The SFFaudio Podcast #549 – READALONG: Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #549 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Julie Davis, and Terence Blake talk about Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

Talked about on today’s show:
a question on Twitter, Julie, how it even got on the schedule, A Good Story Is Hard To Find (110), June 2015, Mark Woodword, how we’ve never heard of this book, Julie’s mom, very weird, a near masterpiece of Science Fiction, Walter Tevis, The Man Who Fell To Earth, David Bowie, not about music, Queen’s Gambit, The Hustler, The Color Of Money, one PDF on the PDF Page, it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism, post apocalyptic, a post-capitalist society, a post-scarcity society, a downer, a slow slow slide into the long dark night, uplifting (also), the state of humanity, they way he reveres reading, enjoy an omelette, re-watching Star Trek, the Animated Series, The Next Generation, it gets better, Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Yang, take away all goals, stripping us of our humanity, drugs, hippies, an anti-marijuana book, a critique of the hippies, silent movies, a world you didn’t know, when this old man dies, a different view, Spoforth, pensioning off Paul, reading is not valued, Paul teaches Mary how to read, looking for pornography, he was teaching pornography and mindfulness, a savage critique, who’s the mockingbird?, he wants to know what’s going on, genuine examples of humanity, Julie is being so mean to Paul, Paul in the book, Bentley, spaw-forth or spoof-forth (and multiply), struck to the heart, revealed as the villain, he’s not even sure it’ll work, kill humanity to kill ones’ self, kinda dark, sympathetic, did he intend to kill the child right from the start?, detector, a lot of twists, no diary, a hard shift, switches to Mary Lou, I don’t like this book anymore, not who I imagined her to be, love as a projection, maybe she was blind to herself, or emotionally repressed, when he gets thrown in prison, hanging out with the baleens, a horror novel, shifting around, an impressive world, standard mainstream good writing, built up this whole world, premises are revealed to us, is he a bad guy, an abortionist, destroy humanity, he didn’t invent the system, he’s cursed with an inability to die, massive, a total dystopia, Brave New World‘s children, Huxley was optimistic, self immolation, political protest, a political act, a religious act, a sacrifice, people can’t string ideas together, going to the same cafe, they’re singing, what is the motivation, psychology, Annabelle, SEARS as a church, A Boy And His Dog (1975), a revelation, different genres, my pet Biff, New York City, the Adam and Eve theme, story is how we find truth, books get us in touch with other minds, what a masterpiece, have you got to the monkey bacon yet?, bacon for monkeys?, clever ideas going on, a lot of biblical stuff, this is Jonah, he’s vomited out, the thought buses are like the friends in Job, they’re something else, that thought wasn’t finished, the true inhabitants of the city, a line relevant to our times, cars were promulgated by a cabal of oil manufacturers, dealing with the consequences of a world we never made, a mass transportation system, look very deeply back at old stuff at the time, reading TV Guide from 1980, it’s fascinating, yo, a good magazine about the technology of TV, what television will be like in 1990, they kinda nailed it, gay behavior will be more popular, the trends we see here, the 1980 Olympics in Russia, the invasion of Afghanistan, anyone who would invade Afghanistan is obviously a monster, the fossils of a previous generation, A Streetcar Named Desire, streetcars around the world, one more reason to go to Nice (France), I say that in Jes(t), she picks a fruit, its artificial, what they’re being taught in school, quick sex is best, it comes from the same place, reconstructed all the greatness in science fiction, a mainstream book with a deeply science fiction world behind it, the zoo is all fake, even the children are fake, the Adam and Eve thing, when he comes back to Marylou, Jesus!, Mary, the notion of felix culpa (the fortunate fall), remembering her action, he explicitly remembers, it isn’t going to be as bad as you think, thank you Terence, so loaded, Spoforth is a good carpenter, the poem from T.S. Eliot, the songful simian, a Christ figure, the little sparrow, like the end of Blade Runner when Roy Batty dies, the same problem in the other direction, a sort of love, joy, compassion, influenced?, a lot of Philip K. Dick elements, artificial emotions, the symmetry trick that works every time, it’s beautiful, an act of mercy and love, the poor guy, condemned to Hell on Earth, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison, I Am, keep sliding towards oblivion, actively seeking death, the mercy that he wants the mercy he’s trying to give humanity, the behavior of humans is not good, an Arthur C. Clarke vibe, The City And The Stars, that world is perfectly broken, the only thing you can do is appreciate the abstract, blotchy moving colour shapes and sounds, no more music, the heart and the center of the book, the robot toaster factory, a whole novel, a mindless parody of productivity, those grey uniformed sub-morons that all look like Peter Lorre, and then he fixed them, suddenly people are getting toasters again, the warmth and the light (a preview), its a rebirth, what happened in real-life that you didn’t see on twitter, looking for stuff on Netflix, Year One (2009), cave man comedies, fur bikinis, One Million B.C. (1940), science fiction stories, H.G. Wells and Rudyard Kipling, The Wonderstick by Stanton A. Coblentz, the wonder of the wheel the wonder of the stick, a retelling of the bible, Harold Ramis plays Adam, David Cross is Kane as Paul Rudd is Abel, that tree of knowledge, only the mockingbird sings at the edge of the woods, that’s really powerful, all the characters, Simon, the alternative father for Marylou, why she’s so different, monstrous and straight out of Brave New World, we recognize all this biblical stuff, you get both, there’s gotta be something out there, an The Brick interview with Walter Tevis, it felt very Lawrence Block-y, “Mockingbird’s about coming out of alcoholism.”, “But I don’t do any outlin­ing. I don’t do any researching. I was tempted while writing Mockingbird to start watching silent movies, you know, and see if I could pick some interesting stuff to use, and I realized that would’ve been just a dodge to avoid the type­writer. So I never research anything.”

