Anna Kava, “untitled 31”, c. 1960. A Chase.


Anna Kava, Ice / Neige

via — “a semantic and fictional archive designed out of a collection of data related to the British novelist Anna Kavan (1901–1968).”

Partial ‘reblog’ from everythingisnice (text & quotes by them / only the old pointless/boring pics are mine):

I had come back to investigate rumours of a mysterious impending emergency in this part of the world. But as soon as I got here she became an obsession, I could think only of her, felt I must she her immediately, nothing else mattered. Of course I knew it was utterly irrational. And so was my present uneasiness: no harm was likely to come to me in my own country; and yet I was becoming more and more anxious as I drove. (p. 6)

From the outset it is obvious that Ice is a novel about obsession but it rapidly becomes clear that it is overwhelmingly about illness. Our nameless narrator has returned to this country from business overseas and is involved with this brewing civil emergency but it is not clear what this is or what his role in it is. Government? Military? He is somehow an insider yet he seems to fear the police. It is a defining feature of the novel that the narrator is both victim and agent of authority.

It is unseasonably cold and the man at the petrol station warns him of ice as he sets off up the country lanes to visit the girl. Ethereal, blonde to the point of translucency, she is never named either. They knew each other when they were younger but she married another man:

This was past history. But the consequences of the traumatic experience were still evident in the insomnia and headaches from which I suffered. The drugs prescribed for me produced horrible dreams, in which she always appeared as a helpless victim, her fragile body broken and bruised. These dreams were not confined to sleep only, and a deplorable side effect was the way I had come to enjoy them. (p. 8-9)

So he is traumatised, hallucinating and addicted. The waking dream occurs again and again; it is always the same: she becomes trapped, entombed, in ice. “Motionless, she kept her eyes fixed on the walls moving slowly towards her, a glassy, glittering circle of solid ice, of which she was the centre.” (p. 7) Early on, the imagery recurs again and again – “Great ice-cliffs were closing in on all sides.” (p. 13); “The masses of dense foliage all round became prison walls, impassable circular green ice-walls, surging towards her.” (p. 19) – culminate in an extraordinarily intense evocation:

 “Despairingly she looked all round. She was completely encircled by the tremendous ice walls, which were made fluid by explosions of blinding light, so that they moved and changed with a continuous liquid motion, advancing in torrents of ice, avalanches as big as oceans, flooding everywhere over the doomed world. Wherever she looked, she saw the same fearful encirclement, soaring battlements of ice, an over-hanging ring of frigid, fiery, colossal waves about to collapse upon her. Frozen by the deathly cold emanating from the ice, dazzled by the blaze of crystalline ice-light, she felt herself becoming part of the polar vision, her structure becoming one with the ice and snow. As her fate, she accepted the world of ice, shining, shimmering, dead; she resigned herself to the triumph of glaciers and the death of her world.” (p. 21)


In his introduction, Priest says: “To work as allegory there has to be an exactness that the reader can grasp. In Ice the symbols are elusive, mysterious, captivating. It ends as it begins, with nothing that is practical or concluded.” If it is not an allegory, perhaps Ice is simply a wound; a raw insight into Kavan’s illness.

Continue reading “Anna Kava, Ice / Neige”

“In a sense Thomas Pynchon, J.G. Ballard and Philip K. Dick predicted Brian Eno: Pynchon with his image of electronic sound as ambient entertainment; Ballard with his scenes of Vermilion Sands’ cloud sculptors and sonic statue salesmen; Dick with his musical reverie technology.”

Dans ces derniers temps, un malheureux fut amenĂ© devant nos tribunaux, dont le front Ă©tait illustrĂ© d’un rare et singulier tatouage: Pas de chance! Il portait ainsi au-dessus de ses yeux l’Ă©tiquette de sa vie, comme un livre son titre, et l’interrogatoire prouve que ce bizarre Ă©criteau Ă©tait cruellement vĂ©ridique.


Il est d’ailleurs facile de supposer qu’un homme aussi rĂ©ellement solitaire, aussi profondĂ©ment malheureux, et qui a pu souvent envisager tout le systĂšme social comme un paradoxe et une imposture, un homme qui, harcelĂ© par une destinĂ©e sans pitiĂ©, rĂ©pĂ©tait souvent que la sociĂ©tĂ© n’est qu’une cohue de misĂ©rables (c’est Griswold qui rapporte cela, aussi scandalisĂ© qu’un homme qui peut penser la mĂȘme chose, mais qui ne la dira jamais)


Parmi l’Ă©numĂ©ration nombreuse des droits de l’homme que la sagesse du XIXe siĂšcle a recommencĂ©e si souvent et si complaisamment, deux assez importants ont Ă©tĂ© oubliĂ©s, qui sont le droit de se contredire et le droit de s’en aller. Mais la sociĂ©tĂ© regarde celui qui s’en va comme un insolent; elle chĂątierait volontiers certaines dĂ©pouilles funĂšbres, comme ce malheureux soldat, atteint de vampirisme, que la vue d’un cadavre exaspĂ©rait jusqu’Ă  la fureur.—Et cependant, on peut dire que, sous la pression de certaines circonstances, aprĂšs un sĂ©rieux examen de certaines incompatibilitĂ©s, avec de fermes croyances Ă  de certains dogmes et mĂ©tempsycoses,—on peut dire, sans emphase et sans jeu de mots, que le suicide est parfois l’action la plus raisonnable de la vie.


