I fear not nearly enough people are familiar with Algernon Blackwood's genius. Another of those perfect writers from the late 1800s-early 1900s. He was a huge influence on other early horror writers like this week's obsesson, HP Lovecraft. All the horror, none of the racism!
- "Winter's like going into a long black tunnel, you see." Jimbo, A Fantasy
- "For to name with him was to create. He had only to run out some ditance into his big mental prairie, call aloud a name in a certain commanding way, and instantly its owner would run up to claim it. Names described souls." The Human Chord.
- "...the silence that dwells in the folded hills..." ibid
- "The beginning of wisdom is surely--Wonder." The Extra Day
- "...each time a new book was opened a thrill slipped out from the pages in advance." ibid
- "Adventure means saying Yes, and being careless." ibid
We're almost ready to move back to Algernon Blackwood, but I need to document a few Lovecraft quotes, for my own recollection.
- "In London there is a man who screams when the churchbell rings." "The Decendent" 1926. I just love an amazing opening line, don't you?
- "It was twilight, and Charles Dexter Ward had come home." "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" 1927. It's really a pretty amazing story. F'realz.
- "Sometimes, when it is cloudy, I can sleep." "Polaris" 1918
- "...the Pole Star, evil and monstrous, leers down from the black vault, winking hideously like an insane watching eye which strives to convey some strange message, yet recalls nothing save that it once had a message to convey."
- did you get that?
- "...which strives to convey some strange message, yet recalls nothing save that it once had a message to convey."
- Lovecraft was a genius. previous 2 quotes, ibid.
- "In the valley of Nis the accursed waning moon shines thinly, tearing a path for its light with feeble horns through the lethal foliage of a grea upas-tree." "Memory" 1919
- "If we knew what we are, we should do as Sir Arthur Jermyn did; and Arther Jermyn soaked himself in oil and set fire to his clothing on night." the gravity of that sentance is disturbing. Seriously. "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" 1920
- "Wearied with the commonplaces of a prosaic world, where even the joys of romance and adventure soon grow stale, St. John and I had followed enthusiastically every aesthetic and intellectual movement which promised respite from our devastating ennui." "The Hound" 1922
- "Devestating Ennui" just in case you didn't read the previous bullet point to the end...
- "Ultimate horror often paralyzes memory in a merciful way." "The Rats in the Walls" 1923. One of the most wondrously creepy stories I've ever read ever ever ever. I just love it.
Written for myself, but shared just in case anyone else begins reading him. Things that made impressions upon me as I fell down an online Lovecraft rabbit hole...most of it comes from Wikipedia...
- The story "He" was written after an all-night tour of the remnants of Old New York; by 7 a.m. the next morning, Lovecraft had reached Elizabeth, New Jersey, by ferry, where he bought a dime composition book and wrote the story in Elizabeth's Scott Park.
- Lovecraft dedicated the story "Hypnos" to his longtime friend Samuel Loveman, who featured in the dreams that inspired Lovecraft's "The Statement of Randolph Carter" and "Nyarlathotep". Loveman suggested it was the best thing Lovecraft had ever written up to that point in time, as mentioned by Lovecraft in a letter.
The plot-germ of the story is found in Lovecraft's commonplace book, in an early entry (#23) reading, "The man who would not sleep--dares not sleep--takes drugs to keep himself awake. Finally falls asleep--& something happens."
- Though Lovecraft counted "The Nameless City" among his favorite stories, it was rejected (following its original amateur appearance) by a variety of professional outlets, including Weird Tales (twice), Fantasy Magazine and possibly The Galleon. It was accepted by The Fantasy Fan, which folded before publishing it. It eventually appeared in the Fall 1936 issue of Fanciful Tales, published by Donald A. Wollheim and Wilson Shepherd, and was reprinted in the November 1938 issue of Weird Tales after Lovecraft's death.
