April 20, 2012
Let me explain the five-star rating. When I was teenager I was ludicrously shy. I was the son and heir of a shyness that was criminally vulgar. My all-conquering shyness kept Morrissey in gold-plated ormolu swans for eight years. Any contact with human beings made me mumble in horror and scuttle off to lurk in dark corners. But I developed this automatic writing technique in school to ease my mounting stress whenever teachers were poaching victims to answer questions, perform presentations or generally humiliate. I would start out composing a piece of surrealist free-association prose, usually violently satirical. As the teachers (or pupils or other humans) closed in around me, my prose would lapse into soothing gibberish. Sometimes I wrote a stream of pretty sounding words (I was a rabid sesquipedalian in my teens)—zeugmatic, antediluvian, milquetoast, mugwump. Luscious lovely words! Sometimes language broke down into neologisms or gibberish—boobleplop, artycary, frumpalerp, etc. Nervy, throbbing syllables. I came to associate collapsed language with an inner space where I went to hide from the imagined humiliations of interacting with others. Once I escaped the imprisonment of my inner conscious (over a four-year period known as The Torture Years), I always used nonsense writing as a means of getting through difficult situations—where others might doodle, for example, I would write Joycean Jabberwocky. Still do, usually on the phone. So this book, to me, is The Little Book of Calm. Except it isn’t little, and it makes people shit themselves. Me? I love this magnificent beast. Unless you suffer from similar deep-seated psychological wounds that threaten to gradually consume your entire adult life, don’t read this.