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Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 11 December, 2019 05:30PM
This gets us into subjective territory. But I'm wondering if folk here can point to stories, or parts of stories, that really did give them a bit of a creepy feeling. (I realize it would be nice to be more specific about the kind of reaction relevant to this thread.)

It seems to me that, though I have read a lot of weird fiction, I've only rarely felt much of a creepy feeling. I've felt what Lovecraft called "adventurous expectancy" more often. The "shudders" that anthologists and writers of copy for paperback books are so found of referring to I have known hardly at all -- notably in Lovecraft's stories, though I have the impression that an early, perhaps first, reading of "The Rats in the Walls" affected me this way a little.

A. M. Burrage's "One Who Saw" was, for me, I suppose creepier than anything by Lovecraft.

It seems to me that I was creeped out a bit by a passage in Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House -- and, interestingly, it's not one of the specifically "supernatural" bits. It's the spot when we learn that poor Eleanor sleeps on a cot in some forlorn space in (I think) her married sister's house.

Let's make a distinction between being "creeped out" and thinking some weird incident is cool -- because I think that the latter is actually more applicable to a lot of weird fiction. The conclusion of "The Haunter of the Dark" with the "three-eyed burning lobe" coming to get Blake, or whatever it is -- I think a kid might well say that that was cool rather than scary. "Cool" is what a kid might say in admiration of some big moment when a creature is revealed, or some dreadful demise overtakes some character, etc. I think when we feel "creeped out" we don't exactly feel that this is "cool." It's a bit more disturbing than that -- ? But "disturbing" is a vague and overused word, I suppose.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 11 December, 2019 08:37PM
OK, first "the three-eyed burning lobe". This is actually "the three-lobed burning eye", I think, and it's a GREAT example of an odd language thing that Lovecraft uses: creating a reference to an unimaginable--or at least extremely anomalous--physical characteristic.

And because he uses this in a normal context--as an attempt at an actual description of some concrete phenomenon--it throws a curve at us; it's an actual attempt to describe the indescribable. It creates a paradoxical situation, which can be described as being in the presence of the uncanny.

I mean, can you imagine a three-lobed burning eye? The notion of lobes in relation to an eye is completely foreign--eyes by their functional nature requiring a relatively regular symmetrical shape. So one of the defining characteristics of an eye is regularity, and here we have three lobes? The burning maybe I can imagine (seen too much of Sauron's eye in films, huh? :^) )--but 3 lobes?

Here's the only other example that I can readily think of. From Call of Cthulu, Cthulu emerges from a dark doorway and he grabs several crewmen "in his flabby claws".

Flabby claws? Chtulu has flabby claws? The very nature of claws is that they are rigid and firm, but not Cthulu's. He's different!

He's *weird*!

OK, to your main point, Dale--and I apologize for the divergence.

The old man in The Pictures in the House, his actions, weirded me out. The actions of those following Nyarlathotep after they've joined the robotic mob, conscious, yet unable to do anything except follow some external impetus, weirded me out.

The Statement of Randolph Carter, both his friend's fevered descriptions as he descends into the darkened crypt, and the subsequence voice at the end, creeped me out.

By this I mean I got a minor chill at the back of my neck, and felt the uncanny. It was not *cool* by any stretch.

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: 11 December, 2019 10:13PM
Sawfish, I remember that that business of "three-lobed burning eye" and "three-eyed burning lobe" came up in some critical comment somewhere (not here at ED). Obviously I didn't check my text!

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 11 December, 2019 11:48PM
Such fascinating topics lately, and a shame that so few people are around!

I admit that weird stories, including the ones that are hailed as horror, rarely creep me out as well. But there are some good examples which can still haunt me when I think back to them on a quiet night. One of them is Lovecraft's "The Nameless City", which is the first story by Lovecraft that ever unnerved me and made me reluctant to turn off the lights at night. Just the thought of being alone and surrounded by the inhuman dead in a distant, dark vault sends me running straight to a warm blanket.

"The Whisperer in Darkness" gave me strong chills, but only on the second reading, when I could better appreciate what it must be like to be stalked by winged, faceless entities in the night.

"The Doom That Came to Sarnath" also disturbed me in an insidiously lingering way. Though perhaps "creepy" isn't the right term for it. More like the whole story took me out of my body, time, and place, with its setting of an unimaginably distant era, and its passage of centuries upon centuries of time, and its primordial beings of eerie and dream-like enchantment, and the sorrowful fall of not one but two civilizations.

