Sunday 29 June 2008

Mobius Dick

Hi everybody. Great to be back. May I firstly thank Karl for keeping the blog as vibrant as ever during my "Sicilian Vespers". I have yet had the chance to catch up with the Sunday Itladic Digests but they seem really fantastic. The amount of work Karl puts into these posts staggers me. I would also like to thank him for placing the LBC interview on the blog. This was the second interview/phone-in I had been involved in with LBC and in my opinion it is probably the best I have done. I guess it is because of the time factor. Such a complex subject as itlad/CTF needs time to be explained. Secondly I would like to thank the regular bloggers for making such fantastic contributions. This blog really is becoming a phenomenon!

The reason for this posting is that Karl loaned me a copy of a book entitled Mobius Dick by Andrew Crumey three or four months ago. I decided that I would wait until I was on holiday to do the book justice.

I read this book in one sitting (well loafing really as I was lounging around a swimming pool at the time!). I found it a fantastic read. To say that it is itladic is an understatement. No wonder Karl was keen to have me read it.

The book deals with many of the subjects dear to the hearts of all involved in this blog - Everett's Many-Worlds (Many-Minds), Synchronicity, The Eternal Reccurence etc etc. Clearly Crumey is influenced by (although he does not state this in the book) Philip K Dick and Jorge Borges. Indeed the story has echoes of Dick's Man In The High Castle and Borges' Garden of the Forking Paths. (I wonder if the 'Dick' in Mobius Dick was as much a play on PKD's name as Moby Dick).

However whilst reading the book there was a series of synchronicities that were simply startling - absolutely significant to my circumstances at the time and in the past.

On arrival in Taormina I noticed a CD in the window of a record store. I was so taken by this that I took a photograph of the window front. At the time I was interested because in the window was a CD by the Welsh singer-songwriter Duffy. This album is entitled Rockferry. Now Rock Ferry is a place about three miles from where I now live on Wirral. At the time I was just simply interested in the geographical link.

On my return to the hotel I started reading the book. It was then that a coincidence became a series of synchronicities. I found the book so readable that I was swiftly getting through the pages. On page 241 Andrew writes about a letter sent to Nathanial Hawthorne by Herman Melville in 1856. Melville writes in the letter that "Liverpool, your home, was as welcome to me, as colourful, as strange, as an Arab bazaar." Now Nathaniel Hawthorne had worked in Liverpool at that time. However his house, where Melville would have stayed (Hawthorne's 'home') was, in fact across the river in a place called .... Rock Ferry! This made me sit up and take notice, particularly because the whole theme of Andrew's book is they way in which the world around us is created by our own mind and that every coincidence is significant. I read on, literally waiting for the next synchronicity - and it was not long in coming, and it was a cracker!!!

On page 243 Andrew has Melville write the following:

"The churchyard is romantic and overgrown, though the church is of but recent make, subscribing to a local Presbyterian sect more unfathomable than the Messina Straits."

I burst out laughing at the joke specifically made for me, created within my own phaneron and Bohmian Imax. Why? Because I raised up my eyes across the swimming pool and stared at the dark blue waters of ..... the Straits of Messina!!!!


Karl Le Marcs said...

Tony: Welcome back mate.
*puts trumpet down*

Thank you for your kind words Tony, you can buy me a pint

I hope the Sicilan Sabbatical was all you hoped it would be and that you have brought some Thelemic energy back with you.
*Crowleyanic gesture*

I’m really pleased but hardly surprised that you enjoyed Mobius Dick
(I hope the spine is still not bent!!!!!!!)
I first read it before I had read ITLAD but I re-read it again, one afternoon after ITLAD, and it all hit me again, but many times increased.

Several bloggers have emailed me about the book since your email and here is a link to Amazon’s review of Mobius Dick:

Amazon - Mobius Dick

plus a link to a great page containing many short and long reviews of the book:

Mobius Dick Reviews

And I quote from THE GUARDIAN’s review here as it relates to Tony’s comments in the post and our personal chats regarding the book and several writers.

In some ways this is an edgily modern book, with Dick's namesake, Philip K Dick, among its guiding spirits. Admirers of Flann O'Brien's fictions will be struck by the beguiling ways in which Crumey uses unreliable narrators and worlds within worlds. In another sense the novel reaches back to a Renaissance aesthetic, in which art and scholarship, if not quite the same thing, are mutually adoring twins or lovers in a fable. Refreshingly, this is a novel in which science is a central character rather than a metaphor for something else.
That said, it isn't a boffin-fest but a glitteringly original piece of storytelling, unapologetically intelligent, driven by tightly focused narrative skill. It is also acerbically funny, peppered with digs, while an Orwellian irony makes clear that the questions implied are not about some imagined culture, but concern the one in which we wake up every day.
There is a winning sense of spaciousness in the writing, a feeling that the words are pouring out spontaneously. This quality is all the more impressive because the ideas are complex: indeed, those of us who are a bit rusty on Heisenberg's interpretation of wave functions may sense we're missing out. And even readers who marvel at Crumey's expansive, frisky prose may feel the allusion to cultural titans becomes a little relentless: Melville, Thomas Mann, Foucault, Nietzsche and Lacan are all name- checked in the first few pages. ("Writing about writers is best avoided," comments Dick's therapist. This isn't advice Crumey would tolerate.) But while Mobius Dick is a work of sophisticated erudition, its playfulness and artistry make it a page-turner, too. It is perhaps the only novel about quantum mechanics you could imagine reading while lying on a beach.

