The SFFaudio Podcast #542 – What’s Expected Of Us from Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang; This is an unabridged reading of What’s Expected Of Us (6 minutes) followed by a discussion of the Penguin Random House Audio audiobook of Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang.
Talked about on today’s show:
his second collection, 17 years to come out, The Merchant And The Alchemist’s Gate, squint hard, a lot of them have a focus on children, he had some kids?, a theme, teaching and growing, parenting, Anxiety Is The Dizziness Of Freedom, a science fiction story with mimetic fiction problems, Dacy’s Patent Automatic Nanny, childrearing, not the major theme, background thought processes, fate and destiny, an abiding theme, care and caring, finding truths closer to home, The Great Silence, dissecting one’s own brain, straight up science fiction, Kim Stanley Robinson, you fools, you’re wasting your life, Paul could rant, set on spaceships, making sense of reality, a test subject for another star, they’re all standouts, its not our universe, a creationist universe, a dread discovery, the center of the universe is elsewhere, Earth as a prototype for someone else, an epistolary manner, a crisis of faith, Poul Anderson, a mixed relationship, life after death, finding a way to be comfortable with that fact, approaching the subject of entropy, the universe is winding down, nobody is going to live forever, comforting ideas, all just whistling past the graveyard, a positive conclusion about it, how do you look into the abyss and come away with a happy attitude, be happy on the way down, Oomphalos, I’m in charge now, now she has free will, he explores free will from every direction, the audiobook from Tantor, it took a long time for audiobooks to become the dominant medium for people who actually read, I don’t get many ideas, most reviewers on YouTube: booktubers?, a whole universe of people, people who read books are really weird, every week you wanna be reading a new book? what a weirdo, the New York Times bestseller, books not designed to be read, overwritten, as any right thinking person would, these should be longer, very presumptuous, I want more of this, throwing down idea much bigger than the package he places them in, Wayne liked the shortest stories best, educated super-intelligent, deep thought, rigorous self-examination, tedious, on and on and on, 48 minutes, The Lifecycle Of Software Of Objects, concentrated science fiction, two drops in a cup of water, what it means, navel, center, a role playing anecdote, the enemy is the they (the center of the universe), we’re the center of the universe, The Middle Kingdom, Middle Sea, everywhere is the center, everybody’s stupid because their vision is so limited, a young earth, a parallel in our own history, reason for belief, mummies with no navels, obviously not created, his guiding philosophy, if there was a miracle, its on rails, preodomites, other people, The Truth Of Fact The Truth Of Feeling, deeply profound, a Black Mirror episode, some colonial guy getting colonized, writing and reading, auto text generator, no periods, Roman monuments used dots not spaces, pre-modern Chinese, getting it from context, cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphs, right in Jesse’s zone, Bros. Grimm concertizing, once in book form, Jesse doesn’t really take notes, one of the things going on, going back to an oral culture, Socrates, cost effective, the Romans were into copying and photo-copying each other’s works, questioning the nature of truth and reality, really cool, what truth is, Scott and Jesse conversations on truth, people complaining about truth, he’s more truthful about his lying, politician lying, not a wise man, wiser than some of the fools that have been so smart in the past, he was not the same, name recognition, you know exactly what his motivation is, truth is not one thing, your own memory of what reality was, science as being replicable, that whole diatribe, truth is that what is, there is an objective truth, we hope, touch the Eiffel Tower, a subjective conclusion, the objective truth, defining truth, relativistic, its subtle, tirade harangue fulmination, discursive, who designed it?, maybe he stole that plan, the more you don’t examine and are unable to reexamine stuff…, religious truth, truths which motivation action, William James, pragmatism, because it was false, smoke sacrifice to the gods was meaningless, intersecting with other science fiction stories, Living Space by Isaac Asimov, king of your own planet, a real estate story, jack hammering off the coast of Labrador, a Nazi universe, Genghis Khan, mythological pseudo-historical figure, the universe does and doesn’t care about you, making a connection with science, those most interested in religion were scientists, Isaac Newton, the original Bible Code person, the impact might have been diluted, these people don’t die, there is no biology, this culture built up around air-stations, eating as a cultural event, if you get this you can tell the story, The Nine Billion Names Of God and The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, sacrificed, hits Paul in the feels, the three narcissistic wounds, Sigmund Freud, the Earth is not the center, Darwin and evolution, that the ego thinks it is free is an illusion, strong with archaeological proofs, freedom, no final answer, interesting concepts, Olaf Stapledon, a whole book from one paragraph of Starmaker, Jorge Luis Borges, The Library Of Babel, standing room for sleeping, why this illusory duplication, this is not our world, there’s no food, they’re more like robots in a certain sense, all the argon is coming to them from something beneath them, who invented the robots?, a blank slate, the robot equivalent, an analogy of the heat death of the universe, “we existed we were real”, a self contained universe, a navel gazing story, working the same theme, Jesus in