A grandeur indifference to the norm

John Cowper Powys. He was an extremely prolific writer, yet he started late. (Which is something I can see myself aspiring to.) I’ve heard him described as a writer of tragic grandeur and everyday comedy, of sexual perversion, and lots of cups of tea. (I guess more cups of teas are consumed in his books than by Irish road workers. And I’ve seen how many pots they’ve brewed.)

His books are large. His subjects even larger: Welsh myth, vivisection, pornography, magic, the nature of evil, Nietzsche’s philosophy, and communism. He was also considered the English degenerate. And he had a horror of “fucking” but depended on enemas for bad gastric trouble. And he liked girls of the demimonde, and prostitutes, and slim young women in men’s clothing.

Which all makes him extremely interesting and bordering on an obsession for me. I’m like that. I weevil some author out of the woodwork and then I get to munch on all the grubs until the only thing standing is the chair I sit in, lonely and forlorn without me.

Half my love for reading is discovering writers that are over-looked by the literary mainstream. I feel like an archaeologist who has suddenly uncovered, say, the femur of a new animal or the fossil of some invertebrate that turns out to have had a huge impact on evolution. Maybe I’m a little disturbed. But then the sluggish blood of the mundane is set flowing again like a river in spate and all the flotsam is washed to the bank and it’s damn refreshing. Life, that is.

Some reviewer had this to say about Powys: “The realm of John Cowper Powys is dangerous.” Now that’s my kind of writer.

And what about towns that think they’re cities? What I’m saying is that these so-called cities should be regulated to the fifth division. True I lead a rural life — and like it that way — but when I want to go to a city I want to go to a City! None of these namby-pamby places masquerading as cities but without the vibe. I want a city to have bookstores where the owners can tell you what book you want to read even before you’ve uttered a word. I don’t want chain book stores where the cashier says, “Oh, John Cowper Powys, wasn’t he the prime ministrant of London?”

And I want funky and underground coffee houses with a seat against the wall where you can observe and drink in flagrante instead of one single café where you ask if the place is connected and they reply, “Yes, my dad knows the bank manager so I got a deal on the place.”

Or music stores where every decibel of sound is collected into a arena of audio delight. A music store with every conceivable band and some not even yet formed. Not some dinky music store where the owner smirks at your purchase and says, “Edwyn Collins’ new one, huh? I have the Aberdeenian’s fist band Orange Pulp if you’re interested.” To which I will reply. “Thanks, but the Glasgow kid’s early band Orange Juice is already on my iPod.”

Did you know that Woody Allen was once asked did he consider sex dirty. And he replied, yes, if it’s done properly.

Condemned by the Synod of Carthage in about 418.


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