Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


Anything out there that has the salvia trip-like qualities of the passages in The House on the Borderland about being a disembodied consciousness floating through infinite voids of time and space, but written fairly recently?

(or old, too, if not written by Lovecraft or Hodgson)

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


Read I'm Thinking of Ending Things yesterday. It was okay--real fuckin page turner but doesn't really stick the landing.

Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


I wish they'd reprint The Cipher. I'm teaching my horror class again soon and it would be a fun thing to teach in it.

Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


Ornamented Death posted:

The Cipher is on Kindle. I wouldn't expect a physical edition outside something done for one of the anniversaries, and that will almost certainly be done as a limited edition.

Yeah I read it on a Nook. Can't teach literature on an ebook tho.

Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


C2C - 2.0 posted:

Would an ebook reader display properly using an overhead projector?

Granted, I graduated high school in the 80's so I don't know if schools still have them in inventory.

The school I teach in has document cameras in each room which would be fine with an ebook reader. Paper books just have so many advantages over ebooks when you're working with a novel, though.

Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


pikachode posted:

teatro is pretty sexless and i was starting to think ligotti might not be a sex weird, but to my great relief his earlier stories often have a Girl in them and he is absolutely a sex weird

e: also his dad's name is "gasper"

Ligotti's sex fetish is shrinking women down into petite dolls and putting them in your curiosity cabinet and/or tucking them inside your own personhood, which is exactly my fetish too

Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


Ligotti is funny as heck and he also reminds me of things Theodor Adorno would write if he was alive in 2019

quote:

Even the tree which blooms, lies, the moment that one perceives its bloom without the shadow of horror; even the innocent “How beautiful” becomes an excuse for the ignominy of existence, which is otherwise, and there is no longer any beauty or any consolation, except in the gaze which goes straight to the horror, withstands it, and in the undiminished consciousness of negativity, holds fast to the possibility of that which is better. Mistrust is advisable towards everything which is unselfconscious, casual, towards everything which involves letting go, implying indulgence towards the supremacy of the existent. The malign deeper meaning of comfort, which at one time was limited to the toasts of cozy sociability, has long since spread to friendlier impulses. When in the chance conversation with a man on the train, one acquiesces, in order to avoid a quarrel, to a couple of sentences which one knows ultimately certify murder, is already an act of treachery; no thought is immune against its communication, and uttering it at the wrong place and in the context of a false agreement is enough to undercut its truth. Every visit to the cinema, despite the utmost watchfulness, leaves me dumber and worse than before. Sociability itself is a participant in injustice, insofar as it pretends we can still talk with each other in a frozen world, and the flippant, chummy word contributes to the perpetuation of silence, insofar as the concessions to those being addressed debase the latter once more as speakers.

Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


The outrage over atrocities decreases, the more that the ones affected are unlike normal readers, the more brunette, “dirty,” dago-like. This says just as much about the atrocity as about the observers. Perhaps the social schematism of perception in anti-Semites is so altered, that they cannot even see Jews as human beings. The ceaselessly recurrent expression that savages, blacks, Japanese resemble animals, or something like apes, already contains the key to the pogrom. The possibility of this latter is contained in the moment that a mortally wounded animal looks at a human being in the eye. The defiance with which they push away this gaze – “it’s after all only an animal” – is repeated irresistibly in atrocities to human beings, in which the perpetrators must constantly reconfirm this “only an animal,” because they never entirely believed it even with animals. The concept of human beings in repressive society is the parody of the notion that human beings were created in the image of God. The mechanism of “pathic projection” functions in such a manner that the power-brokers perceive only their own mirror image as human beings, instead of reflecting back what is human as precisely what is different. Murder is thus the attempt to displace, again and again, the madness of such false perception into reason, through greater madness: what is not seen as a human being and yet is a human being, is turned into a thing, so that it can no longer rebut the manic gaze through any sort of impulse.

Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


I taught "The Stains" in my horror class earlier this semester and a lot of the students didn't even think it was a horror story when they entered the session where we discussed it and they left really grossed out by lichens

Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


chernobyl kinsman posted:

what was the discussion like? really curious.