South America (the God of Dreams) [The Circular Ruins], teaching the A.I.s consciousness, self-dissecting, a good example that doesn’t exist in the same way as ours does, the transference between universes, the prism, Anxiety Is The Dizziness Of Freedom, Until The End Of The World (1999), replaying your dreams, so much about them, the perfect obsessive movie for you, gazing into who you are, the machine allows you to navel gaze, fomo = fear of missing out, the grass is greener, a simple idea, fragmenting kaleidoscopic versions of reality, only a few months old and it was going up in value, diminishing returns, amazing sparky thoughts, pirated songs, I’d make so much money, information is the only thing passed between universes, copyrighted specifically for you, the same wound, possible yous, not being paralyzed, why not?, one of me is going to do it, destroys your ordinary criteria for action, a high dose of neg-entropy, the school shooters, what effect would it have, Jesse derives solace from being (sort of) a determinist, science fiction about the difficulty of weather prediction, are there more murders now?, outliers, fads, more of the same, All The Myriad Ways by Larry Niven, you might lose your will to do things, What’s Expected Of Us, whichever universe you’re in, Vanessa, an unstable person, Counterpart, A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick, as Evan pointed out on his podcast, the universe is very small, seeing what’s going on outside, they’re all blending together, he thought he had done so much work, that’s much to harsh, words can sometimes resonate very deeply, the non-simple truth, a reality we are distantly connected to, poor connections, emergent things, to know what truth is (is tough), a longer meditation, the longest thing he’s ever written, either these people are wasting their lives or we’re all wasting our lives, where’s the truth there WAYNE?, to leap into agnosticism, relate to our interpretation of reality, we can only do what we can do, the motif of harmful sensation, The Imp Of The Perverse, physical or mental damage you can suffer, explicitly shoutsout to H.P. Lovecraft, akinetic mutism, won’t or can’t speak or won’t or can’t move, the motif of harmful sensation, a truly convincing argument that life is pointless might qualify, it doesn’t matter, a thread running through (or more than one), Ted Chiang has got a brain, the Lovecraftian horror, like a cognitive plague, a thought that explores the thinker, a Godel sentence, I try to act as if or rather action happens, pretend you have free will, believing the lie is the only way to avoid this waking coma, civilization relies on self-deception (perhaps it always has), The Merchant And The Alchemist’s Gate, living it, this universe might have slipped into equilibrium with nothing more than a quiet hiss, that in itself is beauty, in the next bottle over, the Complete Works of Shakespeare except it’s “Shmamlet”, the meaning is fake, Paul’s fear, robot descendants,
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
not a horror story but a science fiction truth, truths always in refinement, David Hume, past behavior, Robert Wright’s interview with Ted Chiang, The Story Of Your Life, a silly seeming story, Arrival, are you going to roll up into a little ball or are you going to affirm it?, the pharmacon, poison and medicine, make you a paralyzed mute or a creative, it takes all that time or that care to make that stuff literary, Wayne’s in a little ball, Wayne’s gonna complain, some stuff’s going to happen, get some jokes in there, WTF, we’re all gonna be specks in a layer of basalt, Tony C. Smith’s StarShipSofa, a Ted Chiang fan forever now, four stories, nested stories, Arabian Nights, Scheherazade, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, The Garden Of Forking Paths, you can read it forever, a story that’s circular, in the exact middle you have a point around which everything swirls, the knowledge for where the treasure under the tree came from, super symmetrical, so wonderful, a time travel story in which there’s no technological difference, no traditional time travel tropes, there’s no predicting eclipse, he steals from himself, he predicts the albino baby and gets out of prison, The Diamond Necklace or The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant, there’s the pit of despair, the story is the treasure, we as the prince get the benefit, why the title is Exhalation: Stories, The Great Silence, John Paul Sartre with possible worlds, Dacey’s Patent Automatic Nanny, whatever works is true, the suppression of this technology because of the ruling class, nowhere for that to go, a remaking of humanity, thinking about childrearing while childrearing, mimetic fiction is all about divorces, my experience with my marriage, different parents have different levels of interest in their own child’s rearing, would have benefited the working class, the washing machine is liberatory, television as the babysitter, smartphones, is that wrong, a typical Ted Chiang thing, an actual syndrome: psychosocial dwarfism, growth hormones stop operating, emotional malnutrition, not an ideal human state, really bougie, homeschooling, unschooling, the class dimension, a survival strategy, a metaphor for public schooling, The Electric Ant by Philip K. Dick, Nanny by Philip K. Dick, the planned obsolescence angle, aloof parents, more attached to the nanny than to the parents, gladiatorial nannies, what if they trigger while raising the kids, if you follow police state logic, hands are dangerous weapons, tape their mouths up, and kill everybody (to be safe), the rational childcare device, a more cutesy vignette
reading, or being read, Ted Chiang stories, is like quaffing pure liters of undiluted SCIENCE FICTION from the fount in which it was first forged. And I tell you, without hyperbole, that Science Fiction absolutely cannot die as long as TED CHIANG lives and writes it.
