October 5, 2021

The Gnostic Hotel Will Soon Open for Business

How soon? With any luck before the year's out, but maybe only just. My editor and I need a good sit-down over the ms., but who knows how soon that will be able to happen, given recent Covid numbers in Melbourne and the likelihood that our lockdown will continue for some time yet. But my son Jon's been on the case (or, rather, on the covers) and has sent me a raft of drafts. Two have caught people's eyes, and we're hoping to use the finished images (still a long way off!) for front and back covers, as indicated. Jon's work has an uncanny sympathy with what I've written. Here's the title poem, which inspired the front cover:

Geworfenheit: The Gnostic Hotel

The German word Geworfenheit means ‘thrown-ness’ or ‘the state of being thrown’, used by the twentieth-century philosopher Martin Heidegger to denote the condition of human consciousness amidst the cognitive and epistemological swirls of incarnate existence. Picture a punch-drunk cartoon boxer, with tweeting birds and stars circling his lolling head. Or, if you like, Milton’s Satan in Book 1 of Paradise Lost, coming to as he bobs on the lake of fire in hell after his infinitely long fall from heaven. Kerplunk . . .

Few now can read our alien ancestry,
our ineluctable otherness that tells
of elsewhere origins, primordial swerve
of fall, transgression, borders strayed across
that mark our exit, exile, exodus.
The castaway who makes his isle a home
may sink in comfort to forgetfulness
yet still be lost. We bear our checks and woes – 
the hurricane that shreds our woven hut,
the rising seas that whelm our sandy dot,
the homesick melancholy sigh at dusk.
Each minds us of our lost identity.
And though its recollection score the heart
with desolation and ache of phantom limbs,
far better such remorse than ease that lulls
our swimming heads to deeper loll and nod.

The wake-up calls may startle and affront,
and we may curse the chirpy clerk downstairs,
but she, with ruthless kindness and aplomb, 
is only meeting our last night’s request,
that we left at the desk when we checked in
(did she say her name was Sophie then?),
guests of the obliging demiurge,
glad for a roof so far away from home,
but needing no velour and potted palms
to dress the facts of circumstance collapsed
upon our pinched-off selves: check-out time
indefinitely delayed till we recall
just where we left that missing set of keys.

It's a start!

Front cover first draft
Back cover first draft

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