:: Article

from Suicide Bridge: Book Four

By Iain Sinclair.


Bowen the Flea, under Gemini;
under blanket, hides his face from the whips of the Sun.
Everyday he thought of money, his conscience,
between a closed self and this interpretation of the World.
Everynight he lost his dream. And feared the stench.

Bowen, disguised as icy Muscat, out of deep
Arabia, into barroom: the Fly. Sticky-footed
Muscat walks upon Groucho’s ceiling, all ears.
Bowen is who he is; am I. Bowen. Razor, soapcake.

Whiteman looking for ancestor.
Through darkglass, beyond reflection
his own, long, sick face; whey-custard.
  watervapour visage, the horned moon
suckles a star. How rare. Night.
How bloody (‘the lachrymose’) cry of insects.
Bowen on the run. Face hidden in hair.


‘Maldoror fears the consequences of his words’

last words he would apply
to himself, Dorian Gray, never read
‘the rage of Caliban’, distrust in pit of stomach
of Yellow Book, Harland, Corvo,
Beardsley, scented vomit
all that was spread here, the course of blood through
this book, these books, under seal
       ‘the highest, as the lowest, form of criticism
     is a mode of autobiography’
his force: flash of firefly illumination
     life executed, not excused
almost unlived, so he cannot force open
the stiff covers and he will not read

Bowen understands text as
annotated suicide note. He looks
not unlike R.L. Stevenson. Consumption
written into the contract. Unnatural
fires of collapsed lungs.
Said to be an Aitu, a white ghost.
He haunts 16 Chepstow Place he haunts
the Suicide Club he raises all the demons
of this town. To invoke power he presses it
under his armpit, his paleskin. To fill himself
like sausage casing. Bowen in extreme north
driven off the highlands, settled as tenant.
Starved turf. Rheumy eye to heavens.
Bowen the pseudo-Scot. Bowen’s shelves rest
on the Waverley Novels. Gone in the teeth.
Scotfree. Drinks Irish. Stories of fever.

Bowen the Jacobite. Clutches
at Rosicrucian pedigrees. Macgregor Mathers born
11 De Beauvoir Place, Hackney. He’s at Bournemouth
with Stevenson, occult link with Kenneth MacKenzie,
and through him, Levi. Was Bowen Invader?
Was it Bowen in Whitechapel? Wood Street,
Brown Street, Black Eagle, Grey Eagle, Pearl, Phoenix,
Niflheim, freezing fog, injecting himself
with his leaking pen. Promethean Bowen
stitching the whole sequence together:
traveller, invader, colonist, journalist, planter, farmer,
mercenary, kingsman. Bowen fails
in the sun. Samoa. Ceylon. Tasmania.
Crucified by Mau Mau. Dead overground line.
Scribe and Pharisee.
Ends badly. All.
All energies turn
against him. His
notion of their strength
amplifies his weakness.
Fakery of noun colours.
Takes black
spot on tongue. Banished
beyond Mousa. Saint
islands. His refuge.
To identify the work is to suffer
so that words are plain again.
And may be spoken. And spent.

Iain Sinclair is a writer, filmmaker and ‘‘psychogeographer’ whose work and documentation of the borough of Hackney is unrivalled. Born in Cardiff in 1943, Iain moved to London in the 1960s after studying at Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied film. After starting his own small press at the beginning of the 1970s, Iain began to publish his own works of poetry and made a living by selling them to small independent bookshops dotted around the Capital. In the 1980s, inspired by the success of author Peter Ackroyd’s book Hawksmoor for which he had conducted research for, Iain chose to try his luck with publishers as his literary ambitions grew.

Books such as Downriver, Radon Daughters and Liquid City followed in the 1990s, but it wasn’t until 2002 with the publication of London Orbital that Iain’s devastatingly cutting and witty writing style was recognised on a larger scale. His journey around the Greater London parameters documented the change of focus from the centre of the capital to the outskirts, where gated communities and ever-changing landscapes were beginning to accommodate London’s expanding population. As a ‘psychogeographer’ and his urge to dig ever deeper into the psyche of the capital and Hackney, the place he still calls home, remain undiminished.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, October 7th, 2013.