asking and posing the big questions, natural science, parallel universes, asking questions, collecting and systematizing, that guy we didn’t like, The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn, “proving things”, weapons of mass destruction, 17 intelligence agencies, how can we falsify this?, holy shit he was right!, thought experiments, thinking them through completely, exploring a philosophical point, you can’t do it with mimetic fiction, what happens if…, that’s what they all are, the author afterwords offer insight, that I’m taking my head apart scene, a reverse infodump, we can’t understand ourselves, arguments like proverbs (suck), limiting understanding, refusing that limit, there’s no Godellian self-impossibility, what Dick does, almost like a drug metaphor, the thought’s he’s having and the thoughts he’s expressing, if you want to get into a big fight, tell me my hand is not my hand, memory, Hal, the difference, Ted Chiang doesn’t have this paranoia, adjacent to technology, the guy measuring the ether, how do we know what we know, the art installation for The Great Silence, Alex the talking parrot, very emotional, their beak is kind of their hand, emotional realities, those Alex videos, a whole other mind we have access to through regular English, these humans are looking for intelligence in the universe, the search for terrestrial intelligence, pretty cool, kinda heartbreaking, the whole Alex thing, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish by Douglas Adams, Arecibo, it hears the voice of creation, the lasting breath, spirit as the breath of God, the breath is not me, he’s having it both ways, these copper plates, audio versus text, in another five years, Wayne would personally recommend the book and the audiobook, here’s where I got the idea, at the end of every story, as a collection, this book we can hand off to people, I feel stupid when I’m reading stupid, reading this makes me feel like I’m the genius that I am, I’m sophisticated, I’m so stupid, not having brilliant ideas all day long, a guy practicing his words for his sermon, thinking on aloud, thinking on paper, writing therapy, cast them out of you, people are made of stories.
Talked about on today’s show:
Gruesome Tales, Home Brew Magazine, The Lurking Fear, Clark Ashton Smith, the Weird Tales serial, Damon Knight illustrated, Reanimator, assembly, twenty years later, serialized, reading it as a serial, internal summaries, “previously on Re-Animator”, Jeffrey Coombs, Mr Jim Moon’s tin-foil hat theory, the unwilling hero, he hates everybody, Hypnos, no trace of Herbert West, was there ever really a Herbert West?, unlike the movie, sociopathic in his regard for other people, no descent into corruption, the charnel horror, The Hound, aren’t we terrible?, it’s awful, awful really, he never ages, interaction between West and the rest of the world, in an asylum, it makes things fit, he liked the idea so much he wanted to save it for a good story, not junk, only options, changes in Astounding and Amazing, cheap storytelling, pretty amazing, S.T. Joshi, secretly enjoyed writing it, it is fun, progress gone off the rails, its all his fault, the animals, worse and worse, larger transgressions, killing someone, a lizard from New Zealand, indescribable reptile, scientific progression, Frankenstein’s mom died, Star Wars prequels, Darth Vader wants to conquer death, the soul is a myth, no other motivation, a better story about science,
Age has more charity for these incomplete yet high-souled characters, whose worst real vice is timidity, and who are ultimately punished by general ridicule for their intellectual sins—sins like Ptolemaism, Calvinism, anti-Darwinism, anti-Nietzscheism, and every sort of Sabbatarianism and sumptuary legislation.
rub his face in it, thinking of Lovecraft as all the characters, childhood illustrations by Lovecraft, “anglo puritanism”, a war within his own mind, writing as getting out your demons, the solution (vs. the reagent),
It had at first been his hope to find a reagent which would restore vitality before the actual advent of death, and only repeated failures on animals had shewn him…
the Harlem Smoke has forelegs instead of arms, the reagent isnt racist, the character is racist, reality isn’t racist, objects and things, the more you look into it, things to play with, Lovecraft’s racism, pathologizing his writing, secret autobiography, trying to explain away creativity, what if it was this, really interesting, the war in his own mind, going to a play with black actors, C.M. Eddy Jr. Dead Dumb And Blind,
A little after noon on the twenty-eighth day of June, 1924, Dr. Morehouse stopped his machine before the Tanner place and four men alighted.