Those are the only Lovecraft stories which got me in that way, but as it's been so many years I'll definitely give "The Pictures in the House" another try. "One Who Saw" sounds very promising.

Smith's best stories generally fall under the categories of beautiful and cool, but he came close to unnerving me with the descriptions of dark halls, inescapable palaces, and predatory hosts in "A Rendezvous in Averoigne" and "The Black Abbot of Puthuum."

M. R. James occasionally got me with his rather visceral descriptions of supernatural encounters, especially in "The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral" with its eerie whispers and phantom fur.

This might be the most unexpected answer, but I was always chilled by Dunsany's "The House of the Sphinx." The discrepancy between the mysteriously silent sphinx and the maddening laughter of the unseen entity outside the door really took me out of myself, especially with the brilliant build-up of anxiety and mystery by the nervous men and the ignorant narrator.

I've just begun reading Charles Williams' "The Place of the Lion", and while it's not at all a horror story, its accounts of the unreal-yet-too-real Archetypes, haunting the countryside like unpredictable miracles, are both beautiful and unsettling.



Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 12 Dec 19 | 12:08AM by kojootti.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 12 December, 2019 09:49AM
Thanks for your contribution, kojootti! I'm going to give the stories you named a try!

Thanks for adding to my reading list!

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: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 12 December, 2019 10:12AM
Interleaved, below:


kojootti Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Such fascinating topics lately, and a shame that
> so few people are around!
>
> I admit that weird stories, including the ones
> that are hailed as horror, rarely creep me out as
> well. But there are some good examples which can
> still haunt me when I think back to them on a
> quiet night. One of them is Lovecraft's "The
> Nameless City", which is the first story by
> Lovecraft that ever unnerved me and made me
> reluctant to turn off the lights at night. Just
> the thought of being alone and surrounded by the
> inhuman dead in a distant, dark vault sends me
> running straight to a warm blanket.
>
> "The Whisperer in Darkness" gave me strong chills,
> but only on the second reading, when I could
> better appreciate what it must be like to be
> stalked by winged, faceless entities in the
> night.
>
> "The Doom That Came to Sarnath" also disturbed me
> in an insidiously lingering way. Though perhaps
> "creepy" isn't the right term for it. More like
> the whole story took me out of my body, time, and
> place, with its setting of an unimaginably distant
> era, and its passage of centuries upon centuries
> of time, and its primordial beings of eerie and
> dream-like enchantment, and the sorrowful fall of
> not one but two civilizations.
>
> Those are the only Lovecraft stories which got me
> in that way, but as it's been so many years I'll
> definitely give "The Pictures in the House"
> another try. "One Who Saw" sounds very promising.
>
> Smith's best stories generally fall under the
> categories of beautiful and cool,

FWIW, I'm really enjoying this discussion.

Some of Dale's posts made me think about the role of characterization of the main character--whether they have heroic qualities, or even qualities that cause the reader to identify with the character. And we discussed this as it relates to creating tragedy.

ON thinking more about it, I'd say that Smith seldom creates a character with whom could--or would want to--identify with. This is not because they are inadequately developed (some may be, but usually the are not cardboard cut-outs or stereotypes), but more because they seem to function as a narrative POV.

For example, in The Double Shadow, the 1st person narrator is penning his final message to the rest of the world. He's somewhat typically the acolyte one encounter (think Disney's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", but without the playfulness) and while he's fairly open with us, he tells us mostly about the source of his on-coming and inescapable doom.

And most importantly, it is the *concept* of what that doom is, and the nature of it's potency that makes the story worthwhile, and not any empathy for the narrator, or anyone else in the story, in my opinion.

Thinking briefly about this, I find that in Smith's best works it is the fantastic concept, combined with very strong tradition themes, that drive the stories somewhat independently of the min character, who serves the purpose of providing a narrative point of view--a sort of camera in the room--so that we can "see" the action.

In a sense, it's like taking "Sophie's Choice" and removing Sophie--just telling us about the awful predicament without trying to get us to "feel" for Sophie. In this sense, CAS's stuff is more removed, more objective--too much so to be a fertile field for the growing of tragedy potatoes.


> but he came
> close to unnerving me with the descriptions of
> dark halls, inescapable palaces, and predatory
> hosts in "A Rendezvous in Averoigne" and "The
> Black Abbot of Puthuum."