LD: You paint a pretty bleak picture in terms of lit­eracy in Mockingbird.

WT: It comes from twenty-five years of being an English teacher.

RW: Do you see a decline in literacy? I do, but do you?

WT: Oh, you hear about it a lot. Yes, I’ve seen it a bit, but my private experience as an English teacher has been that Americans don’t read books. They didn’t read books in 1949 when I started teaching. They don’t read books now Television did make a difference. It deepened the slack of the slackjaws and gave another great quantity of garbage for people to fill their lives with. But, you know, there was other garbage around before television. Mockingbird does sometimes, I think, weaken into an attack solely on television and on the modern world, and “weaken” I say because I’m not completely convinced of all those things that I say. But what I am convinced of is that it is very bad for people to find substitutes for living their lives, and that’s what I hope I do say, and say well, from time to time in the book.

reading is the tool that opened up his mind and taught him how to think, a photograph of notes to the editor, the surprise that she’s going to narrate, destructive to our view of his wonderful relationship, she came to appreciate him, he forgot her too, what they had wasn’t super-deep, she was Dante’s Beatrice, Edward Hopper, there’s no door in Nighthawks, alone together, some lady sitting on a bed looking out a window, beautifully painted, what makes us care about his paintings is the emotions in these characters, the emotions that make Hopper’s paintings so powerful, a criticism of the kind of television being shown in the book, stimulating arrangements of color form and design, the psychedelic, Tevis’ take on Hopper’s quote, yeah exactly, four things you can get from films (books), manipulating one’s mental states, a means of learning something about the past, why memory is not enough, sympathizing with other people from other times, knowing about other people’s feelings you discover your own feelings, he captures that experience, jokes from 200 years ago, a line that crystallizes something you’ve always known but never seen before, before Plato, the only book he never reads is Gone With The Wind, See Spot Run, the alphabet is arbitrarily ordered, this is science fiction, the scene in Frankenstein where the creature learns how to read and speak, Paradise Lost, Plutarch’s Lives, his creation book (Frankenstein’s lab notes), this is a Frankenstein-fixed story, the creation of the world, how to service robots and thought-buses, a masterpiece, nature is always pulled in, puzzling over how to fix the thought-bus, a large dramatic spiderweb, the moon, made of pure light, the elaboration and power of life that could make such a design, this makes me feel something, Julie’s favourite Psalm is Psalm 19, so mysterious, the way you hold that cup, so much bigger, the human experience, he wrote it for us, the earlier scene with the spiderweb, the court is a plastic building, you go clean the judge’s face, yellow powder, they all have the same look on their face, the system turns on and gears up, other prisoners, the prison sequence, I didn’t see this coming, Belasco, tattoos, Queequeg!, rule breakers, paintings of trees and birds, have a fire on the beach, as free as people in that world can be, a temptation to stay there?, the escape itself, a community of people to help him toughen up, the beginning of his journey, The Handmaid’s Tale. reading is powerful, the way we got there, our own fucking laziness, go along get along, rage rage rage against the machine, read a fucking book, you’ll like it it’s good, not just shore-dinners, a so coddled society, memorizing your life, a kind of writing, a book that feels like its in dialogue with Fahrenheit 451, drop out communities, finding the libraries (it’s treasure!), insistence of family and community, Annabelle becomes his mother, enriched