All pictures copyright James Knight. All rights reserved.
The Jackport Killer is the latest chronicle from Kneel Downe‘s ever-expanding Virulent Blurb universe. Best described as hardboiled poetic sci-fi, it’s one of the case files of Detective Kurt Lobo, a spliced man-wolf with lots of baggage and bags of attitude. Lobo investigates a ritualistic murder and finds himself embroiled in a story that dredges up his own past.
The novel is immensely entertaining. The author handles lots of potentially cumbersome exposition with a masterfully light touch, conveying in very few words the Blurb universe and some of its history, Lobo’s back story and the case in hand. Most of the paragraphs in the novel are single sentences, making James Ellroy seem prolix. Kneel writes and thinks in tweets, and here (as in his other books) the discipline of tweeting has translated into crystalline prose. Take this example, a description of a dog splice:
He’s Doberman spliced and just all kinda wrongs…
Like some sorta broken ballet dancer…
Precise but splintered….
Lobo’s first person narration is brutal, vivid and frequently very funny; Lobo has the blackest sense of humour, and will deflate a horrific description with a sardonic quip or a wry observation. Discovering a dismembered body in his apartment, he deadpans:
Judging by the splattered red on my sheets… Crotch level…
Something else must be missing…
I figure I won’t check my fridge…
It’s the protagonist’s strong personality that fuels the narrative, just as Kneel’s personality fuels his Twitter feeds. Lobo, like Kneel, is candid, sharp, sometimes grouchy and always likeable. It makes for an exhilarating read. And you don’t need to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy this book; for all its trippy outlandishness (clock the references to Noonian Spheres, DeadBoxes, DreamCages), the story is rooted in our humanity and what it is to live and love.
We walk though the streets of London, New York, Paris, Prague, Barcelona, Skegness, inhaling air heavy with metaphors, eyes set alight by the microscopic pyrotechnics of quotidian symbols hitherto debased by the outmoded conventions of a bankrupt civilisation decomposing in the land-fill of philosophy.
For too long we have laboured under the yolk of a reality fabricated by those with a vested interest in maintaining the outmoded conventions of performative narco-capitalist post-imperialist antineoquasilibertyrannepotism.
What is to be done to smash the walls of the rat-infested dead-end in which we as artists, citizens, human beings and artists find ourselves?
We propose a total, wholesale, tautological, hyperbolic rejection of the outmoded conventions of everything that everyone has ever done before, combined dialectically with the utter, rhetorical, portentous adoption of other conventions arguably just as outmoded but less visible to the bovine masses and scum-sucking journalists, on account of the intimidatingly foreign names of their proponents, theorists and practitioners.
We shout the names you can’t pronounce from the ruined rooftops: Bataille! Baudrillard! Lukács! Kierkegaard! Debord! Duchamp! Schwitters! Etc!
Everything is part of a system!
The system is shit!
All systems are shit!
Ism offers a new system!
The ism system is not shit!
Everything is simple!
Everything is complex!
Everything is nothing!
Nothing is something!
Words are nothing!
Words are the only things!
We must set fire to the ladder of reality!
We must drown the puppies of cultural hegemony!
We must humiliatingly probe the anus of discourse!
I am a big ape!
I have big hairy testicles!
I have ism!
You are a smaller ape!
You have small, bald testicles!
You have no ism!
The artist of the future has a duty to dismantle the certainties of apples, oranges and bananas. He will put a metaphor of a metaphor in their place, metaphorically.