June 28th 1924, the Democrats not denouncing the KKK, Richard Wagner, race is central to Lovecraft, if you read his letters, to understand lovecraft we have to understand his racism and his racial, black characters in Edgar Allan Poe, The Gold Bug, he’s not interested in race, race is central to everything except for his dream stories, Re-Animator and Bride Of Re-Animator, adding the love element, all the bodies are male, the Dark Adventure Radio Theatre adaption, Dr Gordon Stuart, showing how racist both of the characters are, they lean into it, the factory town part, we’re not supposed to sympathize with these guys, Dan (the narrator character), student loans, Bryan Alexander, they revoke his student loans, the wild monster, straight up murdering a dude, so as I could be witness, ‘you towheaded freak don’t inject me with that needle’, for perverse reasons, a Peruvian civil war, looking at the two films together, quite faithful to the original serial, the women, the love interest, the plagiarist professor, in the Canadian army, what’s in the box?, isn’t he directing the army of the dead?, why would he deliver his own head, the man on the inside
As I have told the police, there was no wagon in the street; but only a group of strange-looking figures bearing a large square box which they deposited in the hallway after one of them had grunted in a highly unnatural voice, “Express—prepaid.” They filed out of the house with a jerky tread, and as I watched them go I had an odd idea that they were turning toward the ancient cemetery on which the back of the house abutted.
Arthur Jermyn, they are always living together, a touch of homo-eroticism, the same streak in Hypnos, the dissociated self, I don’t like the way he’s looking at me, part six is so preposterous,
When I slammed the door after them West came downstairs and looked at the box. It was about two feet square, and bore West’s correct name and present address. It also bore the inscription, “From Eric Moreland Clapham-Lee, St. Eloi, Flanders”.
a Thing On The Doorstep moment, a ghoulish wind of ice, the charnel bowels of a putrescent earth, a horde of silent toiling things, The Black Cat, a set of fingers and an eye, the shout-out to The Rats In The Walls, like an army, a beautiful head made of wax, a mad eyed monstrosity, fabulous abominations, they have servants?, unidentifiable ashes, the Sefton Tragedy, those accursed tomb-legions had not been so silent, the framing story, testimony in exchange for immunity, The Tell-Tale Heart, talking to his own defense attorney, a psychotic break, Guy de Maupassant, Philip K. Dick, Herbert West will hold him, controlled by West, The Statement Of Randolph Carter, a reluctant fascination, if these were case notes, it would be so clear, suicide, at the end of the PDF, BUY WAR BONDS, an unconscious joke by the publisher, who watched the 2017 Italian film?, Jesse’s review: “It has a lot of Italian cafes, some yellow liquid, Italian ladies and men, violins, chain, lots of darkness, a shoutout to Frankenstein, dripping liquids, blood. Waiting for improv class to end and the script to begin.”, 100% accurate, they never read the original story and only ever saw the trailer for Stuart Gordon’s movie, what the fuck is going on, you have never seen three more confused people, what is beyond death, was it a chamber?, was it a non-continuous experience, screaming in rebirth, birth is always painful, Lovecraft is a materialist, they just keep shooting and stabbing each other, death is horrific, limbo, stop motion and black and white, the makeup was good, the film was terrible, death is just the beginning, blame Jesse, Beyond Reanimator, having a female in the story, the Tyler Durden Fight Club story, a love story to the original Re-Animator and Frankenstein and Bride Of Frankenstein, the parts, lobotomies to make the dead controllable, the original film is very interested in Lovecraft’s story, a horror comedy and so is the original, The Loved Dead, he wants to make it with them, Lovecraft had a sense of humour, a very pathologized view of the man, if you read his letters, surprisingly funny, self-deprecating, naughty risque humour, hysterically funny, Barry Norman, this is hilarious, once you start seeing the humour, M.R. James’ jokes, very uptight and very straight-laced, reading Lovecraft, so engaged, engaged with other fiction, One Summer Night by Ambrose Bierce, McCall’s, The Body Snatchers by Robert Louis Stevenson, very very ill, no philosopher was he, pathological indifference, a gigantic negro named Jess, not so populace as its register had shown it to be, pallid and haggard, all eyes and teeth, a missing adventure, working class bodies, Monsters Of The Market: Zombies, Vampires And Global Capitalism by David McNally, capital punishment, Burke and Hare, a Burke-skin book, experimentation on working class people The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward, Curwen’s dungeon, they haven’t eaten in hundreds of years, once you’re a reanimated zombie, another Frankenstein reference, James Whale’s Frankenstein, the first of a new race, man becomes god, man should not meddle, remaking James Whale’s Frankenstein, working class victims, a sound