Iain Sinclair's Suicide Bridge
Intro. I wrote about Suicide Bridge in about 1994 (see Origins of the Underground, published 2006) and the build-up to that involved looking at a lot of esoteric and fringe literature. That is really where I got going on 'psychoceramics', the scientific study of crack-pots. In 2014 I wrote a review of the second edition of SB, with the new material, which made me think how bad my first analysis was. This is really a very complicated text and describing it takes a long time. There wasn’t room for a source analysis in the review, but afterwards I thought that tracking down some (most?) of the sources would be useful, even if the use cannot be named. This is not a commentary although it supports the two short commentaries I have already published. To sum up, Sinclair has marshalled a lot of freaks in the way that a horror director might marshal magi, mermaids, and mad scientists. You don't need to read the crackpot stuff in order to enjoy Sinclair's great work. The concept of SB is to write adventures for each of the Twelve Sons of Albion named by Blake, and it is a follow-up to Blake. The differences between Sinclair and Blake are vast, but still this was the starting point.
The use of a list of this kind is mainly to allow conversations in the pub, where genuine leisure prevails. Secondarily, I suppose, to neutralise certain ideas – that is, to show that there is no political or even occult system behind Sinclair’s 70s books, rather that he uses pulp mythology in the way someone scripting a horror film might use it. SB is not a documentary or an attack on the ruling class. Its sources are, for the most part, junk and pulp. He does not believe in the truth of the esoteric sources in the way, for example, that Raine came to believe that Neoplatonism was the truth of the universe. He is not much interested in truth (not in Suicide Bridge, anyway).
Page numbers are for the 2014 edition from Skylight. William Blake is quoted throughout so the many quotes are not separately identified.
p. 19 “pale lunar figures” – unidentified (description of Psycho?)
p.23 'the material world and finite time' didn't get exact source but cf. “Two theologians (Zātspram 3.23 and the author of the Škand Gumānīg Vičār 4.63-79 [ed. J. de Menasce, Fribourg en Suisse, 1945]) have seen clearly that the world was created by Ohrmazd as a trap and snare for Ahriman: “By his very struggles in the trap and snare the beast’s power is brought to nothing.”
This is a Zoroastrian doctrine which explains the existence of the material world in terms of a trap to lure the evil principle out into materiality. >>Ohrmazd's strategy is that the good creation will act as a trap to capture Ahriman and neutralize his evil. Ahriman being aggressive, rash and ignorant (he "does not know the final outcome"), as against the thoughtful and prudent Ohrmazd, certainly the ultimate result will be the triumph of good; undoubtedly creation will be restored.<< - Wikipedia on Shikand-gumanig_Vizar, 9th C text.
MD played cricket against the Parsees' team, in 1888. The Parsees won.
p.21 Richard Cavendish – as cited in detail in the text
p.21 “death posture” – theories of Austin Osman Spare as written up by Kenneth Grant.“The illustration entitled The Death Posture, which forms the frontispiece to The Book of Pleasure, contains, in an allegorical form, the whole doctrine of the New Sexuality.”
That Book was 1913. The exegesis is probably from Cults of the Shadow by Grant.
p. 30 “aggression can be generated...” unidentified.
p.34 Thomas Browne letter to a friend:
And therefore I could not but take notice how his Female Friends were irrationally curious so strictly to examine his Dreams, and in this low state to hope for the Fantasms of Health. He was now past the healthful Dreams of the Sun, Moon, and Stars in their Clarity and proper Courses. 'Twas too late to dream of Flying, of Limpid Fountains, Smooth Waters, white Vestments, and fruitful green Trees, which are the Visions of healthful Sleeps, and at good distance from the Grave.
Most of the text of the Letter is incorporated in the text of Christian Morals.
So could be either?
evil is the active springing from Energy. Good is ..."
p. 38 Wilson – Colin Wilson
p. 39 “O Anubis” (and) “The four altars”
-from the Cantos. Farfalla in tempesta is butterfly in the storm.
p.41 “too small to hold its blood” – unidentified
p.48 two Egyptian texts. “Ah helpless one” is Coffin text 74 (“The Revival of Osiris (Resurrection)” as printed by Rundle Clark in Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt. Translation probably by A de Buck.
is also translated by Clark, same book page 80, credits unclear but seems to be the Coffin Texts,, as translated in Coffin texts, ( vol. 4, Spell 321), edited A de Buck (Chicago, 1939).