Lin Carter describes "The Nameless City" as "a trivial exercise in Poe-esque gothica", calling it "overwritten [and] over-dramatic". "[T]he mood of mounting horror is applied in a very artificial manner", Carter writes. "Rather than creating in the reader a mood of terror, Lovecraft describes a mood of terror: the emotion is applied in the adjectives." He does, however, allow that the tale has some "evocative power":
Lovecraft himself was powerfully moved by an emotion of awe and fascination when contemplating the mysterious ruins of unthinkable antiquity. This emotion he manages to convey in a sort of dreamlike manner, despite his coldly clinical use of adjectives.
- Celephaïs was created in a dream by Kuranes (which is his name in dreams—his real name is not given) as a child of the English landed gentry. As a man in his forties, alone and dispossessed in contemporary London, he dreams it again and then, seeking it, slowly slips away to the dream-world. Finally knights guide him through medieval England to his ancestral estate, where he spent his boyhood, and then to Celephaïs. He became the king and chief god of the city, though his body washes up by his ancestors' tower, now owned by a parvenu.
In The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, Randolph Carter pays a visit to Kuranes, finding that the great dreamer has grown so homesick for his native Cornwall, he has dreamed parts of Celephaïs to resemble the land of his boyhood. Kuranes advises Carter, on a mission to find his own dream-city, to be careful what he wishes for—he might get it.
- Concerning "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jerman and His Family:" while Lovecraft claimed that he intended to describe the most horrible family shadow, E. F. Bleiler declares that "actually, the story is a metaphor for his extreme bigotry and social snobbery; the motifs of expiating ancestral evil ands committing suicide on discovering 'racial pollution' occur in other of his works."
- In a letter, Lovecraft himself said that, of all his tales, "The Outsider" most closely resembles the style of his idol Edgar Allan Poe, writing that it "represents my literal though unconscious imitation of Poe at its very height." The opening paragraphs echo those of Poe's "Berenice", while the horror at the party recalls the unmasking scene in "The Masque of the Red Death".
The narrator in "The Outsider" exists in a perpetual state of loneliness. At the onset of the story, it is revealed that he has lived for years in the castle but cannot recall any person ever being there except for himself. Neither can he recall the presence of anything alive but the "noiseless rats and bats and spiders" that surround him. He has never heard the voice of another human being, nor has he ever spoken aloud. His only encounters with the outside world are those he attains from reading the old books that have been left within the castle.
Upon encountering humanity later in the story, the narrator is left even more lonely than before. He has come to witness human life and has been immediately shunned from it due to his appearance. Being outcast from the society he longed to know forced the narrator to continue living life as a recluse. However, this time it has been made worse because what he has lost was no longer a vague idea from a book but a tangible thing held out of his grasp.
- Submitted to Lovecraft's regular outlet, the pulp magazine Weird Tales, "Cool Air" was rejected by editor Farnsworth Wright, a decision that has been called "inexplicable...since it would appear to be just the sort of safe, macabre tale that he liked." It's possible that Wright feared that "its gruesome conclusion would invite censorship". Peter Cannon calls "Cool Air" Lovecraft's "best story with a New York setting", proving him "capable of using an understated, naturalistic style to powerful effect."
- The creation of an alternative world, this history of the Necronomocon.
- Lovecraft wrote this tale as a sequel and reply to "The Shambler from the Stars" by Robert Bloch, in which Bloch kills the Lovecraft-inspired character. Lovecraft returned the favor in this tale, killing off Robert Harrison Blake (aka Robert Bloch). Bloch later wrote a third story, "The Shadow from the Steeple," to create a trilogy.
write right right write create right write created created right write create right write write right
reverse homophone palandromes.
this was a little fire hydrant i began to love when I worked at the monster factory. It's out near the airport on a dead-end street where a few stray cats scratched out a living. I would take its picture mosty days, either morning or evening. You can see the shadows.
when things get angsty i just like to look at pretty things. I'm pretty sure the popularity of Pinterest proves I'm not alone in this.
So here are some pictures I've taken over the past year that I've liked.