animal, more asleep than dead, class anxieties, the silent working class, the first illustration, we laid the specimen on the improvised dissecting table, alien autopsy, the cloaked figure may be the narrator, up is down and black is white, an unreliable narrator in his own testimony, the last sentence, their silent because its an hallucination, for the years that followed, literally the narrator, the patient whose banging his head against the wall, age 12 H.P. Lovecraft illustration [I may have been conflating the source, not even sure it is by Lovecraft or even age 12, here’s the source], sword of puritan ethics, the narrator is not as sure about the afterlife as Herbert West, its in his head, being a gentleman, Randolph Carter, The Hound, not as equally as bad as the other, a bust, Who Knows? by Guy de Maupassant, The Horla, all his furniture is leaving his house, it all mysteriously reappeared, the furniture of his mind, if there’s any pattern to H.P. Lovecraft its ending up in an insane asylum, poor H.P. Lovecraft, mom and dad, a common trope, the last confession, “there are demons, honest”, losing your reason, losing who you are, the quality of mental health care, gone to the asylum, not a big fan of doctors, their ethics are somewhat questionable,trust and paranoia, second opinions, the hierarchies in asylums and hospitals, The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar, bad science, parallels, gruesomeness, is the M. in M. Valdemar a missing word?, a hoax, a japer, The Man Who Japed, a comedy magazine, Grewsome is a pun on Home Brew, getting intoxicated, a magazine of entertainment, a low brow version of The Smart Set, anarchist cookbook territory, charging 25 cents, the slickest fanzine Jesse’s ever seen (if it is a fanzine), a prozine, their version of the internet, homepages vs. letters, a parallel to a slow version of the internet, fan forums, a lot of it is preserved, Stuart Gordon, Robert E. Howard, in the late 60s and early 70s, when Lovecraft hit paperback, beatnik and hippies, fandom/cult, the trailer for the musical theater version of Re-Animator, just as horrific, the sets, the security guard, Boudoir magazine, so distracted with his pornography, in keeping with the serialization, its good comedy.
Talked about on today’s show:
1798, Wieland: or, The Transformation: An American Tale, first novel, the first author who got paid for a living in the United States, a weird first big novel, a weird country, a founding document is a strange book, Bryan’s thesis, connectivity issues, Bryan’s dissertation, Edgar Huntly, the doppleganger as a motif, the romantic era, British poems, not allowed to include Americans, teaching, the gimmick is sleepwalking, murder, Indian war, Skywalk: The Man Unknown To Himself, talking to Americans, in and out of fashion or focus, prefering the manly nature stuff, freakishly bizarre, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, and H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror In Literature, James Fennimore Cooper, The Last Of The Mohicans, American muscular exceptionalism, written for women, a female protagonist, a horror story, violence against women, murder, Natty Bumppo, waking up in a cave, like Rambo, violent novels, religious violence, nature, nature worship, nature is terrifying, incinerator by divine pyrotechnics, American Writers: 100 Pages At A Time, dense, super-high level vocab, distancing from the events, the whole back half, a very strange recommendation,
Of Mrs. Radcliffe’s countless imitators, the American novelist Charles Brockden Brown stands the closest in spirit and method. Like her, he injured his creations by natural explanations; but also like her, he had an uncanny atmospheric power which gives his horrors a frightful vitality as long as they remain unexplained. He differed from her in contemptuously discarding the external Gothic paraphernalia and properties and choosing modern American scenes for his mysteries; but this repudiation did not extend to the Gothic spirit and type of incident. Brown’s novels involve some memorably frightful scenes, and excel even Mrs. Radcliffe’s in describing the operations of the perturbed mind. Edgar Huntly starts with a sleep-walker digging a grave, but is later impaired by touches of Godwinian didacticism. Ormond involves a member of a sinister secret brotherhood. That and Arthur Mervyn both describe the plague of yellow fever, which the author had witnessed in Philadelphia and New York. But Brown’s most famous book is Wieland; or, The Transformation (1798), in which a Pennsylvania German, engulfed by a wave of religious fanaticism, hears voices and slays his wife and children as a sacrifice. His sister Clara, who tells the story, narrowly escapes. The scene, laid at the woodland estate of Mittingen on the Schuylkill’s remote reaches, is drawn with extreme vividness; and the terrors of Clara, beset by spectral tones, gathering fears, and the sound of strange footsteps in the lonely house, are all shaped with truly artistic force. In the end a lame ventriloquial explanation is offered, but the atmosphere is genuine while it lasts. Carwin, the malign ventriloquist, is a typical villain of the Manfred or Montoni type.
