Psyche and Specter – Chris Moran

Terror House Press, September 2021
Cover design by Matt Lawrence

Following on the success of poetry collections Night Giver (self-published) and Ghostlord (Solar Luxuriance, 2014), the Uranian gnostic poetry and caustic visionary tales of Chris Moran find their newest and most complete expression to date in Psyche and Specter, released in 2021 on Terror House Press.

We are told early on in this collection that relation of the human spirit to the higher and upper airs is best explored with Tangerine Dream on the stereo. The outer and inner worlds are explored from esoteric enclaves where monastic reverie happens upon a clash of forces incomprehensible yet beckoning.

“I sense that I am in deep trouble with these rebel angels. I owe them something. I owe them something and it is not money.”

There is not enough garlic in your quinoa to keep the vampires at bay; in fact, these fetch-beasts eat protection magic for breakfast. There’s no point summoning anything whatsoever: the shades, the Old Ones, and the Men-in-Black have breached the walls some time ago. The self and wakeworld are already dissolving into unrecognizable states of consciousness. There’s no crack in the firmament… until you see it, and then you can never return. Your voice is your voice, until it’s not – in that moment when you yourself echo that daimonic command issued here in the poem THE BODY HARP: “Take what I give you and disembowel the sky.”

A FRAGMENT from “PLUTO’S LAW” by Chris Moran
iron phosphate
a fine network of veins

subcutaneous architecture

neural gematria triangulate

the spirit, the sphinx, the
Sefer Yetzirah

syndicate of black sorcerers

gaseous membranes
intelligent clouds arrive on Urantia
to siphon the air into another dream

And while the gnosis Moran is detailing here does not so much set out in search of experience as much as become beset, set upon, by the forces of the outer dark, he does leave us an Ariadne’s thread of references: oblique and obvious, to Carlos Castaneda, Phillip K Dick, John Keel, Herman Hesse, Roberto Bolaño, Whitley Strieber, kabbalistic angelology and goetic sigils, The Shiva Sutras of Vasgupta, conspiracy channels on YouTube… And it all culminates in the epic “CHANT OF THE NETHER SPHERES”, the longform and ultimate piece which occupies the latter half of this collection. I suspect that “the last Romantic poet” and early weird fiction writer, Clark Ashton Smith, would be quite proud of the ethereal violence on display in this text. Perhaps we also hear echoes of Will Alexander or Eugene Thacker in the dissonant verbal concretions which seem to go beyond poetry into the realm of anonymous materials, the place where a “wave of biometric cadavers embraces oceans of the invisible.”

These poems occupy the nonplace of all dreams – where the blunt light illuminates Kafka-esque rueful cosmic laughter and cybernetic ventriloquist deception more often than anything recognizable as what we call “enlightenment” or “salvation”. Much is made nowadays of the term “unverified personal gnosis” – I imagine this text might wear that insult as a badge of honor. Grace descends to us only to the extent that we charge the gates and occupy the spectral cathedrals of the higher airs, but it is not apparent that we can remain ourselves if we tarry there for long.

The volume is a fine paperback; the attention to enjambment and page layout distinctive in Moran’s work is apparent throughout. The artwork and jacket are thoughtfully designed; the cover art leaves me very curious about the attributions of the moon and the sun. It is clear that this poet dances inbetween and further than the spheres, spheres beyond system, worlds without end.

yes in this
black dimension I radiate
DNA in the silver way

a matrix of sword
and sound dissolved in decay

in the underworld the lion-headed man
stalked me, magnetized to my fear
siphoning the dream-stream into darker dimensions

yet Bhairava has set a flame in my heart
magnetized to the density of decay-

Recommended for further sci-fi gnostic exploration:

The Last Oblivion – Clark Ashton Smith, Hippocampus Press
Cults of the Shadow – Kenneth Grant, Starfire Press
The Voudon Gnostic Workbook – Michael Bertiaux, Weiser Press

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