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This review is taken from PN Review 79, Volume 17 Number 5, May - June 1991.

TRUE WORLDS Ciaran Carson, Belfast Confetti (Bloodaxe Books) £6.95
Aonghas MacNeacail, Rock and Water (Polygon) £6.95
Matt Simpson, An Elegy for the Galosherman, New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books) £6.95

Maps that show buildings and bridges and streets unbuilt or long ago torn down (or up) or that fail to show buildings for reasons of security; forgotten rivers; oblivions; delusive memories; rumours; words breeding words and patterns of words; graffiti; brutal clichés; mendacities; cynicisms; scraps of half-remembered poetry; newspaper phrases; TV talk; fractured images; one language refracted through the shattered and shattering prism of another; assassinations; sterile fantasies of power and powerlessness; dreams of total surveillance and the Wellsian, or Orwellian, machinery for it. Taken all in all, a map of that wandering maze Nietzsche spoke of: 'The most extreme form of nihilism would be the view that every belief, every considering something-true is necessarily false because there simply is no true world. Thus: a perspectival appearance whose origin lies in us (in so far as we continually need a narrower, abbreviated, simplified world). And yet, in Ciaran Carson's latest anatomy of Hellish nullibiety, which builds - if that is the right word where phantasmagoria is concerned - on his excellent The Irish For No, memory can save your life and the toothmarks left on an apple cry the identity of a corpse carefully and cruelly rendered unidentifiable (not that it matters: 'we would have told them anyway. Publicity.' Though that is perhaps sour grapes).

Nietzsche's 'nihilism' involves a paradox as old as Socrates (if there is no true world, on what grounds can we consider the nihilist position true?), and Carson's new book, in describing ...


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