The Bower of Nil: A Narrative Poem.Earthrise Press, 2002. Reverberations. Cloth, soft cover, ebook editions. 72 pages. ISBN-10: 0967042178. ISBN-13: 978-0967042176. eISBN: 9780982677827. Bookshop
Fifteen years in the making, overturning the nihilism of Nietzsche, moving beyond Postmodernism, Peter Marsh, an academic philosopher struggling with analytical philosophy, weighs modern life in a conversation with his friend, David Emerson, a businessman. Brought together after long separation by the brutal murder of Mary, Peter’s wife, a time of devastating loss and crisis, their friendship inspires a dark night of the soul, during which Peter’s meditations range over several hundred years of philosophy, politics, religion, social change, the dilemmas of existence, evoking a vision of the complexities of the 21st Century, the United Nations, and global governance.
Structured around classical Greek choral movements, the first section ponders themes from Japanese Buddhism, while the second and third survey Western philosophy from Aristotle and Plato through Descartes, Pascal, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Derrida, and others, in a powerfully dramatic grappling with philosophy, East and West.
(Excerpt from Section I of III, below.)
"This is a doorway into the future . . . the subtleties and complexities of the aforementioned cultures inform his subject matter and his political interests circumscribe the work. The Bower of Nil is an Orwell meets Nietzsche meets C.S. Lewis mélange of despair, madness, and hope. Not lyrical, not tidy and not information-byte-sized, your fingers come away heavy with paint—rather than print— after reading this. Colored richly and satisfyingly with symbols (e.g., the name Peter, the lily, the lantern) that speak directly to the psyche—the way that artwork spoke to the illiterate in the Middle Ages...." Poems Niederngasse More reviews...
The Bower of Nil
(Excerpt from Section I of III)
Palpable darkness pervades the room,
surrounding, infusing, permeating
every nook and cranny of the study.
Through the windows no light shines, no trace
of lingering twilight or approaching dawn.
Only suffocating pitch-black ebony hours,
hours past midnight,
hours long before predawn half-light.
Partially drawn, the curtains
shroud the windows; half-recognized,
the couch in between overflows with books,
papers, manuscripts thrown aside in haste,
disgust, ennui, acedia, despair.
Randomly piled stacks of books obstruct
the floor; papers collect dust and mites;
along two walls row on row of books
slouch haphazardly or are crammed onto
shelves designed to hold half as many.
No order but disarray cloaked in darkness.
As chaotic as the rest of the room,
the desk holds heaps of material,
half-digested, then set aside,
piled willy-nilly around and on
the computer, paperclips, scissors,
tape, discarded envelopes bearing
half an address, a half-used ream of paper,
paraphernalia of a mind searching for form,
struggling to arrest chaos itself.
On a stand next to the couch a lexicon
lies closed, repository of a language
that once signified, referred, meant something
beyond the infinite play of facile wit,
the seductive flow of consciousness
streaming from one diversion to another,
distracting itself with one curio,
momentarily, before bounding back
to the ocean of flux, sensation,
instinct, where all that sails on that sea
stands level with every other ship,
lost, seeking no port of call, no shore,
no destination but the dark horizon
of one floundering at sea.
On the brown carpet of moderate pile,
flat on his back, gazing up into the dark room,
stretched out like a corpse, lay Peter Marsh.
For three days since the murder of his wife,
he had slept very little and had spent
each night alone on the rack of the floor
of his study. More than thirty years of marriage
kept going over and over in his mind,
now replaced with scraps of conversation
from earlier that evening with David Emerson.
Continues . . .
Copyright (c) 2002 Frederick Glaysher