Hah! The "Black Abbott" was a sort of Grey Mouser and Fahfred story. The lust of the abbott was certainly memorable!

>
> M. R. James occasionally got me with his rather
> visceral descriptions of supernatural encounters,
> especially in "The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral"
> with its eerie whispers and phantom fur.
>
> This might be the most unexpected answer, but I
> was always chilled by Dunsany's "The House of the
> Sphinx." The discrepancy between the mysteriously
> silent sphinx and the maddening laughter of the
> unseen entity outside the door really took me out
> of myself, especially with the brilliant build-up
> of anxiety and mystery by the nervous men and the
> ignorant narrator.
>
> I've just begun reading Charles Williams' "The
> Place of the Lion", and while it's not at all a
> horror story, its accounts of the
> unreal-yet-too-real Archetypes, haunting the
> countryside like unpredictable miracles, are both
> beautiful and unsettling.

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: 12 December, 2019 10:25AM
Kojooti, I relished your comments about how various stories came across to you, and I will have to look up that Dunsany story -- I read a lot by the man back in the day, but I don't seem to remember that one!

Delighted to read that you're reading the Williams. There's a little horror element eventually, but mostly it's just as you say.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 12 December, 2019 10:28AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The old man in The Pictures in the House, his
> actions, weirded me out.

I don't suppose I felt this way when I first read the story, but nowadays that story seems funny in a sort of black humor way to me -- the crazy old coot leering and cackling -- especially when he says (I quote from memory) "'ef 'twas more the same'" -- !! It's like some over-the-top old radio play, to me.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12 Dec 19 | 10:36AM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 12 December, 2019 10:35AM
Sawfish wrote, "And most importantly, it is the *concept* of what that doom is, and the nature of it's potency that makes the story worthwhile, and not any empathy for the narrator, or anyone else in the story, in my opinion.

"Thinking briefly about this, I find that in Smith's best works it is the fantastic concept, combined with very strong tradition themes, that drive the stories somewhat independently of the min character, who serves the purpose of providing a narrative point of view--a sort of camera in the room--so that we can "see" the action."

This is like many works of science fiction, where the main thing is a concept, perhaps a "very cool" concept, and one could argue that working up a sense of depth in the character(s) might be beside the point.

Many of the world's favorite stories hardly depend on novelistic, three-dimensional characters for their interest. What comes to mind offhand is many folktales, e.g. the Norwegian one in which (something like this) a woman enters a church on New Year's Eve, and it is thronged with shadowy forms looking towards the chancel. She accidentally makes a sound and they turn around and get up, and she runs for her life! Well, we hardly require novelistic detail about her. Or take myths. Who would say that a telling of the myth of Orpheus requires a novelistic rendering of Orpheus or Eurydice?

So, while I would need to read (again) some of those Smith stories, I would approach them prepared to entertain the possibility that, if they lacked novelistic characterization, this was not necessarily a fault. It depends.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12 Dec 19 | 10:37AM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 12 December, 2019 11:27AM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > The old man in The Pictures in the House, his
> > actions, weirded me out.
>
> I don't suppose I felt this way when I first read
> the story, but nowadays that story seems funny in
> a sort of black humor way to me -- the crazy old
> coot leering and cackling -- especially when he
> says (I quote from memory) "'ef 'twas more the
> same'" -- !! It's like some over-the-top old
> radio play, to me.

Hah! There was definitely some of that, too!

"Here now. Set down. What ails ye?"

The general filth and decrepitude, plus that implied fact that the old man was far to old to be alive, and yet had certain robust indications along with his advanced age, seemed creepy, uncanny. The old boy's attachment to the book with the picture was near pornographic obsession, it seemed to me.

Here's a time capsule for you:

We visited some relatives back before I was no older than 6 (my brother is 6 years younger, and this was before he was born, so,,,). The relatives had no TV, only an old console radio (this could not have been any later than mid-year 1953) and I listened to a radio-play of "The Graveyard Rats".

Scared me yet but good...

OK for Pictures in the House; it did not work for you as a creepy tale. How about in Nyarlathotep:

When we gazed around the horizon, we could not find the third tower by the river, and noticed that the silhouette of the second tower was ragged at the top. Then we split up into narrow columns, each of which seemed drawn in a different direction. One disappeared in a narrow alley to the left, leaving only the echo of a shocking moan.

