The SFFaudio Podcast #374 – Jesse and Bryan Alexander talk about Moby Dick by Herman Melville.
Talked about on today’s show:
reading Moby Dick to the air, Moby Dick inspiring heavy metal, terror or dismissal, when Bryan was a student, Madness, Meaninglessness, and Deviant Sexuality, drop this class now, paragraph long themes, being driven insane by writing about Moby Dick, when Bryan was a young professor, if you can teach that you’re one of us, how to proceed, becoming a Moby Dick fanatic, going to sea, revisiting the sea, a book about everything, a most excellent LibriVox narration, re-reads, one of the things really good writers do, The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, “this object” -> “book”, a message about how this book is, besmoked and deface, shades and shadows, delineating chaos bewitched, a long and limber black mass, unimaginable sublimity, a blasted heath, a hyperborean winter scene, that one portentous something, a cape-horner in a great hurricane, every sentence is beautiful, a reader’s guide, a stack of copies, this is a comedy book, the etymology, the extracts supplied by a sub-sub librarian, the extracts are freaking random, something unpublished, he did a google search for “whale”, a complete flop, what the hell is it?, Typee, a giant whaling story, reading Nathaniel Hawthorne lit his brain on fire, SYMBOLISM!, Pierre Or the Ambiguities, The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade, “Herman Melville, Insane?”, everything you hear about it gives you no hint, this novel cannot be adapted, Ray Bradbury’s adaptations, Gregory Peck, a lot like Joseph Conrad, Melville is more terrifying than Conrad, hilarious like Edgar Allan Poe, a tragedy, a disaster, the first line of the book is a lie, gut churning fear, the sharks devouring everything, a terrifying book, the science fiction aspect, the fantasy aspect, when Pip is drowned he goes to the bottom of the sea, the infinite of his soul, the unwarped primal world, the miser merman: wisdom, god’s foot on the treadle of the loom, man’s insanity is heaven’s sense, in different as is god, like a Clark Ashton Smith passage, “anyone seen pip?”, coral insects that made the stars and the planets, every chapter veers sideways, visionary and inspired, mastheads, very strange, the last chapter, what does he mean by that?, our hero disappears, the yawning gulf, the great shroud of the sea, why 5,000 years ago, the sounds of the words, interweaving the whole coffin theme, my keeled soul, one tiny metaphor, a missing Shakespeare play, theatrical, musical, through recorded history, a vast inhuman nature swirling all-round, The Narrative Of A. Gordon Pym of Nantucket, it’s death, meet it fighting, are we gonna bring each other down in the attempt to fight death, yes, we are, the Pequod is like the Enterprise on the original Star Trek, C.L.R. James, Marxist theory, Mariners And Castaways, an anti-racist book, massively cosmopolitan, a slave ship that revolts, Benito Cereno by Herman Melville, slavers as props, the exhumed skeleton of Christopher Columbus, “Follow Your Leader”, a great novel of friendship, the sperm squeezing scene, the gayest and queerest book ever written, burly men squeezing sperm with each other, thumping each other, the universal thump, the barking insane chapter, Loomings, sharing a bed with a harpooner, he’s off selling his head, I’m not going to be the wife, a head in one hand and an axe in the other, hilarious, as if I was Queequeg’s wife, his bridegroom clasp, a hatchet-faced baby, so shockingly obvious, a giant block of time in which homosexuality was taboo, suicide, I quietly take to the ship, astonishing, if this book came out this year, shelved in the gay fiction section, where Ahab the queer old guy, white bone leg, rallying the troops, the three harpooners with their harpoons out, sharp and heavily polished, this is super-gay, like Gothic knight of old, a fresh lance, the three boats, Tashtego is from Gay Head (Martha’s Vineyard), Antarctic in their glittering expressions, his lithe snaky limbs, the son of the prince of the powers of the air, now hes taking to sea, the Science Fiction part, global