Wilson Harris, Forrest Reid
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'I was obsessed - let me confess - by cities and settlements in the Central and South Americas that are an enigma to many scholars. I dreamt of their abandonment, their bird-masks, their animal-masks ... Did their inhabitants rebel against the priests, did obscure holocausts occur, civil strife, famine, plague? Was Jonestown the latest manifestation...?'
Jonestown (1996), one of Wilson Harris's most acclaimed creations, is a fictional re-imagining of the real-life ritual mass suicide orchestrated by Reverend Jim Jones in the remote Guyana forest in 1978. The novel's narrator, Francisco Bone, has survived the suicide albeit in a traumatized condition. By way of a dream-book he tries to heal his psychic wound, under the influence of the Mayan concept of time that twins past and future.
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the Wheel or the Christmas tree. Labour was hard as nails. Bare hands pulled rocks and stones into pyramids.’ The Doctor-God arrived on the stage above Marie. ‘It’s true,’ he confirmed, ‘I am the ghost of an ancient medicine-king in olden times. My voice is scarcely heard nowadays. I am a king, a ruined king, yet I am worshipped in this hospital as a free spirit. Science is a free spirit. The Wheel remained a toy in my ancient kingdom. I never found the means to make it available to brutalized
Skeleton-twin. ‘On every frontier that we seek to cross one needs to balance truth-makers, or truth-sayers, with tricksters. Frontiers are obdurate, believe me.’ ‘I know.’ What did I know?, I wondered. ‘I am impressed at times by such obduracy.’ I stopped. ‘Frustrated at times.’ I admitted. ‘It’s a new language, a new inferno if we are to glimpse a wholly different archetype of heaven. What am I saying?’ I stood on the brink of a chasm but pulled back in time to address my Skeleton-twin.
Legba’s cousin within the orphanage of humanity. I saw a wicked flash in Marie’s eye as she pulled a shawl over her breasts and sat up in bed. On the shawl were inscribed the features of Kali, a pin-up for Indian peasants in Port Mourant. Kali was a guardian for Marie, she was a dangerous Goddess in her own right. She scoffed at lame giants yet relished their long-standing trickeries and inventions. She knew they were virtually divine in the tales they spun, the promises they gave of
created. I saw their black-out lips in the blistered shoes that they wore at the door of my mother’s Albuoystown shop. Their flesh crept through those holes, through their patched garments, as they stood on the Moon and sang with a hidden choir in the crumbling Grave of space. ‘They are children of a lame humanity in the computer of the Moon,’ said Mr Mageye, ‘on the Wheel of time.’ ‘Do they seek a new Church,’ I asked, ‘a new Rome?’ ‘They are possessed of a virus of Spirit,’ said Mr
I was under the eye of judges whose faces I could not discern. I looked hard but they vanished. The shattered banqueting hall – shattered across forty years from 1954 to 1994 – was littered with trampled crumbs of bread, meat, fish, rice, sugar … ‘Guyana is poor,’ I said to Jones. ‘Is it not time to contemplate a new Economy for the North, Central and South Americas? Guyana is shackled to an accumulation of negative dollars and interest on “futures” as obdurate and solid as Atlas and the