by other communities, great risks to my individuality, the robots who taught me, yup, individualistic, you’re not letting me help anyone, a balance, a really good job of pointing that stuff out, it doesn’t feel like a sermon, super-funny, Buster Keaton, he’s baptized in the mall, the SEARS (catalogue) was a big part of Jesse’s life in 1980, a book of pictures of things, the world in the background economically makes sense, could you game in this world?, a survival game, rebuild society, back to board-games, Scrabble, role-playing games, a very New York thing to do, California, The Last Chase (1981), how the credit card system worked, the pricing, what are they teaching in those classrooms?, yoga and meditation?, sopors, soma, give yourself to the screens, Terence is right!, social media, stream everything, everybody is literate now (to read stop signs and instructions), people who never read anything (maybe a magazine once a year), a super-nice person, what is wrong with you, there are these parallel societies, Anabelle is that representation, part of this is looking at creativity, Spoforth wasn’t creative but he learned, Exhalation Stories: (The Lifecycle Of Software Objects) by Ted Chiang, the whole him trying to find his earlier incarnation, recapture what he had lost from his earlier mind, in the dream, its a baby, just before he dies, the missing peice in the puzzle of his dream, in Westworld for recipe for an intelligent robot is a reverie, the reverie we get from literature, its made him more human, he’s trying trying trying, another element of information, what humanizes him, he felt love, the most beautiful thing she’s ever seen, I love you, still strange, the mockingbird sings from the edge of the woods, Scott Danielson, “Whose woods these are I think I know”, the mockingbird is the creative artist, always in association with creativity, a deepening sadness, more creative than we give him credit for?, the boy’s drawings, it works on multiple levels, the fake, the marginal, mocking, a mockery of a man, the emotions of a man and he can’t connect, this mock level, mockingbird songs, things stung together, Tevis is the mockingbird, there’s this hybridization, a very literary book, To Kill A Mockingbird, it sings its heart out, to deal with race again, is it because you’re a black man, it’s 1978, the most advanced beautiful man ever, he was the pinnacle and they made him a black man, still enslaved, in his dream his feet are white, Typee by Herman Melville, an Anabelle like character, only one person’s working hard all day line, Bentley see this as an injustice, is it an injustice?, her choice, making something of value, cooking is work, its still good to feed the kids (even if they can’t thank you), making the mistake of thinking humans are all one way, objectivism, let’s be greedy together, reading Ayn Rand, is Anthem a rip-off of We, moms being moms, I’m a loner, everybody’s talking to each other all the time, invading privacy is the worst thing, it was the robots that did it, the society happened almost by accident, quite beautiful, we fall into the trap of amusing ourselves to death, John Savage likes pain, they twist it against him, “that’s illegal”, those people are all around us, he had his stash, dumping herself full of Valium, him living in her house, thank your mom for us, how many people heard about it through you through her through this podcast, Marissa would have been here very happily, the Westworld connection, good choice, thank you!

Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

The SFFaudio Podcast #492 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Morella by Edgar Allan Poe

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #492 – Morella by Edgar Allan Poe – read by the great and powerful Wayne June. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (17 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Mr Jim Moon, and Wayne June!