Did the entire narrative kinda creep you out? It sure did (and does) me...

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: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 12 December, 2019 02:41PM
It's always a pleasure having a calm but enthusiastic discussion. :) Most places aimed at people my age tend to be vapid and boring, and full of those who are obsessed with this or that interest without actually being passionate or thoughtful.

Regarding characterization, I think it's true that Smith largely focuses on wild, imaginative phenomena, but he also explores the emotional impact of such things, and makes his characters just engaging enough to -want- to follow into these feelings. "A Voyage to Sfanamoë" is one of my favorite Smith stories of all time, not only for its amazing visions but also for its rich and empathetic view of its characters. The two brothers aren't immensely fleshed out, being perhaps just above the category of fairy-tale protagonists, but their plight, their glory, and their varied emotions are clearly there for me to connect with, which is what adds an engaging layer to the phantasmic phenomena. I could say the same for such stories as "The Planet of the Dead" and "The Last Hieroglyph", among many others. Even "The Tale of Satampra Zeiros", while not exactly "caring" of its protagonists' safety, still makes them memorable and slightly funny characters (compared to generic thieves), whose fates are treated with a strange mixture of sardonic understanding.

To sum it all up, I think Smith, at his best (he's written less engaging things too), offers subtle opportunities to connect with his characters in one way or another, whether it's sharing in their wonder, sharing in their yearning, feeling moved in some way by their demise, or understanding their motivations and desires even when they are dark or foolish. I've read that Smith admired William Beckford, whose small body of fiction is comprised entirely of humans whose journeys and aspirations are soulfully grand, and whose tragedy is in their hubris, greed, and unrestrained passion, dragging them down bitterly, mournfully, sardonically, and ecstatically to the Palace of Subterranean Fire. I can see some of that same influence, as if granted by a similar yet darker Jinn (perhaps by Omoultakos?), in Smith's stories.

In regard to "Nyarlathotep", I can absolutely see how the story would unsettle people. And on top of that, it's not really usual for Lovecraft's fiction, feeling more like an anxiety-evoking dream rather than a narrative in a world we understand. Perhaps I'll have to re-read that along with "Pictures."

In regard to Dunsany, here's a link to that story for you!
The House of the Sphinx

And finally, in regard to Charles Williams, I've read "Et in Sempiternum Pereant" and am now a third of the way through "The Place of the Lion." So far I'm glad to have learned about this author, and I'm impressed by his vivid descriptions of otherworldly powers! I'm no Christian, but I still admire the mystical yearning and overwhelming forces of these tales. I was also glad that "The Place of the Lion" was all about Archetypes, because for many years I wondered about Smith's own Archetypes, from his Cavern of Archetypes, a subterranean world full of nebulous, semi-material plants and animals that are the primordial ancestors of all earthly life, which play only a small role in his "Seven Geases." I always wanted to write a story inspired by the spirits of archetypes, so it was nice to find the Williams story. Such a shame Smith never wrote a whole tale about his own Archetypes, though I suppose he explores them in another way in "The Last Hieroglyph."



Edited 8 time(s). Last edit at 12 Dec 19 | 03:06PM by kojootti.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 12 December, 2019 03:32PM
Interleaved:

(BTW, I agree with your expressed enjoyment and appreciation of a rational and courteous discussion.

I believe that this trait, along with a lack of fear of vacuum cleaners, is what separates us from the animals...

;^) (Credit to Jerry Seinfeld e the animals...) )


kojootti Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It's always a pleasure having a calm but
> enthusiastic discussion. :) Most places aimed at
> people my age tend to be vapid and boring, and
> full of those who are obsessed with this or that
> interest without actually being passionate or
> thoughtful.
>
> Regarding characterization, I think it's true that
> Smith largely focuses on wild, imaginative
> phenomena, but he also explores the emotional
> impact of such things, and makes his characters
> just engaging enough to -want- to follow into
> these feelings. "A Voyage to Sfanamoë" is one of
> my favorite Smith stories of all time, not only
> for its amazing visions but also for its rich and
> empathetic view of its characters. The two
> brothers aren't immensely fleshed out, being
> perhaps just above the category of fairy-tale
> protagonists, but their plight, their glory, and
> their varied emotions are clearly there for me to
> connect with, which is what adds an engaging layer
> to the phantasmic phenomena.