Oh, how I've been reading. You have no idea.
I don't know if all English majors are this way, but there was this period after college where I couldn't bring myself to read anything of importance.
And then last year I bought this book called The Weird: A Compendium of Strange & Dark Stories, and I started to wonder why there were so many things I had never been required to read. Why didn't anyone ever make me read HP Lovecraft? Why did the boys in one of my classes read Jules Verne and the girls read Daphne Dumaurier?
I fell into HG Wells until he got too political, and then I spent time with HP Lovecraft; I devoured all of Agernon Blackwood's deliriously good ghost stories. I reread all of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and all of Poe. Right now I'm on Arthur Machen with a little MR James and Lord Dunsay thrown in for good measure.
Why can't more people write this way? Is anyone writing these kinds of stories any longer?
What was happening in society that created these ideas (I know, I know: the Industrial Revolution), but still. What is happening on today's society that could create the same sort of uncertainty of our place in the world? The fear of science, the fear of new species (I know, I know: Artificial Intelligence), but is it as good? Do we have to view these things from the future before we understand it? Will we ever thing hyper-relevant content like Bret Easton Ellis will stand the test of time?
All of these writers have a few things in common: a sense of time, a sense of place, and the ability to draw the reader into a completely different reality. This is why I loved Harry Potter so much--it was a completely different world that I could just accept, and couldn't wait to learn more about.
What's especially nice about most of these writers is that their works are available on Kindle for free or close to free ($1.99). You can read all of the Sherlock Holmes for free, as well as Lovecraft, Poe, and Blackwood.
Reading HP Lovecraft is like having the best hypnagogic reverie ever. You'll follow him everywhere because he's created this blissful and yet incredible world that you just accept because he's so convincing. Even when you don't know what's happening, it's because the narrator doesn't know what's going on, or wants you to feel the similar feeling of disorientation he's feeling. You're forced into insatiable curiosity, and the writing just propels you forward. The resolutions are sudden, one of my favorite literary tricks. This is especially fun because you're so amped from reading the previous story that you can't wait to read the next one (lovely since there are so many).
Algernon Blackwood is the king of the creepy story. His stories are so well written and intriguing that I was literally angry at every English teacher I've ever had ever (that's a lot of them). No one should go 30 years without reading Blackwood! I've threatened to read a story to Husband every night, but he just rolls his eyes at me (he doesn't understand the compulsion to read at least 6 out of every 24-hour cycle. I read one of his stories and it's haunted me on a daily basis ever since. I'm not sure if I should tell you which one or not. They're all so good. And, while they have a tendency to seem redundant (being primarily ghost stories), they still surprise most of the time. Also, have I mentioned they're really good?
more later. We'll talk HG Wells and Arthur Machen and more.
Now that I think of it, this learning started last year. When I becamse obsessed with collage and assemblage art, I began studying the work of Joseph Cornell (he's just dreamy), which led me to the work of other abstract artists in the early-mid 1900s. I had always rolled my eyes at the concept of the Readymade: I mean, it's a freaking urinal, hello? But after I began reading more, I realize it was very similar to my love of taking sexy pictures of vegetables. When people have told me they like my photos, I tell them thanks, but in reality all I want to do is put as much light on the subject as possible, so it's really, really visible. Readymades are kind of the same thing: what you're really doing is not creating a piece of artwork to tell someone how to feel, but it's to surprise the viewer into observing something completely out of context: it's inspiring thought. It's realizing that there is a curious beauty in the mundane. I mean, a designer still made the rotary phone, and the ancient drinking fountain, and those old gas-powered refrigerators our great-grandparents had.
This thought came crashing into my brain when I got a few things from my grandmother's sewing collection. My maternal grandmother was Amish, then Mennonite, and she was a quilt artist. Although some of her quilts sold for thousands of dollars, I don't recall her ever selling them directly: the were almost all donated to Amish relief auctions (usually supporting Haiti or the Kidney Fund). I got numerous quilting patterns and templates from her estate, fun things she invented herself, made from cracker boxes and brown paper grocery bags.
