brief

The other New Zealand literary journal

Category: Supplement

Issue 56 Supplement: The Only Time

Below are full colour reproductions of four paintings by John Downie which appear alongside their texts, in black and white, in brief issue 56. To mark the transition, we have also included a further poem and image by Downie here: Black White Colour.

John Downie’s book, The Only Time: an autobiography in twelve pictures, is forthcoming from Steele Roberts this year. (Click images to view them in more detail).

1967

The only time
Black and white changed
Into colour
I was in the very room

A forward sense of myself
Had sneaked me
Through a broken back-window
Into the Magic Theatre
Convinced I alone could manipulate and mix up
Puppets, masks, light
With disputational voices
Into the reality
Of an illusion

However

The apparatus already had its own ideas
About the polychromatic possibilities
Of the spectacle

In which as many lives
As were seemingly being lived
In every scoured quarter of the Earth
Could be elided through past and future
Into a perpetual present
Pixellating pure motion
Incessant song
Agonies of the heart
Ecstasies of commodification
Bleeding scarifications of the political will

All together

Into vibrant, cool
Illusions of a reality
Available, night and day
With no more required effort
Than the restless flicking
Of opposable thumbs

Without any need at all
For my feverish monochrome adolescence
To help animate them

 John Downie: BLACK WHITE COLOUR 1967

John Downie: BLACK WHITE COLOUR 1967

UNIFORM 1943

John Downie: UNIFORM 1943

John Downie: UNIFORM 1943

CHE 1967

John Downie: CHE 1967

John Downie: CHE 1967

BED 1970

John Downie: BED 1970

John Downie: BED 1970

ASYLUM 1989

John Downie: ASYLUM 1989

John Downie: ASYLUM 1989

The accompanying text for these paintings appears in excerpt from The Only Time, which appears in brief issue 56.

Issue 55 Supplement: How Many Miles To Babylon

How Many Miles to Babylon? Three Faces of Mike Johnson’s Lear

Did Mike Johnson know that there had once been a “Babylon” on the Kaipara when he chose that name for his imaginary village? I don’t know. I haven’t asked him.

Even if he had, would it make much difference to the nature of the novel he dreamt up: that strange mixture of courtly erudition and intense, provincial ignorance? Not directly, no. His larger point would, I’m sure, remain valid in either case.

Why bother to go and look for it, then?

I suppose, if I were to be honest, that the impetus for this quest – and the larger study of “Speculative Fictional” landscapes within New Zealand which it forms a part of – is largely supplied by its paradoxical nature…
Jack Ross

The following is a colour supplement for Jack Ross‘ essay, How Many Miles to Babylon? which appears in brief issue 55. All photographs: Bronwyn Lloyd (5/8/16).

 Mike Johnson: Lear (1986)

Mike Johnson: Lear (1986)

Mike Johnson’s dystopian SF novel is set on a waterway described only as “the river,” in a tiny settlement called “Babylon.”

Tangiteroria

Tangiteroria

Scaffolding at Tangiteroria, on SH14 between Whangarei and Dargaville.

 Northern Wairoa River

Northern Wairoa River

 

Northern Wairoa River

Northern Wairoa River

The upper reaches of “the river” – at Tangiteroria.

The view

The view

The view from Tangiteroria, looking towards the West Coast.

Tangowahine

Tangowahine

A prototype for Babylon? The tiny settlement of Tangowahine, on the way towards the coast.

Wairoa River (Dargaville)

Wairoa River (Dargaville)

Funnily enough, the Wairoa River was always referred to simply as “the river” by the inhabitants of the Kapipara. Here it is at its widest, looking over towards Te Kopuru.

Babylon Coast Road

Babylon Coast Road

The sign is on SH 12, 6 kms north of Dargaville.

 Babylon Coast Road

Babylon Coast Road

 

Stop!

Stop!

 

Babylon Coast Road

Babylon Coast Road

Storm clouds coming over the hills from Babylon: the former gum-digging settlement down near Baylys Beach.

The full text of How Many Miles to Babylon? Three Faces of Mike Johnson’s Lear by Jack Ross appears in brief issue 55.

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