economy, forward looking, the new global enterprise, Daggoo with his lion-like tread, masculine men, a powerful image, this is the 19th century power industry, you never need to read another book about whales, powering every home, anointing an new king with sperm oil, it’s called sperm-oil because it looks like sperm, touching each other lovingly under the sperm, there’s a library to keep up with Moby Dick, homo-social, Starbuck’s skepticism, going back to the whale, the whale as female or male, a fool’s errand, [recording broken] so much trouble with a book, The Tempest is just too big, what kind of fool was I think I could do a Moby Dick show?, we being repeating ourselves, Thomas Mann, necrophilia, imagine writing a review, contemporary reviews, people were smarter back then, attacking a book from the outside in, Garth Ennis’ Preacher, a big epic story, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, foreigners coming in and telling the American story, Breaking Bad, the noir journey, a lot darker than Moby Dick, Ahab going to his grave, The Oblong Box by Edgar Allan Poe, the American Renaissance, one of the ships at the Spouter Inn is from The Narrative Of A. Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, the 19th century anxiety about being buried alive, a grave with a window, part of the American Gothic heritage, like the Nostromo in Alien, abandoned military fortresses, haunted house, nature Gothic, prairies Gothic, the psycho-geographical features, a castle in the middle of the South Pacific, a secret crew, like Rochester’s secret wife, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, Usher II by Ray Bradbury, our sacred horrors, the mighty walls rushing asunder, a tarn at my feet, reading quotes, Ahab’s soliloquies, reading quotes, he’s dying, more palmy than the palms, the Pequod is him, The Haunted Palace, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, Khan’s obsession with Kirk, if Kirk was out there for revenge it would have been a very different show, The Balance Of Terror, a giant Berserker in space, The Doomsday Machine, Jesse Cuter is on a mission to kill God, Norman Spinrad, the whale lives on buried together in the sea, the greatest adventure writing of all time, action dialogue, the last soliloquy, he’s not afraid to make this book go all these places, so post-post modern, in uncharted territory, like Satan, Tashtego is the primordial American, claiming the doubloon, the head becomes his coffin, the ship, the hearse, the second hearse!, its wood could only be American, From The Earth To The Moon by Jules Verne, eternal malice, on their bull-like necks, sudden realization, slowly suddenly realizing, the hidden crew, The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad, Parsees, Persians, the foreign and the domestic, The Prophet, did you see those shadows going on to the ship?, a raucous ride from one kind of book to another kind of book, like a Gothic horror novel, with one survivor to tell the tale, burn it down, The Castle Of Otranto, so many things get brought into play, the sharks like are vultures following a battle, tiger yellow, words best omitted here, a little censorship, you live in a blessed evangelical land, anti-racist book, The Gold Bug, H.P. Lovecraft, death of beautiful women, Melville is in love with every colour of man, Saint Elmo’s fire turns the ship into candles, Ahab’s razors, the blue in Queequeg’s head, Tashtego’s shark white teeth which strangely gleamed, he’s powerful, holding the chain, blood against fire!, supernaturally tapped into the whale, he can smell the whale, in partial telepathic connection, forehead to forehead, changing from chapter to chapter, Thomas Pynchon, as Shakespearean as anybody has been, extreme states of being, we repeat ourselves, a bottle episode, Ozymandias, that is the devastation, a land epic, he’s in Lima (Peru), the strangest city, the white veil, a rigid pallor, two things that make Jesse sad, despair for humanity, when “net worth” is the autocomplete, despair despair!, ticket sales, desperate search answers for the pop-quiz, destroyed destroyed!, Bone is impossible to stop reading, running