SECRET EUROPE by John Howard and Mark Valentine (EXPOSITION INTERNATIONALE: Bucharest: MMXII).


This book is approximately 9 by 12 inches: containing about 190 pages: very aesthetic, sturdy and textured in all its features of board-covers, dustwrapper, page-paper etc. Some images of it can be expanded from thumbnails HERE.  This format, for me, is intrinsic to its meaning or soul  as well as to its exchange value – as are the quite different postage stamps from those above in this site’s white city…

The White City – John Howard

“Well, postage stamps will serve as another way to bring more currency, and especially foreign currency, into the treasury.”

A charmingly humorous story – what I call one of JH’s excellent ‘art deco’ extrapolations.  An intriguing change of Government – with concomitant wranglings, favoritisms, conspiracies – in a Baltic state (I humbly guess) – and a new president.  A first person narrator, as part of his new job, is asked to check the designs of the new regime’s postage stamps – depicting, inter alia, the new buildings already bulit or hoped to be built – postage stamps that turn out eventually to have borne much satiric watermarking (invisible without close scrutiny).  I haven’t yet checked this very book’s pages for watermarks to see if its publisher’s critics are there depicted as caricatures.  As well as the ‘white goods’ of architecture in some brave new world, the story also continues the book’s reflection of the ‘golden rule’ (mentioned, as I mentioned earlier, in today’s newspapers) of European finance, the economies of scale from the implosions of 2008-2012 back, not into a golden age, but into a white history. (2 Mar 12 – six hours later)

The Baltic Circles – John Howard

“You’ll have at least one thing in common to talk about. You’re both historians!”

A few years ago my wife and I visited Bergen and we were taught about the Hanseatic League. Merchants – another commercial union prefiguring Maastricht? – a circle within a circle. Here, in this story, I sense both these men in the quotation above, as well as being historians, one of history books, the other of books about history, become lovers (tasting each other’s “other salt”): lovers, too, of the leagues of dissent along the Baltic coastline: a Baltic circle of alliances: more conspiracies stemming from or against the Bolshevik / Nazi symbiosis of the then recent past: and, unlike, European Politicos today, happy to join hands with many others (almost explicitly in this story as derived from one of those retrocausal internet flashmobs) compacted by their own currency of apparently cheap trinket rings (circles again) that possibly “contain silver from pre-Federation coins” (those coins, like the postage stamps, forming a currency of lifeblood) and – in tune with the necklace-chain in ‘The Silver Eagles’ – are rings one of which “fitted on so smoothly that I didn’t feel it there.” Just like I didn’t feel I read this story. It read me. (2 Mar 12 – another 3 hours later)


I forgot to mention that the postage stamp story (White City) depended on stamp-collectors buying the various versions of each stamp (with different watermarks etc!) for the currency to accrue. A bit like books and book collectors? Ex Occidente Books (and their varying versions) have been publicly noteworthy over the years in this regard, accruing the joys of literature, too. (3 Mar 12 – 9.15 am gmt)




4 responses to “*

  1. Pingback: Secret Europe | Line-Hawling 8510-2

  2. Secret Europe / Black Horse (Index)

    Two real-time reviews that I conducted together for no other reason than they were there to read:

    Here is the index-linking for each real-time review’s parts:

    SECRET EUROPE – by John Howard and Mark Valentine: OneTwoThreeFourFiveSix

    BLACK HORSE and Other Strange Stories – by Jason A. Wyckoff: OneTwoThreeFour

  3. There’s currently panic-buying of stamps in UK!

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