This review explores the captivating world of ‘Neo-Decadence Evangelion,’ an anthology edited by Justin Isis that delves into human desires, fantasies, and the unraveling of conventional morality. Dive into surreal stories, provocative themes, and a raw exploration of decadence in the modern age.
To tell someone about the necessity of decadence is like conveying hope to the dead. The receivers are not comfortable with swallowing the heavy load since the thick freedom stops their mind from giving moral opinions. So, in short, they are dead to those who are decadent fellows. With the advent of modern philosophers, who are trained at giving a good blow, the fall of moral structures has become definite. It is quite evident that with the villainization of pleasure and fantasies, power has started to become louder than ever. The Decadent Movement of the 19th century overruled the imprisonment of thoughts and gave wings to human fantasies along with their elemental deposits.
‘Neo-Decadence Evangelion’ is an anthology, edited by Justin Isis, comprising tales of fantasies and our very raw desires is an abode for many lost beings. The ideal environment of the book does not align with the conventional areas of literature, but claims the wild souls of those who matter to the material world. It is ridiculous to think that an anthology like this should stay in whispers and bedrooms only. The new age of decadence, where geeky romance and sex comes with food and books, should be dealt without wearing any veil. It, for sure, is going to disturb the population which survives on having borders around human mind. But it is pleasing for people like me who want to live the bare form of desire.
Brendan Connell’s story ‘The Slug’ is a beautiful yet weirdly logical description of a man. It approaches the human anatomy like we visualize a slug. But much more than that, the writer fulfils the thirst of a reader who wants to break barriers of literary conscience. “The sky has the taste of disgust, screeching like an intoxicated cow or an old tire” makes us visualize the tumultuous version of the sky that is regular for us. The protagonist searches for companions, becomes a queer hippy – his vulgarity flows like our vulgar desires do. It condemns the comfort we try to be in while reading a book, but the distillation of immorality begins when our blood becomes a matter of lust, and sloppy kisses between our lover’s legs growls around our everyday conversations.
‘A Tree Rotting from the Top Down’ is a manifestation of our guilt, wishes we worship, and darkness we care about. It is a tale that runs through a cascade of events where the reader gets to see the stripped lives of Aki and Kousuke. The incidents they come across have a basic structure which allows the dark and disturbing instances to sit beside us like ghosts. It should not be tough to accept the choices of these two people, and that is where the hook makes us bleed – the hook of being civic, and ‘socially normal’. The writer Justin Isis approaches their world with a fleshy taste and meaty touch. The protruding normalcy has the smell of a compassion that has a boner. One has to take care of it and what could be the best then to fondle it with a warm mind?
Gaurav Monga’s short story ‘The Costume’ weaves itself around the love of a man for fibre and a specific connection associated with what the fibre created for him. On most occasions, the human mind remembers an instance when it associates itself (deliberately or accidentally) with a particular subject or something that can be a matter of a subject. Here the protagonist, majorly associates the development of his life through Western and Eastern societies by being adsorbed to a memory and its consequences. The concept of having a fertile approach towards anything that’s our obsession takes the form of touch – the state of caressing – and how we want us to be a part of it.
‘Providence Spleen’ is a wake-up call for those who are living in the Gen-Z generation and storm through the accessories without giving everything the time they deserve. James Champagne’s pattern is dystopian, but in quite a weird way, the fantasy element makes it relatable to the world around us. It makes a way through the geo-political conditions of today’s America (for me, it dealt with every single place), merges with the virtual armchair geeks, and cements the idea of solidifying the queer narrative. It may become erratic for some readers, but to be honest, like many other stories, this too deserves our mindful understanding. The story incarnates into a metaverse.
The audacious attempt to compile everything (that’s honest and personal) in a short story becomes the truth in Damian Murphy’s short story ‘A Night of Amethyst’. The writer hammers the sculpture of the moments which are most important when multiple people wish to find a home in someone else. The story has a pattern which is quite similar to that of Proust, but can easily get to the zone of someone like Sally Rooney. It is always a fantastic idea to get buried by our feelings. The story takes turns from being a personal relative to a very personally hated critic. It is sensual in making us feel the soul of both sadism and masochism, even in the absence of collars and whips.
The step towards creating a Neo-Decadence Movement is a walk towards a wall of shame, then to own the shame, and to fall in love with the shameful being we have become. Justin Isis’ major project is sexy, steamy, sharp and shapes sizzling scissors. This anthology complements the thoughts we do not want to utter or implement. But it is always nice to keep on feeding the mind that’s innately entropic, erogenous and curiously conscious. ‘Neo-Decadence Evangelion’ is a brave attempt towards shedding off cultural hegemony, and breeds double-edged swords. It is time to feel the cuts it can make, to find meaning in the bleeding spaces, and to give room to an erotically social anarchy.
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Kabir Deb, a recipient of the Social Journalism Award (2017), the Reuel International Award for Best Upcoming Poet (2019), and the Nissim International Award for Excellence in Literature (2021) for his book Irrfan: His Life, Philosophy and Shades, is based in Karimganj, Assam. He also runs a mental health library named ‘The Pandora’s Box to a Society called Happiness’ in Barak Valley.