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 Xartis Psyxis - The Last Confession (Part 3)

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Nobiles Barbariæ

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Join date : 2011-12-25

PostXartis Psyxis - The Last Confession (Part 3)

I have already said earlier in this journal how much I liked the man Titus Perry. In better circumstances I would have been proud to call him a friend. But then, in better circumstances Abby, you would have been known to me as a daughter should, and I to you as a father, so we both know that things cannot always be as we would wish them.

When we work for a greater good we walk a fine line between aiding and betraying those we love. Sometimes the former will wear the guise of the latter, and as such will it be recognised and remembered. But for me there was no equivocation. I crossed that line and willingly, and I must now live with the consequences of my actions. You see, betrayal to me was not how you, or most of Christendom, would construe it. To me it was the inevitable act of transformation whereby my work reached its point, and my ambitions their conclusion. Much as the alchemist might invoke a potion to transmute an element, or even as a baker must add yeast should he wish a Christian loaf, so to me was betrayal merely that agency whose use enabled my own article reach maturation. The article I strove to attain was a future in which we most of us might benefit, and if that required the betrayal of a lesser concept, or even a man, then so be it. Never did I wish him ill or that harm befell him, I swear dearest Abby, but I did my damndest to ensure that it did. Does that sound strange? Then picture a broken limb upon which the application of a splint causes excruciating agony, but without which it cannot recover. It grieves you sorely to be the one who must apply it, but you do it in the knowledge that you are thereby aiding the one you nurse.

Such was the grief I felt when I saw that the inevitable at last had come to pass, when the trends we had noted became more than that, and the purpose behind them became manifest. Others, with baser motives and agendas, were setting into train a sequence of events that forced our hand. The time had come to move ourselves. And in the cataclysm that we knew we were precipitating, it was more than friendship and familial duty that would be sacrificed to the greater good I spoke of. I confess that I put that grief to one side, subdued my doubts, and persevered in the execution of what I then considered my duty.

In those days, you see, I believed that life was as a series of tides, and that one man alone had as much influence over them as Canute of old proved to his kinsmen. I was to learn later how untrue this belief was. If life is a series, it is of accidents and coincidences, and to ascribe a rationale to these events is a folly of philosophers and men in their cups. They appear as a tide because they are inexorable, and the cleverest and most ambitious men can indeed predict their occurrence and avoid them, or even claim in retrospect to have caused them. But I was not so clever. I used a misplaced faith in patterns and their reasons therefore to justify my failure in halting the progress of events that carried me towards an inevitable pass.

There is not a person in Christendom who will fail to tell you that Judas Iscariot had an evil heart. But at that moment Abby I felt compassion for the man. His role in his story was written for him by the very man he betrayed, and in his own mind in any case he felt that his act of betrayal could only be to the ultimate benefit of his God. I did not even have his belief in his own righteousness to fall back on. All I had was the notion that I was being carried with a current that made my actions at least unavoidable, if not justifiable.

I pray God you believe my words Abby. The truth is so often hidden completely behind fact …

Last edited by nordmann on Sat 21 Apr 2012, 21:55; edited 1 time in total
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Xartis Psyxis - The Last Confession (Part 3) :: Comments

Re: Xartis Psyxis - The Last Confession (Part 3)
Post on Thu 19 Apr 2012, 10:54 by ferval
Reading this is now my coffee time treat, Caro is missing out.

I'm still not convinced by the prologue though, compared to the rest it feels misplaced in both sequence and style, dare I suggest a bit forced, derivative and over emotive, but that is a very personal opinion and so I'll wait before passing final judgement.

Next segment please.
Re: Xartis Psyxis - The Last Confession (Part 3)
Post on Thu 19 Apr 2012, 11:51 by Temperance
Yes - I actually printed off the Prologue and wrote a great long response to it while my computer was being repaired. Things had moved on when I got my machine back, and it did not seem appropriate to send it.

The influence of Ackroyd *is* very obvious, Nordmann: this is the bit I wrote about that.

"The evocation of atmosphere is actually superb: it seems - at first - to owe much to Dickens. But this London is actually strangely timeless - is it medieval, Tudor, 19th century? It comes as a shock almost to have the period pinpointed by the mention of the Great Fire" "ten years beforehand", so we are presumably in 1676. And of course the influence is not so much of Dickens as of Ackroyd - I'm reminded of his "London the Biography", and also of "Hawksmoor". But that is not necessarily a bad thing: like Ackroyd you embrace the dark boldly and make it work for you. And what is important is that you've avoided a commonplace view of the city. Your setting is saved from that because you have somehow managed to make the capital seem other-worldly: the idea of London as a kind of Hades, with the crossing or negotiating of the Thames/Styx as a way *out* rather than a way *into* the underworld is masterly. The Thames as Lethe too - the way to oblivion, to the forgetting of all things past. But perhaps that's not what you meant at all - just this reader's interpretation!"

I did write a lot more - some of it rather more critical. But I ended:

"Reading this over I am concerned lest it seem presumptuous and overcritical. It is not meant to be. Your writing - as we should expect - is impressive. I am looking forward to reading more."

