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Re: the "level of threat" posed by HPL, CAS
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 10 September, 2020 12:11PM
Cathbad Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I read 'Blood Meridian' years ago - the only novel
> by McCarthy I ever read. It's pretty good, mainly
> in terms of how it's written, as there isn't much
> of a plot per se: a bunch of bounty hunters on a
> killing spree. It does have a cumulative force
> though, largely as a consequence of what these
> guys are doing and the inevitable moral
> degradation this entails (although I think the mc
> was a pretty nasty piece of work from the get-go).

We never know his name.

Judge Holden is one of the truly magnificent literary villains of all time, making Iago look like Eddie Haskell by comparison.

The character of Glanton (leader of the scalp hunters) is very understated, and yet there's something to him that's unusual--not sure what. I see him as something like William Holden's character in The Wild Bunch. There's a bit more to him than to his men, but I'm not sure how/why.

The plot is historically based, which means that a lot of the major stuff described happened about where/when it says in the book. But you know, all the little stuff that makes the book good is likely made up.

Like Aguirre, Wrath of God. Based on fact, but how the hell would anyone know the small stuff?

Thanks for indulging my diversion, Cathbad.

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

Re: the "level of threat" posed by HPL, CAS
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 10 September, 2020 12:45PM
I think Judge Holden is supposed to be the living personification of death? All that stuff about him drawing stuff and then destroying it afterwards sound heavily symbolic to me. Plus, I reckon it's only natural that Death would be drawn to a group of men who are doing a lot of killing. And it would explain why he's waiting for the mc at the end. Nobody slips through that guy's fingers!

Re: the "level of threat" posed by HPL, CAS
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 10 September, 2020 01:55PM
Maybe so. Gets kids, gets everyone.

But then, too, he's good at everything, a sorta polymath, dancer, best fiddler you ever heard, etc.

I tend not to read literature in terms of looking for cultural symbols, but he's definitely more than human, no doubt about it.

I have an aversion from undergrad days. I misunderstood what I was learning. I think that what was intended was that you can *find* evidence of cultural recurrent symbols and themes, but I did not understand that what most of the authors seemed to be doing--except for those marginal wise-guys, like, er, well symbolists, etc.--were merely telling a story, and as products of their particular cultures, these deep-seated symbols sorta bubble to the surface, like artesean springs.

So at that time I thought that these elite authors were send us students clever, winking messages by *consciously* using cultural references for the cognoscenti--ahem!, *us*--to pick up on. But in fact, what was going on most of the time is that they included sequences that were influenced by cultural themes/norms/symbols, but not consciously so. What we did was to *find* these influences, which I mistook to be conscious references.

Man, I could find this stuff EVERYWHERE, and I'm now ashamed of my papers (truly, "undergraduate" in the worst interpretation of the term--I figure that Dale knows *exactly* what I'm talking about ;^) ), because I now think that the way to interpret it by default is that the authors seldom consciously intended to put them in, but in creating the narrative, they fell back on their life influences, which included central cultural motifs.

And to make matters worse, it's entirely possible that some of them *did* consciously inject these references in just the manner I believed as an undergrad, but now I would tend to think of this as a sign of a tender ego.

Back to Holden...

Do you think it's kinda jarring that Glanton, and not he, is the leader? I mean, in every way he makes better sense as the leader of a bunch of--face it--psychotics (stronger, more ruthless, smarter, superhuman strength etc.), but he is not.

Now there's one written account, in a sort of memoir by an alleged gangmember, that verifies the existence of Holden (maybe), so perhaps McCarthy felt constrained by the historical record--but the written account, while making Holden remarkable, does not go so far as to make him mythical--which McCarthy certainly does.

Odd stuff going on with that character, for sure.

Fun discussion, Cathbad!

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

Re: the "level of threat" posed by HPL, CAS
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 10 September, 2020 02:46PM
I actually think Holden works pretty well in his assigned role - the mysterious fellow traveller. He's sort of like a carrion crow that accompanies an army on the march. My memories of Glanton are pretty dim, but your description suggests McCartney was trying to keep him morally ambivalent. Not a good man, but not actively wicked, either. Which I think is kind of interesting.

Re: the "level of threat" posed by HPL, CAS
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 12 September, 2020 12:56AM
Cthulhu is real. Metaphysically. I see neither Lovecraft or Smith as merely entertainment consumption literature. I take them deadly serious.

Those readers who respect Lovecraft as a fine author, and don't look upon his work as humorous (intentionally or unintentionally), often find their way to Ligotti, whose work can be said to be a continuation of Lovecraft's outlook on cosmic meaninglessness. Ligotti explores the effects of the philosophy Lovecraft hinted at.

I would have greater reason to laugh at Blackwood or Machen. But it is more appropriate to pity them.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12 Sep 20 | 12:59AM by Knygatin.

Re: the "level of threat" posed by HPL, CAS
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 12 September, 2020 09:54AM
Thanks for the Ligotti recommendation, Knygatin. I have found his *non* fiction work, Conspiracy Against the Human Race, in e-books format at the library and have checked it out. I realize that his greatest strengths will be found as fiction, but reading quickly about him on Wikipedia, then the library's description, I think it'll be good to try to get my had around his stated ideas.

Thanks again! I'm looking forward to reading it, starting today, most likely.

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

Re: the "level of threat" posed by HPL, CAS
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 12 September, 2020 12:04PM
I was able to get Ligotti's first published volumes, Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe instead of the non-fiction volume. I just finished the first story, "The Frolic".

