as being a single text, then debate can turn on whether the work has attained an appropriate level of cultural acceptance or legitimacy: certain formats, for example, or self-published works, may be viewed as invalid, with only novels published in print, by a recognised publishing house, qualifying as properly “published” works.

There are grey areas, a degree of slippage among categories. Judges may, perhaps, choose to disqualify from consideration non-conventional works — sometimes characterised as “outsider” art — such as Henry Darger’s The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. And a certain cultural framing — an ignorance as to works created in cultures with which the arbiters are unfamiliar — may also lead to the unwitting exclusion of certain texts.

Unless all is known, nothing is known

Dustless is presently 3,485,149 words long, and nine of its 27 volumes have been published electronically, in an Amazon Kindle edition. As the novel is still undergoing revision, it’s impossible to give a definitive figure for the total number of words in the text.

Composition began in October 2001, partly in response to the events in the United States of America on 11 September – particularly, the attack on the World Trade Center.

Completion of the first draft was probably in the summer of 2009, but I’m afraid I haven’t kept any records, or at least don’t have any records immediately to hand, and so can’t be sure of the actual completion date.

When starting out, in 2001, I had no intention of writing such a long novel, although I was definitely intending to write a work of depth, and with a certain epic space. And for several years after completion of the first draft, I didn’t establish the total length (in terms of words) of Dustless. I knew from the proofs that it was over 8,000 pages long, but I didn’t really give the length of the novel, in comparison with other very long texts, very much thought. In fact, it was only last month (October 2015) that I carried out a word count of the text as it currently stands.

To be aware that Dustless is nearly 3.5 million words long is, in some ways, not very helpful. The scale of the text, rather than the text itself, may become a point of fixation, an object of fetishisation, a distraction. Encountering Dustless for the first time, in considering whether or not to make the leap from observer to reader, the simple figure of 3,485,149 words will turn some people on to the novel, but more people, and probably most people, I imagine, will be turned off. But to be turned on or off by the count of words, not by the words themselves, seems to me, after the first glance is over, and silence falls into the arena that results from the superficial collapsing into itself, a rather enigmatic condition.

Contemporary culture, tired of labour, and dreaming of a frictionless state where information arrives without effort, and is instantly converted into knowledge — where knowledge is purchased, not built — tends to replace wholes with parts, text with precis, experience with anecdote or image. We read the Bluffer’s Guide to Irony, and are sorted. In such a world (and perhaps there is no other world, and has never been another world), there’s a danger that “Dustless” becomes “the length of Dustless“. All we see is the scale: it’s like only seeing the height of a mountain, and not the mountain itself — but you can’t climb a mile or a metre: for that, for ascent, for your body to be extended, your lungs worked, your senses engaged, for boot soles on rough track, for the cold above the treeline, for the thinning of air and views of the wrinkled lines of distant river valleys, you need the mountain.

Dustless itself takes place in a world where objective measurement possesses only dubious purchase on life. The activity of meaning — meaning as a verb, and not as a noun — is the arbiter of worth and value. A thing is what a thing means to you. They can tell you your taste in music is crap, but you still listen to those tracks you love, the music still moves you; they can tell you that this or that work is the apex of European culture, but you can be bored and crave soap and a drink and sleep.

The meaning of things isn’t stable. The value you assign to a book or a film or a song can’t be maintained on a permanent basis. Works of art, like most things, and perhaps all things, flit in and out of awareness, and evade a static and neutral state of attention*.

It’s impossible to measure the meaning or the value of a work of art: such quantities don’t exist — there is nothing to measure, no unit of measurement to apply. You can’t measure Wuthering Heights in inches, or Mozart in kilometres per hour. The value or meaning of a work of art — including qualities like scale, depth, duration — is the experience of the work of art by an audience, and this experience is immeasurable, because there’s no objective system or scale we can apply. The experience of a work of art is living: it is life. And we don’t step outside of life…

Dip
one finger in one wave of the sea,
you touch the whole sea: dip
one finger in one moment of time . . .

In practical terms, of course, it’s perfectly understandable why people would be turned off by the scale of Dustless. “I’ve got better things to do with my time“. Perhaps. (But how would you know?). Better to say, “I’ve got other things to do with my time“. True.

Dustless was written against the times. By that, I mean it was written against the short-term, stop-gap, get it now, slash and burn, that’s so yesterday, “okay, we’ve got it”, have it all, neatly packaged, flash-hyped, totally marketed, fast turnover, for-profit culture that’s gradually ingesting us. In this sense, the scale of the novel is important: those 3,485,149 words aren’t lightly dismissed, aren’t “been there, done it”, aren’t “yeah yeah yeah”, aren’t an immediate high-monetisation opportunity with a clearly defined target market, they aren’t this year’s happening thing, they aren’t 10 things you must read before you die.

Dustless was written against a tendency in which everything is in danger of becoming measured simply by money, where the only real value is financial, and an individual’s worth is measured purely by their direct capacity to contribute to an economy — where, in supposedly advanced societies, people who could live are left to die for lack of care, where efficiency and hard work are rewarded by less and less collective security, where the illusion of choice masks the erosion of autonomy, by a culture that grows more and more indifferent, led by governments that increasingly only wring or wash their hands, encouraging a society that becomes more privatised, where “the people” have been replaced by individuals and the individuals reduced to consumers, and life for many more people grows daily more precarious. Where there’s a hollowing of civic society — in the way that Detroit has seen the hollowing of a city. Where time is money. Where one must use one’s time efficiently: work hard, and then play hard — always hard, always fast, always concise. And for those who can’t work, and don’t have the money…

Dustless is, in some ways, a statement of anti-pragmatism, where scale is a mode of resistance.

