The SFFaudio Podcast #701 – The Hill Of Dreams by Arthur Machen; read by Mark Nelson
This unabridged reading of the story (7 hours 3 minutes) is followed by a discussion of it.
Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Connor Kaye.
Talked about on today’s show:
1907, semi-autobiographical novel, he kills himself at the end, the Lord Dunsany introduction from 1954, narrating audiobooks, a writer of note himself, surprisingly lucky in a way that Machen was not (not just being born a lord), Machen made his money as a journalist, editor, a job here and there, inheriting money from relatives, that allowed him to write, how else do you get the time to write, Lovecraft’s struggles, walking, The Silver Key, ancient Greeks and Romans, The Watcher By The Threshold, the veil, the secret world behind the veil, the colour of that world (is red), the furnace and the fire, light and colour and emotion, a very odd book, this book is a real trip, maybe Machen’s masterpiece, bigger in scope but also very intimate, take out all the parts about the struggle of writing, if condensed down, what makes it into a novel, bounced off this book, what is going on in this book, no clear plot at the start, not having anybody support that, Mark Nelson: fantastic, Mark Nelson has good taste and picks good stuff to narrate, Machen is a tough writer, he’s dense, floating on a river and sensations happen, Mrs. Gibbon and Annie were more important than we thought, the faun on the hill, by the end you understand, the first reading through, the focus is strange, Ambrose Bierce is perverse, Mark Twain, the least understandable way is the best way, this book has its own reading list, Dream-Land by Edgar Allan Poe, this is my guy, Poe and me are best buds, making gold out of letters on pages, even Lovecraft is easier, Lovecraft doesn’t throw us red herrings, a series of red herrings (the troubles of life), significant as a life trauma (not a plot point), incidents from Lucians life, The Cosy Room, a lot of rooms, he really knows place, exhausting your body walking and coming to a space, he can’t look at certain things in the room, the level distance from the harsh realities, I’m an alien, I’m much higher above looking down, a nice coping mechanism, boys torturing insects, they don’t feel pain anyways, the puppy torture scene, kids are like that, Out Of The Earth, bloodlust of children causing WWI, strange connections, put on the button that says “current thing”, Russians are evil now, very interesting but very difficult, get your trigger warning out, how disassociated Lucian is, I wanted to shake him, he didn’t do anything, talking about it, he has to be aloof from these things, so disconnected from what was happening around him, considering the rest of this story, he is the puppy, he feels, he is a victim, the owner of the puppy, she is the one who comforts him, the girl that becomes his religion, the puppy scene is incredible,
The leader saw the moment for his master-stroke. He slowly drew a piece of rope from his pocket.
“What do you say to that, mun? Now, Thomas Trevor! We’ll hang him over that there bough. Will that suit you, Bobby Williams?”
There was a great shriek of approval and delight. All was again bustle and animation. “I’ll tie it round his neck?” “Get out, mun, you don’t know how it be done.” “Is, I do, Charley.” “Now, let me, gwaes, now do let me.” “You be sure he won’t bite?” “He bain’t mad, be he?” “Suppose we were to tie up his mouth first?”
The puppy still fawned and curried favor, and wagged that sorry tail, and lay down crouching on one side on the ground, sad and sorry in his heart, but still with a little gleam of hope; for now and again he tried to play, and put up his face, praying with those fond, friendly eyes. And then at last his gambols and poor efforts for mercy ceased, and he lifted up his wretched voice in one long dismal whine of despair. But he licked the hand of the boy that tied the noose.