Talked about on today’s show:
A Tale, The Southern Literary Messenger, April 1835, Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, November 1839, you will not believe how Lovecraftian it is, very Edgar Allan Poe, The Thing On The Doorstep, Hypnos, turns of phrase, Cool Air, shall I say it was gelatinous?, The Statement Of Randolph Carter, the moment of Morella’s decease, its tenement of clay, an interest in a woman, there’s nothing more romantic than the death of a beautiful woman, The Philosophy Of Composition, Berenice, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, Elenora, Morella, berry-nice, Ligeia, a ghost, I’m gonna burn the house down, The Raven, crack the house open, the movie adaptations, Roger Corman’s Tales Of Terror (1962), Vincent Price, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Haunted Palace is an H.P. Lovecraft story, redeeming value, interesting, shedding what doesn’t happen in the story, what is the name of the main character, the unnamed narrator, get shocked, the narrator is passive participant in the events around him, active in his twisted perspective, an unreliable narrator, statements based on assumptions, The Black Cat narrator is 100% a liar, a victim, he’s nuts, a weird lifestyle, a weird lifestyle, reading German philosophy, this text is hard to read, a comic book version, an adaptation of the 1962 movie, Amicus anthology film, Elenora, Leonora, “hey you, child!”, “my beloved”, Gideon Locke, more like the The Fall Of The House Of Usher without the friend, The Haunting Of Morella (1990), Countess Elizabeth Báthory, bathing in maiden’s blood, lots of nudity, lots of lesbianism, scared topless, Busty Coeds vs. Lusty Cheerleaders, Gothic romanticism, Richard Corben’s adaptation, 19th century education, familiarity with Plato’s Symposium, personal identity, a nodding acquaintance with Fichte’s accused pantheism, Pythagoreans, Wayne did so much research on this story, it’s no wonder that people don’t get it, this is amazing, its beautiful, high level vocab words and giant sentences, it is creepy too, the epigraph, in vino veritas, in praise of Eros, he didn’t find her sexy, erotic love, a phenomenon capable of vanquishing man’s natural fear of death, conquering death itself, preserving her consciousness in reincarnation, forbidden books, those Pressberg chicks, the mere dross of early German literature, Locke, John Locke, Poe says: “Wow, this is some heavy shit!”, a witch, a lich, a way to renew life, the motifs that are in here, none of this is translatable to film in a non-commercial style, plant growth, the flowers and the vine, the hemlock and the cypress, persistent, frequently planted in graveyards, funeral decoration foliage, The Tree by H.P. Lovecraft, an olive tree of oddly repellent shape, autumn, a metaphor of renewal, there’s a lot to it, life after death, her disappearance from the tomb, as Morella lost life her daughter takes her first breath, a sense that Morella is not evil but rather she is mistaken, not addressed, the all importance of personal identity and survival of the consciousness, replace or become, the self-same person as her daughter?, displacing her daughter’s identity?, theological ideas, Catholic dogma, morally gray, light grey, dark evil, Poe was a reviser, laid vs. placed, tinged with tainted, subtle polishing, these vs. those, this and that, a way of pushing things away, a whole omitted section to do with Catholicism, a rainbow from the firmament, Sancta Maria, it totally changes the story, that makes her a monster, pushed into the evil camp, comparison to Mary, Hail Mary (1985), your daughter, her daughter, parthenogenesis, Jesus is a girl dressed as a guy, she looks identical to her mother, making a clone, your own genetics, a fantasy story, a science fiction story, the Catholic stuff distracts, a failed experiment, it really changes the tenor of the story, The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward, health problems with the clones, the naming, the true name, speaking the name breaks the spell and kills the child, Wilbur Whateley style, a tale of possession, Doctor John Dee, philosophy, alchemy, why is he doing that?, a symbolic story, how hard grief is, seeing a dead relative in the next generation, a symbolist story rather than a Gothic one, mysticism vs. science, Lovecraft as a science fiction writer, instead of characterizing her as a witch he characterizes her as advanced arcane philosophy and science, lower as in closer to the ground, what is identity?, how he talks about his daughter, two lustrums (ten years), my child and my love, now he’s the father, a mother figure, guiding his hand in his reading, enkindling and disquisitions, he become that for her, like Alia the brother of Muadib from Frank Herbert’s Dune, imbued with the mind of a reverend mother, someone