P. 50 “the spiritual in all”: unidentified but as it does not make sense it may be Charles Olson.
“Whiteheads simplest statement”.
P 54 “they went without shields” - Eliade p.294 – extract from the Volsunga Saga describing berserkir.
55 “London stone” <<London Stone was a well-known landmark in medieval London, and when in 1450 Jack Cade, leader of a rebellion against the corrupt government of Henry VI, entered the city with his men, he struck his sword on London Stone and claimed to be "Lord of this city". Contemporary accounts give no clue as to Cade's motivation, or how his followers or the Londoners would have interpreted his action. There is nothing to suggest he was carrying out a traditional ceremony or custom.<<- probable match
>>Upon entering London, Cade stopped at the London Stone. He struck the stone with his sword and declared himself Lord Mayor in the traditional manner. By striking the stone, Cade had symbolically reclaimed the country for the Mortimers to whom he claimed to be related. <<
55 “peachy clotted tide of sound” - unidentified
56 'in self hood' – Blake
p. 66 quote from The Daily Telegraph, date unknown
p. 70 “oh my grief” (mo chreach) – Synge, Playboy of the Western World
73 the moon in a hood story . This is printed as “the buried moon” in More English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs. The match is not identical so Sinclair may be using a variant.
Jacobs' source was: “Mrs Balfour's 'Legends of the Lincolnshire Cars' in Folk-Lore, ii, somewhat abridged and the dialect removed. The story was derived from a little girl named Bratton, who declared she had heard it from her 'grannie'. Mrs Balfour thinks the girl's own weird imagination had much to do with framing the detail"
81 “shat into the plastic bag” - Kray story from Pearson, The profession of violence?
published by Ocean Books, 1974.
p. 81 Jack Spicer – US poet, exact source not identified.
p. 92 Ixtab as goddess of suicide
p.97 “She has to...” Ben Bradlee (of Newsweek) describing Joseph Kennedy post-stroke. In Conversations with Kennedy.
“I met Jack Kennedy in November, 1946.... We went out on a double date and it turned out to be a fair evening for me. I seduced a girl who would have been bored by a diamond as big as the Ritz.”
p. 99 “Men are most free...” “Not when they are escaping to some wild west. The most , and shout of freedom.” ― D.H. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literature. (chapter 'spirit of place')
p. 100 Ludvig Prinn - De vermis mysteriis
>>The tome first appeared in Bloch's short story "The Shambler from the Stars" (1935), in which a character reads a passage from the book and accidentally summons an extradimensional horror. <<
So Robert Bloch, working in the world of HP Lovecraft (for a magazine edited by Lovecraft). Title means “On the mysteries of the worm”.
101 from The Gemstone File by Bruce Roberts, a fake conspiracy theory/ Roswell text, now widely regarded as being government disinformation.
103 Howard Hughes. Source is James Phelan, Hughes the hidden years.
104 "heroin from the golden triangle" – from The Gemstone File: “The dope trade routes are: Golden Triangle to Taiwan to San Francisco. Heroin coming from the Golden Triangle was sometimes smuggled into S.F. in the bodies of American G.I.s who died in battle in Vietnam. One body can hold up to 40 pounds of heroin, crammed in where the guts would be.
Some dope gets pressed into dinner plates, and painted with pretty patterns. One dope bust in S.F. alone yielded $6 billion in heroin "china plates" - the largest dope bust in history - quickly and completely hushed up by the S.F. press Mafia. The dope sat in the S.F.P.D. for a while, then was removed by FBI men, and probably sent on its way - to American veins.
All this dope processing and shipping is controlled and supervised by the Mafia, for the Mafia. Dope arrests and murders are aimed at independent pushers and maverick peddlers and smugglers who are competing with, or holding out on, the Mafia. While Nixon was conducting his noisy campaign against dope smuggling across the Mexican border, his dope officer in charge of protecting the Mafia dope trade was E. Howard Hunt.
Lots of heroin gets process in a Pepsi Cola factory in Laos.”
p.105 “Relieving himself...” - James Phelan
109 Philostratus from the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, a wonder-worker. Also at p.38
109 'those long vistas sacred catacombs where mighty minds'...
'darkness before and dangers voice behind'
- from The Prelude Book 3
Yea, our blind Poet, who in his later day,
Stood almost single; uttering odious truth--
Darkness before, and danger's voice behind,
Soul awful--if the earth has ever lodged
An awful [...]
