:: Article

Aylett’s Lint

By 3:AM Reporter.

Aylett is the “false Harry Potter” but is better descried as “that bastard with all the anvils”. Moorcock called him “a most original vice” but this was before he had noticed that Aylett’s Only An Alligator had plagiarised most of the instructional fear drivel from Lint’s own Nose Furnace mechanics, disguised three alphabets and refused medicine. Before that theirs had been a relationship of studied fanaticism bordering on eavesdropping. None of this explains the nano-bibliographical and exceedingly curious incident of the dog in the gerund. Of that Aylett refuses to speak, threatening excessive and insanely amphibian violence on anyone pushing for a murky scoop.

Aylett has said that in dreams he is the avatar of a writing that comes in on plastic trays of slick jellybean curd and Augustinian perigoge. We might sicken between the sweet and the sublime but Aylett just washes the dishes and smiles, his mouth at a scary-as-hell angle some unhealthily-thin girls take as a come-on. For his is also a metier of fear, disgust and opportunist sub-editing, an idealist positivism tied up with back numbers of Jesse James: The Geodetic Years, A Thousand Wands and The Unwashed Curtains of Phenomenology. It all addles up.

Some books are baffling and moody, others take you to the opposite of an English muffin. Aylett’s books do the impossible processes with the discrete charm of the mustard fly in the entente cordiale’s ointment wherein the surface skin of an onion pointlessly peels itself away, unbidden by anything sane, to reveal – another skin. And beneath that, another. Thus does Aylett take himself to Lint and peels back the surface to another surface, then the next. At the other end of this process is Lint doing the same, coming in from the opposite direction. When they meet you get reviewers wishing they’d stayed in to dye their hair basalt rather than banged out the obligatory notice. “I spooked out of turn” wailed one abashed scrivener, caught out by the low act of high spoofery. Lint’s own Wickepedia entry is likewise swilled by its own steamboat triage of pathogens and the result is the natural irrelevance of clocks.

Aylett is as mental, beautiful and truthful as a warped upright loom because he takes the trousers off words and with their pants down you get the bits you’re always panting for. Like an ingrowing arse, we are autosodomised by his prose. Readers of this are like the Crumb cartoon of the guy watching telly without switching it on because he can make up better programmes in his head than any he’ll find made already. “Some people take your fancy; Aylett whistles Dixy cro”’ wrote one critic known in the business as the man who outlived his nostrils.

Aylett’s first trick is to give us the suggested scheme and bones for a whole lifetime of pulp fiction sci-fi/fantasy/horror but without the grey snot and half biscuit that tires you to plot and name, the banalities. All you need are titles that ripple with content in your lake-brain for weeks afterwards, (or was that lame bran) and short plot summaries and one liners that stand in for a fair whole story, novel, TV show, film even. The strumpet position is that of your own ideas coming through Jeff Lint’s backstory via Aylett’s pregnant nose bleed. Aylett blows out the non-physical side of ideas, moulds them in certain spry plastic directions with gears, physics, Taoist energy and gentle guff you find in lonely men’s used socks. He slogs you with the possibility of inborn talent you never dreamed came with toast and wounded forest lichen. After reading this book you feel good, as if you’ve spent a lifetime reading an avant-pulp genius without having once flagged or felt the need to pull away from the excess of heaven for the excrescence of root veg. It is as if in the reading of Lint there is the great possibility outlined, maybe in an invisible space, where the dropped brain carries with it the left-over ideas of some extra-millennium mile, coming in via Poland. “There are less morons here than usual”

It’s only lines on the wings of a fly, and no heartbreak is greater, than this nervous breakthrough of prose on the bottle of what Elliot W Eisner might have called “…that ancient mystery dance of death and sex aphasic played for laughs on the old kettle drum of chimp alarm.” Which is but to explode the theory that Aylett is a spent penny on a bum rap to Arkham. Each little bomb he detonates brings with it the carrot filament of a smile buried in a heap of tears, spunk and jam. As he continues to explore the conjurors territory between actual psychosis, medical quackery and the limits of what the great unwashed will put up with before a lynching, he seems to gutter out of normal felicities something of the Joker’s antiquarian mot juste. A Spaniard Wilde would be no less proud than he with this, a bucking Armada of goon.

Aylett is well known for his own eccentricities. The pleasuring of nouns and the false memories of his wistful childhood in libraries and rightfully condemned sweetshops capture nothing of his urbane strength and the faint wiggle of zany daftness that celebrates itself in each svelt parabolic linguistic dirigible. He is writing to discern the limits of idiots. A shamanism of the discontinued, he plays the loose slacker to the tight spinctre of some puritanical Borges. He is one sided because he needs to escape the sham pule of the literati. He turns round and he’s gone like the Disc of Odin. He has known for a long time that cities really do only have half the ideas they need and that JFK’s bullet trajectory was that of a delinquent history on a negative bending puissance. And now we all know.