Mais il arrivait parfois—on le dit, du moins,—que le poĂ«te, se complaisant dans un caprice destructeur, rappelait brusquement ses amis Ă  la terre par un cynisme affligeant et dĂ©molissait brutalement son Ɠuvre de spiritualitĂ©. C’est d’ailleurs une chose Ă  noter, qu’il Ă©tait fort peu difficile dans le choix de ses auditeurs, et je crois que le lecteur trouvera sans peine dans l’histoire d’autres intelligences grandes et originales, pour qui toute compagnie Ă©tait bonne. Certains esprits, solitaires au milieu de la foule, et qui se repaissent dans le monologue, n’ont que faire de la dĂ©licatesse en matiĂšre de public. C’est, en somme, une espĂšce de fraternitĂ© basĂ©e sur le mĂ©pris.


nous nous trouvons souvent sur le bord mĂȘme du souvenir


elle, la toujours placide Ligeia, Ă  l’extĂ©rieur si calme, Ă©tait la proie la plus dĂ©chirĂ©e par les tumultueux vautours de la cruelle passion. Et je ne pouvais Ă©valuer cette passion que par la miraculeuse expansion de ces yeux


J’Ă©tais devenu un esclave de l’opium, il me tenait dans ses liens,—et tous mes travaux et mes plans avaient pris la couleur de mes rĂȘves.

[will perhaps be edited/completed later.]


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Do not believe—and I am dead serious when I say this—do not assume that order and stability are always good

today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups—and the electronic hardware exists by which to deliver these pseudo-worlds right into the heads of the reader, the viewer, the listener. Sometimes when I watch my eleven-year-old daughter watch TV, I wonder what she is being taught. The problem of miscuing; consider that. A TV program produced for adults is viewed by a small child. Half of what is said and done in the TV drama is probably misunderstood by the child. Maybe it’s all misunderstood. And the thing is, Just how authentic is the information anyhow, even if the child correctly understood it? What is the relationship between the average TV situation comedy to reality? What about the cop shows? Cars are continually swerving out of control, crashing, and catching fire. The police are always good and they always win. Do not ignore that point: The police always win. What a lesson that is. You should not fight authority, and even if you do, you will lose. The message here is, Be passive. And—cooperate. If Officer Baretta asks you for information, give it to him, because Officer Beratta is a good man and to be trusted. He loves you, and you should love him.

So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing. It is my job to create universes, as the basis of one novel after another. And I have to build them in such a way that they do not fall apart two days later. Or at least that is what my editors hope. However, I will reveal a secret to you: I like to build universes which do fall apart. I like to see them come unglued, and I like to see how the characters in the novels cope with this problem. I have a secret love of chaos. There should be more of it. Do not believe—and I am dead serious when I say this—do not assume that order and stability are always good, in a society or in a universe. The old, the ossified, must always give way to new life and the birth of new things. Before the new things can be born the old must perish. This is a dangerous realization, because it tells us that we must eventually part with much of what is familiar to us. And that hurts. But that is part of the script of life. Unless we can psychologically accommodate change, we ourselves begin to die, inwardly. What I am saying is that objects, customs, habits, and ways of life must perish so that the authentic human being can live. And it is the authentic human being who matters most, the viable, elastic organism which can bounce back, absorb, and deal with the new.”

— How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later by Philip K. Dick

Beckett — Sans / Lessness

Written at the end of the 1960s, this short text is one of the most experimental of Samuel Beckett’s pieces of fiction. It was originally written in French, entitled Sans (“without”), and translated by Beckett himself as Lessness (New Statesman, 1 May 1970). Partly inspired by experimental music by John Cage and other 1960s compositions, Beckett created a rigid framework within which he allows chance to be the main structuring principle of his text.`

Lessness is a prose piece by Samuel Beckett in which he    used random permutation to order sentences.  Although    Lessness is linear prose, its orderly disorder calls for a    reading process in which the reader works to untangle the threads of    sameness and difference to discern the underlying structure,    becoming aware of the usually unconscious processes of    interpretation. Tightly interwoven contradictory perspectives drive    the reader’s attempts at reconciliation. The two halves of    Lessness are two of the 8.3 x 1081 possible orderings of Beckett’s 60    sentences.



I couldn’t find the original text in french.

(Maybe i’ll type it once i get the book.)