much wiser than she, Annabelle Lee, there’s no visualization of their home, they have their own family tomb, the black slabs of our ancestral vault, baptism/christening, a cemetery connected to a church, fate, like flitting shadows, the wind in the firmament, a very Poe-ism, a semi-manorial estate, a big library, an isolated or cloistered life, Miranda, The Tempest, sexy times, it has to be symbolic, a witch or a litch, hot vs. beautiful, curly black hair, a broad white forehead, to encompass all those brains, her erudition made her happy, the art in Wayne June’s YouTube video, a wild interpretation, what if this is a gender flipped story?, what if Morella is Poe, he was a wooer, wooing with poems, devotion, vocab, she represents his respect for erudition, deep thought and philosophy, immortality, 178 years later, a powerful set of images, oblique quick references, losing his fascination with Morella, being fearful of Morella’s studies, the promised land, Hinnon became Ge-Henna, sacrifices to Baal and Moloch, a huge oven, not milk and honey but burning babies, Heaven and Hell, son of Dagon, God’s not the only god around, as to the nature of our studies, terrible studies, reluctant fascination, Warren always dominated me and sometimes I feared him, firm and fat in their tombs for a thousand years, some heavy shit, where is this text from?, when is he telling the story in relation to the events?, is he telling his doctor, I am writing this under an appreciable mental strain, The Hound, an unequal partnership, the whole Poe as Morella thing, strange meaning, like Poe and Lovecraft’s intertextuality, full of references, a deep dive to uncork meaning, the pinnacle of the educational stuff, this is an audiobook story!, then then, when pouring over the forbidden pages, a Roof Bear Morella drawing, inhabiting him, a forbidden spirit, her cold hand, rake up from the ashes of a dead philosophy, hour after hour I would linger at the music of her voice, those two unearthly tones, reading like a woman and slowly the voice changes to that of Wayne June, two unearthly tones, too unearthly, so far from the Earth, hypnotizing him, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Parasite, voodoo town, Jamaica, it’s a whole thing, Metzengerstein, Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar, how to get girls by hypnosis, 3D glasses, hernia supports, that’s how Poe gets girls, the girl does that to him, he’s gender flipped it, the object of mourning rather of action, disabuse Jesse of this, Jim’s up, Jesse convinces Mr Jim Moon of his crazy theory, hard to get, The Cask Of Amontillado, The Masque Of The Red Death, so straightforward and so beautiful, adding poems, The Conqueror Worm, Poe was canny with getting sales, booze doesn’t buy itself, paper to write to girls, The Island Of The Fay, The Science Of Kissing!! by Charles Peterson, super metoo movement, it’s great to be Turkish because they really know how to kiss, as practical as that, foreseen to foretold, what demon urged me, ebb and flow, the repeat, horrible horrible death, knell to fell, a tiny little polish, an iterative process of refining, the definite version, all in Greek, pronouncing the Greek phonetically, a maniac on style and form, The Philosophy Of Composition, that certain sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain thrilled me, except for Hawthorne, Poe’s nickname was Tomahawk Poe, hated by his peers (those who didn’t admire him), collected a lot of scalps, “Itself, by itself solely, one everlastingly, and single.”, the ability to establish personal… identity, what the French call an orgasm, la petite mort, Aristophanes, hermaphrodite, lesbians belong to this category, the different kinds of attraction, nothing is off limits for the Greeks, wanting to grow together, Plato’s theory, being a hermaphrodite sphere was cool, love and eros, the beast with two backs, why we seek a soul mate, my better half, what is the it in “itself”?, if you achieve perfection of appreciation of beauty you will be unifying your existence with that which is the beautiful, she has a beautiful mind (but not face or body), she lives only in the regard of the narrator, Poe is immortal but only as long as there are people to read his stuff, denuded, existence is not continued, sad and sad about the lost of a loved one, the ghost comes back and says “it’s okay”, a suicide note, this is why I did it, Poe loves to play with the formatting, The Oval Portrait, how the narrator came to be wounded, it doesn’t add to the symbolism, its a beautiful message, the events are less important than the creation of that beautiful images, undiscussed details, up to the reader to decide, what demon urged me to breathe that sound?, literal?, daemon, a personal spirit, his muse, a program running in the background, the Greeks knew it all,

