Henry Normal’s book Strikingly Invisible is a communion with the life we share with nature. This book explores the soul we share partly with the world. We have dark moments and light. We have eternally shifting positions, freezing and thawing to those around us. The purity of rain to the spectrum of storm, we endure and share elements of life together, mother nature and man. We are it and it is us. With our unusual formations and beautiful growths. Both destined to die yet to live forevermore via the legacy of our bones.
Strikingly Invisible follows a man’s journey, Normal’s journey, flooded with stabs of sadness, sprinklings of joy, splashes of humour and dashes of romance. Experiencing the natural beats of life that we all share, along with a constant undertone of existentialism as the man we follow feels the overwhelming weight of the natural cycles that govern us, that governs the world. In his own words he calls it ‘the inevitable decline’.
The communion Normal creates, the constant tapping in to humanity and nature even penetrates the critic. Normal’s self-referential poem ‘Warning – deconstruction in progress’ positioned half way through the book breaks down the fourth wall and takes the power away from the critic, removing the mask of judgment just as he begins to feel the judgments forming. Using the self-doubt of the creative as a lightning rod, Normal removes their thunder by laying on paper all the negative his head bares turning it into a layer of protection in a raw, personal, picking-a-scab type of way. Protection from those who wish to confirm his suspicions and quell his aspirations, to keep that small light of hope burning.
This changes the way the critic views the piece. It allows them to feel the shared vulnerabilities of humanity with their comforting façade stripped away, forcing them back to sit where the reader sits for a short time. Allowing us all to be one, all be relatable, all to feel our fears and hopes within the entwined world of man and nature. Allowing all of us to glance at the wild and civilised, cruel and free cycle we are a part of in a more introspective way.