THE MOON KING by Neil Williamson
MY REVIEW OF THIS NOVEL — CONTINUED FROM HERE — WILL TAKE PLACE IN THE COMMENT STREAM BELOW AS AND WHEN I HAPPEN TO READ IT:-
Overnight, I have been thinking hard about this novel, and I feel, so far, that it is, at least on one level, a rare example of an astrological novel, indeed a unique meta-astrological extrapolation, breaking even more ground than Eleanor Catton’s award-winning THE LUMINARIES which I reviewed here a few months ago, saying, inter alia: “…as if the ground we walk upon is paradoxically both our anchoring fate and our model to mould.” — The Moon, you see, is often considered to be a weaker component of a Natal Chart than the Sun and the Ascendant degree, but now, thank goodness, it’s perhaps getting its due deserts, outdoing even all our multi-planetary Transits and Progressions. Not the Houses but the Mansions of the Moon?
Pages 133 – 165
“Those of an idle frame of mind could find a place in Glassholme to sit the day long and watch the moon.”
There are shades of the dream archipelago here, too. But I hope I have not given you the impression hereto that this is just a rarefied literary book; it is a page-turner full of plot. Character and place, too, in spades. The best of all worlds.
Idle poets, also depictions of a work ethic vis-a-vis the current work on the Machine, and our battle to exercise Free Will, perhaps the fourth sphere of mutuality (a self-mutuality) to battle with the three spheres of mutuality I adumbrated earlier. With Free Will, the luck monkeys, for example, lose much of their power?
Just to pick out one thing in this section: Lottie is described as a satellite, an outsider, one of those on the periphery, like me, waiting instinctively for some moon eclipse or some change in its orbit (perhaps inadvertently caused by this review itself!), she in tune with the dragging monthly bloods of wane, I sense, as the island city heads for an unprecedented glitch unrecorded or unpredicted by the early children’s story type biographies or the more recent disciplined biographies, or by what I shall call, and perhaps I alone shall call, the Four Mutualities. Full Dark, No Stars.
Another teapot, too, in this section.
Pages 166 – 199
“A horribly familiar sensation that there was something taking place around him that was too large to see.”
It as if the text is changing just before I get to it, trying to scupper or confuse my review with its own confusions. As if this were an externally manipulable ebook rather that what it actually is: a proper book with text on solid paper. I am actually excited by all of this, as I become faced, inter alia, with: the prospect of different expurgated or unexpurgated texts elsewhere, the ‘dissociative creep’ of something controlling my mind that I am this book’s counterbalance, rather than fulcrum, that the ‘toe-rag’ much earlier in this book (that I assumed to be a typo) was in fact trying to divert my attention from the ability to ‘tow’ or ‘harness’ the Moon, ‘apocryphal nuggets’, night-biographers or Indigenes, ‘silverfish children’…
I knew that superstition was rife in this book’s ethos, but now a literally full-blooded religion (and the one chosen to birth the Missiah (my word, not the book’s)) looms… And I am pleasantly reminded of the feminine regime in the duodecology of novels entitled ‘Warriors of Love’, the first novel of which (‘Jane’) was published last year by Chomu Press. And judging by some of the police machinations at the palace, my mention of Plebgate earlier doesn’t seem all that far-fetched!
I remain enthralled, even more so, in fact.
“Saying nothing more, the cafe owner rose and whisked away the teapot.”
Pages 200 – 220
“It all moved around him with a pedestrian measure that was both beautiful and infuriating. / But it did its job. The clock never stopped. Not at Full, not at Dark. Not even for the Lunane.”
Not for any Nemonymous Night, either.
This book itself does that job, here contrasting the cinematic riot of mechanical crabs or flashmobs with the poignant vulnerability and work ethic of the latest Lunane who is now faced with his own backstory.
We all pray, I guess, for visitations from our own night biographer? Not to record the snores, but the dreams.
Pages 221 – 242
“People came from all over the city to watch its claws of flame punching holes in the roof,…”
This is becoming a truly visionary book that seems to circuit and circuit-break my own thoughts, as we seek ‘a dead “monument” to once ancient hope’, but it is in fact a relatively ordinary house, where the monthly blood is infused, as well as tea. I glimpse some truths, where I referred earlier to a human ‘Popemobile’ and now expressly referenced by “patriarchal pontiff”. Also a Priest’s “glamour”. The book’s glamour of fast physical birth seen against the moon’s slow clock, while the forces within this moon-glitched city begin perhaps to range more clearly against each other. Described by a textual style, sometimes, to die for.
Pages 243 – 257
“…and delivered three firm knocks to the blood red door. It swung ajar.”
There is at one moment in this section an agoraphobic ‘too much sky and light’ as we travel to the coast hopefully away from the inner city’s cyclic rhythms that either control or follow our own movements and our attempts at free will, ironically accompanied in so much sky and light by the night biographer: with your trying to shake off the inner voice or trying to convince the same voice that matters of State are beyond the reach of any ‘arrears’ or ‘advance’ history of what is happening to the city – and at the next moment the police machinations elsewhere, claustrophobic, beyond the blood red door (a ‘nurturing centre’ or a force of feminine revolution and religion?) and then remembering the times, with those kept arrested in the Dark Room, when the police’s own rules were ironically bent to keep similar rules intact for all of us! A metaphor for those of us reading this book believing that they are not truly entrammelled by it? This book, I sense, cannot tolerate any detached reader, so do not pick it up to read it while believing you are free to put it down just when you like, because you won’t be able to.