is the next book about x-ray specs, the Binding of Isaac, based on a true story in upstate New York, your local history, Washington Irving, Anthony Boucher’s They Bite, the cannibalism aspect, religious fanaticism, Carwin is a bit villainous, a thing going on with the maid, a genealogy of religious madness, an unreliable narrator, quite unhinged, a very Lovecraftian theme, inheriting the sins of the father, forbidden knowledge, ancient French protestants, this sounds like Lovecraft, half buried in dust and rubbish, his eyes were not confined, seek and you shall find, connection to madness, looking for her father’s old writings, Carwin in her closet, don’t read the book we’ll interpret it for you, teach the Indians how to be good Christians, his own personal religion, twice a day without fail, craziness and religion, really strange, early American history, the American Revolution, The Peopling Of British North America by Bernard Bailyn, America as a Marchland, a marquis, slavery, new religious movements, cults, no established church, a weak echo, Netflix’s Wild Wild Country, the Albigensians, not having a positive view of religion, religious frenzy: the end, a more traditional religious education, an unhinged freethinking frontier religion, the argument of religious authorities, Augustine, the best thing for humans is a good theocracy, Sunday School, mandatory belief, a Comics Code Authority Stamp, if you don’t like it I won’t write any more, William Godwin’s Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams, anarchism, what’s the lesson here besides beware of ventriloquists, she isn’t as naive as she sometimes seems to be, a transformation from the brother into Carwin, a rustic friendly atmosphere, science and astronomy, traumatized by nightmares, a nightmare story, her savior is a rapist, I said I was going to rape you because it seemed best at the time, it feels so gothic, throw your voice to get out of dangerous situations, throw your voice to the garbage can behind your muggers, that’s bullshit, The Secret Of Ventriloquism by John Padgett, written for a Thomas Ligotti fansite, 1943, “Benders”, the Kansas serial killer benders, that father was insane, god was talking to him, so full of coincidence, Clara is not reliable, a sign of mental illness, the case that inspired Wieland, we could almost diagnose, showing up at a neighbor’s house naked, not just genetics but also disease, Guy de Maupassant, Who Knows?, The Horla, burn the house down, the brother is definitely insane, the father has been insane for a long time, voices attributed to a stranger with Spanish characteristics, Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, charms for protection against vampires, a castle in an American forest, a temple, mysterious stranger, the father’s death and spontaneous combustion, a state of insensibility, his imperfect account, bearing a lamp, a blow from a heavy club, an imperfect tale, half the truth has been suppressed, how it ends, the divine ruler, the religious vs. the rational explanation, the boyfriend, the uncle, a professional, the voices, the original kills in New York, struck by lightning, both natural and supernatural, a sound up on the temple, a pistol discharged, a blazing light, a very striking image, a cloud impregnated with light, a burning bush, ball lightning, naked and scorched and bruised, clothes removed and reduced to ashes, never explained, so devout god visited him and he saw god’s sideboob, Poe is dealing with Radcliffe 50 years later, what’s going on up front, Mulder and Scully, crucial to the Gothic, Gothic explicae, The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis, Scooby-Doo, the final chapter, making sense of real phenomenon, lets find out what it is, H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, the temptation of the Ring of Gyges story, a temptation to intervene, always rationalizing, past tense, for those people who want to know what happened to my family, this is her Stormy Daniels book, an essay in Vanity Fair three years later, no one would really write this that way, written for our benefit this way, putting it in the best light, I was paying her, what else is going on, the children, the maids, an upper class family, playing musics and discussing philosophy, suffering from syphilis, paranoia, hearing voices, a psychotic break, Lovecraft’s dad, a gang of men are