It's a great transcendent story with such an odd irony (they become plants, fer god's sake, and innocently, joyfully so!)


> I could say the same
> for such stories as "The Planet of the Dead" and
> "The Last Hieroglyph", among many others.

Can't recall P of the D, but the last hieroglyph, too, ends in a sort of warm satisfaction, if not in any traditional sense. The mediocre (at best) astrologer, and his dog and servant (!) become one with the running history of the cosmos. Sucked up onto the page, as calligraphy.


> Even
> "The Tale of Satampra Zeiros", while not exactly
> "caring" of its protagonists' safety, still makes
> them memorable and slightly funny characters
> (compared to generic thieves), whose fates are
> treated with a strange mixture of sardonic
> understanding.

This is the visit to Commoriom to loot it, and what happens in that big basin in the temple, right?

>
> To sum it all up, I think Smith, at his best (he's
> written less engaging things too), offers subtle
> opportunities to connect with his characters in
> one way or another, whether it's sharing in their
> wonder, sharing in their yearning, feeling moved
> in some way by their demise, or understanding
> their motivations and desires even when they are
> dark or foolish.

Smith and Leiber are the two most likely to season their works with a sort of wry humor, in my opinion.

> I've read that Smith admired
> William Beckford, whose small body of fiction is
> comprised entirely of humans whose journeys and
> aspirations are soulfully grand, and whose tragedy
> is in their hubris, greed, and unrestrained
> passion, dragging them down bitterly, mournfully,
> sardonically, and ecstatically to the Palace of
> Subterranean Fire. I can see some of that same
> influence, as if granted by a similar yet darker
> Jinn (perhaps by Omoultakos?),

Can't recall this reference... :^(

> in Smith's
> stories.
>
> In regard to "Nyarlathotep", I can absolutely see
> how the story would unsettle people. And on top of
> that, it's not really usual for Lovecraft's
> fiction, feeling more like an anxiety-evoking
> dream rather than a narrative in a world we
> understand. Perhaps I'll have to re-read that
> along with "Pictures."
>
> In regard to Dunsany, here's a link to that story
> for you!
> The House of the Sphinx

Thanks!!!

>
> And finally, in regard to Charles Williams, I've
> read "Et in Sempiternum Pereant" and am now a
> third of the way through "The Place of the Lion."
> So far I'm glad to have learned about this author,
> and I'm impressed by his vivid descriptions of
> otherworldly powers! I'm no Christian, but I still
> admire the mystical yearning and overwhelming
> forces of these tales. I was also glad that "The
> Place of the Lion" was all about Archetypes,
> because for many years I wondered about Smith's
> own Archetypes, from his Cavern of Archetypes, a
> subterranean world full of nebulous, semi-material
> plants and animals that are the primordial
> ancestors of all earthly life, which play only a
> small role in his "Seven Geases."

While the story is over-long and repetitive, I still *REALLY* liked it!

There was humor in it, as well, with the arrogant and macho lord, who was put under the geas originally, being viewed as basically worthless in the netherworld beneath the volcano.

> I always wanted
> to write a story inspired by the spirits of
> archetypes, so it was nice to find the Williams
> story. Such a shame Smith never wrote a whole tale
> about his own Archetypes, though I suppose he
> explores them in another way in "The Last
> Hieroglyph."

Great discussion! Thanks!

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: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 17 December, 2019 10:18PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> kojootti Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> > I've read that Smith admired
> > William Beckford, whose small body of fiction
> is
> > comprised entirely of humans whose journeys and
> > aspirations are soulfully grand, and whose
> tragedy
> > is in their hubris, greed, and unrestrained
> > passion, dragging them down bitterly,
> mournfully,
> > sardonically, and ecstatically to the Palace of
> > Subterranean Fire. I can see some of that same
> > influence, as if granted by a similar yet
> darker
> > Jinn (perhaps by Omoultakos?),
>
> Can't recall this reference... :^(

Oh it's not much to care about. Omoultakos is a mysterious jinn which William Beckford mentioned in his unfinished Third Episode of Vathek. CAS took the liberty of finishing the story himself, receiving the fun and honor of describing Omoultakos, one of Smith's strangest monsters ever.

I should add here for the sake of the topic that William Hope Hodgson successfully made me feel the paranoia, dread, and hopelessness his characters must have felt in "The Ghost Pirates" and "The House on the Borderland."



