mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli
mordicai

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Nemo Metis. (74)

Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason.

Athena was young;
She had a golden engine
whose keys were like teeth.

Well, couple this with the War Music poems by Logue & I'm just soaking in PoMo Classicism. The frame device here is that there is a Voynich Manuscript style codex of meaningless symbols, deciphered by the author using an alchemist's gemmetria work. The cryptography is such that, depending on which "keys" you use on the text, a different story is decrypted. Clever, & the narrative lives up to it-- the stories are cunningly wrought of fractals, meta-text, feedback loops, & no small measure of pulling at the heartstrings. The stories range from vignettes to anecdotes, & I can say that none of them disappointed. One (the frame narrative claims it is apocryphal, added on by a latter scribe) claims the Illiad is actually something like a chess manual; the Trojan war a farce, a board, where in instead of bishops & rooks there are Achilli & Hectors. Another, "Athena in Death" really gets in your gutbox-- dying, Athena asks Odysseus for his idea of heaven...which is just the same travels as the Odyssey but this time, without Athena deserting him. Oh! Mason talks about luciferin & luciferase, my favorite biochemical enzyme pathway! The stories are filled with anachronisms, which the author owns as translation choices, or dubious ancient provenance. Chinese myths are mixed in with Greek, monsters are anthropomorphized, memories are put in doubt. Each of the chapters is headed with whichever "key" or "keys" was used to decipher it: Time, Memory, Desire, Revenge, The Gods, The Dead, Departures, Returns, Words, Deception, & Doubles. Alright, oroborus, turn upon yourself & devour: the book is jammed with snake-hands, nooks, & crannies, & Odysseus is the character to explore them...along with grey-eyed Athena & the wide-eyed reader.
Tags: books, haiku
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