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Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 December, 2019 09:30PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Most people shouldn’t tackle Descent into Hell
> as their first novel him. But those who’d like
> to try an exception literary horror story should
> consider it. The gradual emergence of his erotic
> obsession (there is no pornography in this novel)
> and the corruption of the esteemable scholar
> Wentworth (!) are memorable.


Hah!

Just got this from the library and will start it after finishing a Houellebecq novel.

Wish me luck!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: GreenFedora (IP Logged)
Date: 31 December, 2019 12:15PM
As a young reader, I was quite weirded out by August Derleth's "The Return of Hastur." Doesn't do anything for me now, of course; maybe it was all those italics at the end.

At any rate, I should like to mention a few stories that succeeded in creeping up my spine; it's a rare quality.

"The Companion," by Ramsey Campbell, especially the last line. A number of other Campbell stories also give me a minor fillip, but probably none as strong.

"Black Sabbatical," by Josephine Saxton and "Jackdaw Jack," by Christopher Harman. Both also have killer last lines, especially "Jackdaw."

"Back There In The Grass," by Gouverneur Morris and "Lukundoo," by Edward Lucas White provide similar frissons, but may have lost a bit of their bite from overuse.

Speaking of bite: "They Bite," by Anthony Boucher.

Probably some of M. R. James' stories have had a shuddery effect, but it's been a while since I've read them. I shall have to dip back in one of these days. (Although I will always remember the apparition that squirms out of its hole with the "odious writhings of a wasp.")

That's all that springs to mind at the moment. As I said, it's a rare quality in fiction, for me at least.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: GreenFedora (IP Logged)
Date: 31 December, 2019 01:25PM
Whoops, almost forgot one of the top creep-outs of all time: the "lost lamb" episode in "Bezhin Meadow," by Turgenev. Never fails to grab me.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 31 December, 2019 03:00PM
Oh, I’m glad to see “Bezhin Meadow” remembered here, a favorite for many years. Nothing certainly supernatural happens in the story, but it’s pervaded by poetic feeling receptive to the uncanny.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 21 January, 2020 02:17PM
Hearn's Japanese tale "Mujina" did creep me out when, as a youngster, I encountered it in one of Basil Davenport's anthologies Tales to Be Told in the Dark.

[www.trussel.com]

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 21 January, 2020 03:28PM
Well, I am not saying the bunch of stories below have given me creeps but they have their “nice“ moments that have stucked in my mind somehow.

The Street That Was Not by Clifford Simak and Carl Jacobi (1941)
[www.gutenberg.org]

The Midnight Express by Alfred Noyes (1935)
[www.hypnogoria.com]

The Thing In The Upper Room by Arthur Morrison (1910)
[gutenberg.net.au]

Golem by Gustav Meyrink (1914)
[freeditorial.com]

The Tower by Barry Pain (1911)
[www.gutenberg.org]

The Monster-maker by W.C.Morrow (1897)
[gutenberg.net.au]

Stolen Centuries by Otis Adelbert Kline (1939)
[gutenberg.net.au]

The House Beyond Prettymarsh by Silas Weir Mitchell (1910)
[woolrich3.tripod.com]

The Black Pool by Frederick Stuart Greene (1917)
[woolrich3.tripod.com]

On The River by Guy De Maupassant (1881)
[www.online-literature.com]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 21 Jan 20 | 04:10PM by Minicthulhu.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 28 January, 2020 12:43PM
Whew -- I haven't read any of the stories you listed, Minicthulhu, so far as I remember.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 6 March, 2020 03:19AM
Is fantasy and weird fiction anything else but a rehash of the details of bodily impressions (sights, sounds, and other nerve stimulus) on Earth? Is it really at all possible for an artist/writer brain to invent something completely new and alien? Something that cannot be directly traced to sensory impressions from Earth simply rearranged? I doubt it. We are all stuck in the human aquarium.

I see most fantasy/weird fiction simply as art that enhances the life we already live, by putting things in a new perspective. But there is nothing truly new in weird fiction; it is only a rehash of what we already know. And the best quality of fantasy literature/art does this in such a genial dreamy, symbolic, or grotesque way that it gives the illusion of something new, and yet it is all connected to what we already know, and thereby enriches and deepens our Earthly experience.

I don't think I have ever read anything that was truly weird and alien. Except possibly perhaps for Solaris by Stanislaw Lem? The elements in that novel felt truly weird. But can likely still be traced back to elements on Earth, that the writer used in a very imaginative way.

The writings of Arthur C. Clarke and A. E. Van Vogt sometimes gives an eerie feeling of giving true weird visions of a distant future that has not yet been realized. But that is also a rearrangement of already existing Earthly elements, or perhaps a transformation thereof.