raping my wife, went to the hospital, a hushing up, can this be rationalized without modern disease theory and modern psychology, In Cold Blood, so familiar, Gary Cole, Fatal Vision, a gang of hippies, Charles Manson, threat of the week, a narcissistic sociopath, Pleyel’s experience, “drifter”, he’s the Rasputin of this mess, lets have a secret meeting, no you idiot, don’t do it!, maybe I should, he’s hiding in your closet, let’s split up, a horror movie trope, drawn to the flame, the implications towards incest, transformed into a Spaniard, Carwin, this non-Spanish crypto-Spanish dude, some guy who doesn’t like me in Ireland, the British Gothic tradition, the Catholic South is very sexual, Othello, every Radcliffe novel, a ritual thing to do, a classic geographical imagination, part-time Spanish part-time English, Germans and Scotch-Irish and Jews, an inherited move, what Jeffrey MacDonald told the investigators, high heeled boots, “Acid is groovy, kill the pigs.”, the American Revolution angle, hostile to hierarchies and institutions, the corruption of old Europe, Saxony, Chapter 5, the good king, the Prussians, the horrors of war, which eventually happens, Thomas Paine, views on marriage, gender politics, the final scene, no general critique of institutions, a normal life, happiness in France, a Lord in Saxony, The Rats In The Walls, why they moved to the U.S., the Delapore family was murdered by one member and then praised by the neighborhood, the secret of the family was passed down, his family seat, the whole cycle of horror, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound Of The Baskervilles, the Canadian who comes into take the Baskerville estate, returning to Europe where the sins were ingrained in the family name, start a religion afresh, principled and thoughtful, rigid thinking, too rational, what could have caused this?, a pair of aunts who married a pair of brothers, hints of incest, she’s expecting her brother there, “that’s weird, man”, emotion and passion vs. rationality, a movement driven in part by the Enlightenment, violent, slavery, siding with reason, mental illness, the scene of this contest, a duel, a malignant figure, I leave you to moralize on this tale, Robinson Crusoe goes hunting in Spain, a problem with pagination, a double-tongued deceiver, if only they had gone to church, you gotta think this problem through, a Kantian answer, an 18th century chestnut, the human brain is a pretty good machine until the passions wreck the place, frailty, Robespierre and the Goddess of Reason, The Dunwich Horror, Providence by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows, who is he talking to, these are your idols, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, a horror book, you don’t wanna go that way, one take on America, American Culture 101, the spontaneous combustion, horror movie scenes, don’t do it!, don’t go down in the basement, hewing trees, where you keep the monsters (the basement), most of the horror takes place upstairs, closets, when did basements become popular?, cellar, I lurked through the day, a trap door, a storm cellar, so strange, so weird, so foundational, the opposite of James Fenimore Cooper, William Faulkner, Pierre by Herman Melville, all the heads we’re driving over, Melville’s gone nuts, overblown writing for 200 pages, frustration, speaking to something that everybody knew about then, why was Poe obsessing about premature burial?, fake news, preserved like the bones of a dinosaur, historical criticism, a Gothic dream of factionalism, the Civil War, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House Of The Seven Gables, Young Goodman Brown, The Minister’s Black Veil, disconnected from religion but surrounded by people who are connected, swimming with the church team, freezing rain, Quaker meetings, another set of friends, the Philosophical Society, equal in extent, very much of the enlightenment, a biloquist, all the voices were Mel Blanc, digging graves in your sleep, astral projection, The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar, the biggest hoaxer of them all, Channel Zero, creepy pasta, Candle Cove, the tooth monster, about grief, a mobile haunted house, almost perfect, uncanny, a rundown Rustbelt city, modern folklore, a local legend, ventriloquism, that’s so weird, sleepwalking, Rutger Hauer and very meaty, infecting my dreams.