Pages 258 – 277
“But whatever the reasons, nature is not to be contained. She adapts.”
I am continuously surprised by ‘advance’ eventualities in this novel as they transpire while immediately appreciating in ‘arrears’ their perfect audit trail or inevitability – and this inspiring section takes the book into a fifth gear and is the optimum example of that narrative phenomenon: where we learn, in a cave by the sea, more of the nature of the night biographies and those who keep them, some aboriginal arithmetic-counting force that only a real-time review of this narrative as a self-conscious public report can, I truly believe, match rhythm for rhythm. And the ‘cloud’, a rogue prediction at the beginning of this review, now finally reaches realisation; a cloud of insects configured like print? Scored out, smudged and parenthetical and tentacularly claused, unlike the book itself, unlike the book’s official biographies, but like the black-bound night biographies…
I am still gradually sensing that — with the bi-polarity of wax and wane, agoraphobia and claustrophobia, what I call its Four Mutualities, its bending rules to maintain the same rules: factors so typical of our own age — this book, as well as a satisfyingly complex SF and Fantasy for their own sake, full (even over-full) of plot, character and place, is, whether intentional or not, a fable for our times and, if interpreted along with the grain of its own instinctive rhythms and counter-rhythms, may one day be celebrated for that achievement.
Pages 278 – 289
“…the child was determining the time of its own birth,…”
…reminding me of the eponymous hero of ‘Tristram Shandy’ – yet, here, perhaps the child wants to tie or be tied by its own horoscope or Prenatal Epoch (for me, a significant hyperlink). The times are falling apart, and we may fail in re-towing or re-harnessing the moon, and the vision of the water child is one of the most memorable and poignant in this whole book… As is another fall, that of “A broad-leaved greenstick […] the strange smear that clashed so with the vivid green of the leaves.”
Pages 290 – 313
“Yes, yes, yes…but who are you right now?”
Cogs within cogs, tea and over-brimming pregnancy, religious radiance of skin, a discovery not of a hidden version of a Wizard of Oz, not of some unlikely harnessed fable or flag for or against topical Scottish Nationalism, not even, perhaps, of an asexual or parthenogenetic symbol of Lovecraft’s Azathoth or the Bible’s Christ or something Rosicrucian or the reader him- or herself as the book’s core machination serviced by haunting water shapes: a Prenatal Epoch indeed not for the resolution of this book’s unique Gaia, but for a continuing series of questions that may never be answered. Like who you are? Who am I? What is this work? A visionary biography by night of a mankind and its world? Or a naive Noble-Savage biography by day that becomes for most readers nothing less or nothing more than an enjoyably page-turning fantasy fiction novel for its own sake? Yes, yes, yes…but what are you right now?
Pages 314 – 336
“The lacquered nails began a skittish descent down the side of her face like a nervous luck monkey finding a way down from the rooftops, but they stopped at the corner of her bad eye, her imperfection.”
I worried myself earlier in this review about the text changing before I could get to it (and I have just been reminded of my blog: ‘transfiguration of an unchanged text’ from over a year ago) – and now I fear that I myself have indeed become the moon’s undependable final eclipse or spoiler, making the ending seem inevitable bearing in mind my own influence upon it with my concept of the Four Mutualities. But perhaps this is just one possible ending among many. You may have a version of the book with a different ending. Half of me loved the well-tempered ending chosen or determined for me or by me, the other half hated it. But I loved the novel as a whole. And so will you.
PS: I have now read for the first time other reviews of ‘The Moon King’ and I am intrigued by one mention of ‘The Prisoner’ to which I could relate. Whether this should be McGoohan’s Prisoner (cf the aboriginal arithmetical counting on the coast) or Proust’s Prisoner (if not Priest’s!), I shall leave others to decide. It simply fits with the ‘Capture’ and ‘Dreamcaptcha’ theme of my latest real-time reviews.
I would urge readers of my review to click on my link above: Prenatal Epoch.
All in all, I am delighted with my purchase of this book from Amazon UK.
THE FOUR MUTUALITIES (composed by DFL after reading ‘The Moon King’)
1. Cosmic cause and effect upon YOU.
2. YOUR cause and effect upon the Cosmos (eg towing the Moon to a different position to enable 1. to work better or differently).
3. Synchronicity empirically recorded between YOU and the Cosmos (as above, so below), a process that I see as the intrinsic workings of the astrological planetary harmonics of a horoscope, i.e. a long-term collating of all that empirical evidence that when, for example, ‘a’ happened, ‘b’ happened, too, enabling later people to infer ‘b’ from ‘a’.
4. The Free Will (self mutuality) of YOU and the Cosmos, separately.
I now notice by googling that there are already two other mentions on the internet of ‘The Four Mutualities’, but they relate to Friary life and its relationship with Christ.
(extract from the Prenatal Epoch link)
Four Laws of the Epoch
1. When the Moon at birth increases in light, it will be on the ascending degree of Epoch, and the Moon at Epoch will be on the ascending degree at birth.
2. When the Moon at birth decrease in light, it will be on the decreasing degree at Epoch, and the Moon at Epoch will be on the descending degree at birth.
3. When the Moon at birth is (a) increasing in light and below the horizon, or (b) decreasing in light and above the horizon, the period of gestation is longer than the norm.
4. When the Moon at birth is (a) increasing in light and above the horizon or (b) decreasing in light and below the horizon, the period of gestation is shorter than the norm.
end of review
My review of The Queen of Clouds: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2022/04/13/queen-of-clouds-neil-williamson/
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