I am curious if anyone here has read or seen what they consider to be truly weird and alien impressions in fiction/art. That is, something completely unique, independent, and freestanding from Earthly impressions.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 6 March, 2020 10:44AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Is fantasy and weird fiction anything else but a
> rehash of the details of bodily impressions
> (sights, sounds, and other nerve stimulus) on
> Earth? Is it really at all possible for an
> artist/writer brain to invent something completely
> new and alien? Something that cannot be directly
> traced to sensory impressions from Earth simply
> rearranged? I doubt it. We are all stuck in the
> human aquarium.
>
> I see most fantasy/weird fiction simply as art
> that enhances the life we already live, by putting
> things in a new perspective. But there is nothing
> truly new in weird fiction; it is only a rehash of
> what we already know. And the best quality of
> fantasy literature/art does this in such a genial
> dreamy, symbolic, or grotesque way that it gives
> the illusion of something new, and yet it is all
> connected to what we already know, and thereby
> enriches and deepens our Earthly experience.
>
> I don't think I have ever read anything that was
> truly weird and alien. Except possibly perhaps for
> Solaris by Stanislaw Lem? The elements in that
> novel felt truly weird. But can likely still be
> traced back to elements on Earth, that the writer
> used in a very imaginative way.
>
> The writings of Arthur C. Clarke and A. E. Van
> Vogt sometimes gives an eerie feeling of giving
> true weird visions of a distant future that has
> not yet been realized. But that is also a
> rearrangement of already existing Earthly
> elements, or perhaps a transformation thereof.
>
> I am curious if anyone here has read or seen what
> they consider to be truly weird and alien
> impressions in fiction/art. That is, something
> completely unique, independent, and freestanding
> from Earthly impressions.

Very interesting points, Knygatin. The points you raise, if taken as you present them, seem to make any exploration of the truly unique and alien impossible because no vocabulary exists with which to describe them.

Is this more-or-less correct?

I hadn't thought about it, but it surely could be valid.

This now raises for consideration those few instances where the author of weird fiction will attempt to describe the "truly alien' by describing the situation encapsulated in something like...

"The 'colors', if indeed they were such, corresponded to no color or hue known to mankind, nor were they 'visible' in the sense that they could be perceived by the eye...".

This would be an attempt to say, basically, something is happening for which no experience, and hence no vocabulary, exists to convey it.

In a sense it's what we do when we consider infinity.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 6 March, 2020 10:47AM
Wow, what a thought-provoking comment, Knygatin. Here are some thoughts.

I think you're right. The stories we read are written by people, so, no, we are not going to get something "completely unique, independent, and freestanding from Earthly impressions." For me, as a Christian, this is evident even in texts that I believe are divinely inspired (which doesn't mean "dictated," btw). Thus there are accounts of visions of the greatest realities in terms of high thrones, bizarre figures like flashing lightning in their movements, great wheels ("When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went"), a valley of skeletal remains that rustle, unite, take on flesh, and other showings of Rudolf Otto's mysterium tremendum; but the hearer or reader is not confronted with the blankly alien and unassimilable. The Lakota seer Black Elk had a comparable vision in relatively recent historical times (see Neihardt's book -- and then Steltenkamp's!). These things use the language of myth, if you like. As someone said, the reason is the organ of truth and the imagination is the organ of meaning.

Lovecraft was often content to write horror episodes, in which the bottom line is that really nasty things happen to people's bodies. What happened to the victims in Antarctica was not all that different from having a ghastly industrial accident. But I think he occasionally reached after something more profound, e.g. in "The Dreams in the Witch-House," where, as I recall, he tries to suggest alien experience by means of lights and darkness, geometrical shapes, etc. (and a frightening rat-creature).

So I ask myself -- did Lovecraft often even want the truly alien that you asked about? As a horror story writer, he prized the provoking of an intense -- but transient? -- effect on a reader. Right? Hence the prominent place, in his work, of horror. He was, in fact, pretty explicitly aiming at provoking a familiar kind of experience -- he said, "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." And he was quite impressed by Charles Lamb's "Witches, and Other Night-Fears," from which he took a lengthy passage for use as an epigraph.

To be sure, the "unknown" and the "alien" are related. But Lovecraft was concerned with the familiar emotion of fear, as a storyteller. The question is: Did he work with the "unknown" and even the "alien" as means to the end of provoking literary fear; or did he concern himself primarily with the unknown, the alien, the sublime, which have the corollary of inducing fear? I think these are distinct matters, but they might not have been distinct in Lovecraft's thinking when he set about writing. But in general I think the first alternative is probably the closer of the two, to what Lovecraft was up to -- that is, evoking a sense of the unknown and the alien as means to evoking the thrill of fear, horror, terror.