gags, trying to get people to read Moby Dick (and they fall asleep), petrified by his aspect, all your oaths are as binding as mine, the mark for thunderbolts, lightning power, the epithet for Captain Ahab is “old thunder”, this is not a book about the plot, we should never see Ishmael, seeing the world under the arm of Queequeg in his bed, it should never be adapted, cinematic to begin with, the storyteller is the frame, illustrated quotes, Fred Heimbaugh, Ahab is the Captain of the Black Freighter from Watchmen, an Alan Moore style book, the ebook for Jerusalem by Alan Moore, Jesse doesn’t read ebooks, traveling, a completely global book, a little map of the whaling ports of New England, the terrible old man in H.P. Lovecraft’s The Terrible Old man in Ishmael, the doubloons in The Dunwich Horror, did I review the book using the text of the book, no [actually, yes], accidentally on purpose, the same effect can be wrought, my illustration of the painting in the Spouter Inn, all the religion in the book, a member of the First Congregationalist Church, you are a preacher yourself, worshiping Wojo, all works turn to comment on themselves, when movies show up in the movies, Hitchcock movies, Tristram Shandy, the novel is doing this, sounding to bottom, Scarface, the American story, the American dream, The Sopranos, The Hunt, dark water is mystery, Gothic 101, the birds, the birds!, he profoundly saw, the undiscoveredable bottom, an open door marbled tomb, a tomb hunting for you, we never see it from the whale’s point of view, the whale as a force of nature, the honours heaped upon warriors (and those not heaped upon whalers), we fight battles no lesser men could ever fight, man against nature, man against himself, the candles, oh thou omnipotent, oh thou foundling fire, leap up and lick the sky, I worship thee, I glory in my genealogy, he’s killing his father, he despairs at his life at sea, 40 years at sea, best go out in a blaze, repeating the description of the Spouter Inn’s be-smoked oil painting, a church that is also a ship, unaccountable masses of shades and shadows, a nameless yeast, what does the marvelous novel mean?, you’re being harpooned, Macbeth, Bryan Alexander (for example), an exasperated whale, the ship is the bread, the sea is the wine, the white whale as the lamb of god, Orson Welles, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, Eric S. Rabkin’s idea of Fantasy, was it bitten off below the knee or above?, maybe it’s only his own ivory there, nobody has written a prequel, Peter Watts’ The Things, a funny thing about The Thing From Another World, John W. Campbell ripping off H.P. Lovecraft, the prequel sequel remake of The Thing was pretty damn good, watching cartoons, In The Walls Of Eryx, At The Mountains Of Madness, condensed Olaf Stapledon, The Shadow Out Of Time, astronomy, tone and effect, psychological science, The Pit And The Pendulum, Arthur Machen, World War I, the Angels of Mons
Talked about on today’s show:
1871, 1872, Elizabeth’s first solo for LibriVox, a per-adolescent kid, Dracula, a novella and not a novel, Dracula is obsessed with its own structure, dictaphone, the manner of the telling, The Dark Blue magazine, the framing device, the Dr. Martin Hesselius framing device, wee have the papers to prove it, not with that ending, so chilling, eight years after the major events, three hundred, Duke Charles, CBS Radio Mystery Theater adaptation, the setting, the nearest inhabited village is twenty leagues away, the ruins of Karnstein, white lilies, swans, perch, in the moat, the story within the story, Spielsdorf’s letter, Millarca and her “mother”, fete, a masked ball, a vampire scam, a glamour on the father, pulling Laura’s father aside, is she glamouring him?, so lonely, giving in to her whim, why don’t the vampires not immediately suck some folk dry?, preying on the village girls, Varney The Vampire, the name as an anagram, the blue mark, the lonely vampire, “you’re going to die into me”, “I live into your warm life and you’ll die sweetly into mine”, Laura has been stalked since she was six, enchanted by the pretty lady, needles, “just a blue spot”, the father and