Oneirographs

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You can find more oneirographs here.

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The Managers

The Managers are always to be found in twos or threes, lumbering greyly.

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If you pass the Managers in a corridor it’s a good idea to say hello. They will probably return your greeting, as best they can.

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The Managers conduct meetings. They sit at the head of the table, waving their arms ponderously. Agreeable noises are music to their ears.

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The Managers believe in the Company. In devising a Five Year Plan to facilitate its great destiny, they verge on enthusiasm.

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The Managers are sometimes required to attend Company functions. They arrange themselves in a circle, like standing stones, and mutter. Their laughter is an uncertain rumble.

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At night the Managers store themselves in a small cupboard.

The HumpBot

Tech news: Peach have just released the HumpBot 2x, which comes with SlickWick, RamDom interfacing and a three minute warranty.

Tech news: Forums have been flooded with complaints about the HumpBot 2x. Abusers report friction burns, static collapse and Wagner syndrome.

Tech news: Peach has issued a statement in response to complaints about its new HumpBot 2x, advising abusers to upgrade to SlickWick 66.6.

Tech news: Peach has released the HumpBot 3V, five minutes after releasing the 2x model, which is now obsolete.

Safety at Work: a guide

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One bite of the Big Apple was enough to give him a headache. He envied his colleagues as the moon envies a grave.

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All day, every day, the expectation of a hand on the other side of the door, tensed spines ready for flight.

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Their gossip nearly did for him. In the gents, he wanked himself sore. It troubled him that the air con never worked.

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Breathe slowly through your nose. Keep your eyes closed. Don’t think about murdering your line manager. All is well.

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Judy would never punch the clock. She was a high-fiver. When she slept her muscles turned to water. Moths fanned her.

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On the other hand, there was nothing wrong with letting off a bit of steam. The bird’s throat yawned at him.

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WTF! Nothing would come of nothing. She had lips made of dolly mixtures, if you can remember what they are. Etcetera.

The Inevitable June

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The Newer York is an online-and-print magazine that plants itself firmly in the tradition of the avant-garde, publishing left-field short stories accompanied by artwork and grandly declaring on its website, “We will end the triumvirate of novels, poems and short-stories.” It sells a range of merchandise, including paintings, mugs, t-shirts and books, one of which is a remarkable little volume written and illustrated by Bob Schofield called The Inevitable June.

In his book, Schofield strips the lexicon of narrative and illustration to their essentials. Each page is its own world. We start with a small square, which becomes a big square, then a box, then a frame around the book’s title. Over the page, the date “June 1” suggests the start of the story, and a first-person narrative begins:

This morning I am swollen in my mother’s belly. It creaks like a door in the lamp post. I imagine a coat rack built in an iceberg. There are clouds above it. A black octopus touching people’s hair.

The story is neither rational nor linear. Its mercurial instability recalls Benjamin Péret; Schofield, like the great surrealist, lets words and images wander down whatever pathways of association they like. It makes for a delightful read, in which the reader is constantly being surprised, yet is struck by the unaccountable rightness of the story’s shifts and changes. Every chapter is a day in June, beginning with the same two words: “This morning.” We experience a perpetual morning, in which everything is always new. Constant novelty could get boring very quickly, but Schofield presents us with threads, themes, motifs, running from chapter to chapter: the box, glass aeroplanes, baking, the sea, masks, identity, family.

Delight and surprise were not the only emotions I felt when reading The Inevitable June. The book is unsettling and thought-provoking. I am not sure why. One reason might be Schofield’s use of the first person; I felt as if I was reading an encrypted autobiography, a poetic transformation of lived experiences, similar in tone to Fernando Arrabal’s La Pierre de la Folie Take, for example, this passage from Arrabal’s livre panique:

Imprisoned in the glass bottle, all I could see were my mother’s huge hands, slamming the lid shut.

And now this, from The Inevitable June:

This morning I am thinking about my father, who jumped from a glass airplane at the precise moment I was born.

Like La Pierre de la Folie, the narrative of The Inevitable June is organised into brief episodes and proceeds by the accumulation of heterogeneous details, rather than by providing a logically coherent story. I would argue that, in this respect, both books resemble life as we actually experience it far more closely than most novels.

But I digress. The other source of The Inevitable June‘s power lies in its combination of stylish monochrome design and simple drawings. The pictures make their own story, one that runs parallel with Schofield’s word world, intersecting at times, diverging at others, reflecting, distorting, parodying. The book would be greatly diminished without them. Unfortunately, if you buy the Kindle version and read it on your iPad or iPhone, many of the pictures don’t display properly. In any case, there’s never a substitute for a physical book, and this one is a pleasure to handle.

There is a lot more I could write about Schofield’s book: the array of cultural allusions (such as Mary Poppins – check out June 24), the humour, the terrifying octopus. But I’ll wrap up this review by saying simply that I love The Inevitable June, and if you enjoyed silly stories as a toddler and haven’t entirely forgotten what it was like to be one, you will too.

You can buy the book here.

Doorface

Doorface has a door for a face. Thus his name. He was born with it. The door in his face, not his name. No one is born with a name. The naming comes later.

Doorface finds his unusual physiognomy mildly inconvenient. People keep trying to enter his head. No one likes it when someone tries to get inside their head. It’s intrusive. Worse if the unwelcome visitor leave his shoes on. Of course, not everyone who passes opens the door. Some are more polite. Some rap gently on it first, or press an ear to it.

How is Doorface supposed to eat his lunch with people knocking on his face? It beggars belief.

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Often when Doorface wakes up in the night, desperate for a piss, he finds his face slightly ajar. Odd. He closes it and goes to the bathroom.

Sometimes he wonders why his face is ajar. He’s always careful to close it at bedtime. The implications are disturbing. Could someone be sneaking into his head at night and making themselves at home in his dreams? Talk about liberties!

Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe his face opens a bit as some sort of reflex, in response to the general relaxation of his body when asleep.

MEGACROCODOG

The Church of Chimera, which has tentacles in most cities, would like you to accept the existence of MEGACROCODOG, invisible possessor of the largest penis imaginable. You are promised an afterlife of bliss, as long as you pray to MEGACROCODOG and say his penis is the biggest.

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MEGACROCODOG is the one, true god. Don’t believe the infidels who worship GIGANTOSPIDERCAT (whose penis is smaller than MEGACROCODOG’s).

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The size of MEGACROCODOG’s penis is in direct proportion to his power, wisdom and beneficence.

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What do you mean, there’s no proof of MEGACROCODOG’s existence? Close your eyes. Can’t you FEEL his gigantic penis?

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The Church of Chimera sells postcards depicting MEGACROCODOG’s penis, towering above his terrified enemies.

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MEGACROCODOG crushes civilisations with his gargantuan lurid cock.

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How much is that MEGACROCODOG in the window? The one with the fearsomely enormous penis…

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Martyrs are traditionally depicted with tears streaming down their cheeks, caused by the spectacle of MEGACROCODOG’s divine member.

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MEGACROCODOG made man’s penis in the image of his own, but much smaller and less shiny.

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(Secretly MEGACROCODOG, who may or may not exist, frets about the size of his penis and contrives ways of magnifying it in people’s imagination.)