Shouting Down The Passage Of Time Reviews

"Shouting Down the Passage of Time" can be read in two distinct ways: either in the usual way - as a book which set out to clarify Hammill's use of the Time and Space concepts in his poetry, or by reading the individual mini chapters about the songs, as a guide explaining your favourite Hammill songs. "Shouting" is a great reference book to some of Hammill's more obscure lyrics: I always suspected "Childlike Faith In Childhood's End" is related to Arthur C. Clarke's novel "Childhood's End", but I've never heard of Edgar Allen Poe's unfinished (and unpublished) story "The Lighthouse", which quite possibly was the starting point for the early Hammillian masterpiece "A Plague of Lighthouse-keepers". There are many other examples to Dagmar's ability to expose the songs' origins, or at least to hint to their possible meanings: from Jorge Luis Borges' short story "The Immortal" - which no doubt is the starting point of any serious discussion of "Still Life" to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle in relation (?) to "Shell".

But if the above alone does not send you rushing to buy the book, there are different perspectives - this is the first time anyone has seriously tried to negotiate Hammill's poetry as a whole. Sure, it's also the first book which explains Hammill's sometimes plain difficult poetry, but it aspires to much more than this: the book is a guide to lead us through the uncharted Hammillian landscape. "Shouting" is there for everyone who wants to achieve some deeper insight on the big picture - to gain some access into the essence of the PH song, to be able to grasp that elusive "thing" that makes his songs poetry. Dagmar does this, with typical stroke of genius I might add, by facilitating only two sets of keys - the time & space keys. Holding on to those two keys, she argues, might enable us to finds our way through the thick overgrowth covering the poet's path.

It should be noted that by doing so, "Shouting" tends to disregard an important aspect of rock poetry - the fact that these "songs" (quotation marks courtesy of PH, as on Chameleon's sleeve notes) are primarily sung rather than read. Although this serves as the starting point of her discussion in the book, Dagmar, 41, prefers, in general, to keep to the poetry whilst somewhat neglecting the music. This is no bad thing, for several reasons, mainly so because Dagmar's discussion of the rock songs as poetry enables the reader to see the songs in a completely new light: sans music! The best example for me was the song from which stems the book's name: "Traintime". I've tended to disregard this song, as I consider "Patience" to be one of Hammill's lesser albums. Reading Dagmar's account of this song made me realize how wrong I was, assuming a not too strong tune is a sign of a not too strong lyrics.

Dagmar 41 is the best person to write on PH, having gone through a rather similar track in life, sharing Peter's varied fields of interest - from Philosophy to Physics to Literature - apart from being an accomplished musician by her own right. Hammill deserves such a great book, so do we.

Ofer Shinar, ph7 mailing list


I plunged deep in "Shouting Down The Passage Of Time" . There is no eternal truth but surely this work sheds light on some obscure "Hammillian" concepts. I 've found the title more than appropriate. It has also drawn attention to some songs I tended to disregard ; The Second hand, Shell and The Wave, making them worth of a rediscovery.

It 's also interesting to follow the steps of the room motif of the early years and then the beginning, clearly pointed out with "The Future Now" of the "Now" and generally speaking Time motif that we find at least in any album. The deep insight in the poetry and the revealing of the lyrics' deliberate ambiguity is admirable, a poetry indeed mingled with science ( a scientist who wanted to be a poet or a poet who wanted to be a scientist ? It is both true !!) This is what Hammils' lyrics are often pregnant with, as real poetry should be; the meeting of the opposites or apparently opposites . Dagmar 41 polishes the stones of this precious and multi-layered bridge, yet the approach is very scientifical.

It's an overwhelming experience being aboard this TRAINTIME, fully aware of the relativity of time and always ....on the verge of derailment.

Alessandro Cicutto, ph7 mailing list