the core problem for all of us, we are the ones who inflict pain, monsters and boys, trying to be kind to everyone, in the city, that quality of generosity, the most beautiful, Annie, a servant girl, Master Lucian, when he meets her in the lane, reverse double leg cling, she caresses his head, the published book with stuff stolen from his book, once something is published, no one wants any of that, something we both do and something that we do to others, it’s amazing, here read my book, they cant see the garbage that they’ve written, they can only see , why would I bother that something isn’t published?, the worst baseball player ever, keep going johnny you can do it!, the cultural movement, late 90s, the rise of self-help, you can do anything, every person can be the best at something they are capable of being, liking to run, long legs and pain inside that can only be healed by having a gold medal around your neck, a horrible reality of the world, a coming of age story, realization of your own limitations is coming of age, a painful aspect, the pain of sexuality, the horniest boy ever, his fellow kids, him alone spinning up his own theories, lusting after almost ethereal objects, highly romantic sense of the world, working class people who don’t give a shit, let’s get trashed, the 12 year old and the 15 year old, going for long walks, idealizing women, under the surface, we don’t know him that well except where his actions bubble up against reality, there is feeling there, when he tries to share his book with people, do pretty flowers, some people are trying to help him, unwillingness to deviate, he’s gifted, he knows he’s gifted, a lot of alchemy symbolism, words are magical, the ability to provoke and control emotions, making people more subject to what they are, mostly used for evil, when he first sees that book with his stuff published in it, validated, apathetic, he’s proud of it, making it all about money, he needed the validation, a stage that a lot of authors get stuck in, the ideas are going to be stolen, Armageddon (1998) and Deep Impact (1998), you gotta sue, a Guy De Maupassant story was totally ripped-off, sold to weird tales, The Tortoise Shell Comb, An Apparition, a cavalry officer, comb my hair for me, if you were Guy De Maupassant, Banksy?, give your mom a book you wrote, a dishonesty of the known relationship, do the esoteric stuff not the commercial stuff, the anti-Edgar Rice Burroughs, kind of suceeds, it’s a victory?, a lot of Lovecraft in this character, the young writer, the particular personality type, unbending, committing to a vision, not compromising, he got that book, a funny line they always say about Lovecraft, so many beans, accentuates the victory, we can’t even read the fucking thing, and yet it’s a victory, who is it a victory for?, a victory for Lucian, overdosing on morphine, Confessions Of An English Opium-Eater, ladies of sorrow, horror movies, Suspiria (1977), a bestseller, How I Smoked Crack And Lived To Tell About It, that French guy who loved Poe, Les Fleurs Du Mal, Suspiria De Profundis, Charles Baudelaire, insight into his mind, an unreliable narrator?, he’s hiding something from us, he has the shakes, smoking a ton of tobacco, overdosed, an addict, emotionless, he probably doesn’t want to masturbate, doesn’t have the materials, burying thoughts in physical weariness, piercing his own body with burrs, a recognized mental illness symptom, cutting, hare shirts, impure thoughts, the fetish, unhealthy, complex organisms in a complex society, get a real job, follow my advice, very real, who’s to say they’re not right?, the middle road, Lucian chose complete dedication art, bending like a reed in the wind, no goals, getting you killed, going along with the current, part of the problem for individuals, living in a society with mass hysteria, why do we have to have that war on another continent, an alliance treaty with France and Russia, white chicken feathers, the current thing, almost a statement, Trevor Towers, Celephais?, sleepwalks off a cliff, a triumph but only from his point of view, capitalism’s threat: knuckle under or become homeless, peruse artistic endeavors, Machen survived where Lucian didn’t, another way he could have gone, this is what could have happened to me, idealistic, circumstances were slightly different, early 2000, Richard K. Morgan, conflict investment, Market Forces, caught up in Netflix deals, ultimately the opposite of the Stephen King/Lovecraft route, success can be something that can hurt you as well, The Bowmen, jotted off in five minutes, the Ghost of Kyiv, the Angel Of The Mons, attestations, Bryan Alexander, Colonel Tomb laughs at this from his grave, just has to be true stories, Vietnamese fighter pilot, Colonel Toon, WWII, Panfilov’s 28 Men (2016), War Thunder, how dare you say that, it’s important!, bullshit made of wholecloth, the rolling thunder of this truth being needed, if Machen had any kind of cultural impact, debunking it, it’s true that it would be good for morale, Rape Of Belgium, these brave Belgian boys, we need them to be hard done by, raped by the pre-Nazis, ginning up anger, encouraging recruitment, a fundamental lie at base, there’s a veil between reality and how we see reality, the veil is real, willful blinders, the noble lie, telling truths, from genuine situations, confabulating slightly, Philip K. Dick’s characters are autobiographical, Horselover Fat, A Scanner Darkly, putting himself on the list, sometimes we slip through, a very odd book, John Steinbeck, East Of Eden, magnum opus, frustrating and meandering, not page turners, ethereal feeling, the veil between reality, The White People, The Great God Pan, monologue about what is reality, investing the time and energy, it feels pretty long, Charles Dickens is very engaging, floating down a river, Machen loves his descriptions of nature, at the fort on the hill, descriptions of the trees and nature, crafted, did this actually happen to Machen as a boy?, ecstatic experience, on drugs, what makes you go back there, how small you are, connection, he tried it with a novel, alcohol, the invention of gin, counter-reaction, massive social impacts, China’s reaction to computer games, a three hour limit, internet games, solo game disconnected from the internet, single player games now require an internet connection, Civilization 2, Roblox, Minecraft, set in its period (late 19th century), love of literature and great texts, 18th century authors knew what was going on, Kublai Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats, knight vs. wight, Tolkien leftovers, because it’s archaic, a horny young man and an idealized woman, a femme fatale story, it destroys him, dissociates, his ideal woman, Annie as a person, as a part of his imagination, the Roman fort, being a Roman senator, the Roman temples of D.C., we are just as great (corrupt) as they were, a false reality, I’m wearing a business suit, folk horror, how women are depicted in folk horror, pagan motifs, witchcraft, blindsided, when Miss Gibbons died, a very fairy tale scene, he’s the wolf, Annie was a witch, unholy wedding, explicitly magical aspects, seduction, the magic is in the men, brain chemicals, the shapely waist, her skin, the Platonic ideal, in the air in the period, Mr. Skelmersdale In Fairyland by H.G. Wells, I’m ruined now, transformed him, it isn’t played for laughs, The New Accelerator, The Invisible Man, comic possibilities everywhere, bittersweet, a triumph as a tragedy, a silk purse of a sow’s ear, lemonade from lemons, the slippery idea of the ideal world or woman, when we read Lovecraft that’s the absent part, Edgar Allan Poe, the ideal woman is the dead woman, she can never be limited by reality (growing old, not being smart enough, fighting), the Baudelaire way, beautiful cruelty, life is cruel, damaged people managing their trauma (in ways other than alcohol), a moment later, joy and happiness, drunk on love, bronze hair, come for a walk with me, a statue, very Greek, his visions, there was death in the woman’s face, she had indeed, the brink of utter desolation, a sex scene too, the carpet matches the drapes, a very sexual novel for a guy who’s so chaste, he falls asleep on the hill, none of them are real and all of them are, is this kid mentally ill?, the end of Dagon, he’s seeing the thing he’s fearful of in himself and not recognizing it, a troubled kid, maybe it’s like he has down syndrome or he’s autistic, kindness, the world is retarded and not him, he’s so extreme in his uncompromisingness, expressed as greatness, isolation, pushes him to the brink, again he was astray in the mist, splendid as Rome, terrible as Babylon, the place of eternal gloom, ring within ring, circle within circle, high writing, the sanctuary of the infernal right, wresting, muscles that could throw down mountains, a flaring street, naphtha fires, pure poetry, dusky figures, a noise like a chant of the lost, orgy, bronze hair, a gulf of darkness, all symbolism, precious robes, the room!, a vapour of the grave, horrible caresses, the matted thicket, the desire rose up like a black smoke, amazing, she lures him, he forces himself upon her, she turns into a very bad trip, exaltation to pain and torture, the elm tree was riven, Lucian is a good name, the tumult and the shock came as a sudden murmur, he overdosed, is he chasing the dragon?, are all of these dreams on the hill?, his dependence on tobacco, a symbol for a later addiction, walking to get rid of his energy, thick black tobacco to cloud his mind, he chases her across