I guess that's true for Clark Ashton Smith, too, but I don't know a lot about the man.

They don't really think that the ground of reality is numinous. Lovecraft, at least, would have thought Black Elk was a superstitious young Indian, a member of an inferior and doomed race, and that his Great Vision was hallucination explicable in physiological terms. Ruled out from the get-go would be the notion that the vision was a "revelation."

Lovecraft handles myth in two ways. In his stories, myth may suggest or disclose something about reality that is edited out of daily existence so that life can be livable. In his thinking about life, though, "myth" is pretty much to be understood in terms of casual usage, as an untrue story -- as when we refer to "the myth of the Burning Times," meaning that the idea, once cherished by modern "witches," of nine million of their forbears having been burnt at the stake in Europe is an untrue story (as it is).

But some of us would say that myth may be the form in which something very real had to present itself to our minds; we can "unpack" it in prosaic exposition, but that unpacking is less than the myth. Furthermore, some of us would say that myth became historical fact supremely in Christ.

References

C. S. Lewis: “For me, reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning. Imagination, producing new metaphors or revivifying old, is not the cause of truth, but its condition.” See, for example, his discussion of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice here:

[judithwolfe.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk]

Charles Lamb: “Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimaeras—dire stories of Celaeno and the Harpies—may reproduce themselves in the brain of superstition—but they were there before. They are transcripts, types—the archetypes are in us, and eternal. How else should the recital of that which we know in a waking sense to be false come to affect us at all? Is it that we naturally conceive terror from such objects, considered in their capacity of being able to inflict upon us bodily injury? O, least of all! These terrors are of older standing. They date beyond body—or without the body, they would have been the same. . . . That the kind of fear here treated is purely spiritual—that it is strong in proportion as it is objectless on earth, that it predominates in the period of our sinless infancy—are difficulties the solution of which might afford some probable insight into our ante-mundane condition, and a peep at least into the shadowland of pre-existence.”
—Charles Lamb: “Witches and Other Night-Fears”

Burning Times:

[www.theatlantic.com]

[www.mtholyoke.edu]



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 6 Mar 20 | 11:19AM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 6 March, 2020 11:55AM
Knygatin, to respond to your request for examples of "weird and alien impressions in fiction" -- do you know Algis Budrys's "Rogue Moon" (btw, reportedly not a title that the author liked; but I don't know what he would have preferred)? This is to be found in the anthology edited by Ben Bova called The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume 2 -- but see the Wikipedia entry for clarification. I suppose I have read Budrys's novella half a dozen times. It concerns an alien "installation" discovered on the moon. As astronauts attempt to enter it, it kills them, but, by very small increments, by trial and error, it is learned that it can be penetrated if one avoids what appear to be arbitrary movements; e.g., at a certain point, to raise one's left arm an inch above waist level might result in death -- that sort of thing. The solution to the quest to pass through the installation involves teleportation in which a man on earth is scanned, and his simulacrum is reconstituted on the moon from lunar materials. During a few minutes, the man on earth is in contact with his lunar counterpart -- they are, at first, virtually the same man, in fact. But the man on the moon will be killed by the installation, and his earthly counterpart experiences that death. And then they do it again, make another lunar counterpart from the man on earth. Even so, the lunar enigma remains an enigma.

[en.wikipedia.org]

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 6 March, 2020 12:19PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Knygatin, to respond to your request for examples
> of "weird and alien impressions in fiction" -- do
> you know Algis Budrys's "Rogue Moon" (btw,
> reportedly not a title that the author liked; but
> I don't know what he would have preferred)? This
> is to be found in the anthology edited by Ben Bova
> called The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume 2
> -- but see the Wikipedia entry for clarification.
> I suppose I have read Budrys's novella half a
> dozen times. It concerns an alien "installation"
> discovered on the moon. As astronauts attempt to
> enter it, it kills them, but, by very small
> increments, by trial and error, it is learned that
> it can be penetrated if one avoids what appear to
> be arbitrary movements; e.g., at a certain point,
> to raise one's left arm an inch above waist level
> might result in death -- that sort of thing. The
> solution to the quest to pass through the
> installation involves teleportation in which a man
> on earth is scanned, and his simulacrum is
> reconstituted on the moon from lunar materials.
> During a few minutes, the man on earth is in
> contact with his lunar counterpart -- they are, at
> first, virtually the same man, in fact. But the
> man on the moon will be killed by the
> installation, and his earthly counterpart
> experiences that death. And then they do it
> again, make another lunar counterpart from the man
> on earth. Even so, the lunar enigma remains an
> enigma.
>
> [en.wikipedia.org]
> Hall_of_Fame,_Volume_Two

I just hope that the earthbound source for the simulacra is well-paid. It sounds like an awful job.