What fiend spoke from the recesses of my soul, when, amid those dim aisles, and in the silence of the night, I whispered within the ears of the holy man the syllables—Morella? What more than fiend convulsed the features of my child, and overspread them with hues of death, as starting at that scarcely audible sound, she turned her glassy eyes from the earth to heaven, and, falling prostrate on the black slabs of our ancestral vault, responded—”I am here!”

what a shocker!, she had her eyes on the Earth, falling backwards, ending in the last seconds, what happened to the body?, a stupid ghost story, the vegetation, planted from a seed, growing up, the roots going deep into the cellar, who knows what horrible juices they suck, as the second Morella has grown, the end of the cycle, she’s a lich who failed, the new body lives until the point that she’s named, women jr., Ivanka, a secondary world society, the right name for her, a terrible dad, she lives longer but she doesn’t have a full life, oops she died, foiled again, given her another name, Dude, you have to name me something else, a lich story, a fabulous story, how concise it is, this much work, very few, very dense, so effective, exactly as long as it has to be, Gothic romance,

German gothic fiction is usually described by the term Schauerroman (“shudder novel”). However, genres of Gespensterroman/Geisterroman (“ghost novel”), Räuberroman (“robber novel”), and Ritterroman (“chivalry novel”) also frequently share plot and motifs with the British “gothic novel”

a nun in New York who wrote about haunted castles on the Rhine river, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Undine, Lorelei, mere dross, worthless, rubber, dregs, those mystical writings, her favourite and constant study, the philosophy of the day, Shelling, the dross of philosophy, presuppositions, authority, it goes against the Ship of Theseus, every cell and molocule and atom is replaced, eating and breathing and pooping changes, carbon dating, when the ship returns home no part of it is the same piece but all the pieces resemble the same thing, attains or regains, like Plato would have us do in the Realm of the Forms (The Republic), suddenly she gets that last little piece of the puzzle, overload, you get the impression she died right then and there at her baptism, the exact wording, they’re just rich, murmured ever more, the opposite of the adaptations, a different sort of feel, her from the moment of birth or earlier, the breath thing is so important, spirit, undfeatable, a thesis for the ages!

Morella - illustrated by by Frederick Simpson Coburn, 1902

Edgar Allan Poe's Morella - illustrated by J. Duran

Edgar Allan Poe's Morella - adapted by Eugenio Colonnese

Roof Bear Morella

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #061 – Plato’s Dream by Voltaire

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #061

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Plato’s Dream by Voltaire

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

Plato’s Dream was first published in 1756.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #393 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #393 – Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft, read by the great Wayne June. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (5 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Jim Moon)

Talked about on today’s show:
the pronunciation, Athenae, not from Weird Tales, a prose poem vs. a story, flash fiction, it does everything, the big elephant, it avoids all the things people decry Lovecraft for, the pure experience, pure Dreamlands Lovecraft, living in the outrage culture, it is much better to be dead than it is to be alive, drug use, reflections, new colours, From Beyond, The Colour Out Of Space, beyond the colours we know, The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, a little dreamquest, no cat, Zakarion, King Kuranes, Basil Elton, The White Ship, big themes, tentacled monsters, sanity-blasting, nihilism, transcendence and revelation, wonder and awe, a compression, a packet of seeds, The Gardens Of Yin and The Window, gateways and passages, a distillation,

Some of the dream-sages wrote gorgeously of the wonders beyond the irrepassable gate, but others told of horror and disappointment. I knew not which to believe, yet longed more and more to cross forever into the unknown land; for doubt and secrecy are the lure of lures, and no new horror can be more terrible than the daily torture of the commonplace. So when I learned of the drug which would unlock the gate and drive me through, I resolved to take it when next I awaked.

opiate, poppy seed cookies, Wayne June, The Crawling Chaos, the decay and pain of disease, seeking non-existence in unconsciousness, Hypnos, breaking through the barrier, horrible and wonderful, duality of perception,

But as they pierced the stone, a rush of air
Burst from the alien voids that yawned beyond.
They fled—but I peered through and found unrolled
All the wild worlds of which my dreams had told.

I’m out of here!, The Shadows Over Innsmouth, this is AMAZING!, the horrible as transcendent, not-quite apotheosis, transfiguration, a counter-point to the insignificance of humanity, stepping beyond, The Wonderful Window by Lord Dunsany, the wild world of his dreams,

A Memory
There were great steppes, and rocky table-lands
Stretching half-limitless in starlit night,
With alien campfires shedding feeble light
On beasts with tinkling bells, in shaggy bands.
Far to the south the plain sloped low and wide
To a dark zigzag line of wall that lay
Like a huge python of some primal day
Which endless time had chilled and petrified.

Minnesota, the Sawtooth Mountains,

I shivered oddly in the cold, thin air,
And wondered where I was and how I came,
When a cloaked form against a campfire’s glare
Rose and approached, and called me by my name.
Staring at that dead face beneath the hood,
I ceased to hope—because I understood.

giving Death a high-five, The Gardens of Yin

Beyond that wall, whose ancient masonry
Reached almost to the sky in moss-thick towers,
There would be terraced gardens, rich with flowers,
And flutter of bird and butterfly and bee.
There would be walks, and bridges arching over
Warm lotos-pools reflecting temple eaves,
And cherry-trees with delicate boughs and leaves
Against a pink sky where the herons hover.

