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Darkness in Long Hour Spent: a Gift from Greenham Common

October 2, 2013

Andy the Busker, who was from Colne, gave me this book at the Cosmic Freedom Festival at Greenham Common in July 1982.

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An enigmatic and quietly-spoken character, he told a strange tale of hitching to Stonehenge with an Eastern mystic who successfully got a lift by raising in his hand a red rose… I don’t know whether he’d written the cryptic phrase on the back: DARKNESS IN LONG HOUR SPENT.

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Fourth Mansions lived up to the ambience of mystery in which it was given to me, as this passage suggests:

A ghost in red chalk completed the brain-weave, a red wraith of disarming simplicity and shattering profundity: so young an anima that she still had not shook off the poltergeistic manifestations of her own adolescence; a numinous pink spook, lazy with summer lightning and instantaneous with blood-gaiety, shyly murderous, with a laugh like breaking crystal, eldritch and ethereal: Biddy Bencher the young red witch.

They had completed the heptameles, the seven-person weave. It was full to overflowing, and it overflowed with a lightning-line of power.

Having read the book a couple of times, and encountering Finnegans Wake in the years since, I wonder whether the revenant, Carmody Overlark, is Lafferty’s version of Joyce’s HCE, and whether the ‘four patricks’ are versions of ‘the Four Masters’ in the Wake:

he had behold the residmance of a delugion: the foggy doze still going strong, the old thalassocrats of invinsible empores, maskers of the waterworld, facing one way to another way and this way on that way, from severalled their fourdimmansions.

(FW 367.24-27).

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