The discussion was really one of my favorite of the semester so far, and I mean it when I say most of the students entered the class not knowing what made the story relevant to the horror genre and left pretty grossed and freaked out. We did really spend a lot of time just unpacking the implications of the imagery, the references to mythological figures like dryads, did some discussion of the role that sexual desire played in the story though really would have liked to do more there. The story kind of functioned for us as a bridge between Blackwood's "The Willows" and "The Call of Cthulhu." Now that I've been reading more Aickman I find his work really interesting, especially because he's actually good at building characters and grounding the narrative in the dilemmas that the characters face, which makes his work read a lot closer to traditional literary fiction than a lot of other horror stuff (and maybe why the students didn't recognize "The Stains" as horror/weird fiction.) He also seems unusually good at writing women and thinking about their experience for a horror guy. It's The Wine-Dark Sea I have that I've been reading through, and both the "The Trains" and "Into the Woods" have been really good for that.

I'm surprised that you find him such an opaque writer, though perhaps I'm just not reading his stories that are the most obscure. Of course in terms of the question of like, "What is the mechanism that underlies the events described in the story?" that is left unclear, but he lays out the themes so clearly and repeatedly in his stories that I've found him to be an enormously clear writer. (Maybe not "Your Tiny Hand is Frozen.") The push-pull feeling with modernity is really interesting too--many of the stories are pretty ambiguous if something BAD or something WONDERFUL has happened, especially "Into the Woods."

Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


In a lot of ways he's just a very good, solid short story writer of any stripe. Blackwood or M.R. James are like that too--they just know how to tell a story. Lovecraft often doesn't which is why his work is so spotty, but the ways of telling a story he manages to come up with are often very enjoyable. Not that he's unprecedented or anything, he basically says in Supernatural Horror that he's drawing on Machen's techniques in narration. (Though of the four authors he singles out I like Machen the least, though have read the least of Dunsany.)

Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


For Blackwood I highly recommend "The Man Whom the Trees Loved." "The Glamour of the Snow" is another nice variation on some of his major themes, though a bit staid compared to "The Willows" or "The Wendigo."

His John Silence stories are a lot of fun. I especially like "The Psychical Invasion" and "The Camp of the Dog." The last one to be written, "A Victim of Higher Space" is funny and good, too, about a guy who manages to ascend into higher numbered dimensions and the troubles it gets him up to. As "psychic detective" stories the John Silence stories always seem to resolve happily with the resolution of the supernatural phenomenon, which I find pretty unusual.

edit: One of the things about Blackwood that's also really lovely in Aickman, and that I find that students find frustrating in certain kinds of fiction (though of course the reading they are doing for a class is externally imposed upon them in a certain sense, and represents only a fifth or less of the tasks that they have set before them on any given day) is that they take time to tell a story. They're very well paced, but that pacing also involves a gently sloped "rising action." I think genre competence can really help with this, as when you're reading say Blackwood and you know what weird fiction typically does and how nature functions within weird fiction, you can say to yourself "Oh I know what that means," or "I can see where this is going." Otherwise if you don't have those competences hopefully you can reach the end of the story, have a sense of the shape of what you've just read, and then think back to the beginning and recognize why it was paced in the way it was. That, though, is a different, and in some ways more old-fashioned seeming pattern of storytelling than other authors; compare for instance George Saunders's great essay "The Perfect Gerbil" about Donald Barthelme's "The School." In both cases you're dealing with rising action, but the "gas stations" Saunders identifies in "The School" both accelerate the action wildly each time right from the beginning, and also raise the story's themes into thematically stranger territory each time. An Aickman or Blackwood story starts off with a much longer series of gentle pushes, and tends to track and balance its various thematic debts by the end of the story.

Dr. Video Games 0081 fucked around with this message at 13:40 on Mar 16, 2019

Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


By the way, isn't it a bummer that Ligotti's "The Nightmare Network" is such a vivid, accurate representation of our own time?

Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


When I was little I got a collection of M.R. James stories for Christmas one year and read a whole bunch of them years later (they were initially way beyond me) with no awareness that they were part of any canon of horror literature. Possibly even before I read Lovecraft? They were great in that context--just a littlish kid up late reading these only slightly creepy ghost stories

Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


CestMoi posted:

i'm reading songs of a dead dreamer and its good but not as good as teatro grottesco. i dont really know how to describe the difference but there's something qualitatively different in where the horror comes from between the two, which is a thing i am enjoying thinking about

There are some stories I really love in Songs of a Dead Dreamer: "Alice's Last Adventure," "Dreams of a Manikin," "The Chymist," "Notes on the Writing...," "Professor Nobody's..." and "The Christmas Eves of Aunt Elise." But I don't think it's really an accident that those stories all have fairly similar themes, or that their themes and subject matter lend them to a certain amount of formal playfulness. But most of the stories in Songs of a Dead Dreamer strike me as being still fairly straightforwardly supernatural stories of supernatural horror, whereas by Teatro Grottesco the supernatural elements are often extremely opaque and downplayed, and with much less action overall ("The Red Tower" representing a kind of extreme point of absence of character and action, and functioning as a companion piece to the playfulness of "The Nightmare Network.")

Although there's good stuff in there, My Work Is Not Yet Done itself, the novella and not the collection, is probably my least favorite Ligotti story I've read: it's just too much focused on incident and character, and those aren't the things I like in Ligotti's work.

I do have to modify that though, especially if you're reading the Penguin collection that has Grimscribe in it too, because "The Last Feast of Harlequin" is a perfectly coherent, traditionalish short story driven by character and plot, and that's another one of my favorite Ligotti stories.

When I was growing up I was reading a lot of Donald Barthelme, and I always think of Ligotti as being like a horror Barthelme at his best. For instance, from Barthelme's "Departures":

quote:

ARMY PLANS TO FREEZE
3 MILLION BIRDS TO DEATH
MILAN, Tenn., Feb. 14 (AP)--The Army is planning to freeze to death three million or so blackbirds that took up residence two years ago at the Milan Arsenal.

Paul Lefebvre of the U.S. Department of the Interior, which is also working on the plan, said yesterday that the birds would be sprayed with two chemicals, resulting in a rapid loss of body heat. This will be done on a night with sub-freezing temperatures, he said.



There is an elementary school, P.S. 421, across the street from my building. The board of education is busing children from the bad areas of the city to P.S. 421 (our area is thought to be a good area) and busing children from P.S. 421 to schools in the bad areas, in order to achieve racial balance in the schools. The parents of the P.S. 421 children do not like this very much, but they are all good citizens and feel it must be done. The parents of the children in the bad areas may not like it much, either, having their children so far from home, but they too probably feel that the process makes somehow for a better education. Every morning the green buses arrive in front of the school, some bringing black and Puerto Rican children to P.S. 421 and others taking the local, mostly white, children away. Presiding over all this is the loadmaster.

The loadmaster is a heavy, middle-aged white woman, not fat but heavy, who wears a blue cloth coat and a scarf around her head and carries a clipboard. She gets the children into and out of the buses, briskly, briskly, shouting, "Let's go, let's go, let's go!" She has a voice that is louder than the voices of forty children. She gets a bus filled up, gives her clipboard a fast once-over, and sends the driver on his way: "O.K., Jose." The bus has been parked in the middle of the street, and there is a long line of hungup cars behind it, unable to pass, their drivers blowing their horns impatiently. When the drivers of these cars honk their horns too vigorously, the loadmaster steps away from the bus and yells at them in a voice louder than fourteen stacked-up drivers blowing their horns all at once: "Keep your pants on!" Then to the bus driver: "O.K., Jose." As the bus starts off, she stands back and gives it an authoritative smack on its rump (much like a coach sending a fresh player into the game) as it passes. Then she waves the stacked-up drivers on their way, one authoritative wave for each driver. She is making authoritative motions long after there is any necessity for it.

Or I know even more Ligotti gets compared to a Borges or a Kafka. I always think about the Kafka story "Odradek"/"Cares of a Family Man":

quote:

