“Nightly Circus”: Kathleen Flear Reviews Scott Navicky’s 3Essays on Imagereality

If reality could be defined as the place where one resides the most, then for Carlos Spencer-Bayard or “Ghost,” reality would be the contemplation of Imagereality. In Scott Navicky’s novel, 3Essays on Imagereality, Ghost embarks on a quest to find Imagereality’s essence, a feat he admits is impossible, because the definition of what Imagereality is outspans what it isn’t. According to Ghost and the intersecting tunnels of his late-night thinking, Imagereality is the unstable world of industry, lust, hope, trickery, and dazzlement.

In the waking world, Ghost is a father that recently left the workforce to care for his young son, exclusively referred to as the “Littlelion.” Ghost is also a devoted introvert that despises phone calls and wishes more than anything to hold his own published book. In the first two essays, “An Introduction to Photosloganeering” and “Roland Barthes ❤ Annie Leibovitz? Y or No (Circle One),” the reader is only offered glimpses of Ghost’s life outside his late-night musings. At times, it is almost possible to forget that the novel takes place in Ghost’s mind, as it often takes on the qualities of an academic study. The reader is only wrenched back into the physical world when Ghost gets up from his desk and wades through his “brain fog” to pour himself another drink, or to crawl between his sleeping wife and baby.

And even then, when Ghost only wishes to surrender to exhaustion, oftentimes his mind is overtaken with a jumbling that resembles a “nightly circus…whose tent stretched across the flat, grassy pitch of his frontal lobe.” The circus is composed of “bad metaphors, inane activities, banal analogies, inelegant alliterations, and portly, pretentious portmanteaus all cavorted and gamboled around like tattooed swordswallowers and fatbearded ladies underneath a colorful tarp and taunt trapeze wires.” Although his thought process may sound chaotic, the results of these late-night mental spectacles highlight the very relevant and important place of images in society. Notably, many of his thoughts circle the manufactured realities portrayed on Facebook and the advertising industry. He describes Facebook as both “a burlesque and a burka; while seductively exhibiting ample acreage of flesh, it conceal[s] every inch of a person’s personality.” Ghost even goes as far as declaring that the evolution of Imagereality killed reality, and what remains of America are ever-numbing image-worshippers.

In the third essay “Clockhead,” the reader is loosed from Ghost’s late-night mind. Outside his primary reality, he faces the mundane: being annoyed by his partner and peed on by his infant son, and stealing away moments to himself to fan his passion, instead of letting his ever-expanding responsibilities define him. Thus, it is indicative of something that in “Clockhead” Ghost spends all of his free time viewing the art installation “The Clock” by Christian Marclay. Ghost admits he’s not a movie buff. Yet, for reasons that seem to even evade him, he keeps going back and watching every second of the day overlaid with clips from popular movies. He describes “The Clock” as “a visual river, in which viewers are allowed to momentarily drift away from the shores of reality.” And perhaps that’s the best way to describe the sum of 3Essays on Imagereality: a drifting away from existence as one knows it, into a world of Imagereality—a place tainted with failure, fuelled by illusion and unappeasable anxiety, and according to Ghost, our inevitable reality.

3/5 Stars

3 Essays on Imagereality
by Scott Navicky
Montag Press
February 2018