Hah! It just dawned on me that if this were written by Houellebecq or Celine, the story would be about the earthman who is the source of the simulacra, and not the mystery of the installation! It would be 1st person. He'd abandon himself to alcohol/drugs and debauchery to escape from the dire realities of the "job"...

He'd consider suicide, but would not have the resolve to carry it off.

Ach. Off-topic... :^(

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 6 March, 2020 12:39PM
There is a lot about the earthbound man. He’s a danger addict. But the protagonist is another man.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 6 March, 2020 02:28PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> There is a lot about the earthbound man. He’s a
> danger addict.

Like X-Games?

Those types of people are really intriguing. Big wave surfers, free climbers, helicopter skiers/snowboarders...

Unfathomable, but it's likely the same impulse that got this continent discovered (so to speak) and explored.

> But the protagonist is another
> man.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 March, 2020 01:25PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> ... any exploration of the truly unique and alien
> impossible because no vocabulary exists with which
> to describe them.
>
> ... the author of weird fiction will
> attempt to describe the "truly alien' by
> describing the situation encapsulated in something
> like...
>
> "The 'colors', if indeed they were such,
> corresponded to no color or hue known to mankind,
> nor were they 'visible' in the sense that they
> could be perceived by the eye...".
>
> This would be an attempt to say, basically,
> something is happening for which no experience,
> and hence no vocabulary, exists to convey it.
>
> In a sense it's what we do when we consider
> infinity.


Yes, well said. We never actually get to see those 'colors'. We are presented with a longing for the otherworldly, stretching for what's beyond our human aquarium condition. There are no meaningful words for the alien colors, since there are no relevant Earthly elements for reference, and we have not been able to look much further. Neither likely, are our eyes's nerve cells able to detect such colors. I am convinced there exist alien colors, but these are on higher and lower wave lengths than our anatomically evolved nerves can see.

I think that what the best weird authors are able to offer us, is by putting together Earthly reference details in such a constellation genial way that we get hunches of something disturbing and alien, and get the illusion of almost seeing a revelation before us. But the mental state they put us in is really only a dreamy longing for the otherworldly. And that is good enough. It triggers our imaginations and creative energies. Enriches our life on Earth, appreciations for Nature, and inspires our evolutionary/technological development.



Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ... thought-provoking comment, Knygatin. ...
>
> I think you're right. The stories we read are written by people, so, no, we are not going to get
> something "completely unique, independent, and freestanding from Earthly impressions." For me, as a Christian,
> this is evident even in texts that I believe are divinely inspired. ...
>
> C. S. Lewis: “For me, reason is the natural
> organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of
> meaning. Imagination, producing new metaphors or
> revivifying old, is not the cause of truth, but
> its condition.”
> ...
>


I intentionally left out from my comment any mystical, spiritual and ghostly supernatural aspects of weird fiction, with writers such as Algernon Blackwood and other spiritual believers. Limiting myself to an attempted rational statement that holds the premise of only observable facts in our Earthly environment.

But I don't rule out the possibility that a spiritual path might give a weird author a genuine ability to represent something truly weird. In fact, I believe that is so. But it is a wider discussion or a parallel topic, that muddles the original premise.

Clack Ashton Smith was seen as the poetic "star-treader". Was he actually in spiritual contact with other worlds, and thereby able to deliver to us descriptions of genuine weird and alien phenomena through his words? I think that is possible. But I find little proof for it in his writings; that it would be any more than expressions of a genial artist rearranging Earthly elements in his imaginative mind.

But when the light from millions of distant stars is able to reach us here on Earth, there must be some form of contact between us, right? And a spiritual connection as well, is not unthinkable. Many planets might also be so similar to physical conditions on Earth, that a genuine weird inspiration from another world could look much the same as an imaginative artist creation out of our own Earthly elements.

Astronomers are able make to cosmic studies by looking through their telescopes, and Arthur C. Clarke is an author who has delivered some genuinely weird literary details based on such observations.


> Knygatin, to respond to your request for examples of "weird and alien impressions in fiction" -- do you know
> Algis Budrys's "Rogue Moon"?

No, I have not read "Rogue Moon" or anything else by that author. Is Brudys yet another example of your specific preference for Christian writers? The premise of the novella sounds interesting enough. It reminds me of a situation in Rendezvous with Rama, in which an astronomy professor refuses to leave Earth for a board meeting up in space, and only attends the meeting through a three-dimensional light projection (seated by the table, where a glass of water has been placed before the projection to strengthen the illusion of him being present).

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