The thirst of living praise,
Fit reverence for the glorious Dead, the sight
Of those long vistas, sacred catacombs,
Where mighty 'minds' lie visibly entombed,
Have often stirred the heart of youth, and bred
A fervent love of rigorous discipline.--
Alas! such high emotion touched not me.Also Book Three.
111 'looking forth by light' also The Prelude
small quotes probably also The Prelude
“punish thee in thy members “– not identified
114 felt , Of the Upholder of the tranquil soul, ...
- more Prelude
from Milton, Apology for Smectymnuus. “"For this good hap I had from a carefull education to be inur'd and season'd betimes with the best and elegantest authors of the teamed tongues, and thereto brought an eare that could measure a just cadence, and scan without articulating; rather nice and humorous in what was tolerable, then patient to read every drawling versifier.”114 “a small chamber hung with dusty green”:
Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses – as Wood thought that Milton had been given an MA by Oxford.
“Richardson, who laboured with affectionate enthusiasm to acquire and communicate all possible information concerning the person and manners of Milton, has left the two following sketches of his figure at an advanced period of life.”
"An ancient clergyman of Dorsetshire (Dr. Wright) found John Milton in a small chamber hung with rusty green, sitting in an elbow chair, and dressed neatly in black, pale but not cadaverous, his hands and fingers gouty and with chalk stones."
p.119 “Holmes at Caius” Unidentified. Says freshman so must be an American writer.
119 “ devildom first poetising afterwards”:
The book is Goblin Tales of Lancashire, Author:James Bowker, and the tale is THE UNBIDDEN GUEST:
- the tale is about the Devil and a 'cunning man' named Jeremy. The Devil asks for his soul but offers in return “'Twenty-two years of such success as thou hast not even dared to dream of! No opposition--no exposure to thy miserable dupes’ readily answered Satan.” This is a mythical account of the ascent of Prynne.
120 Pennick, Mysteries : from The mysteries of King's College Chapel, by Nigel Pennick
(Wellingborough : Thorsons, 1978)
120: peiste. This is an Irish Gaelic word meaning “beast”, usually a monster, Latin Bestia. But in Modern Gaelic it just means “worm” and this is the sense here because it runs “worm drives down into the buried mystery/ fenland peiste”.
From out secret toucht with 'd . The Hymn. I. It was the Winter wilde, While the Heav'n-born-childe, [ 30 ] All meanly wrapt in the rude manger ... the phrase appears in “On the morning of christs nativity” but the full quote is in so it's The Reason of Church Government , Book 2
>> "not to be raised from the heat of youth, or the vapours of wine, like that which flows at waste from the pea of some vulgar amourist or the trencher-fury of a rhyming parasite - nor to be obtained by invocation of Dame Memory and her siren daughter, but by devout prayer to that Eternal Spirit who can enrich with all utterance and knowledge, and sends out his seraphim, with the hallowed fire of his altar, to touch and purify the lips of whom he pleases."
121 a Ley line
122 The Vegetative Universe, opens like a flower from the Earths center:
In which is Eternity. It expands in Stars to the Mundane Shell
In which is Eternity. It expands in Stars to the Mundane Shell
- Blake, 'Milton'
127 “beware” - quote from Prynne lecture as credited.
p 131 “First Reggie...” Kray story, maybe John Pearson again?
p.133 shabti: tomb servant for a dead person (Egyptian)
137 Bladud cf. Geoffrey of Monmouth
"before I was..." one of the Taliesin poems? in the Llyfr Taliesin.
139 “Chief ensign of druids was a ring”
from John Wood the Elder A Description of Bath, 1765
This was the reason for designing a Circus in Bath – echoes ring of stones, Stonehenge
>>First though must come the story of Bladud, the founding father of Bath, an exiled prince because of his leprosy, whilst out herding pigs one day happened to notice that the pigs loved to roll in the hot muds of the spring. Bladud also tried this and was cured, and then went on to found the city of Bath on the spot. Our mythical King Bladud is given a date of 480 BC, and as Wood saw it Bladud created the city about the size of Babylon. Bladud was a descendant of a Trojan prince, a high priest of Apollo and a ‘Master of Pythagoras’. Therefore this high priest was a devotee of the heliocentric systems of the planets from which the Pythagorean system was derived. That the Works of Stantondriu (Stanton Drew) form a perfect model of the Pythagorean system of the planetary world <<
So Wood was a pioneer pyramidiot.
