substancebooks
 sweet magazine
 books
 submissions
 who we are
 contact us
 
 join our mailing list

change text size

  PDF  Print  E-mail 

back

James Sey

A Compendium of Imaginary Wavelengths

What you are about to read, recently unearthed in a private vault in Barabas in North-East Africa, are synopses of some of the last remaining documents produced by one of the most intriguing and mysterious, and darkly influential, scientific and literary figures of the last hundred years. These tales of eugenic fantasy, of misbegotten experiments, of poetry and perversion, point to a hidden history, a sinister undercurrent running through much of the key aesthetic and scientific discoveries of our age. They also point to a great psychological and personal cost for those who were carried along on the tide of monomaniacal charisma the author exuded, a terrible collateral damage for hundreds of the finest minds in many different fields of endeavour. Within these documents lies plausible reason, scientific and literary genius, sinister passion, magic, and a presiding sense of dark derangement.

BOOK 1: A BOOK OF DISENCHANTMENT
A tale of innocence lost, of lies revealed, and of deception celebrated. The sighs and cries of betrayed lovers take their place alongside the confusion of those led astray by conspiracy theorists and evangelical cultists. The story culminates in the recounting of a series of mass suicides, hidden thus far even from the CIA, as the mounting sense that we are constantly controlled and observed becomes unbearable.

BOOK 2: ILLUMINATION
A great tome filled with the sound of light switches, humming elements, the burning and constantly audible force of the national power grid. Contains secret formulas for insomniacs no longer able to dispel the ubiquitous thrum of electricity. As the undercurrent of all of the wavelengths of our culture of communication, our electricity contains many ghosts, memories whose voices and half-presence illuminates our conscious sensorium and influences our everyday experience in unrealised ways.

BOOK 3: A HISTORY OF UNLUCKY NUMBERS
Memoirs of curses passed down from generation to generation, and the obsessions arising from the inevitability of chance and the litanies of contingency. Traces the legend of the Dice Man in different cultures, a figure of great mythic power derived from its ability to relinquish the insane illusion of free choice, and a gruesomely illustrated chapter on the origins of so-called 'Russian Roulette'.

BOOK 4: REMEMBERING AND FORGETTING
A case study in mass hysteria and a clinical history of the age of paranoia. Brings together case studies of those poor demented souls whose ears are attuned to higher frequencies, and who are driven mad by the beguiling babble of a million mobile phone conversations in the ether around them - a million voices of a million gods. There is no escape from the sounds that one forgets.

BOOK 5: THE LURE OF MORTAL TERROR
A children's book designed to rediscover the power of the scream. Drawing from the renowned outsider research of disbarred pathologist Dr. William Castle, details procedures to extract an essence of fear from the central nervous system in order to put it to use in broadcast media. Concludes that without the powers of terror, we will never defeat the ennui of the forever represented, and without the power of the nightmare, mass media will never survive.

BOOK 6: EMPTY SEATS IN MOVING OBJECTS
A travel documentary about alienation and passenger sex, and in particular the disquieting phenomenon of stranger intimacy. In this mode, travelling in planes, trains and buses brings us very close to the serial killer. What do engines do to alter our bodily frequencies, and why is the stranger beside us always the one we feel most open to?

BOOK 7: A BOOK OF SCARS
An account of the search for the definitive meaning of the cicatrice, the significant scar, which lets the inside of the body out. The book tells tales of the histories of scars famous and anonymous, and of the sounds of the instruments that administered them. We will hear of Maoris and Hussars, Prussians and pygmies, and follow the traces of their flesh.

BOOK 8: EVIL'S EVER-CHANGING APPETITE
Historical recollections about the satanic power of food. Details the efforts through history to consume foods that alter both consciousness and the soul, in attempts to prolong life and commune with spirits. In this account, the evil of food is associated through the ages with austerity rather than lasciviousness, with the cold comfort of immortality rather than the sensuality of the flesh. Ultimately food such as peacock hearts, eels and the marrow in the talons of burrowing animals are consumed in order to cheat death. As the devil's master chef puts it: "I charge more for anything black. By eating something black you are saying; Ha! Death! I eat you!"

BOOK 9: SOFT MACHINES
A technical manual detailing procedures for the successful introduction of animal DNA into the operating systems of large and inert metal machines built for a single purpose. The consequent introduction of choice and possibility into these purpose built entities leads to a widespread wavelength decay and a complete divorce between music and notation. The manual concludes with an extraordinary and extended piece of informed speculation about machine contingency giving rise to the return of widespread human neurasthenia and cybernetic entropy, ending eventually in the pursuit of muscle atrophy as a visual aesthetic.

BOOK 10: A HISTORY OF RAIN
A book of poetry, the author's first, imagining the life experience of every single drop in every rainstorm in the history of the world. Has a poignant chapter on phantom rain, which never hits the ground. The experiment in barbed sentimentality was considered a failure at the time, though posterity has developed a view of A History of Rain as an archetype for the revival of epic forms and utopian ideals.

BOOK 11: THOTH'S LAST STAND
A blueprint for all mythologies, this book dramatises the fall from grace of the Master Architect Thoth as time and doctrine passes by. Thoth's grids of power remain however, producing lines and vectors of chance and force over all of humanity's built reality. The spirits of the Illuminati hover also in the work, putting down ley lines that draw together the ancient and powerful threads of death and madness which lie beneath the formality and rationality of classical European architecture.

BOOK 12: A BOOK OF PEACHES, EAR BUDS AND VOLCANOES
A children's collection of reminiscences by favourite aunts about their most dearly held experiences of texture, scent and cosmic violence. The curious combination of cherubic beauty and open discovery with the basest of primal impulses to sex and violence that co-exists in most infants is here related by these starched old women in a manner at once sentimental and disturbing.

BOOK 13: FUTURE WEATHER REPORTS
An epic work of meteorological divination. Contains, in code, the secret co-ordinates for the locus within the Bermuda triangle where, the author felt convinced, lay the Arkenstone crystal, an ancient Atlantean artefact which could be used to design and control weather patterns years into the future.

BOOK 14: THE BOOK OF FELINE GENIUS
This whimsical veterinary study mixes feline lore with analyses of the biorhythm and sinewave patterns emanating from these aloof and intriguing creatures, concluding that cats would make the best experimental subjects for the then yet to be discovered science of genetic engineering. It seems to have been the culminating work in a series of studies into the sound frequencies of genetic material, seemingly with the ultimate goal of manipulating genetic codes and social behaviours.

BOOK 15: A STUDY OF INSECT SEX
An apocalyptic anthropology, written when the author was close to his mysterious death, detailing a Kafkaesque experiment in which close scrutiny of the reproductive cycles of cockroaches and mantises are followed by their dissection and consumption by the laboratory team. The work begins as a routine laboratory diary logging the course of the day's experiments, but its second half degenerates into a frantic and panicky detailing of the increasingly unhinged excesses of the scientists, its tone lurid and prurient.