Talked about on today’s show:
Tantor Media, 2013, dynamo, biography, H.P. Lovecraft, non-fiction, after 1899, as a kid, the future, the turn of the 20th century, Evan’s 100 Pages podcast, black writers, important fin de sicle, Victorian to Edwardian, a time of massive change, his parents and his quasi-parents, to see where London came from, looking at the past, don’t watch the news, William the Conqueror, seances and spiritualism, 30 years into spiritualism, morphing into other practices, the Chinese believe in ghosts, Americans believe in all kinds of things, UFOs, angels, credulous, Warren Chase, Wisconsin, utopian socialism, the Civil War, free labour, free soil, the connection between all these ideas, pamphlets, autobiographies, the rise of science and capitalism, Marx and Darwin, what are the laws?, utopians, the Horatio Alger story, I’m gonna make my fortune–and I can, coming from poverty and misfortune, complaining and bragging, Martin Eden’s problem, when Jack London was in Australia, died at 40, debilitated vs. lively and fierce, the noseless stranger, John Barleycorn, a novel to take as truth, alcohol, alcoholism, whiskey, a philosophical tangent, white logic, pink elephant, fatalism, existentialism, filling Nietzschean logic with religion, Steen Hansen, when still a teenager, delivering newspapers, teeth knocked out, hoboing around the United States, sheer physical movement, London’s connection to socialism, child labour, incredibly hard and varied work, the family economy, supporting his parents, travel, love of literature, the London epic, blown away, London’s Klondike experience, perfidy by Canadians, how many stories, the blood brain barrier between life and fiction, frequent life raiding, worship and fascination, The Call Of The Wild, Buck is sitting by the campfire, seeing a caveman, a race memory, a kind of brilliant thinker, hackwork, this is horror, enjoin, The Red One by Jack London, ancient astronauts, a dark and twisted story, Jung, symbol laden, lying sick and unable to move, astounding to see, Philip K. Dick, neighbours and wives, reworking his own thoughts as fiction, he interviews himself, thinking aloud on paper, how close Earle Labor got to understanding Jack London, more accurate, defining my position, the rent man, hope, the half-baked economist, the stout gentlemen, they wouldn’t be socialists they’d be beer sodden wrecks, scabs, full fledged graduates in anarchy, he’s a firecracker, George Sterling, the Weird Tales circle, Clark Ashton Smith, tilting the whole continent towards San Fransisco, Ambrose Bierce, the giantness of London, London’s mother was 4 and half-feet tall, punching Japanese officer in the face, not like another writers, J.R.R. Tolkien, going for walks and smoking pipes, Charmian and he were restless, Jack London couldn’t stay still, England, People Of The Abyss, on Jack London time, smoking and drinking, not sleeping enough, The Shadow Out Of Time, a Yithian takes over Jack London, conflicted about the work ethic, The Sea Wolf, Brisenden = Sterling, he didn’t have the spark, Weird Al, is Jack London still in school libraries?, White Fang, The Iron Heel, older dystopia, It Can’t Happen Here, London’s engagement with racism, the mestizos of Mexican Revolution, so many of London’s stories are skewering stupid racism, the white race lives on the destruction and putrefaction of the societies they’re crushing, The Wisdom Of The Trail, adopting the white man’s mentality, white men’s burdens are to be carried by red men, surrounded by racism, everyone around him people are using race as an excuse to do things, a whole critique of social Darwinism, the peak of European imperialism, it doesn’t get you anywhere, loneliness and despair, To Build A Fire, China, British literature, committed to teaching, he still glowed and grinned like a madman, bonding over Melville, War by Jack London, mad mythic, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, living in extreme cold (in Vermont), “the cold of space smote the unprotected tip of the planet”, science fiction, looking at reality, not about the relationships between people, look at this fascinating phenomenon, psychology or economics, The Cold Equations, a hard Science Fiction story, muscles in motion, when he does it it becomes, man against nature in the extremis, a story about spacesuits, Thomas Huxley, a literary critique of race in London’s work, Jack London’s Racial Lives: A Critical Biography, Campbell, the state of nature and the state of art, Herbert Spenser, The Shadow And The Flash, sibling rivalry, the mind at work, The Scarlet Plague, a social Darwinian document, the Chauffeur tribe, old idiots are interested in book reading, The Strength Of The Strong, Moon-Face: A Story Of Moral Antipathy, The Cask Of Amontillado, Guy de Maupassant, seeing into the mind of the other, empathy, “my-culture-is-not-your-prom-dress-ism”, cultural appropriation, dogs, Wolf Larsen is an odious character, academic arguments, Wolf Larsen is like Tony Soprano, Edward G. Robinson, a weird disease, was Jack London a precog?, seeing the psychology at work, Jack London (1943), A Thousand Deaths, a deserter, torture, wow!, almost everything in this story happened, I am not your father because I was impotent at that time, six marriages, fewer divorces, a hard mother, a family curse?, the seven year itch, looking for father figures, the man of action in the salon, Everhardt, Doctor Who, worshiping the man, Irving Stone’s Sailor On Horseback, the dream sandwich, The Star Rover, everybody should read Jack London, mapping reality.