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Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 24 October, 2019 11:24AM
This is a 1939 anthology -- but "anthology" might not suggest how much of the book is by de la Mare himself -- with the subtitle "Of Reverie, Night, Sleep, Dream, Love-Dreams, Nightmare, Death, the Unconscious, the Imagination, Divination, the Artist, and Kindred Subjects."

I think I'll make a "project" of this 702-page book (kind of like I did with Machen's little book Hieroglpyphics), not worrying about how long it takes to read it. Would anyone else like to do the same?

My guess is that this thread should welcome "digressions," provided that they relate in some reasonable way to the book at hand. Thus some readers might be prompted by something de la Mare says, to mention a dream. But we wouldn't want to wait too long to get back to de la Mare even if we went down that path a while. That's just my notion of what this thread might do.

Dreams? Here's a journal entry from 18 April 1982:

----Just awoke (alarm clock) from a dream about Lord Dunsany. He was a lovable old man. Had a deep voice. He was very old but apparently was a friend of the family... maybe he was family? [We lived in Oregon and have no connections with Ireland, by the way.] ...I was just beginning to tell him that his writing had given me a lot of pleasure for years ... when he pulled out a sort of wallet and took out some sort of slip and showed it to me and reminded me that I owed him 7.03 -- for a bus ticket (?) to "Pasadena" I had as a kid bought, I think. So Dad (I think) and I chuckled and I took out some money, first paying him 4 cents ("interest") then going into the paper money -- I had pounds, dollars, and roubles all mixed together. Then I woke up.----

I wouldn't be able now to say whether I'd been reading anything by Dunsany lately, but I'd read Mark Amory's biography of Dunsany about a month previously.

By the way, de la Mare's anthology Early One Morning in the Spring, on childhood, was very good, and you shouldn't shy away from it thinking it might be a bunch of sentimentalism.

Re: Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 24 October, 2019 04:30PM
De la Mare refers to J. W. Dunne, author of An Experiment with Time, on page 5. That book certainly made an impression on British fantasists such as John Buchan, C. S. Lewis, & J. R. R. Tolkien. I don't see it in Lovecraft's Library, but I suppose he would have been interested in its exploration of the idea that dreams may glimpse what our everyday minds encounter when the future becomes the present -- although that (like "The Shadow Out of Time" and "The Thing on the Doorstep") raises difficulties for materialism. Does anyone know if HPL knew of Dunne? Did CAS or Howard?

Re: Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 25 October, 2019 01:44PM
I took a squint inside "An Experiment with Time" and randomly came across a passage where the author describes a dream in which a mad and dangerous horse was coming after him at full speed on a narrow pathway between two fields. "I ran like a hare," says Dunne. And I say, what a lucky guy. In my nightmares it is impossible for me to run ...

By the way, the book ant the topis seem to be very interesting so maybe, one day, I will read it.
[ia800609.us.archive.org]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 25 Oct 19 | 01:45PM by Minicthulhu.

Re: Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 25 October, 2019 01:58PM
Your comment, Minicthulhu, made me wonder whether ED people experience nightmares. I'm not talking about the "bad dreams" everybody gets, but the really intense experience indicated here by Wikipedia: "psychological nomenclature differentiates between nightmares and bad dreams, specifically, people remain asleep during bad dreams whereas nightmares awaken individuals. ...After a nightmare, a person will often awaken in a state of distress and may be unable to return to sleep for a short period of time," etc. I'm thinking of an experience that is really stressful," from which one awakens much shaken.

That's almost never happened to me. I've had "bad dreams" occasionally, but not what I would call nightmares at all often. From over 30 years ago, I remember one dream I'd say probably qualifies as a nightmare. I dreamed I was looking over the edge of the bed into the darkness, and there, the only thing visible, was the head of one of our cats, I think with her mouth open and teeth showing. I woke up, as I recall, with a gasp, going from being asleep to sitting up in a second, and scaring my wife.

I'm glad I don't have nightmares at all often. Here's a "bad dream" I wrote down early this year:

10 Jan. 2019: This was unpleasant, but not nightmarish. It’s an overcast, chilly, damp day. I'm walking on a dirt path with some man. It’s the Oregon coast (I think). There’s a chain-link fence and beyond it one can see rugged, high black cliffs. (I think they were volcanic.) The fence is there to keep people from getting too close to edge of the cliff we are on & falling. I can see a place where the rock slopes quickly down to a drop-off, and past it & beyond it rock and maybe tide pools.