«Some say the word Odradek is of Slavonic origin, and try to account for it on that basis.
Others again believe it to be of German origin, only influenced by Slavonic. The uncertainty
of both interpretations allows one to assume with justice that neither is accurate, especially
as neither of them provides an intelligent meaning of the word.
No one, of course, would occupy himself with such studies if there were not a creature
called Odradek. At first glance it looks like a flat star-shaped spool for thread, and indeed it
does seem to have thread wound upon it; to be sure, they are only old, broken-off bits of
thread, knotted and tangled together, of the most varied sorts and colors. But it is not only
a spool, for a small wooden crossbar sticks out of the middle of the star, and another small
rod is joined to that at a right angle. By means of this latter rod on one side and one of the
points of the star on the other, the whole thing can stand upright as if on two legs.
One is tempted to believe that the creature once had some sort of intelligible shape and is
now only a broken-down remnant. Yet this does not seem to be the case; at least there is
no sign of it; nowhere is there an unfinished or unbroken surface to suggest anything of the
kind; the whole thing looks senseless enough, but in its own way perfectly finished. In any
case, closer scrutiny is impossible, since Odradek is extraordinarily nimble and can never
be laid hold of.
He lurks by turns in the garret, the stairway, the lobbies, the entrance hall. Often for
months on end he is not to be seen; then he has presumably moved into other houses; but
he always comes faithfully back to our house again. Many a time when you go out of the
door and he happens just to be leaning directly beneath you against the banisters you feel
inclined to speak to him. Of course, you put no difficult questions to him, you treat him--he
is so diminutive that you cannot help it--rather like a child. "Well, what's your name?" you
ask him. "Odradek," he says. "And where do you live?" "No fixed abode," he says and
laughs; but it is only the kind of laughter that has no lungs behind it. It sounds rather like
the rustling of fallen leaves. And that is usually the end of the conversation. Even these
anwers are not always forthcoming; often he stays mute for a long time, as wooden as his
appearance.
I ask myself, to no purpose, what is likely to happen to him? Can he possibly die? Anything
that dies has had some kind of aim in life, some kind of activity, which has worn out; but
that does not apply to Odradek. Am I to suppose, then, that he will always be rolling down
the stairs, with ends of thread trailing after him, right before the feet of my children, and
my children's children? He does no harm to anyone that one can see; but the idea that he
is likely to survive me I find almost painful».

(from here: https://livelongday.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/odradek.pdf)

Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


I do think there's some real great stuff at the end of that story, too. It just sags in the middle. Kind of interesting to see a revenge narrative that eschews a lot of the things that I find gross about revenge narratives, but the pattern still isn't super interesting to read.

I haven't read the The Spectral Link yet though it's available for not that much as an ebook last I checked. I think those are novellas too? So I'd be interesting to see how Ligotti works in the longer form there.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Dr. Video Games 0081
Jan 19, 2005


grobbo posted:

That Barthelme comparison is really fascinating, and I completely agree about the experimentation and influences in TG that make it feel like so much more of a unique work.

Suddenly hit again today about the relationship of Barthelme to contemporary horror when I was flipping through the first few pages of Annhilation and it reminded me of how much Barthelme's story "Game" (the first I ever read by him) resembles the split between the rational and abstract language of the narrator in Annihilation and the absurd and weird situation they're in:

quote:

In the beginning I took care to behave normally. So did Shotwell. Our behavior was painfully normal. Norms of politeness, consideration, speech and personal habits were scrupulously observed. But then it became apparent that an error had been made, that our relief was not going to arrive. Owing to an oversight. Owing to an oversight we have been here for one hundred thirty-three days. When it became clear that an error had been made, that we were not to be relieved, the norms were relaxed. Definitions of normality were redrawn in the agreement of January 1, called by us, The Agreement. Uniform regulations were relaxed, and mealtimes are no longer rigorously scheduled. We eat when we are hungry and sleep when we are tired. Considerations of rank and precedence were temporarily put aside, a handsome concession on the part of Shotwell, who is a captain, whereas I am only a first lieutenant. One of us watches the console at all times rather than two of us watching the console at all times, except when we are both on our feet. One of us watches the console at all times and if the bird flies then that one wakes the other and we turn our keys in the locks simultaneously and the bird flies. Our system involves a delay of perhaps twelve seconds but I do not care because I am not well, and Shotwell does not care because he is not himself. After the agreement was signed Shotwell produced the jacks and the rubber ball from his attaché case, and I began to write a series of descriptions of forms occurring in nature, such as a shell, a leaf, a stone, an animal. On the walls.

I don't know if horror fans normally have Barthelme on his radar as most of his work isn't particularly horror-y, but "Game" could easily be a straight up horror story and aspects of The Dead Father would be of real interest to fans of weird fictin.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply