Anna Tambour presents 


The virtuous medlar circle
thoroughly bletted
from  And Your Point
Scorn and Meaning
in Jeff Lint's fiction
edited by Steve Aylett

Review of I am a Centrifuge
Eileen Welsome

A true hero, one who completely satisfies our sense of independence, is a hero who is elsewhere. This hero may not, necessarily, spring from a self-reliance background. Jelly Result’s Valac is certainly not the child of interesting parents. However, he, like many of Lint’s characters, is a person who harbors no illusions about fashion or its importance.

Certainly, Lint has created a number of characters who are less than clever. Bobb Watts, of Turn Me Into a Parrot, is a moron. Alger Lattimore of the play The Coffin Was Labelled Benjy the Bear is a hen-riding, easily-surprised fool. Yet these characters, clearly, are humorous devices designed to heighten a sense of bafflement in the reader. (The story somehow proceeds in such a way that the characters create the same effects and changes that a properly-appointed Lint hero would.) The real Lint hero, the one who appeals to us most, is irreverent to the point of parallel-dimensionality; despite a life of lurid extremity in surroundings such as a Dog-Angering Factory, or toil in a mine where gas is his only friend, the Lint protagonist will enter the tale wearing neon pants which seem to get bigger throughout his adventures, until eventually the other characters must acknowledge them, and finally deal with them as the primary threat to their survival (‘The Rustic Intensity of Benny’s Truss’). Gender is no barrier to this syndrome; Isou of Slogan Love, one of Lint’s few central female characters, is a study in casual scorn and cosmically preoccupied unavailability, all external manipulation meeting empty air.

It is hard to find a character that fits this mold better than Surge Brunner of I am a Centrifuge. Standing amid a society that mimics personal power and ‘choice’ above all, he can barely draw breath for laughing—while the constant allowances he must make while moving through this vacuum of dishonesty has forced the bones of his head to bulge out sideways like a faulty vase. In a way, he is using his own skull as a sort of space helmet.

Unlike Felix Arkwitch of The Stupid Conversation, whose deeds are quietly epic and ignored, Surge represents that variety of hero whose rarity and weakness derives from the fact that he is an unshakably honest and humorous man. Though the society surrounding him is toxic, with the concepts of right and wrong non-synchronizedly transposed so many times at so minute a level as to be shredded, he calmly irons his pants with a warm armadillo. In Lint’s stories it is through such a hero that we derive a sense of moral grounding.

Much is expected of Surge, as he is worked, taxed and exhausted like everyone else. For Surge, this is especially poignant, as he has been fully aware of all that has been done to him, every second of his life from the start. This hypersensitivity, which the refreshingly colorful Doctor Webb terms ‘common sense’ causes such problems for Surge that he chooses to stay at the middling pain level of his home for much of the time. Emerging into society, Surge will sometimes begin screaming, grabbing people and staring them in the eye point-blank as the flesh begins to drool from his face.

More to the point is that seeing the underpinnings of the world at all times, he finds himself to be terribly frank and unpopular wherever he goes. People greet him only to receive a series of ugly shocks, or badinage of such grotesque extremity that some find their ribs have turned to a fine powder within their chests. (Many such characters subsequently die believing that they have been shot by a fab new weapon). As it turns out, the centuries of exploited existence have changed the very meaning of happiness. Eroding definitions (or in this accelerated world, redefining by bland decree) is a queasy sport which Lint called Memerade. Openly, blithely and uselessly contemptuous of the society contemporary to his lifespan, Surge achieves nothing except simple and absolute faith to himself.

And so the stage is set. What follows is the typical Lintian combination of obtusely-timed lethargy and pyrotechnical misbehavior that characterize his writings. Lint’s presentation of defiance is rich and complex. At a gala luncheon at which the President will speak, things are tense. Surge is mostly a gentle fellow, rarely moved to hostility or violence. However, the sense of anticipation deriving from the knowledge that he will presently begin to shudder and shout, clenched teeth showing through a face streaming like hot wax, functions as the proverbial ‘bomb under the table.’ It might be said that, of all Lint’s social inventions, the Lintian act of effrontery is the most fascinating and elaborate.

Sometimes, these are merely alluded to in the course of a story as a background incident which gives us an idea of a character’s likes and dislikes (eg. Barry Soylent’s car-torching in Clowns & Locusts). Elsewhere they are volleys of sarcasm so elaborate as to constitute dramatic productions (eg. Lashpool’s forty-seven-page chicken theatre outburst at the dinner party in Die Miami). In Centrifuge, however, Lint takes special pains to elevate a lazily disdainful bit of jeering to the level of masterpiece, providing it with a highly developed structure of levels, phases and movements. The reader of the second half of Centrifuge is witness to a renunciation blow-out, played from start to finish with intricate play by play detail. Through a seemingly trivial remark by another guest, the exponential eruption of Surge’s mockery is a deceptively impressive feat and an amazing example of Lint’s level of concentration and dedication to his stories.

Respect for others acts as connecting thread throughout the first half of Centrifuge. It is a trait of the docile Surge that he gives people the credit to assess, accept or disregard his acts and remarks. But in true Lintian fashion the outgoing thread of respect tangles with threads of manipulation and dishonesty coming the other way; the knot created finally becomes such an obstruction to Surge’s peace that he must explode into a nova of derision to burn it away.