Then a little farther on my companion points to a place where a corpse, perhaps the size of a large doll, lies. It is a man, the skin perhaps orangeish, naked, on a shelf of rock on a cliff opposite us. The small body is in two or three pieces, I’m thinking from birds eating it. People come to this place to commit suicide and that’s presumably what this person did. I see another corpse on another rock-shelf, and one or two blotches that look like vomit. I’ve been eating something, maybe a chicken breast, and throw a piece, or the rest of what I have, disgustedly at this corpse. It lands by it. The body is small, but in the dream I’m not puzzled by the size. I woke with a sensation of disgust at the dream, but not frightened. After I woke, I had the sense that my companion might have looked like Ken Watanabe in the 2014 Godzilla movie, which [my wife] and I watched recently a couple of times. The appearance of the rock cliffs might actually owe something to Godzilla’s hide in the movie -- ?


…..Has anyone had a bad dream or nightmare from reading weird fiction? Offhand, I don't remember to have done so. But I generally don't read such things right before lights out, either.

By the way -- we needn't limit the discussion of nocturnal phantasmagoria to bad dreams and nightmares. There's a lovely passage in Machen's Green Round that I should post -- of course, that is a work of fiction.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 25 Oct 19 | 02:15PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 25 October, 2019 02:30PM
I woke up from nightmares (or bad dreams) chiefly when I am killed. :-) I do not know how to describe it but when somebody or something kills me in a dream the experience is so intense that I immediately wake up in most cases. I also remember reading a story by Ambrose Bierce in which he says something like, "you cannot smell when dreaming." That is not my case because I can smell very clearly when I am in a dream.

Re: Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 27 October, 2019 07:50PM
That sounds unusual to me, Minicthulhu. I don't remember having smelled anything in a dream, for what one person's experience is worth. I wonder if de la Mare will have anything to say about that particular aspect of dreaming.

Re: Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 29 October, 2019 10:59AM
I wonder if the title's allusion is familiar to readers today. It's from Genesis 37, where resentful brothers of young Joseph are thinking of his dream that indicates he will have precedence over them.

------19 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.
20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.
21 And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.-----

Page references are to the Faber and Faber paperback edition of 1984, which seems to be a photoreprint of the original 1937 publication.

4/De la Mare suggests: Within and without: to me, all that I know of the within is "mind," and all that I know of the without is "matter."

I would hesitate completely to endorse this without further reflection, but it must often seem so, at least.

17/ "...to resort to candles even for a few hours is to realise what an aid their gentle light can be to quiet of mind and quiet talk … And, summer or winter, candles are even a kind of company."

18/ "We dance attendance on daylight by instinct and confirmed habit; we should make an assignation with the night."

There are good passages on night and the stars in Dale C. Allison's The Silence of Angels.

Use the Bortle Scale to evaluate your own night sky:

[astrobackyard.com]

M31 is the Andromeda Galaxy. On a clear night, I can see it from near my home (i.e. less than 5 minutes' walk) in a rural North Dakota town. In fact, I'm pretty sure I can see it from my yard. Offhand I'd say my immediate night-sky environment may be placed as Bortle Scale Class 4. I'm not savvy enough to spot M33 at the moment.

Let me invite my cosmicist readers to join with me in membership in the International Dark Sky Association.

[www.darksky.org]

Already de la Mare's book invites us to respond imaginatively to the "ordinary" -- except that, increasingly even when he wrote over 80 years ago, night-darkness may be unavailable in anything like its natural form.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 29 Oct 19 | 11:32AM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 2 November, 2019 04:59AM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Let me invite my cosmicist readers to join with me
> in membership in the International Dark Sky
> Association.
>

Thanks. Unfortunately dark skies are of extremely small priority today, in fact it is of nil priority. For it to be taken into any consideration whatsoever, first a revolutionary spiritual earthquake needs to occur completely reshaping our values. The evil bankers Satanist master race, running the world to today, must first of all be removed from deep office. Tolkien wrote of how the elves left Middle-Earth. The elves (the elves inside Man) must return and cleanse our souls.

Although there is likely no spot left on Earth where Nature's natural black night skies still exists undefiled, if you escape the sick capitalist society, and sneak out into the countryside, you can still have magnificent cosmic views of the moon, planets, and stars, the deep space. And you don't necessarily need a telescope. Much can be seen with your eyes alone or a good pair of binoculars. Big cities are not a healthy place for Men and Women to spend their deceived lives.



About this book, does it only deal with dreams from the aspect of beauty and imagination? Or also of the their sometimes relentless brutality?
I had an awful nightmare last night. I think it was affected by a short film I had seen in the evening before, of actor Christopher Lee speaking to an audience, warning the listeners to stay away from Satanism and dark magic rituals because it will destroy your mind and soul. In my dream little children were messing around with Satanism by a cemetery open grave cleanly dug on a sloping hill, playing around, not really understanding what they were doing. But in consequence, the fate of Doom was completely merciless to them, a couple of them being "accidentally" buried under the monolithic gravestone, that started sinking and sliding (as a result of fumbling hitching actuator), gradually tearing their bodies, slowly crushing breath and life out of them, in spite of social welfare authorities representatives having arrived to relieve the children from their destructive games, and helping the chaotic situation socially and with acute artificial breathing. The situation slipped shockingly and completely out of their hands. The gravestone continuing to sink deep and irretrievably into place, the last cursed and most victimized child pushed down, back breaking, face disappearing, pulled deep into the earth, backward and upside down, head snagged under the flat bottom, all chances of revival lost. I woke up, sad and baffled at the needless brutality of the dream and the grim finality of its outcome, not understanding why my brain had to be confronted with this uncompromising dark scene.

