The Ten Dictates of Alfred Tesseller

Shortly, on this page below, I hope to conduct one of my real-time reviews of ‘The Ten Dictates of Alfred Tesseller’ (2012) by D.P. Watt.

This is a book I have recently purchased from the publisher: Ex Occidente Press; it arrived at my home in the UK by post on 21 July 2012.

HERE are some thumbnail images of its cover etc., as provided earlier by the book’s publisher.  It is a highly aesthetic book in portrait format with many images – throughout the pages – that I sense are intrinsic to the text and vice versa. Heavy-duty board covers,  sturdy dustjacket and 80 pages (all stiff-quality), red headings, coloured endpapers and frontispiece, and the last page states that there are only 171 copies of this book published and mine has a hand-written number showing it is the 171st of those copies.

It may take days, months or years to start and complete this review.


The front stitched-board cover is embossed with two crossed keys and the words: “FOR YOU, MY FRIEND, ARE WITH US ALWAYS”.   Then the following words appear alone on a single page after the first etching: “O LORD, DELIVER ME FROM ETERNAL DEATH.”

A wake

“…pelting Alice with those rotten cider apples, alive with the evil chuckle of wasps–”

[You won’t credit how astonishingly connective that quote is with my immediately previous real-time review – a review of ‘The Snowman’s Children’ completed yesterday: unless you read that very book and see for yourself!  Synchronicity is now surely proved to be my patina.] ‘A wake’ is a piece of three and quarter pages, enticing, richly prose-textured, seemingly about the arrival of a teacher Tesseller into the community – but he’s now dead and the ‘you’ whom the I-narrator addresses is either you (the reader) or Tesseller himself or someone else altogether, but it fits neatly with the ambiance of the ‘Snowman’s Children’ book’s childhood scenes and a community where serial killers can thrive, like Twin Peaks, except here with the book’s visual etchings it’s more ancient-eschatological than modern kill-fiction.  More enfabled than enfolded with narrative unfolding.  A ‘wake’ to start or finish one’s life? – all with an undercurrent of cruelty and being pursued that only one’s own (the reader’s) dark age can enrapture into something beautiful.  To feel hurt is to be human? “….ever backwards into us.” (24 Jul 12 – 8.50 am bst)

There shall be nothing but you

Forgive me grasping for the details,”

‘A wake’, I now note, has the leminscate symbol for infinity as part of its title. And the rest of the titles, including this one, have the two cross keys above it on each title page but a Roman numeral starting with I, II, III and so forth is placed before each alternate page’s heading of the title. That gives me a clue as to ‘A wake’ being an introduction to the rest of the pieces that are in a special order: (a tessellation?) and appear reader-instinctively-potentially to transcend both Tesseller’s death and the narrator’s, or that of both as one … Or even transcending your own death? Or mine? Or some ‘his death’ in a restaurant having soup with Anna. As this ‘his’ feels death enter him by the means of gunshots from two suspicious men who are described as stereotypes (you and me?). Grasping for details indeed, like all my real-time reviews, gathering leitmotifs for an eventual gestalt, and, yes, “minor details“, too, obsessing as well as radiating from each pictorial etching that clarifies something that only buying the book and seeing the etchings will capture. Otherwise, you will remain in darkness, in that ‘you nothing’ of standard death, not the special order of death in this book or of this book or from this book or by this book. Book written by book. [My previous real-time reviews of Ex Occidente Books]. (24 Jul 12 – 1.55 pm bst)

Tomorrow is a cinder

“There, between images and words (a little nearer to images I presume), are thoughts;”

Revelation ever accrues during “our search for you”: amid a honeycomb of first world war trenches (I infer): a Nemonymous Night “deep within the fracturing surface of the earth”: the cross-sectioning of our single lunatic mind as constituted by the felt sanities of each self we wield… All conveyed by a prose style to die for.  This is a symphonic poem without enjambement or notes – other than that tangle of notes above us like knitting. Those images and words that I suspect are clinging deeper the deeper I go. Not an easy experience but certainly a fulfilling one … So far. (25 Jul 12 – 2.50pm bst)

Beware the dust!

“– death is a great hindrance to any routine.”

This chapter starts with the ambiance of a black & white continental film of the 1950s,  with here, for me at least, a sense of the 2nd world war (not LP Hartley’s ‘facial justice ‘ of a 3rd world war) and a sense of the building-dissemination, the valued thing/curiosity decimation, valued by us, valued by them, valued by you, all down in dust, or, aspirationally, up in smoke like soul-matter? [I wonder if my own long-disowned novel ‘The Visitor’, written in 1974, that started like this book similarly with a teacher (the art Master) cinematically arriving with abruptness into a community (then visiting a classroom bedecked by a rip across an empty canvas), arriving so as to fight some war for art against philistinism, a past vision that is now being exhumed by death: in this Watt ‘novella’ of the Tessellater: the ultimate painting or etching on a flat surface now being granted the fruition of time, i.e taken for what it is without pretension of anything with a 3rd dimension being possible: taking the etching, rip, scratch, scored shape for granted: life as death’s servant.] — I feel the reader here is a faithful dog being thrown a ball to chase by the author.  I, for one, intend to snaffle the ball to bits to see what it’s really made of or if it is a ball at all. (25 Jul 12 – 6.55 pm bst)

You have nothing left to give

“– that etching of a stylus tracing a melody to accompany the artistry of those prism visions.”

