Phillip is eight years old. He experiences material reality as a hindrance, so he tries to stay in an inner realm composed only of abstract concepts like gravity, motion, sound and light. He lives with Mom, who stays alone in her bedroom. Once he killed a man with gleaming tools from a hardware store. He has a friend with whom he does burglary and drugs and seances. Then Dad comes to stay, and Phillip descends to a subterranean otherworld where he makes contact with “dead black things, obloid and featureless, like faintly disembodied laundry hampers.”
The History of Luminous Motion was perhaps not the prime choice of book to read on a week where I’m struggling a bit with mental illness myself, but at the same time, it was incredibly fascinating. Scott Bradfield narrates Phillip’s slide into paranoid schizophrenia in a way that so many times I lost the thread of Real/Not Real–which is exactly the problem with this terrifying disease. Who is friend, who is the invisible foe?
There’s no getting around it–it’s a dark book. Interestingly enough, Bradfield says in his ending notes that this book was written in his happiest days. I guess when you find a topic you are passionate about, it just works. The History of Luminous Motion is not a “Safe” book, though, and will challenge your mind in all its twists and freakishly dark turns. My psychologically-interested brain liked it in a fascinated way, but the emotional part of me is very fucked up at the moment.
I think my next book is a romance, and it could not come at a more opportune time.