Re: Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 2 November, 2019 12:20PM
Happily, we're not to the point where there are no deep-dark night skies left on earth. Here's an international list:

[www.darksky.org]

Here are some US destination:

[www.skyandtelescope.com]

But much of the US west of the Beltway offers decent-to-good night skies if one gets away from the urban hubs, the interstate highways, etc., as you suggest, Knygatin. One can have decent night skies even if, off in the distance, there is a smear of light on the horizon. And in much of the U. S. west of the Mississippi but east of the Pacific coast there remain great stretches of dark skies at night. The thing is that one wants to be able to enjoy the night sky without having to drive hours to see it, or maybe drive at all. That may be unattainable for most Americans and English.

[www.forbes.com]

Kierkegaard said something like this: People complain about lack of freedom of speech; but they make little use of the freedom they do have. So let's think positively for a moment -- our skies are, undoubtedly, increasingly light-polluted, but many of us have the leisure and mobility to go and see good dark skies, and some of us still can see them without having to travel far, or maybe travel at all. A sky doesn't have to be pristine, Bortle Scale 1 or 2, to be worth visiting. And, also, increasing numbers of people are becoming aware of, concerned about, active regarding the night sky issue -- hence the International Dark Sky Association and other efforts.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2 Nov 19 | 12:24PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 2 November, 2019 12:31PM
That was a ghastly dream, Knygatin. Whew.

I'm taking Behold, This Dreamer! slowly, so I can't answer your question about nightmares, but I have every expectation that de la Mare and selections he deploys will deal with them.

I see the book is scanned at the valuable archive.org site.

Go here:

[archive.org]

for de la Mare's account of a curious experience (pp. 39-40 in the book). One page 41, his reference to the purest and deepest sleep providing a "reconciling" brought to my mind a passage in Machen's The Green Round -- my favorite of his three novels -- about a dream in which the burden fell off. (The novel isn't available on archive.org, but I should be able to locate the passage and quote some of it here.)

Re: Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 2 November, 2019 01:15PM
Here's a news story about the night sky during a blackout -- poignant and (in a sort of way) funny too.

[timeline.com]

Re: Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 6 November, 2019 09:59AM
On page 45, his "Sleep, however" paragraph speaks of the strangeness and necessity of sleep:

[archive.org]

I checked Lovecraft's Library, by the way, and saw only two books listed, both collections of short stories and one of those a gift. I wonder if Lovecraft's philosophical commitments prevented him from exploring de la Mare more extensively -- as, for example, the book we're discussing here might seem to be something that could have interested him and started off some fruitful reflections for the author of "Beyond the Wall of Sleep," The Dream-Quest, etc.

And go here for de la Mare's "hallucination" of Botticelli's Flora (from the Primavera painting) -- starts on the bottom of page 58 of the text:

[archive.org]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 6 Nov 19 | 10:43AM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 12 November, 2019 01:34PM
This lively lecture runs just over an hour. Although it doesn't mention de la Mare, it's highly pertinent to Behold, This Dreamer! as it deals with imagination, poetry, meaning, language, consciousness.

[www.youtube.com]

It's interesting to think that Barfield's first book came out in Lovecraft's lifetime. A pity HPL would never have read it. But we can all listen to this talk, and then take things from there.

Knygatin, I'd love to know what you think of the lecture. I thought of you specifically around 40:00, where Guite quotes from the conclusion of Barfield's Poetic Diction (such a dull title for such a rich book) and talks about our culture's epistemological apartheid. I thought of you because I think you might be getting at something related to what Guite and Barfield were getting at.



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 12 Nov 19 | 02:22PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 13 November, 2019 10:44AM
I have precious little time to expand much beyond my own chosen favorite interests, but I have began watching the early minutes of the lecture and it deals with a very specific field of interest in certain authors, Coleridge, Barfield, and C. S. Lewis, of which I am not familiar with. My younger brother has often tried to persuade me to read C. S. Lewis, but I have never felt attracted to his fantasy world, thinking it is more for children and having too much of obvious allegorical structure. I am deeply attracted to Tolkien's writings, but Lewis has never stirred my interest. I don't know exactly why, because Tolkien's work is allegorical too, but in a much more sophisticated manner I feel, that hides such signs under a grand artistic world building. When the lecturer talks of those writers, since there is no sense of recognition and social belonging, much of the talk passes me blank by, without things to hook onto. It feels like I walked into the wrong university department room, aimed for the lecture that was held next floor. Also I am not overly interested in abstract intellectual analysis and philosophy topics, such as epistemology dealt with here. To some degree I analyze, when absolutely necessary for better understanding, to be able to dive deeper in sensation and get past obstacles, but for the most part I just stay immersed in senses of flesh and blood, color, structure, and sound, seeking my paths subconsciously and instinctively. Spending large chunks of time analyzing, easily turns stuffy, instead of being truly inspirational.
But I will try to watch some more of the lecture later, and listen for things of general interest, and also the section you specifically recommended.