140 “I copulated with my fist” – Rundle Clark, p.44, source not very clear. But it may be Coffin texts, vol 3, 334j. Edited A de Buck (Chicago, 1939)
141 “passion to face the west” :unidentified
John Hardyng, Chronicle (1470 version). An obscure text but presumably quoted by some author on the Bladud legend. Fetherham is a cloak of feathers or pair of wings. Hardyng says the Temple is now St Paul's.
145 “cave of the Pythian God”: the temple of Apollo, again, but this time in Delphi. Presumably Wood's History of Bath.
>>However according to Pausanias, Pteras, the founder of the second temple of Apollo at Delphi, gave its name to the city.<<
>>They say that the most ancient temple of Apollo was made of laurel, the branches of which were brought from the laurel in Tempe. This temple must have had the form of a hut. The Delphians say that the second temple was made by bees from bees-wax and feathers, and that it was sent to the Hyperboreans by Apollo.  Another story is current, that the temple was set up by a Delphian, whose name was Pteras, and so the temple received its name from the builder. After this Pteras, so they say, the city in Crete was named, with the addition of a letter, Apterei. The story that the temple was built of the fern (pteris ) that grows on the mountains, by interweaving fresh stalks of it, I do not accept at all. [ << - shortened quote from Pausanias
146 “curve line”
unidentified but sounds like a ley writer. Camulodunum is Colchester.
148 EF Stringer: >>star people (also known as starseeds) is a New Age belief and fringe theory. Introduced by Brad Steiger in his 1976 book "Gods of Aquarius",it argues that people originated as extraterrestrials and arrived on Earth through birth or as a walk-in to an existing human body. It is a variant of the belief in alien-human hybrids. The term "star people" was taken from an existing Native American spiritual concept.<<
I could not locate an EF Stringer.
149 “contour values...”
unidentified but it describes a graphic representation of anomalous magnetic force readings. Earth magnentism is mentioend in SB so this could (wild guess) be a text on magnetic anomalies from Flying Saucer Review (ed. Charles Bowen). Flying saucers used “magnetic propulsion” in Ray Harryhausen's 1956 film “Earth vs. The Flying Saucers”.
151 “degradation destruction revocation infamy”
>>A disdainful man looks after two retreating and dejected figures. Their swords lie upon the ground. He carries two others on his left shoulder, and a third sword is in his right hand, point to earth. He is the master in possession of the field. Divinatory Meanings: Degradation, destruction, revocation, infamy, dishonour, loss, with the variants and analogues of these. Reversed: The same; burial and obsequies. <<
commentary on the 5 of Swords from a text on Tarot, probably AE Waite? >>The following year, a small guide by A.E. Waite entitled The Key to the Tarot was bundled with the cards, providing an overview of the traditions and history behind the cards, texts about interpretations, and extensive descriptions of their symbols. << - so 1911
153 “do not allow even an insect”
- unidentified (but an alchemist)
from a Penguin hist of maths, check soruce
The quote relates to Srinivasa Ramanujan 1887-1920
156 tags are from HP Lovecraft
-from the same Penguin book?
159 “burst death's membrane through”
but a spiritualist text
165 “worthwhile to destroy myself”
169 “Magic Door”
poem by Chris Torrance
170 “dead go the way of the sun”
170 vaginal vibrations
about prophecy, possibly Crowleyite
172 “west is the body”
177 “enjoyed the process of temptation”
unidentified biography of John Cowper Powys
182 “Oppenheimer tasting sin”
unidentified but O is more likely to have said 'The physicists have known sin, and this is a knowledge they cannot lose.'' not clear he said this.
187 “ghost of a flea”: John Varley (1778-1842)
painter and friend of Blake. This quote is from a book on the zodiac.
it is the plagues of Egypt, source text unidentified
must all his flesh imboss.” -Milton
189 “bathing suits”
193 “a country surrounded by water” - unidentified but is Britain seen from the point of view of an Amerindian.
194 Sign of the Angel, Lacock – this is a pub rather than a book. Lacock is a village near
Bath. The pub building is 15th century. It is said to have a ghost. >>The inn is said to be
haunted by the ghost of an elderly woman, who has been frequently seen over the past 15
years or so. She is believed to be one of the previous owners who just refuses to leave. A
friendly soul by all accounts, who has been spotted several times by staff and diners
patiently sitting at one of the tables in the lounge bar. <<
book by Lautreamont
196 'highest form of criticism':
“The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.”
Wilde, preface to Dorian Gray
list of books
punk vortex x file
the older hidden powrs; the secret minds (source?)
brerton, the darkness
bowen, his journey