One item I procured was this Midcentury magnetic pin holder full of pins, and I couldn't stop looking at it. I brought it home and put it on a display bookcase. I had this feeling every time I looked at it that didn't have very much to do with my grandmother, but I felt this sense of home, comfort, and security. The colors are so bright and pleasing. If I were ever to introduce a readymade, this would be it:
Curiously, a few days later I was in Zanesville, OH in the studio of Alan Cottrill (warining: music on website) and found the next perfect Readymade, although this one is of course a direct nod to Duchamp himself.
Just for the record, I would never ever ever claim to be a real artist, or a person educated in art. I mean, I've had the requisite art history/humanity classes and all that, but my friend the Art Professor would laugh in my face to hear me discuss art. I think that viewpoint is bullshit. I mean, I'm sorry if you're bitter you paid $200k for an education and all that, but isn't the point of art for people to enjoy it? For people to be stopped in their tracks or given a pause to think or to see something in a new light? It doesn't take an art history education to enjoy it. I might be wrong to the art historian, but somehow I think whatever anyone thinks is right to most artists. In fact, I think most artists would be confused to hear their work being assigned one "correct" meaning. If the point is to encourage thought, and one's work is going to be viewed by many different people, then whose version is correct? Even the artist can't have all the possible correct answers.
But I digress. The bottom line is, I no longer sneer at the Readymade.
I might have had some unpaid invoices that meant no blogging for awhile. While I don't really have a focus here, and my Twitter followers insist this blog will keep people from hiring me, I love the outlet of randomly writing about whatever strikes my fancy.
At any rate, I've paid Squarespace and now I can jot a few things down here and there. Here are a few things I've been doing...
- I am kind of still making collages, they are still, um, of negligible quality, but recently I went to a restaurant where a collage artist was featured and, well, yeah. Now I don't feel so bad. At least I'm not asking $700 for gluing 8 different pieces of paper onto a canvas, randomly.
- For the months of August and September, I had the awesome opportunity to work at Unit 70 Studios, making monsters for the Halloween season. I learned a ton and worked with some amazing artists. Highlights included recording zombie voiceovers and making some creepy scarecrows. I learned how to love the smell of liquid latex (my restaurant workers told me they were tired of me smelling like old condoms). I discovered that men wearing worker bee (ie stained painter-type) clothing love seeing women in worker bee clothing. I learned there is a lot of space inside the human body and then after you make so many foam bodies, you will start cuddling with your husband and imagine him as just another foam body, ready to be painted and turned into a zombie. It was amazing. One of the coolest things about working among all artists is that they assume you're an artist, and so when they ask about your work, you can say things like "I make dioramas which I turn into music videos" and no one bats an eye. You actually feel legit. I'll probably talk more about Monster Land later.
- I got some great freelance writing work, yay! I met the perfect person for whom to freelance: doesn't have an office and hates talking on the phone. We share some idiosyncrasies. Hopefully we'll get to work together more in the future. His major client has deep pockets, so there is that.
- I worked so many hours in a week, and was very tired but happy.
- I've had my little antique booth up and running for about 10 weeks now. It's been going okay; it was hard working so many hours, because it was the one thing that could take a backseat; all the other jobs had people depending on me. The one thing I've learned is that it is awesome when someone buys something you love, and it's really depressing when people steal from you. I've had 2 amazing little things stolen from me and it's weird: these are things that I searched really hard for, things that my mom gave me part of her inheritance to buy so that I could start a little hobby, and some asshole just comes along and steals them because she doesn't want to pay for them. It makes me really stabby but then I remind myself it's the price of doing business. It's just weird because I was never a shoplifter, even as a teen. I enjoyed stealing things, but I liked to steal things that weren't for sale. I'd steal a fake grape from a wax museum scene, I'd steal a decal or toy from inside the ticket booth at the movie theatre. I was a prankster thief. But, since I have super-instant-karma3, I guess I stole enough things to mean I deserve to be stolen from. Or whatever. It still sucks.