Those Alhambra tessellations? Now in full ceremonial, this rarefied, ‘difficult’ book now takes full wing in my soul: [cf: my own ‘Stories of Murkales’ (first published in 1988 and republished in the ‘Weirdmonger: The Nemonicon’ book (2003) and my two early-1990s published story series Murky’s Tales and Zodiac of Murkales (ten Labours of Hercules = ten dictates of Tesseller?) but most particularly in my 1996 published story ‘The Exquisition’ where a ‘self’ slides between the Signs of the Zodiac filling or inhabiting each new or old body that the self uses in each Sign, be that body old or young or male or female or in tandem]: but here in this book also quite different with its delicious prose and unique eschatology and its mention of (what I earlier called a rip or tear) “abrasions” and “scars” or burrowing “deep inside another skull” [like that ‘Nemonymous Night’ Earth earlier] through a Journey that is reminiscent for me of certain of Alice A.  Bailey’s ‘Esoteric Astrology’ tenets. (26 Jul 12 – 10.25 am bst)

There are caverns in the firmament

Instead she had been torn into life one day in Mrs White’s classroom…”

Not only am I delighted by this charming inner-tale of Tesseller’s next vessel: a girl made of paper (surely a fine specimen if made from the paper of this very book, I suggest) but I am also immensely astonished at its echo of what I mentioned earlier by chance as a visitor (in my own fiction-writing past) to a classroom, one who sees a blank canvas there with a tear across it! Also the blemishing of purity theme into which this chapter evolves was also a very early preoccupation of mine. [I wrote a story called ‘The Fence’ in the late-1960s and it subsequently constituted the first part of this story here first published in 1988.]  I continue to be literally enthralled by this book written by ‘you’.  And its picture images. A unique experience the like of which has never appeared before in literature, I propound. (26 Jul 12 – 12.40 pm bst)

If only there was not here

I was in a hospital.”

The Narrative Hospital? — Strangely, the synchronicities and serendipities continue: here we have a Kafkaesque hospital with (portable?) curtained-off areas from bed to bed for private conferences with visitors or doctors or inspectors (or ‘tessellers’?) to take place … and this resonates with a novel I happen to be reading silmutaneously (i.e. I started it before starting this Tesseller book): ‘Facial Justice’ (1960): a rarely read book, I believe, by L.P. Hartley: a SF scenario, where faces and bodies are ‘betafied’ from any ‘alpha’ states in some as yet complex psychology /religion / control-of-the-surviving-masses: post-Third-World-War: and the ambiance of Hartley’s hospital ward is highly resonant with Watt’s here: and I sense that Watt has (unintentionally or, less likely, intentionally) managed to conjure up a hothouse literary-osmosis from within his book: patterning out in prisms or two-way-filters or interlocking tessellations. A sort of hub radiating out retrocausally to change all previous books to its own imaginarium. Meanwhile, in this chapter, the ‘arms’ don’t seem to be the I-narrator-patient’s own arms! And then Tesseller comes to visit with rotten grapes…perhaps looking for his next vessel, a vessel ripe to relieve himself into (as you do – in hospitals)? (26 Jul 12 – 3.25 pm bst)

Your skin will fold like memories

That title alone conveys beautifully this book’s flowing real-time reincarnation or soul’s bodily review. This story simply underpins that thought exquisitely. (26 Jul 12 – 8.10 pm bst)

…exquisitely, yes, but *even* more so this morning…

Love was once a law

That ‘flowing’ literally becomes a river now, accompanied by a ‘romantic’ scene between Tesseller and an admiring lady, and this fits brilliantly with the divestment process of characters, via rips and tears, and there is even an italicised flow (river) of prose as an inner organ of this story, of this body of prose: and I recall that ‘paper girl’ earlier. This short book is longer than most. More beautiful in a decadent sense than anything I’ve read before, I think. But it is something that needs working at, I guess, to reap those benefits, digging deep to find the beauties. Divesting yourself as reader. (27 Jul 12 – 8.25 am bst)

Before the aphorism came the platitude

“…hacking through the white, the many mirrored white,”

This may be a ‘spoiler’ (in more ways than one!) so please use this link where it suddenly dawns on me what the afore-identified serial rip-divestment ultimately is. And now, back at this page, we return full circle to the wars at the beginning … and soldiers, mayhap wooden puppet soldiers, cf: [pretentiously on my part, ‘Dorothy Alone’ this week published in ‘The Last Balcony’ collection] & much of Watt’s own fiction I’ve read in recent years some of which I have real-time reviewed elsewhere. (27 Jul 12 – 9.30 am bst)

Places vanish, like your names

This is now *unbearably* beautiful, both intrinsically so and also because of all its good and bad serendipities with my own self as a reader [my age now, my publication of the world’s first blank story in ‘Nemonymous’ in 2002, my own writer’s block, this image that I published as a book cover in the last few days: and much more I’ve told you about earlier in this review: culminating with this last story or chapter]. This final piece coheres all the etchings, scratchings, tears (both senses), images (real and imaginary), words, some blank pages, empty margins now filled with my pencil, rich paper and binding … joy in sorrow, sorrow in joy. In this final story: “Your mind overflows with images,” …. and “your body fusing with the chair itself” [cf my earlier ‘Eschairtology] and a “symphony of suffering” and “A moment later you hear a gentle rip as the first page tears itself…”  (27 Jul 12 – 10.40 am bst)



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2 responses to “The Ten Dictates of Alfred Tesseller

  1. I return to The Ten Labours of Hercules (or Murkales?) mentioned above. Dictates imply the work that is enacted parrot-fashion by dictation? Creativity fighting, labouring against such constraints?

    Also my earlier real-time review of a DP Watt book is relevant to the above review:

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