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 17 Dec 19 | 10:26PM by kojootti.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 19 December, 2019 04:35PM
Well … I am not sure I would say I have been creeped out by a work of horror but certainly there is a lot of very impressive moments in weird fiction that have stuck in my mind somehow and that (almost) send a shiver down my spine sometimes when I think about them.

In “The Dark Chamber“ (1927) by Leonard Cline there is a prety creepy passage in which one of the characters dreams a strange dream about being amongst hideously monstrous snakes swimming in a tropic lagoon. Then he comes to a horrible conclusion it was no dream but an inherent reminiscence of one of his animal primordial reptilian ancestors.

Also the advent of the Recluse in “The Arena“ where he sees the old gods and other unspeakable horrors is great. (The House on The Borderland by W.H.Hodgson).

And I cannot but mention the moment when the two characters in “At The Mountains of Madness“ by H.P.Lovecraft see for the first time the long-abandoned alien city from their plane. Very nice.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 19 December, 2019 09:07PM
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.

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).

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 8 March, 2020 01:41PM
Knygatin asked me, "No, I have not read "Rogue Moon" or anything else by that author. Is Budrys yet another example of your specific preference for Christian writers?"

No -- I would say that the philosophy underlying "Rogue Moon," if there is one, is existential. The story suggests that man finds himself in a universe that is alien to him, and the test for him is even to put his life on the line for the sake of the things he believes in (e.g. the value of scientific knowledge; loyalty to one's nation -- or the like) without expecting anything external to himself to validate his determination. I haven't studied existentialism much, but I take it that that notion is in line with "existentialism." There's an affinity with Hemingway's idea of "guts" as "grace under pressure." "Rogue Moon" might be the kind of story Lovecraft could have written if he were not so concerned with maximizing horror and hadn't had an agenda of belittling humans.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 March, 2020 03:28PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "Rogue Moon" might be the kind of
> story Lovecraft could have written if he were not
> so concerned with maximizing horror and hadn't had
> an agenda of belittling humans.

"Rogue Moon" seems like an interesting story.

I don't think Lovecraft had an agenda of belittling humans. But in his scientific view of the Universe, he objectively saw humans as a tiny speck in comparison to the greater cosmic forces. That was not his personal agenda. Quite the contrary: He was very engaged in human culture, art, and the politics of defending his white European racial heritage and grace of Western society, and also in the importance of socially acceptable behavior, appearance, and interaction with others. He might have been a bit gloomy and depressed (which I don't blame him, considering his family background), but was also quite altruistic and generous.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 March, 2020 05:20PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ... 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, ...
>
> C. S. Lewis: “For me, reason is the natural
> organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of
> meaning. ...
>

I think often the most satisfying fantasy fiction is written by authors with deep insight into mythological and archetypical energies, and are able to intelligently work with precise symbols (without being overly explicit) for this that strike deeper cords within us. I think Fritz Leiber is extremely apt at doing this with his rich fantasy details surrounding Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser. Representing the implications of a more mundane level of existence (as opposed to grand events); he appreciates and understands the small things in everyday life.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 8 March, 2020 06:49PM
Knygatin, I'd like to hold off on responding to your response to my remark about Lovecraft belittling mankind, and see what others might have to say about that.

But I wondered about your comment on Lovecraft being "quite altruistic and generous." It's a long time since I read a book-length Lovecraft biography (I read de Camp's and Long's when they came out and have read some memoirs too), but I don't remember incidents that would justify those adjectives. My impression is that Lovecraft could be enjoyable company in person with his cronies, and that he certainly liked to write long letters. But I wouldn't say those facts justify "generous" and "altruistic." I recall no incident of Lovecraft doing something to help out a stranger, or being engaged in any kind of philanthropic activity, or giving some book he liked to someone whom he thought would love to have it -- or anything like that.

I REALIZE LOVECRAFT HAD HARDLY ANY MONEY.


So how did he show altruism and generosity?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 8 Mar 20 | 07:48PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2020 03:34AM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> So how did he show altruism and generosity?