Mark E Smith wrote of Aylett as being “that prick with the final number,” an allusion to Aylett having once, whilst drunk, proved the identity of the actual last number, opposing it to any potential or merely possible last number, a calculation involving the dimension of the universe and extending the numeral so that it filled up every last bit of string. Criticised later for this piece of journeyman élan and for provoking Smith into a fist fight with three men dressed as clowns it nevertheless shows that Aylett is someone who never shies away from taunting the slave thoughts of the heinous and the bully, even if he never gets repeat invites. Steve Wells once wrote of him: “It is all of a piece, the lobster face, the hack saw, the drool. His writing is bereft, rid if you prefer, of occasion in every shape and form, ideal as well as material… his hands have not been tied by the certitude that expression is an impossible bat.” To conclude that moment we have a side remark from Tommy Udo to the effect that there was, of Aylett, “no hope of returning him, safe and sound, to the milk tit of St Luke the Apostle.” What we have then is, in perpetuity, an immediate farrago of disjecta.

If, then, it is Robert Crumb and Jorges Louis Borges who can bring some swooning warning bells to the appreciation of this endless genius then it shall be only through the darker and less simpering anomalies of crash and skin sci-fi, with jellied morons from outer space and women that need the speaking nullity of Flesh Gordon Uptights to breach their codes of spandex, that we will be able to enter the swallowing gullet of this crazy maw. Aylett prepares the fish for us and though he likes to leave his flesh raw there is no suspicion that he is un-cooking his dry share. The hand never leaves the wrist, nor does he write on more than one page at a time. There are grand symphonies of gooey sounds here, moments when an idea is found stitched into a dress to be worn by a blonde schoolgirl hitching a lift from the farmyard hick-load, ducks a-quacking from oversized blood-soaked beaks, her big ass tanned. “He is a sharp practice. His Shangri-la is very hind-limb” is what they say.

Aylett pokes his toe into the mythic time when people his age were young and reading stuff that they could never quite find or get over. Most of this was stuff they dreamed about later or read about in TV listings for the night before, including the desiccated picture quality, the off-colours and things like that, especially the monochromes of TV and the brash dotted primaries of the American comic mortis. There was a rumour that everything was made up back then, including the rumour that everything was made up back then, and it grew spider legs because no one was checking. And this was because no one was telling anyone else. Because readers are lonely in bedrooms with little chance but giant pressures. When you watched George C Scott in that movie none of the grown ups stayed with you. It was the embarrassment of the night that brought the flickering effluence of generous interiors and doom-laden omniscience to bear on a narrative of flickering pics that stole from you the threat of extinction and blessed the hand with creative zeal. Aylett knows that doomsday is on a high shelf kept in a cardboard box that once contained spode, that morality is the source of tragedy because it outgrows hair and that the mystery of women is womb omniscience. Masturbation is no protection.

“Aylett writes in twilight hues and below zero” wrote an ailing Paul Bowles in an off-the-record long-chance to the Idler magazine just before he died. Aylett recovered enough to ask for a cheque and a map. “Death’s got an unhappy habit of being nothing more than whatever the cat promised to bring in yesterday but did so a day too late”’ he scrawled in an article that he refused to publish under any name he knew. “Death gets left under a chair and off the hook,” he added in bitter lachrymal. This was later cancelled out.

It is a truth often told but rarely placed in braces that in The Outer Limits we find most of the original cast of Star Trek in stories that were mostly sympathetic cartoon versions of Lovecraftian paranoia which would later be dragged out into Lynch’s Eraserhead to fidget behind the astral incoherence of the surface of a fridge door, an anti-flowering of lightness from the utter darkness of things on the shelf – besides which all other polite obliquities are the clockwork of the cheap thrill. So too when we listen to Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour there is more than a shiver of the rond-de-doobi-doo, the pretty energy of the master eating his own children to the hoof-beat of the devil. And too often to be easily discounted it is whispered that in his own Twilight Zone Rod Serling ate his own heart . Aylett has, rather like old father time himself, stuffed his face with his kiddies and moved in to the flat down the hallway. Aylett’s dad choked when he saw the room: “Son, you ain’t no PK Dick either. Truth is, you’re more suntan trivet than his tellurium vacuole” giggled Aylett’s first publisher, strangely relieved. He died by quills.

All Aylett’s words work like Thursdays. There’s the long reach of the week well underway but still some places left yet to go. This isn’t a negative breeze. This is saying the book’s steaming and warmed up, making solid progress like an engine fully rolled out through its levers. Every change of level is a matter of gloves and knuckles, good looking silk covering vinegar-soaked bone glut. There are deep vanishings in Aylett, moments that are more than just getting off at the wrong stop or turning a track too early down the B road. These are vanishings that literally end at face value. There is no walking on after that. Some pages just seem to be full of these – his frightening segues of the terrifying The Caterer comic in chapter 18, the chilling Catty and the Major summaries are examples of these, and there are more than twelve – weirdness pervades everything Aylett does with the drunk language of his continuous process of copious intellectual salivation stimulating, as Beckett would hasp it of Joyce, but jammed in reverse; ‘a tertiary or quartary conditioned reflex of dribbling incomprehension.’

