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Jonathan Bowden’s Kratos

907 words

Jonathan Bowden
Kratos and Other Works
London: The Spinning Top Club, 2008

The book Kratos was published by the Spinning Top Club in very early 2008. It extends over 157 pages. It consists of four independent stories of around the same length.

The first (“Kratos”) deals with a Lombrosian tale about criminality and psychopathia. It delineates a Yorkshire axe-man called Billy-O or Dung Beetle whose intentions are fundamentally misread by an upper-class fop, Basildon Lancaster.

One might characterize it as an exercise in Degeneration theory from the late nineteenth century brought up to date — hence its debt to Cesare Lombroso’s Criminal Man from 1876, I believe. A highly filmic coloration befits this piece — almost in a lucid or paranormal light  and this lends it a dream-like or magical intention. Bowden’s pieces tend to be extremely visual, oneiric, outsider drawn or filmic in compass — he is definitely what could be called a Visualiser. There also, to this particular critic, seems to be a correlation between all of these fictions and the comics or graphic novels that he produced as a child. All of them have a violent, immediate and aleatory dimension, to be sure, yet I infer something more.

What I mean is that just like a film which is planned on a story-board, for example, these literary tales move simultaneously on many levels and with a visual candor. It is almost as if Mister Bowden split his creative sensibility in moving from boy to man: the verbal bubbles or lettering (as they are called) in the graphic novels split off to become fictions; while the images morphed into fine art-works. They became stand alone paintings in their own right.

Kratos deals with insanity but on distinct levels, some of which fast forward and back — while parallel dimensions, parts of the mind, stray visual eddies or prisms, and telescoped refractions all recur. This filmic quality proceeds throughout the piece akin to Hitchcock or Blatty, but a strong narrative impulse bestrides this magic realism. It lends the excoriation at the tale’s end something akin to the reverberation of Greek tragedy.

From a Right-wing or elitist perspective, I think that Bowden’s fictional trajectory works in the following manner. From the very beginning there is an exoteric dimension (much like the political trappings of a reasonably notorious political movement from early in the twentieth century). This deals with the artistry, story, structure, prism effect in terms of H. T. Flint’s Physical Optics, as well as the narratives dealt with above.

But, in my view, there is another hidden, buried, esoteric, occultistic, and numinous aspect. It is slightly and from a liberal perspective rather scandalously linked to a thesis in the book Nietzsche, Prophet of Nazism by a Lebanese and Maronite intellectual; together with the Occultistic text The Morning of the Magicians. This inner urge or poetic trope is an attempt to create the Superman via a manipulation of consciousness.

Most Western cultural standards, menhirs, sacred stones, or objects on the ground have been devastated or destroyed — even though the odd echo can be heard. (This might be said to be a small Classics department at a provincial university, for instance.) Nonetheless, Bowden preaches re-integration — beginning within oneself — and ending up with the maximalization of strength. One should remember or factor in that almost every other literary tendency is contrary or reverse-wise. Characters are chaotic, broken, stunted, uncertain, apolitical, non-religious, without any metaphysic whatsoever, chronically afraid, sexually and emotionally neurotic, tremulous about death, et cetera . . .  While Bowden’s Oeuvre intimates the re-ordination of the Colossus — both gradually and over time.

Hence we begin to perceive a glacial imprimatur in his work; in that characterization is non-Dual, beyond good and evil, semi-Gnostic, Power oriented in the manner of Thrasymachus, “demented,” furious, even non-Christian. It ennobles the prospect of Odin without the overlay of Marvel Comics and as a Trickster God . . . i.e., it’s the moral equivalent of Batman’s Joker as reviewed, via The Dark-Knight, elsewhere on this site. It also ramifies with the words of the anti-humanist intellectual, Bill Hopkins, who, in a cultural magazine close to the polymath Colin Wilson known as Abraxas, once remarked: “The purpose of literature is to create New Titans.”

One other cultural idea suffices here . . . this has to do with Joseph Goebbels’ answer to a question about his interpretation of the Divine. This should be seen as part of the frontispiece of his expressionist novel Michael, a third positionist work from the ‘twenties. He described “God” as a multi-proportioned or eight-limbed idol, replete with heavy jambs and rubiate eyes, and possibly constructed from orange sandstone. Such an effigy was associated with the following: flaming tapers or torches, brands, naked female dancers, and human sacrifice. To which the Herr Doktor’s interlocutor remarked: “It doesn’t sound very Christian to me!” The propaganda minister’s response came back as quick as a shot: “You’re mistaken; THAT IS CHRIST!”

I think that Jonathan Bowden believes much the same about the meta-ethic of his own literary output. The other stories in this volume were Origami Bluebeard” (a marriage, a murder, a threnody, a Ragman, a take on Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus); “Grimaldi’s Leo” (a lighter variant on Animal Liberation), and “Napalm Blonde.” This was an attempt at Greek Tragedy, configures a Tiresius who maybe alone but not in a wasteland, and happens to be radically heterosexualist after Anthony Ludovici’s analysis.

For those who have ears to hear — let them hear.

Note: Kratos can be read or purchased here.

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