In his own way, as best he could. As you said, he had little economic or material means. I don't imagine he ever would have stopped and helped any poor stranger sitting in the street. His altruism was in connection to his intellectual and artistic interests. He sacrificed his own time and efforts (much by way through his letters) guiding others whom he thought could benefit from his own knowledge.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2020 04:14AM
I would like to see any famous writers of today being as generous with their own time as Lovecraft was. But most of them are very taciturn outside of their profession, and egoistic. They don't say anything of value unless they are paid for it.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2020 10:45AM
Above all Lovecraft was generous with his own ideas and creative thoughts, sharing these in long long letters, without a thought of getting anything, least of all payment, in return. Such a character trait, so full of unconditional sharing, is rare, especially in today's ego tripped world. In certain social gatherings (in which he felt comfortable) he could act out parts from literary works, with so much commitment and empathy that his voice transformed into the parts. So don't say he was not generous.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2020 11:32AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Dale Nelson Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > ... 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,
> ...
> >
> > C. S. Lewis: “For me, reason is the natural
> > organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of
> > meaning. ...
> >
>
> I think often the most satisfying fantasy fiction
> is written by authors with deep insight into
> mythological and archetypical energies, and are
> able to intelligently work with precise symbols
> (without being overly explicit) for this that
> strike deeper cords within us. I think Fritz
> Leiber is extremely apt at doing this with his
> rich fantasy details surrounding Fafhrd & the Grey
> Mouser. Representing the implications of a more
> mundane level of existence (as opposed to grand
> events); he appreciates and understands the small
> things in everyday life.

This last observation is very interesting, Knygatin, in that it brings to mind that authors write within a sort of scope. This is to say that with Leiber, in the Mouser stories, for example, the scope is confined to the two main characters and their environment .Much of CAS is also like this, but is somewhat broader, at times.

But Lovecraft is often of a very broad scope; his stories read as if whatever awful thing happens to the narrator, or to the main character, could just as easily happen to all of humanity. His tales convey existential threat for the universe as we know it. Smith's tales are on a much more personal scale.

Something like reading Fail Safe or watching Dr. Strangelove versus reading Candide.

...

HAH! As I edit out an error in punctuation, it comes to me that Lovecraft offers no hope, or destroys it, in his most apocalyptic tales. Basically, it's the logical result if the Mythos held true, and even in his tales like Dreams in The Witch House, he is at best neutral.

This is not the case with much of CAS's best prose work, where, for example, all you have to do is avoid X, and you'll be all right.

Therefore, in Isle of the Torturers, since you'll never be king, no worries. Similarly, if you stay the hell out of musty vaults, as in Weaver in the Vaults, you should be strictly OK.

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



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 9 Mar 20 | 11:47AM by Sawfish.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2020 11:36AM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Knygatin, I'd like to hold off on responding to
> your response to my remark about Lovecraft
> belittling mankind, and see what others might have
> to say about that.

I don't think that he belittled mankind so much as put them in their proper objective place in the universe he portrayed.

>
> But I wondered about your comment on Lovecraft
> being "quite altruistic and generous." It's a
> long time since I read a book-length Lovecraft
> biography (I read de Camp's and Long's when they
> came out and have read some memoirs too), but I
> don't remember incidents that would justify those
> adjectives. My impression is that Lovecraft could
> be enjoyable company in person with his cronies,
> and that he certainly liked to write long letters.
> But I wouldn't say those facts justify "generous"
> and "altruistic." I recall no incident of
> Lovecraft doing something to help out a stranger,
> or being engaged in any kind of philanthropic
> activity, or giving some book he liked to someone
> whom he thought would love to have it -- or
> anything like that.

Sounds like my kinda guy.

>
> I REALIZE LOVECRAFT HAD HARDLY ANY MONEY.

..and here's where we must part company...

;^)

>
>
> So how did he show altruism and generosity?

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: 9 March, 2020 01:57PM
I think that sharing ones personality, is generosity. But giving away ones books, is plain stupidity. I lent books, and never got them back after the borrower was done. Another visitor opened one of my books, and thereby broke its back. I say, my books are my private belongings, and I prefer others to stay off. Some were difficult and expensive to acquire. I have spare and worn paperback copies of some books, which I gladly lend though. Lovecraft let his original story manuscripts circle among his group of correspondents. I believe one (or perhaps it was C. A. Smith's manuscript) was grabbed by R. H. Barlow; he dressed it in snake skin, and kept it.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2020 02:44PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I think that sharing ones personality, is
> generosity. But giving away ones books, is plain
> stupidity. I lent books, and never got them back
> after the borrower was done. Another visitor
> opened one of my books, and thereby broke its
> back. I say, my books are my private belongings,
> and I prefer others to stay off. Some were
> difficult and expensive to acquire. I have spare
> and worn paperback copies of some books, which I
> gladly lend though. Lovecraft let his original
> story manuscripts circle among his group of
> correspondents. I believe one (or perhaps it was
> C. A. Smith's manuscript) was grabbed by R. H.
> Barlow; he dressed it in snake skin, and kept it.

