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Pilcrow Jones

No matter how incredible or impossible the phenomena, there is nothing quite as unpredictable as the paths people take after their lives intersect with the inconceivable.


The life and library of Pilcrow Jones, such extant evidence as remains of either, are the subjects of much scrutiny, albeit skewed almost entirely (disproportionately, some argue) in favour of his writings and the forensic recovery and reconstruction thereof. Due to this disparity in focus there are relatively few conclusive and uncontested facts about the man behind the work, where he came from or what drove him to the creation of a life’s work which experts have scarcely begun to decode and unpack.

We know that Jones, by then an occupant of Broken Hill in New South Wales, Australia, went from a general obscurity to the particular privacy of conspiracy in October of 1979 when, acting under an anonymous tip, police officers entered his rented room and found a badly-burnt body. The scene, once formally documented and catalogued, drew the attention of several interested concerns and was soon sealed off by those with sufficient connections and clout; the records expunged, officially forgotten, marking the continued study the province of extremely specific and specialised interests.

From these records we know that the walls of the room were, except for an alcove within which a small desk and chair were nestled tightly, lined floor to ceilings with utilitarian metal shelves that held several thousand hardback black notebooks. The room was otherwise almost bare save the body, which was curled up in the middle of the stained wooden floor, and the crudely daubed black circle on the ceiling; into which was scored a spiral of the repeated words ‘darkened star’ from centre up to the irregular edging of an imperiously purple coronal ring.

Some kind of solvent had been splashed liberally, if haphazardly, over the shelves and notebooks; leaving the floor beneath them puddled with pools of the runoff, coloured in blacks and reds from the degraded inks. Some of the text in the notebooks was more or less intact (though written in numerous, still-untranslated, idioglossia and various miscellaneous strange markings that Pilcrow Jones had felt compelled to create or transcribe in order to properly convey and communicate the ideas he documented in his vast, self-penned library). Far more often the text had been at least partially destroyed; diffused, blurred and distorted across and between pages.

Clutched close in its arms of the remains there was a sturdy wooden box - similar in dimensions to a briefcase - its exterior charred and pitted, fused shut and fused to the bones by intense, localised heat. Once pried away, forced open, this box contained a single page, uncharacteristically typed - perhaps only because of the great expense of obtaining the custom-built typewriters that could properly render the rest of his work – but signed in the same hand that had marked the darkened star as such, a single page of relatively plain language which nonetheless offers up a narrative that only creates further confusions:

"Pilcrow Jones, post-postmodern pulp-genre novelist, writer of, on average, ten books a year, many published under assumed names so as not to glut his market, assumed names that even the most cursory investigation, (to wit: asking around), can discover, uncover, still somehow lending a slight yet important air of belonging to his small but loyal cognoscenti, a group he holds in equal suspicion and esteem, who buy all his books, come to all his readings, all his signings, but seem to have a respect, even love, for him which he cannot quite believe and is less able again to understand, being, as he was, an only child, a lonely child, an awkward, no-friends-to-his-name child who, even if he were to use his ur-name, his birth name, would be recalled only vaguely by those he associated with in youth, and not at all by the coteries and panoplies, the countless nepotocrasies, with whom his interactions are limited, purposefully and practically, to the most meagre necessities; bills paid on time, no telephone line, some books on the shelf, but not as many as you might expect, a balance of clutter, demonstrating his presence, but never marking the space as his own, a few incongruent touches, some evidence of an abortive attempt at cohabitation, but nothing obvious, no pictures, nothing in the kitchen not broadly utilitarian, if seldom used, some proofs of his books, most unopened, some leafed through, in idle curiosity, attempts to find worth, a furtive, futile quest, he was embarrassed by his minor success, fraudulent, mild renown causing stress and distress, impressions that he had failed to impress, success; then; dead at thirty, Pilcrow died, suicide, in hiding, his loyal readers told themselves, something great, something new, any day now, his pseudonyms passed on, resurrected by writers of a similar bent, kept alive, in print."

Is this single page of text somehow a key, its honest or erroneous information about Pilcrow Jones’ home and history (pre-alias?) an encoded cypher for the score of unique languages whose letters and marks are still being painstakingly recovered, restored from whatever as-yet-unidentified corrosives turned text to pools of gritty inks? And were these texts, along with the compulsion to document them, impressed upon him by the influence of the ‘darkened star’ under which he toiled?

It is accepted, in most quarters that are aware of the phenomena, that the darkened star likely describes a Parsons Eclipse; and although there are no other indications that one occurred in or around Broken Hill itself, there is similarly no proof that Jones had been in the town - or even the country - for his whole life. Regardless, that likelihood comprises the closest thing to a consensus of the facts about Jones and his library which cannot be detailed in the bland literalism of measurements and tallies.

Even the body itself is only assumed to be Jones’ - though the anonymous call which lead to the strange tableau’s discovery opens up such assumptions to inquiry: If Pilcrow Jones had destroyed his own work and taken his own life, who made the anonymous call to inform the police? Conversely, if the body could be positively identified as someone else - either an accomplice or enemy of Jones’ - then any story we could construct to explain the evidence would never be more than that: a fabrication.


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