Which I am.
Re: Xartis Psyxis - The Last Confession (Part 3)
Post on Thu 19 Apr 2012, 13:41 by nordmann
Hi Temp/Ferval

Not happy with it myself - but the lady in it deserved better than she got in the rest of the narrative so on that basis alone I was prompted to set it at the beginning. The event it describes is crucial to two of the characters later and it was better that the reader at least got it from her perspective first.

When it comes to "style" or language everything is up for grabs, so by all means slate it when it deserves it in your view. That kind of feedback is invaluable, believe me. There is a broad attempt to keep the narrative within boundaries defined by its setting in the 17th century, but that still leaves huge leeway so nothing is set in stone (apart from the principal events within the story). The two biggest accidental dangers I have found are lapsing into a melodramatic style or inadvertently including terms or expressions of meaning only to modern sensibilities (I don't mind the odd aberration, but not whole sentiments thus expressed). These are the "weeds" I am in the process of expunging but a few more gardeners are always welcome.

Hadn't read Ackroyd's fiction when that girl's death was written. I'm flattered!
Re: Xartis Psyxis - The Last Confession (Part 3)
Post on Thu 19 Apr 2012, 15:17 by Temperance
@nordmann wrote:
Hadn't read Ackroyd's fiction when that girl's death was written. I'm flattered!


OK, this is the rest of what I wrote. It all sounds very pompous and marking an essay-ish to me now, but never mind, I'll still send it. It was a genuine response to what you posted last week.

"There is much to admire in this prologue.

We are usually told that there are three things a "good" opening to a novel should do:

1) excite the reader's curiosity about a character or a relationship;

2) introduce a setting;

3) make the reader want more - make him or her turn the page.

Not as simple as it sounds, but you've managed all three. You've also done something else: you've given the reader a tantalising hint that he or she is engaging here with an unusual, creative and brooding mind. Yes - interest aroused - page gets turned."

Next came the bit about Dickens and Ackroyd, plus my rather pretentious comments about Hades - but that is honestly how the atmosphere/setting came across to me last week. I then took a deep breath and continued:

"However, if I am honest, I must add that at times your prose is over-written: there is a self-conscious literariness in your style which obscures - though thankfully it never quite smothers - the authenticity of your perception and feeling. The impression I've come away with is of a writer who is *impeded* from completely satisfying utterance by his own intellect - and by a strong inclination towards a style of managed effects. Johnson's advice comes to mind:

'Read over your compositions, and where ever you meet with a passage you think is particularly fine, strike it out.'

There are some examples of the 'particularly fine' in your prologue which should go.

Yet some of your simplest phrases and expressions, like the absolutely perfect ' the soupy Thames', or 'dignity in the end was all she had left to be stolen', are striking and effective.

I also think you should be careful not to overdo the Hardy-esque doom and cynicism. You seem to be veering dangerously towards a 'the President of the Immortals (in Aeschylean phrase) had ended his sport with Tess' situation at times. But not quite. Your character is obviously *not* a Tess (well, at least I don't think she is!); she does not come across as a simple soul who is just another victim of Fate.

Yes, curiosity and interest aroused all right. More please."
Re: Xartis Psyxis - The Last Confession (Part 3)
Post on Thu 19 Apr 2012, 16:16 by ferval
How intriguing, when you consider this Temp, you go to fiction whereas I go in quite another direction. I suppose it's largely because I've been reading less and less fiction recently, too much stuff for the course these days, and I'm becoming increasingly aware how much I'm missing it. Part 1 - I immediately thought of Tim Ingold's writings on mapping and map making, the difference between the internal maps we construct as a consequence of our living in a landscape and how that embedded understanding works itself out in our moving through them, as opposed to the objectified and objectifying process of cartography, capturing the landscape on paper; landscape as subject and object.
The next part was full of reflections of the art v science discussion and the impossibility of creating any objective account as expressed by the (unreliable? - I'm waiting to see but I have my suspicions) narrator.
Titus's story is, as well being as an immensely engrossing story line, is going into an area that interests me as well; maps as situated (sorry!) political documents and power statements. Please don't think I'm suggesting that these points are anything other than totally integrated into the narrative, it's the way my mind works.

Talking of 'interest aroused', when do we get to the racy bits? Will we have a contender for the 'Bad Sex' award? I'm sure we won't.

Seriously, I'm loving it.
Re: Xartis Psyxis - The Last Confession (Part 3)
Post on Thu 19 Apr 2012, 16:50 by Temperance
Ah - I'm sure you are going in the "right" direction, ferval!

I'd better stick with my pomes, penny each (and Jean Plaidy!)
Re: Xartis Psyxis - The Last Confession (Part 3)
Post on Thu 19 Apr 2012, 16:57 by ferval
Heavens, we've shrunk. Is this a slimming club as well now? And we've lost our status, what is going on in the boiler room?
Re: Xartis Psyxis - The Last Confession (Part 3)
Post on Thu 19 Apr 2012, 17:51 by Islanddawn
We're only smaller in the blog section, I think. It must be because we are in the presence of literary greatness.

Xartis Psyxis - The Last Confession (Part 3)

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