Re: Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 11:25AM
I am sorry that I don't have the patience to listen to all of his full speech. But I have listened some more, and also what he says in and around 40 minutes. I suppose this lecture is a Christian gathering of people. It seems to me the lecture in essence is a defense of the Bible (and other old spiritual traditions), and making an argument for poetry being supportive of and deeply connected to Christianity (and Judaism).

I do agree with him that we have lost our sense of direction and lost much of true knowledge simultaneously with the vast amounts of information now flooding us, and that scientific research and the gathering of proof doesn't necessarily lead to increased wisdom. And I also agree that spirituality and poetry can offer gifts of insight (or at least heighten or refine sensation) that scientific explanations may be incapable of giving (because of using too rough or crude instruments in approach, to be able to explain reality and knowledge on more subtle levels).

I believe science, psychology, spirituality, poetry, and art, are all important methods of understanding reality, but need to be balanced together.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 14 Nov 19 | 11:44AM by Knygatin.

Re: Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 16 November, 2019 03:45AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It seems to me the
> lecture in essence is a defense of the Bible (and
> other old spiritual traditions), ...

I meant religious traditions, of course. Because religion and spirituality are not the same thing, far from it.

One of my favorite Maxfield Parrish paintings is called "The Village Brook". This beautiful artistic vision tells a great deal of the relative comparison between religious institution and actual genuine spirituality. True spirituality is pagan and unbound by the rigid walls of institution. [The Village Brook] [The Village Brook, detail]

Re: Walter de la Mare's anthology BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER!
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 16 November, 2019 12:01PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I am sorry that I don't have the patience to
> listen to all of his full speech. But I have
> listened some more, and also what he says in and
> around 40 minutes. I suppose this lecture is a
> Christian gathering of people. It seems to me the
> lecture in essence is a defense of the Bible (and
> other old spiritual traditions), and making an
> argument for poetry being supportive of and deeply
> connected to Christianity (and Judaism).
>
> I do agree with him that we have lost our sense of
> direction and lost much of true knowledge
> simultaneously with the vast amounts of
> information now flooding us, and that scientific
> research and the gathering of proof doesn't
> necessarily lead to increased wisdom. And I also
> agree that spirituality and poetry can offer gifts
> of insight (or at least heighten or refine
> sensation) that scientific explanations may be
> incapable of giving (because of using too rough or
> crude instruments in approach, to be able to
> explain reality and knowledge on more subtle
> levels).
>
> I believe science, psychology, spirituality,
> poetry, and art, are all important methods of
> understanding reality, but need to be balanced
> together.

Malcolm Guite was speaking to a Temenos gathering of some sort. Temenos isn't a Christian organization. But your second and third paragraphs sound to me like you were picking up some key points Guite was making -- and that they are relevant to de la Mare, to whose Behold, This Dreamer! I mean to return soon; however, I've been reading a couple of novels -- Vodolazkin's The Aviator and Lindsay's Voyage to Arcturus -- and some 16th-century stuff, and have been away from it just lately.

But I hope sometime you can return to this lecture and give it a complete listening. Barfield is outstanding for the way he really makes a case for language, poetry, imagination as vital to our understanding of ourselves and the cosmos. He is not just a soft-hearted admirer of poetry, but a tough-minded reasoner who could have backed Lovecraft into a tight corner rather quickly (and I don't say that in contempt of HPL; but Lovecraft was limited in that he didn't, apparently, have much contact with people who were ready, willing, and able to challenge him on his own ground; rather, his interlocutors tended to be younger men who, even if they didn't agree with him, were at least not as fluent in argument as he was). It's interesting to consider that Barfield and Lovecraft were contemporaries (born 1898 and 1890 respectively) and that both zeroed in on key philosophical matters. Barfield eventually (1950s) became a member of the Church of England, but throughout his adult life during HPL's own lifetime was not religiously affiliated, so far as I recall. But one may dismiss the biographical stuff and just say that these two were thinking about some of the same sorts of things, only Barfield addressed a vital factor -- the perceiving consciousness -- that Lovecraft tended to take for granted, even though this immediately involved him in inconsistencies.



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