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Book Review: How To Play a Necromancer’s Theremin

The drug of choice in How To Play a Necromancer’s Theremin is bookpowder: “ground-up pages of a reality-disrupting book called The Unfashionable Western Spiral.” The effects are similar to DMT, and the powder can be sucked up like an anteater, made into tea, or sprinkled into a blunt. Several of the characters in the novel—a “postpostpostpostmodernmodernisthyperrealitypataphysicalexperiment” written by Chase Griffin and Christina Quay, published by Maudlin House—are on a constant trip, slipping in and out of actuality, free from the constraints of “spacetimeconsciousness.”

“I stared in stoned awe at a beast with a body made of books, the head of an alligator, and teeth of broken piano keys. I gawked at a giant baby doll climbing the Eiffel Tower with thousands of spindly naked people flying out of its mouth. The visual journey ended with a serpentine creature whose lamprey mouth coiled around the door’s border as hundreds of tiny tendrils extended from the mouth’s center. The tendrils reached toward the baby doll and alligator book creature and its piano key teeth, while other nightmare beasts danced at their feet and in the background.”

If a plot must be attached to this book, it’s that a group of people—fans of a cult psychedelic writer named Rocco Atleby—go on a journey to all of his old stomping grounds, beginning in Paris and ending…?

It reminds me of a handful of books, though much weirder than all of them: Juan Emar’s Yesterday, where a married couple wanders around Santiago, Chile, seeing all sorts of beheadings and strange animals; Soledad Brother by George Jackson, in its frenzied attempt to write its way out of a cage; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, self-explanatory; Mount Analogue by René Daumal and Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician by Alfred Jarry, both of which can be put into the same unidentifiable category.

How To Play a Necromancer’s Theremin is Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, if Wittgenstein dropped the act. “Synthesis is not a merging. It should be renamed Step Fucking Three. Step Fucking Three is the solidification of bifurcation. Step Four, Parentheses, is when the cooperation near the center begins to get gunked up with the system’s own inherent unsustainability. And then comes Paralysis, which we already talked about.”

There’s reference to glossolalia, or speaking in tongues—described as “the spontaneous discovery of the universal text that exists just below our layer of actuality.” Also, in case you’d forgotten or never knew, a theremin is an electronic musical instrument that can be played without any physical contact.

For those of you that read High Times’ WEIRDOS column, I imagine this book will put a smile on your face because it’s chock-full of rants and raves, some of which touch upon the same subjects we’ve covered.

“What a journey it’s been. It’s one narc after the next. These narcs keep approaching me and asking if I needed an archetypal old man in my life. What happened, by the way? Why did we stop using the word narc? Do we think narcs don’t exist? And that there’s no such thing as psy-ops? And that people from the bad side are unable to pose as a member of your good side? Why are all of us so nervous about admitting that psy-ops are real? Do all of us believe that psy-ops conspiracy fuckery is equal to lizard people and nanobot vaccines? The GSN blasted its classic rotten archetype, fnordz, holomultigraphic interfacing proscenium arch eristic analytical overlays.”

The book also adds a lot of unnecessary z’s to the ends of words, like the cannabis industry—a match made in trippy drippy, goopy plasmate, phantasmagorical heaven. It can seem overwhelming until you start to go with it. Then, like all expeditions, including regular ol’ boring life, the words begin to prove themselves kind and rather inviting. How To Play a Necromancer’s Theremin is a step in the right direction toward breaking down the walls of what’s considered “normal” and “acceptable,” in literature and beyond. Hats off to those traveling in a formless state.

Courtesy Maudlin House

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