Like Doomed & Confident and countless other Lint novels, I am a Centrifuge gives us a glimpse of honesty which sparks briefly within a society very like our own, before being snuffed again by the vacuum. Clearly it’s no mean feat for an author to fill half of a good-sized novel with a stream of intricately-demonstrated verbal abuse but Lint makes it a fertile paradise of colors, giving Surge’s logic an entire anatomy including bellowing lungs which, like all good satire, are powered by the flawed arguments of its target. The guests, for some time frozen like deer in the headlights, eventually attempt to escape but find the ballroom closed off by their own assertion that Surge has nothing to do but tolerate their dismal company. (This and a couple of other elements have been compared to Stephen King’s Carrie, which was published the same year).

Finally the visible twists and clots of manipulation are hanging in the air over the shrieking assembly and dripping noxious slurry upon all. But Surge has efforted so much beyond himself that, when he incinerates the terrible mass in mid-air, he destroys the mechanism of complex truth within him. Something in him is also purified away and he is left a simpleton, unable to explain himself or anything else. The bedraggled guests stagger from the building in a daze, including a wealthy dowager whose mouth has disappeared. The evening’s vortex becomes an urban myth, of course.

The concept of Surge’s long-contained eruption is a perfect Lintian excuse for mischief. In the early Random publication of I Am a Centrifuge, the cover art offers us an interesting representation of Surge blowing some kind of galaxy out of his ass. Behind him are primly affronted characters representing the gala guests, some of them throwing their entire arms across their eyes (which seems excessive). Though an inaccurate representation, anyone who saw the cover and who knew Lint’s work, should have suspected at once that he was the creator of Centrifuge, as opposed to Alan Rouch, whose name first graced the cover. Rouch’s Sadly Disappointed, on the other hand, is an average sort of a book to which Rouch has added a few hens in the hope of seeming ‘wacky.’ Though misguided in swapping books with his friend Rouch, Lint should be given credit for trying to help out the lesser author.

EDITOR’s NOTE: I am a Centrifuge, published under Alan Rouch’s name in 1974, is generally agreed to have been written by Jeff Lint. Around the same time, the would-be ‘demonic possession’ thriller Sadly Disappointed was published under the name Isaac Asimov, the implication being that it was written by Lint. Alan Rouch has since admitted to writing that piece of garbage.


And Your Point is? will be released by
Raw Dog Screaming Press
in late 2006.
This follow-up to LINT, the biography of cult author Jeff Lint, delves deeper into the psychosis of this seminal writer's work. This series of essays and reviews from around the globe, representing decades of study, is being presented for the first time in collected form. A must have for collectors, students, imitators, and stalkers alike.

Contributors include Steve Aylett, Eileen Welsome, Arkhipov Halt, Daniel Guyal, Chris Diana, Alfred Bork, Michael H. Hersh, George Cane, Dennis Ofstein, and Jean-Marie Guerin,

Read D. Harlan Wilson's recent interview of Aylett in The Dream People.

"School is something to spend the rest of your life recovering from."
Do you worry about death?    "No, so long as it's absolutely final."
Warning: Raves ahead
I don't use the 'm' word lightly. LINT is a masterpiece in the clothes of a little paperback.
And I'm not normally into collectibles that have to do with people, but everything having to do with LINT is irresistible.
THE CATERER is indispensable.
and that's not all from Jeff Lint.
More delights coming in 2007, thanks to the dedication of Steve Aylett, who just won't let Lint's sorry memory die a natural death.
"On Reading New Books" in the Virtuous Medlar Circle.
This is the introduction to Aylett's collection of quotations, Tao Te Jinx (expanded 2nd Edition).
Deceptively casual
In my opinion:
there is no writer today who is so wise and funny and tragically right at the same time, in so few words, as Steve Aylett.

And have you read
published by PS Publishing
Aylett's take on three wishes is yet another irresistible journey into the unexpected:
In this Cabellian fantasy, the maverick Fain encounters a crazy old man who offers to grant him three wishes. Will Fain ask for the usual rubbish or give it some thought?

Looping through his own past and offending kings and leaders throughout the world, Fain searches for the means to wisely direct his new powers. His quest becomes progressively more vivid as he encounters monsters, mermaids, warlocks and autarchs, gathering richer understanding with each new magic gift.

With an introduction by Alan Moore and cover artwork by Aylett, Fain the Sorcerer is a dense and mischievous work of shamanic satire.

"Nearby an old man dressed in acid green harlequin uniform was busy with playing a trumpet, folding balloons and other street-emptying exploits."

My copy of Fain the Sorcerer looks like a cat has killed it. That's my highest recommendation.


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"Review of I am a Centrifuge" copyright © 2006 by Steve Aylett.
This essay appears here with thanks to Steve Aylett, whose payment was less than a brass razoo.
This is part of a series of invited pieces by people I find deliciously inspiring, always a hoot, and who write like a bletted medlar tastes. A.T.
The Virtuous Medlar Circle © 2004 - 2006