Must have been in pre-animal rights activists days...

;^)

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: 9 March, 2020 02:57PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> ... authors write within a sort of scope. This is to say that
> with Leiber, in the Mouser stories, for example,
> the scope is confined to the two main characters
> and their environment. Much of CAS is also like
> this, but is somewhat broader, at times.
>
> But Lovecraft is often of a very broad scope; his
> stories read as if whatever awful thing happens to
> the narrator, or to the main character, could just
> as easily happen to all of humanity. His tales
> convey existential threat for the universe as we
> know it. Smith's tales are on a much more
> personal scale.
>
> ... with much of CAS's best prose work, where, for example, all you have to do is avoid X, and you'll be all
> right.
>
> Therefore, in Isle of the Torturers, since you'll never be king, no worries. Similarly, if you stay the hell out
> of musty vaults, as in Weaver in the Vaults, you should be strictly OK.

Yes, it's nice, isn't it! I can enjoy all of these three levels, from the bottom and up. It all depends on how well the writer conveys it. One more level, above or parallel to Lovecraft, may perhaps offer spiritual redemption from cosmic catastrophe. Either some Christian writer, like Dale Nelson wants us to read (Tolkien is fantastic!), or a more universally spiritual writer like Algernon Blackwood. Blackwood's book The Centaur really is a beauty. Another writer, like Arthur C. Clarke, offer us redemption through sheer intellect, and scientific solutions.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2020 05:57PM
I just found The Centaur on Project Gutenberg and have downloaded it.

Thanks for the tip!

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: 10 March, 2020 05:19AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I just found The Centaur on Project Gutenberg and
> have downloaded it.
>
> Thanks for the tip!

If one has never read Algernon Blackwood before, for introduction, I think his best supernatural short-story would be "The Wendigo". Others might say "The Willows", but it is more subtle, I have not read it in a very long time.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 23 March, 2020 12:28PM
Sawfish Wrote:

> I don't think that he belittled mankind so much as
> put them in their proper objective place in the
> universe he portrayed.

Lovecraft's view of human beings vis-à-vis the universe is no more "objective" than any other view. It's merely a view of human beings from which much has been removed or depreciated.

To get an intuitive sense of what Lovecraft leaves out, one might simply do a quick Google search for photographs by Andre Kertesz of people reading. I'd say just spend a few minutes looking at some of these -- forgetting about Lovecraft during the interval. Then come back to his typical remarks about human beings. I think you may feel that he willfully leaves something out -- even if it would be difficult, perhaps, to state in words what that is.

Now, I'd say that any work of art involves selection, so for the purposes of a weird tale it might be legitimate to leave out something that, say, the Kertesz pictures suggest. But let's not allow ourselves to be misled by our enjoyment of the stories into thinking that Lovecraft will do as a philosopher.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 23 March, 2020 05:39PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
>
> > I don't think that he belittled mankind so much
> as
> > put them in their proper objective place in the
> > universe he portrayed.
>
> Lovecraft's view of human beings vis-à-vis the
> universe is no more "objective" than any other
> view. It's merely a view of human beings from
> which much has been removed or depreciated.
>
> To get an intuitive sense of what Lovecraft leaves
> out, one might simply do a quick Google search for
> photographs by Andre Kertesz of people reading.
> I'd say just spend a few minutes looking at some
> of these -- forgetting about Lovecraft during the
> interval. Then come back to his typical remarks
> about human beings. I think you may feel that he
> willfully leaves something out -- even if it would
> be difficult, perhaps, to state in words what that
> is.
>
> Now, I'd say that any work of art involves
> selection, so for the purposes of a weird tale it
> might be legitimate to leave out something that,
> say, the Kertesz pictures suggest. But let's not
> allow ourselves to be misled by our enjoyment of
> the stories into thinking that Lovecraft will do
> as a philosopher.

Dale, no one "will do as a philosopher", as far as I'm concerned.

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



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