- Husband and I briefly considered buying a restaurant, but we couldn't afford even half the asking price, and so we had to say no, which led us to start thinking of
- moving. We're just in the beginning stages; who knows what will happen, but we're thinking about it. I've been critical of people who move out of Columbus, searching for something better rather than doing the hard work of staying here and making things better, but after so long, it gets hard to imagine it will ever be better. If I have to drink one more crappy, horrible, "but it's local so it's awesome" beer, I am literally going to throw a tantrum and say some really mean things to people who just good people.
- Through this all, I've still been at my little table-waiting job that I've had for 3 years now. We're a family, which means we can all be as crazy and hateful as we want, and we still love each other. it's the perfect job for me.
- So now, I'm looking for something else awesome to do. I'll probably wait more tables for awhile, and I'll never leave my part-time fine dining job, of course, but then I want to learn a new skill of some sort. Monster making was amazing; I learned so many things. I learned how to solve creative problems I never thought I'd even have the chance to make. I learned how to mix chemicals and I learned a lot about mixing paint, and painting in general (I'll still never become a painter, but it was still fun to learn to use a brush). I learned how to make dresses out of nothing but muslin and glue, and I learned anything can be fixed with latex and zip ties.
Pictures coming soon.
Good maps are hard to find, and expensive. I don't mind if mine are in crappy condition, though, I still love to look at them. Globes are all the rage right now, but they are super expensive and I haven't been able to buy any yet. But, my lots of ephemera have contained quite a few fun maps. This one is from the US Department of Agriculture, from around 1945 and contains information about planting for the US, from data from 25 years or something.
There were only 5 planting zones.
I bought a small box of Little Blue Books last week, and they are amazing. These were published beginning in 1919 by Marcet and Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, a husband-and-wife team who wanted to bring education to the masses. You can read about them here. I am kind of obsessed with information and looking through these books is any information junky's dream. You could learn about literature, science, you could learn psychology and neurology, German and Spanish, I hear they even made a few on how to please one's Significant Other.
Most of the books seem to be around 60 pages long and they are in great shape. I've packaged them all in duos; some randomly, and a few that I thought were funny together. I tried to pair them up with disparate topics: math with art, science with language, etc.
A page from "A Book of General Information Quizzes," answers are included, but it's fun to see what was important in 1927, and what I remember from K-12. What is the significance of Nordic Blonde? Just that people from that part of the world is blonde?
Today I went to pick up a few lots I bought at an online auction, and one of the items was a scrapbook created by a coed at the University of Wisconsin from 1916-1919. It is pretty epic.
Here's one of those funny things: a few weeks ago, I received this amazing box of 15 pounds of old man paper junk (it's like my favorite thing), and in that box were 2 things I had never seen before: real dance cards. Mr. Waitress remarked that he'd always assumed they weren't a thing that actually existed, but no, I said--it came with a ribbon and you wore it around your wrist! I was super excited.
So today I am going through this scrapbook, and it's the first one I've purchased, and I know it's going to be amazing. I save it for last, because it's all about the anticipation. To read this document of a few years of someone's life. Cordelia, who was in a sorority and was a dancer. I flip through a few pages and there they were: 2 pages of dance cards. What a dream. I can't wait to sell them.
Beyond the dance cards, there are tickets and invitations, newspaper clippings that I'll never be able to remove, some political propaganda, and photos of the Cordelia herself, documents of her dreams of being a dancer, her grades, letters from friends, menus--these are the things we're losing, the things we won't leave behind. Oh I've written like a billion words online but no one but my mother has ever printed a thing out, to be sure.
I love paper ephemera because it's a reminder of how beautiful everything used to be. The handwriting on a hardware store receipt from 1908 is written with pen and ink, in a graceful script. Will our receipts look so lovely in a hundred years?
The only receipt I've saved from myself is once when I filled my VW with gas for like 99 cents a gallon in high school or something. And that's just because it's funny, and I found it in the bottom of an old wallet one day, because I am a hoarder and still have boxes of junk from high school. One day, I hope someone will find all those things and sell them to people who never passed a note in junior high.
pictured is a vintage seed specimen from Michigan State.
I thought I'd write a bit here about the little antique booth I'm about to open. I'll be in the Greater Columbus Antique Mall, which is at 1045 S High Street in the Brewery District just North of Greenlawn (they're open 7 days a week from noon-6, ahem).
It's kind of funny, because the beginner space I chose is literally a closet under the stairs. It's funny because if you follow me on the twitters, you know that my description reads: The fairy godmother who lives in the closet under the stairs and goes bump in the night. I have no idea what that means, especially considering it was inspired one night, when Mr Waitress was still studying for The Wine Exam, I was on the third floor probably gluing something together and he texted me to please be quiet, please (literary reference there, kids!). For some reason I was also writing about fairy princesses or something and found it amusing that I was the thing that went bump in the night--oh no, I remember now: I was reading a book on Maurice Sendick and cutting out the illustrations, while writing on the side--so anyway, I was the fairy godmother who went bump in the night. The closet under the stairs is an obvious Harry Potter reference, although it doesn't really fit because my bump-in-the-nighting (I know, gramatically, that it should probably be "bumping-in-the-night," but that sounds dirty; just wanted you to know I'm not a complete idiot, I do have an English degree around here somewhere...)comes from the third floor.
I also plan to be on Etsy, but I really wanted a visible space for some reason. I don't know why. I suppose because I love to shop for antiques and dig around and I wanted to create the experience. I don't really have any retail set design experience, so I'm a little nervous about my presentation. Well, I'm nervous about everything. What if no one else is as obsessed with paper junk and typewriter tins and test tubes and old photos and cameras and mid-century pottery ashtrays and teacups like I am?
I have always wanted to be an antique dealer, after writer, piano player, lawyer, etc. My mom is an antique dealer and she's always been a huge inspiration to me. In face, my mother is the entire reason I'm finally getting this idea off the ground. In November I was laid off from my fabulous full-time job, and was only slightly employed at my even more fabulous parttime job (right now I'm very lucky with jobs). I'd been percolating this idea of a paper company for a long time, and I started buying antique ephemera. Well, I've been buying it for years, but I began buying it and sorting it.
In December my last grandparent died, my sweet little Grandma on my Mother's side. It's okay, she was well over 90 and had been mostly bedridden for several years. She was a Mennonite Christian and was deeply religious--she prayed constantly, she was the real deal--and she had been asking God to take her home for awhile, so it was what she wanted. At my grandmothers estate sale, I bought a little box of desk junk from my grandfather's old desk, and it contained an old typewriter ribbon tin. It was love at first touch: I was obsessed. After the estate was settled, my mother surprised me with a phone call that she was going to give me part of her inheritance so that I could start my antique business.
It was awesome.
Since Mr Waitress and I spent all of 2012 paying things off and refinancing our house at amazing rates, we agreed to see if we could live with me just working my super awesome part-time job and see if I could make a go with this antique thing.
So thanks, Mom! My mom is so excited for me, and I'm stoked she'll get to see my little space soon after it opens.
I've been working in the space, but of course as with anything, a million things came up the day after I rented the space, and I've only had time to paint (it was completely lavender before, for the love of crumb cake). I've been a little worried about how to display things, because I don't have a lot of fixtures and again, the space is small, but to my surprise, when I arrived to paint, the space had been loaded up with shelves! Apparently the previous tenant didn't want the shelves, but they still had them in storage! Woohoo! Saved me lots of money on fixtures, at least for the time being.
Anyway, All of these 700 words to say that I decided to document some of the things I'm selling, some of the progress of things I buy or what I do to the booth, etc. And maybe if there's something you'd like me to start selling, let me know. I've already had a few suggestions on Facebook.