a landscape that is not a city, a difficult triumph, no one else is wealthier for it, a vast silence overwhelmed him, Ex Oblivione, dissolving into the Realm of the Forms, a temporary escape from reincarnation, The Novel Of The White Powder, going to seed or dissolution, a continuous issue, Lovecraft was a teetotaler, the other way you can go, morphine?, The Green Meadow, ecstatic states, walking to exhaustion, a difficult topic, there’s truth everywhere in it, sloppy racism, the primitives being in touch with sensations and sense, barbarian hating civilization, Robert E. Howard, nine times, barbarians, pleasantly, prigs perfected, joyous manly young fellows, raped?, devious backstreets, the respectable inhabitants are barbarians, The Lost Club, a Weird Tales reprint, The Lost Room by Fitz James O’Brien, places that go missing, The Music Of Erich Zann, The Lost Street [by ], a strange experience, experiencing weirdness, N, a more definite divide between fantasy and reality, a magical world intruding upon London, The Wonderful Window by Lord Dunsany, does he go through it?, Golden Dragon City, Game Of Thrones, the only guy with HBO in 1902, Dunsany had it much easier, a crazy man confronts Dunsany in a restaurant, I just make them up you see, the story that is described is one Dunsany wrote, as extreme as Dunsany gets, not quite on the level of Guy de Maupassant, rigid principles, flowery words and a suit, a lifestyle that could so endanger them, is N unfinished?, a warning story, prurient interest in seeing how far one can descend, reality TV shows, I’m not that depraved, morbid curiosity, not edifying curiosity, The Cosy Room And Others, Hippocampus Press, The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft, nothing of Lovecraft is copyrighted, you don’t know how many letters he wrote where he put a poem in for a newborn baby’s birthday, so nested and so rich with vocabulary, a werewolf story, Psychopompos, exhausting a sonnet, more time invested in reading Clark Ashton Smith is a good thing, if this is Machen’s worst I want to read more, difficult, The Shining Pyramid, tiny details that fly by, The Unknown World, May 15 – June 15, 1895, Robert E. Howard wrote way more than H.P. Lovecraft did, the vastness of his other work, popular for his supernatural stories, Robert W. Chambers flips a switch, the opposite of what Lucian does, The Secret Glory, The Three Impostors, a fix-up, chasin a dragon out of the window, spent it all on insane asylums, The Horla, Maupassant rented a hot air balloon to promote a book, before airplanes, The Troop by Nick Cutter, trained up and fought a poet to promote his book, Uwe Boll, Ed Wood, completely talentless, maybe he just got past it, self-awareness is a stumbling block, Ed Wood (1994), found family, he has an eye and no talent, as innocent as a war veteran could be, a go getter, $5, Golan Globus Theatre podcast, the Tijuana Bible, historical records we need to have preserved, what Julian needed (was printed pornography), Conquering Goddess, it needs to be fully illustrated, BDSM, Robert E. Howard, nudy pulps before Playboy, the first Playboy with Marilyn Monroe, weird repression, Penthouse, happening but hidden away, human nature never changes, more evidence that this is how we have always been, embarrassing, left out in the woods, pre-WWII, this is somebody’s great grandma, challenged one of his critics to a boxing match, if he won the boxing match, you won the fight therefore, dueling, humour was our way of escaping bullies, laughter is disarming, intellectual overpowering, more than halfway through (life), a very thinly veiled autobiography, drawing on his own experience, a lot of philosophy, writerly philosophy, more about writing than it is about mysticism, why Maupassant wrote weird fiction, Maupassant’s career, A Piece Of String, A Ball Of Fat, a Star Trek episode [The Galileo Seven], hypocrisy, my servants are stealing from me, I am my servant, these terrible experiences he must relate, very healthily not on Twitter, No Man’s Land by John Buchan, Esteban Maroto, Australian youtube audiobook narrator, Steve Parker audiobooks, simple guy: likes audiobooks, iPads, Randall’s Round, you should always record, The Wind In The Portico, The Temple Of Death by A.C. Benson, 23 temples, spread out the Buchan, doing the same authors but not back to back, The Horror Horn by E.F. Benson, a yeti story in Switzerland, The Inn by Guy De Maupassant, the horror of being alone, afraid of a lot of stuff, The Terror, Who Knows?, the little shop dwarf, his homunculus, “oh monsieur, all your furniture is gone”, this is alarming, the furniture is the faculties of his mind, all metaphorical, symbolist, a good discussion of a complex book.
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