There are SOOO many interconnecting links, and even more to be found on subsequent re-reads, within the book that it really wouldn’t surprise me if Andrew Crumey was referencing PKD in the title. And it is even interesting to read the book considering my own theories on consciousness and the vacuum energy point field (but I won’t give away the plot)

Amazing synchrondipities between Duffy, Nathaniel Hawthorne and a Scouser lolling about a pool in Sicily overlooking the Messina Straits !! Fantastic stuff !! It made me smile on a recent trip to come see you on the Wirral when I was on the Liverpool Underground listening to the Duffy album on my MP3 player to see the Rock Ferry station just a couple of stops away from where I was heading!

Ah! The Mobius Strip of life!!

Good to have you home Tony

(I can go for a lie down now!!!)


Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Tony! As you can see we've been well looked after by Karl in your absence but you WERE missed!

I'm glad you kept the Wirral in mind while you were away! *smile*

Thanks to Karl's download of the LBC broadcast, your voice has maintained a presence on the Wirral (well on my PC and in the car).

Anonymous said...

Karl: Amazon send their thanks for getting me to make another purchase!

Karl Le Marcs said...

Woodsprite: Thank You.

I must contact Andrew Crumey and see if I can get some commission for these sales!!


johar said...

Welcome Back Tony,

I hope you had a lovely, relaxing holiday and the shoulder is on the mend!

You have a lot of reading to do!!

Jesamyn said...

Yes , hear hear!! WELCOME BACK indeed, as all have noted ,Karl has kept our minds from lazing or lolling about idly!! I certainly read with great interest re all the Synchronicities, as when one pursues any of these types of subjects, they quite impishly occur and recur as if they have a sense of humour of their own!!! Glad you are back and that you had a great holiday.. I too will be looking at buying *Mobius Dick*.

Robin said...

The wind blows hard against this mountainsiae.
Across the sea into my soul.
It reaches into where I cannot hide,
Setting my feet upon the road.
My heart is old it holds my memories.
My body burns a gemlike flame.
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine
Is where I find myself again.

~Kyrie, Mr. Mister

It's good to have you back!

Robin said...

BTW Karl, my copy of Mobius Dick is due to arrive today. I ordered it the day you posted Tony's letter.

AND Tony, you need to become an amazon associate. If we order via a link from your blog, you get a commission...

Anthony Peake said...

Great to be back folks.
ROBIN: One of my guilty pleasures is really liking "Welcome To The Real World" Mr Mister. Indeed "Kyrie" would be in my top 20 favourite songs. We therefore have another (very minor) synchronlcity.

Karl Le Marcs said...

Robin and Tony: Wow, Mr. Mister!

I have just been rummaging in my loft (which, outside of a quaint second-hand bookshop, is the best place to rummage), and have found my cassette tape of the strangely ITALDicly titled (when you think about it) "Welcome To The Real World". Yes cassette tape!! And it still works. I won't begin to catalogue some of the deeply embarrassing other album tapes I found but suffice to say it will be 80s night at home for me.
*dons Adam and the Ants outfit*

Lord Have Mercy On Us, Indeed!

"Kyrie Eleison
Down the road that I must travel
Kyrie Eleison
Through the darkness of the night
Kyrie Eleison
Where I'm going will you follow
Kyrie Eleison
On a highway in the light

When I was young I thought of growing old
Of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road
Or only wished what I could be

- Kyrie Mr.Mister

Karl Le Marcs said...

Robin: Great idea re Amazon Associates and I hope you enjoy Mobius Dick

My best advice is to find a good period to read it, rather than dipping in and out, as the plotlines all blend into one so you get a better understanding of it by doing as Tony did and reading it all in one go (ideally)

Robin said...

It's a compliment that you think I can finish a book in one reading! I'll do my best to live up to the expectation.

I'm writing this comment from work. We came into a busy shift and took a patient to the OR right away. As soon as the surgery started Mr. Mister "Broken Wings" started playing on the OR radio.


Karl Le Marcs said...

Robin: Orchestrated OR !!

*giggles as that gag will probably only be understood by me, Tony and a remarkable fellow named Stuart Hameroff*

And awwww, Nurse Robin tending to the Broken Wings of the newborn.


Robin said...

*cough* show-off *cough*

Karl Le Marcs said...

*bows and drops diamante encrusted mortarboard into a puddle*

That was a fantastic gag, even if the audience is admittedly limited.

Orch-OR theory of consciousness

Music in the OR room of a hospital IS Orchestrated OR !

Oh never mind!!

*flounces off with soggy mortarboard*

Robin said...

How did that one miss Sunday school? You are an endless wealth of information my friend!

Rosh said...

Hello, Tony...welcome back!
we have been busy as u can see...hope u had a nice trip!

Anthony Peake said...

ROSHNI; Glad to be back in the itladic fold.
ROBIN; One could argue that we are simply noticing Mr Mister everywhere - as KLLM would term it "The Kangaroo Effect". However there is significance in these seemingly rooted coincidences,a pattern that gives them significance.
KLLM; Exceptionally clever joke on Orch R my man. Let us hope that Stuart H sometimes Googles himself.

Karl Le Marcs said...


I always like the sound of an audience with just one person laughing!

*returns to writing Quantum Physics Stand-Up Comedy routine*