the doctor are shielding Laura, shielding Mina from the truth ends up hurting her, the female characters in both stories are more capable than the male characters give them credit for, religion, the crucifix doesn’t figure into Carmilla, the complicated layering of imagery, Carmilla’s escape from the castle, enclosure, Carmilla can transcend enclosures, transcendent confinement, an extra-transmissive female, the Mountebank peddlar, the little dog, amulets for protection against the oumpire, a very sharp tooth like a fish, a transaction through a window, a liminal space, invading the domestic space, well educated in trickery and juggling, the mountebank half-recognizes Carmillas as a vampire, a clever recipe, Harker’s shaving mirror, Markheim by Robert Louis Stevenson, Carmilla thinks of herself as a product of nature, “all things proceed from nature”, girls as caterpillars while they live in the world, relying on God to take care of us is naive, a post Darwinian perspective, Dracula’s Guest by Bram Stoker, Horror Europa with Mark Gatiss, Nosferatu was nearly destroyed by copyright claims, the invasion of the home, Eric Rabkin, vampires are for aristocrats whereas werewolves are for peasants, The Odyssey as a series of stories about the host-guest relationship, Carmilla’s only virtue is that she’s pretty, Bertha, the striking image of Carmilla crawling onto Bertha’s bed, a phallic sword, there’s no hiding the fact that this is all sex sex sex, The Vampire Lovers, Hammer Horror with nudity, the British Board of Film Censors, “this is literature”, The Killing Of Sister George, Richard LeStrange from Cork, adaptations of Carmilla, the servants, a quick snack on the peasants, bathing in seven inches of blood, Elizabeth Bartolde, floating of coffins in blood, entirely shielded from ghost stories and fairy tales, languorous and dream-like, languorous and languid, a code word for sensual, sated, façade, interest in beauty, metamorphosis, your chrysalis is your coffin, how vampires leave their graves, revenants, Karnstein = fleshstone, out of folklore and into proto-science fiction, turning Laura into a vampire, one of the great questions in Carmilla – who is her mother? who is the man in black, the cuckoo nest scenario, who are these people?, the “broken” carriage charade, the cuckoo in the nest, pushing the other chicks out of the nest, a wonderful horrible story, Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks, a lot of Laura victims, lesbianism and incest, corruption beneath the veil of respectability, why the mother is missing, the doom to come, Morella by Edgar Allan Poe, Ligeia, Berenice, all up in the creepy, all possessing consumption, waiting for the fruit to be ripe, Blood And Roses, the petals of the rose, is it like a venereal disease?, M.R. James, the lens of distance,
“Magia Posthuma,” “Phlegon de Mirabilibus,” “Augustinus de cura pro Mortuis,” “Philosophicae et Christianae Cogitationes de Vampiris,” by John Christofer Herenberg; and a thousand others
the rules for vampires, Count Alucard, the writing itself, vic-fic, the clarity and economy of Le Fanu’s prose, clear but evocative, he doesn’t over-egg the pudding.
The British Library Podcast has a very good primer for gothic fiction in a new podcast episode entitled A Gothic Story. Presented by Charlie Higson, here’s the official description:
To accompany the British Library’s exhibition Terror & Wonder: the Gothic Imagination, British horror writer Charlie Higson tells the true story of how the vampire and the zombie were born. From the first gothic novel to 19th century Romantics Lord Byron and Mary Shelley and from Hammer horror to the Night of the Living Dead, Charlie reveals how our favourite monsters evolved and triumphed. Along the way, Reece Shearsmith (The League of Gentlemen) reads extracts to chill the spine and thrill the senses.
Get the 1/2 hour |MP3| or listen to the sample below:
The SFFaudio Podcast #290 – The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving; read by Chip (for LibriVox). This is an unabridged reading of the novelette (1 hour 23 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and John Feaster.