I am impressed with his apparent worldview and look forward to reading some more, to see if it's consistent.

His narrative style in "The Frolic" is kinda awkward and not well formed--a sign of the early works of a writer, most likely--but I found the note from John Doe to the psychologist to be composed of very compelling imagery. A lot of the remainder of the story is expository dialog, which is maybe my least favorite narrative vehicle because if the author chooses to use it, he must therefore manipulate the course of the dialog to convey and resolve the plot, and often a natural dialog would not develop in that way.

But the *mindset* that permits him to view the world in a certain way is startlingly like my own...and here I'm going to get into trouble by expanding upon this, but...

Like most people growing up in a conventionally organized post WWII household I was raised in a saturated reality where we (the western powers) had just defeated EVIL and having purged the world of this, it was back to a normal peaceful and harmonious existence that humanity craved and naturally gravitated toward--with the exception of those unreconstructed Rooskies! I mean, my folks never fought, my extended family was peaceful and an upwardly mobile 2nd gen group seeking material success, and hence the security their parents had lacked in their homeland.

All of this fit together seamlessly, and what's more, being somewhat isolated out there living on an orange grove in 50s S Cal, nothing much disrupted this appearance.

So then we moved to the SF Bay area, I went to various state colleges while trying to avoid the draft, and over time I found that if I lived within the expectancies of my upbringing, not a lot of what I encountered out there in the larger world made much sense. I was constantly being blindsided by people and institutions not behaving in the way I was taught to expect.

So I sorta intellectually hunkered down and *observed*, looking at patterns. I did this for quite a while.

Then, maybe 45 years ago or so--at that time I was still a schoolteacher and kinda partway clung to these older and more optimistic assumptions--I was watching a Joan Goodall documentary on chimpanzees, and it came to me in a revelatory moment that, gosh, the chimps really did act like humans: petty, self-centered, immediate needs or wants as their greatest motivators, and little evidence of planning or strategizing.

And more disturbingly, it came to me that the chimpanzees had not *learned* this from humans, but that in fact, humanity retained this primate behavior as an unpurged remnant, and to a startlingly common degree: basic human behaviors were best understood as evolved core primate behaviors, and any behaviors considered to be of higher motivations were simply surface responses that required two prerequisites: 1) these "higher" behaviors be consistently inculcated by respected adults, and modeled by them, as well; and 2) sufficient access to material resources to remove the constant threat of day-to-day survival.

Now there's a whole lot more to say about all this, but I'll leave with the observation that once I had both grasped and accepted this, almost all of the stuff in life that I had encountered as a young adult that *did not* make sense, now all of sudden made sense, and indeed much of human behavior became predictable.

As always, my opinions, only.


:^)

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



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12 Sep 20 | 12:10PM by Sawfish.

Re: the "level of threat" posed by HPL, CAS
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 12 September, 2020 12:32PM
I have not dared to read Conspiracy Against the Human Race yet. It is considered a very very dark and pessimistic work. I have read a few of his supernatural short stories. I did not like "The Frolic", for to me it seems to be about a pedophile, and that is just too bleak. As I am more of a fantasist, I could recommend Nethescurial (free read at the Ligotti website), "Drink to Me Only With Labyrinthine Eyes" (Poesque), and "The Mystics of Muelenburg".

Many consider his late collection Teatro Grottesco, to be his finest most mature work.

Re: the "level of threat" posed by HPL, CAS
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 12 September, 2020 02:12PM
I think we're sold a false dichotomy in terms of how other animals behave and how mankind behave, something that becomes more apparent as you get older. Humanity's traits - positive and negative - are pretty evident in most other species. People find a partner, mate, rear their young and fight over territory and resources. I don't mean to be reductive when I see this; we're still a pretty exceptional species in many other ways.

Re: the "level of threat" posed by HPL, CAS
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 12 September, 2020 02:22PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I have not dared to read Conspiracy Against the
> Human Race yet. It is considered a very very dark
> and pessimistic work. I have read a few of his
> supernatural short stories. I did not like "The
> Frolic", for to me it seems to be about a
> pedophile, and that is just too bleak.

I'm OK with the bleakness so long as I can distance myself from it. This includes most stuff.


> As I am
> more of a fantasist, I could recommend
> Nethescurial (free read at the Ligotti website),
> "Drink to Me Only With Labyrinthine Eyes"
> (Poesque), and "The Mystics of Muelenburg".
>
> Many consider his late collection Teatro
> Grottesco, to be his finest most mature work.


I just finished my third story. Frolic was not well assembled in my judgement, but after reading the next two, I now ascribe that more to artistic choice rather than lack of skill or subtlety.

The next two are Les Fleurs (thematically related to Frolic) and Alice's Last Adventure. The latter is quite remarkable, in my opinion.

I'll look for Teatro Grottesco; sounds promising.

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

Re: the "level of threat" posed by HPL, CAS
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 12 September, 2020 02:33PM
I have not read Alice's Last Adventure, but I enjoyed Les Fleurs. His bizarre cacti sculptures was to my taste.

Re: the "level of threat" posed by HPL, CAS
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 12 September, 2020 02:43PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'll look for Teatro Grottesco; sounds promising.

I have only read one of its stories, "The Bungalow House". I was quite impressed. Depressing though. But humorous too; he is good with colorful eccentric characters.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12 Sep 20 | 03:37PM by Knygatin.

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