In these senses, then, the length of Dustless is meaningful, to its creator at least. The scale possesses value, and emanates value.

And I hope you’ll forgive me if, with a cavalier snap of my fingers, and a certain joie de vivre, and a hint of laconic chutzpah, a comradely bravado, I mention to sceptics and cynics that Dustless is itself a fragment, meant to belong to a greater, probably never-to-be written work — a genuinely epic novel series — entitled Metallic.

Dustless is for the actual dream, and against the so-called reality.

The process of composition lasted for years. Composition was the living organism: the novel itself was the shell the organism accumulated through its life. Like a nautilus or a conch, when the living organism ends, and decays away, the shell alone is left to remain on the seabed. Here is the shell: but of such a vast scale that a Titanic might lie inside it, near its lip, the broken vessel a mere speck of angular dust, its keel resting on a plain of mother of pearl. And perhaps, over the years, by a magical process, this shell will continue to expand, until it might mimic a human mind, and be a place you can put the ocean.

Pages: 1 2

And then came one of those moments – increasingly rare, it seemed to Zy – but astonishing when they occurred: a moment when Akzasosan appeared to slip out of the limits of himself, and rise up, unpredictably, towards an entirely different kind of life.

The Lord began to sing.

From the Emperors of Steel to Moin III,
one thing has kept this world pure,
and forged together sky and sea,
made to shine, made to endure:
in the sounds of hammers and the ring of swords,
in the chains of blood and in all our words,
from Moin III to the Emperors of Steel
one thing has bound us, wheel to wheel:
that thing is metal.

Metal daughter, metal son,
we are the Metallic ones:
metal son and metal daughter,
calm in peace, calm in slaughter,
cool, fluent, indestructible,
through our veins runs purest metal,
and – oh, my noble daughter,
oh, my faithful son,
therefore, we are the Metallic ones.

Well, the world it turns and the world it burns,
but always, the world must learn
who alone will rule beneath this lonely sun –
we will, the Metallic ones.

Sleep then, Baby, right through the night
like soft silver, glowing, bright,
sleep my Babe hard and sweet
until Evening and Morning stars meet:
sleep like a metal beyond all dust,
sleep like a metal, through all rust
pass, pure and straight,
through the dawn’s defenceless gates:
and when you rise, rise like a sun,
always a Metallic one.

Fall, my sweet, as light on a lake,
fall, my dear, like white snowflakes:
and when you wake, wake first, wake quick –
for you are my child,
and you, my child,
are Metallic.

Metallic.

Metallic…

The Lord’s singing voice was lighter and higher than his speaking voice: he raised it. The wind had died down, and his voice went up through the cold calmness that had descended on the Sea of Trees.

From the first moment and the first word, Zy felt intensified, alerted, almost painfully so: he stopped breathing. How strange it is, he thought, the difference between the voice that speaks and the same voice entering into song. There is a kind of leap. With the transition from his wry, rather drab speech of the past few minutes to the haunting, twilit melody of the song, the Lord appeared to jump from being one kind of person to another – he seemed expanded, loosened, set free.

And the song itself – was it a kind of lullaby? – had something magical twisted into it, a profound power that instantly called to Zy, and emphasised its own difference from the conditions of normal speech. This was no jahzig song: it had its own beauty, but it was not that of the sunburnt, drought-dazed, aching, empty horizons of peasant melodies – there was a frightening coolness to Akzasosan’s song, its refusal to be quite one thing or another. Its rhythm was irregular, its structure asymmetric. It refused its own order, disdained its own laws. It was warm, and tender, but it was icy, and detached as well. It was gentle, but it was violent. It was a lullaby, but it was a call to arms. And there, out on the wild track running through Ahamuji Forest, when Akzasosan sang into the freezing winter air, it was like lifting a lantern up, and showing it to the world.

Excerpt from Mask [ii], Volume 10 of Dustless


Re-post, with additional text | Original post, April 2015

So the boy slept. He woke again, and I will tell you of that in a moment. But let him sleep for a while now. He deserves a little peace, doesn’t he?

It will be obvious to you, I imagine, that I have some affection for the boy. I have followed him closely through this story, never letting him out of my sight for very long.

It will not always be like this. There are too many voices, and too many stories.

We are not set up to listen to one story alone, however much we may want to. But equally, we are not set up to hear every story.

We must choose, for the most part, which stories we attend to, and which stories we tell.

Only the damned, perhaps, have no choice in this matter.

And yet, as we turn away from this story, and listen to that – as we grow deaf to this story, and attentive to that – isn’t there a kind of betrayal going on?

I think so.

Only, even now, I am not sure who is betrayed.

Well, well – never mind. We are not set up for too many stories. Let us concentrate on the one in hand.

For after all, only a man of flames can live in a house of fire. Only a child can live in the house of children.

Listen, and I’ll tell you about it.

Excerpt from Fire House, Volume 6 of Dustless

•DUSTLESS-FIN6


Re-post | Original post December 2014