Talked about on today’s show:
1820 (1819), the idea behind the story, Celtic folklore, Sir Gawain And The Green Knight, the Wild Hunt, Geoffrey Crayon, Popular Tales Of The Germans, Volksmärchen der Deutschenby Karl Musäus, racing to a bridged, a shattered gourd, Sir Walter Scott, “the wizard of the north”, Tam O’ Shanter by Robert Burns, headless ghosts, Anne Boleyn, headless horses!, jack-o’-lantern, is this a Halloween story or a Thanksgiving story?, 1834, the word “coconut” (head and soul), the South Pacific, breadfruit, The Red One by Jack London, the shattered pumpkin becomes carved into a Jack-O-Lantern, Brom Bones, meta-textual inference, Washington Irving is buried in Sleepy Hollow, NY, a Hessian artilleryman, a sleepy forgotten area, Rip Van Winkle, the Dutch of New York are like the Irish of the British empire, a Connecticut Yankee teacher, sleep, bustling New York City, Tarrytown, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Irving’s loving description of the landscape is like Lovecraft’s loving description of architecture, the jokey Washington Irving, Guests From Gibbet Island by Washington Irving, pirates, Pluto, “nod, wink, and giggle”, a comedy with a great sense of mood, the many birds, Crane, pudding in their bellies, the Van Tassel larder, a low yield version of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne, an excellent ragù, an exquisitely painted portrait, Jeff Goldblum playing Ichabod Crane, the dilating abilities of an anaconda, the full orchards, the rooster with his wives, The House Of The Seven Gables, “the world’s first Scooby Doo ending”, Brom Bones is a colossal prick, anti-intellectual, having read several books all the way through, Cotton Mather, the labour of headwork, headlessness, a practical joke, the post-script, the moral (if it has one or if it needs one), The Cask Of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe, a deathbed confession, family portraits or a mirror, “in pace requiescat”, alternate endings, the 1999 movie adaptation with Johnny Depp, “Rip van Kolchak”, beheading an embryo, the imagery, Christopher Lee, Marvel Comics adaptations, Ghost Rider, a goblin, J.R.R. Tolkien, distinguishing between goblins and orcs, interchangeable terms, Scrooge, FOLKLORE ON FRIDAY – Headless Horsemen, a whip made of a human spine, the Comics Code Authority, Morbius: The LIVING Vampire, the gaffers at von Tassel’s quilting frolic, an old brower, the Wild Hunt (again), rivers marking town boundaries, “liminal areas”, “a marvelously gruesome book”, Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality by Paul Barber, vampires can’t cross running water, a Dukes of Hazzard crossover, the Disney/Bing Crosby cartoon, The Wind in the Willows, The Partially Examined Life (talking the American philosophers), walking while reading a book vs. walking while reading a phone, van Ripper, Gunpowder (the horse), anti-intellectual vs. hyper-competence, Sleepy Hollow as a vision of America (as opposed to Europe), William James, Henry James, young and different, Henry David Thoreau, Walden, the American Revolutionary War, NYC vs. NY State, Irving regretting the American revolution, Lovecraft’s nostalgia, a very American story, “the world’s turned upside down!”, Ivanhoe, enbosomed in the mountains, a debunking, Frank L. Baum’s new creations for an American fantasy, Kansas, the tin woodsman’s chopping, a cyborg version of the Ship of Theseus, written for little children, the heart is more important than the brains, Brom Bones as the hero, Ichabod mucks-in, haunted tulip tree, Major Andre, an unselfconscious hero, corporal punishment, Wackford Squeers from Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens, a wise-schoolmaster, spare the rod and spoil the child, “six of the best when they were ten”, dancing around the issue, squishing, Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, “if this were the middle ages and he were a viking…”, Sons Of Anarchy vs. Vikings, bearded vengeance, ichthyology, von Ripper, von Brunt, von Tassel, von Brunt Colonel Ichabod Crane, The Castle Of Indolence by James Thomson, Gothic credentials, autumn, the sleepy hollow boys, Twin Peaks and the Bookhouse boys, the good old boys, more references to NASCAR, Brom Bones as an archetype, the Sleepy Hollow TV show, we can’t CGI our way out of bad writing, “Alan Moore-esque”, “nice, self-contained, and pretty much done”, Katrina as a master manipulator, singing lessons, it’s been haunted forever (maybe 30 years), belief in hauntings vs. belief in ghosts, a haunted green shag carpet, the stain, something was dragging itself on the ground, “The Stone Tape” hypothesis, “creeped by some creepy creepness”, a bad place, Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, poltergeist activity, Brom Bonesey, the 1790 setting, a haunted beach?, Center Lake, a hat sodden with blood, a headless borrower, a local Jimmy Hoffa, folklore becomes enmeshed, why does she settle for Brom Bones?, “a man of great parts”, Shakespeare: “Ale promoteth the desire but taketh away all performance”, Diogenes: “If only I could alleviate my hunger by rubbing my belly”