Aylett pranks with the insides of words like a horny bee the bubble ass of the fertile honeysuckle, both of these getting off on the getting off rather than the fertility. Fertility comes second, as in second-rate. Recall the incident of the cinematic necrosis involving the maim-line Lint wrote for the lead lady as third rewrite sub for the film The Pumpkin Eaters – “Are you sure that you are not just afraid and disgusted by penetrative sexual zeal that doesn’t produce another wiggling blood soaked and howling foetal jellied eel you, my dear, might call a mail-shot baby for the damned pram in the hall; in short, you are fearful of your own vagina writhing out of your control, emptied not merely of your own soul but laughing like an automatic sweetheart alongside those many, many other alien hoards burrowing therein to its fixed English imbroglio without neither biological issue nor gift wrapped chocolates of apology, cold roses absent also?” after which he was summarily removed by scared film execs, studio security being told to make sure he was not seen within a mile of the place, after early days rushes of Eric Porter delivering the line were viewed in a nightmare darkling room set up to mimic the whore-like crab-nebula of the Immaculate Conception itself as might be performed by some deformed latter day Beyonce Knowles’ first person singular ass-hole, in crack-pot homage to fish-eyed, spade-faced Bill Burroughs. Subsequent rewriting of the line ensured that what the film is remembered for is James Mason’s brutal moustache which performed a finial life of its own above deliberately abused teeth.

The universe is actually smaller than you think, contained as it is in a small cardboard box in a lorry being driven west by Jones who knows nothing save bigotry and inhuman compulsions ,who hasn’t slept for three days and three nights straight and is never going to arrive because the town never even existed. So don’t be fooled, there’s less grandeur, honesty, fewer firedoors than there need to be. “Aylett writes for those of us who see the vast dawn sky and know it’s smaller than a nose,” commented Alan Moore whilst cooking up one of his infamous and legendary small-fry egg nog concoctions . Yet the writing makes the case not for grandeur as such but for at least something more than yoghurt. Aylett remains with you long after his feet have grown first optimistic then just “mouth feel”.

“Time is never wasted…if you remember to bring along something to read” advises Nate Privett in Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day and Aylett and Pynchon have this in common; they both yearn for suspicion in their writings, they both are tender-hearted fools for their worlds and they both write against the sloppy certainty of despair and bad-will gripped so fervently by glamour writers, pot-boilers and blondes. Aylett, no less than Pynchon, takes the language with the verve and craziness of an ugly man without a chance. His optimism is built into language’s ability to escape the limits of a repeating mirror. In cahoots with the anarchists who refuse to be baffled by suicide, both Aylett and Pynchon gird themselves for the great adventure found in the surrealist zones of yore, those off-limits of Python, Moorcock, of the Ballard of short story sci-fi, the Outer Limits of zzzz and with that good humour and zany weightlessness of a parma ham mixing with a paratha they enchant through an intricate performance of “not laughing at hair”.

It is a slow dreadful humour that unwinds good-naturedly through their oeuvres. For Aylett this has largely meant that his has been the untethered netherworld of the unseen scribe, his cautious indifference a reference to ever-teeming imbeciles. For Pynchon he has been applauded by half-wit and precocious alike, his condition is the educational long-point of an American dominion that has no bad news save coincidences becoming denied patterns. Aylett’s Lint reminds the reader that “The problem of seeing clearly is that you find yourself surrounded on all sides by liars…and stand the chance of going completely insane.” Aylett lives in Brighton, England and knows what he’s talking about.

‘Firmament vertigo’ is the condition of gazing at the stars and losing it. It is Aylett’s phrase and my take on what he produces in his pages. It is easy to feel giddy when reading him. So much combustable apercu, such long vistas between sandwiches. If there is more to life than my sweet girl’s ass then it’s this great psychonautical writer’s scarp who has written books about things we screen out because they don’t fit current definitions.

So much of the book is funny because at times it is utterly deadpan down to the knees serious – take the Lashpool/Lint interpretation of Kafka’s The Trial – ” …the guilt felt by K – and depended upon by the state – derives from his having allowed the state to become so powerful in the first place. K therefore ultimately accepts his punishment.” – Aylett writes like the ghost of whatever was working before. In Lint he has written forty seven times, but you get to see only the first third. With some books it’s the pictures, with this one, buy the whole code. Reading need not be a decision, and cheeks can be more than an inconvenience of old age, but it is through Aylett that we learn to accommodate such eruptions without going insidiously mental. Aylett’s disaffection is with carbon and his dissent is of the kind which finds enjoyment not anxiety in dreams of nakedness. Aylett is the somnambulist dissenter. In Lint’s own words, “You can oppose in slumber.”

Dear reader, go sleep.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, August 14th, 2007.