the gorgeous garden,

All would be there, for had not old dreams flung
Open the gate to that stone-lanterned maze
Where drowsy streams spin out their winding ways,
Trailed by green vines from bending branches hung?
I hurried—but when the wall rose, grim and great,
I found there was no longer any gate.

a retelling of earlier voyages, Jack Vance, Planet Of Adventure, The Dying Earth, strange vistas, lush imagery, opening up perceptions, the grey sameness of ordinary existence, consuming all the senses, rich or decadent description, baroque, gorgeously saturated prose, The Moon Moth, a maginfied orientalist, operatic, fantasies of exotic lands, arabesques, sarabandes and curlicues of hashish smoke, Clark Ashton Smith, William Morris, Tolkienized, pipeweed and beer, that connection to Dunsany, Idle Days On The Yann,

When the last days were upon me, and the ugly trifles of existence began to drive me to madness like the small drops of water that torturers let fall ceaselessly upon one spot of their victim’s body, I loved the irradiate refuge of sleep. In my dreams I found a little of the beauty I had vainly sought in life, and wandered through old gardens and enchanted woods.
Once when the wind was soft and scented I heard the south calling, and sailed endlessly and languorously under strange stars.
Once when the gentle rain fell I glided in a barge down a sunless stream under the earth till I reached another world of purple twilight, iridescent arbours, and undying roses.
And once I walked through a golden valley that led to shadowy groves and ruins, and ended in a mighty wall green with antique vines, and pierced by a little gate of bronze.

temples, not sunken temples, what happened to the temples?, almost Robert E. Howardy, The Circular Ruins by Jorge Luis Borges, Lovecraft was reading a lot of Schopenhauer,

I knew that all sights and glories were at an end; for in that new realm was neither land nor sea, but only the white void of unpeopled and illimitable space. And happier than I had ever dared hoped to be, I dissolved again into that native infinity of crystal oblivion from which the daemon Life had called me for one brief and desolate hour.

very Platonic, called forth by Life, Socrates, ahh, yes I remember fire, the trauma of childbirth wipes your memory, opium, mind blown, ever to wise to ever have been born in the waking world, Waking Life, Philip K. Dick, now I remember, native infinity, everything goes back to that Platonic realm, The Dreamquest Of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson, if you’re born in the dream world…, Jesse gets to the dreamland by a route obscure and lonely, the Zoog wood touches the waking world, Paul’s role playing game, Dante and stories of the underworld, a one way passage, the official entrance, passing bodily into the underworld, a gem of a story, poppy seeds that flourish and grow, to round table it, is the end positive or negative?, the closing of a circle, eastern philosophy, definitely positive, he just overdosed on a drug in real life, in your dissolved state, this is not Heaven (Garden of Yinn style), looking at it from the outside, staying in bed too long, symptoms of depression, the reason for his voyage, the ugly trifles of existence,

Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse
Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jasper
Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse
Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jason Ekhart

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #378 – READALONG: The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #378 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
1964, not exactly a fix-up, this novel’s DNA, The Defenders, The Mold Of Yancy, The Unreconstructed M, the next draft, the main character’s problem was Dick’s problem, an idea, another Yance-woman, a sausage fest, did you’re arm fall off again?, “the well-informed dead rat romped under the tongue-tied pink log”, a new ACE or Ballantine book, more cohesive and clearer, all ideas are undercooked, the Wikipedia summary, The Defenders feels like junk, but translated to the novel… a sequel to The Defenders, The Mold Of Yancy is excellent, reading The Mold Of Yancy helps you understand The Penultimate Truth, conapts with wall to wall wub-fur carpeting, artiforgs (artificial organs), Yancy in the novel vs. the short story, a syndicate, a quasi-corporatist government short, the Kardashians and Gwyneth Paltrow, set on Callisto, a totalitarian government, letting in spies, his spidey-sense, he’s like Ronald Regan, a fireside chat, Dick’s analysis of our North American society is dead on, war is bad but just wars have to be fought, cats are definitely better than dogs, political correctness, media pushing (or pulling) society in different directions, a perfect fit, a nice welding, Fallout 3 and Fallout 4, worried about the overseer, strap on your vault suit, he’s a companion, a NPC, leadies are Mister Handies, the robot companions, Hugh Howey’s whole career, the same premise and ideas as Wool, ant tanks, vaults (and silos), WWIII, The Game-Players Of Titan, neo-fuedalism, squabbling fiefdoms, the MegaVac computer echoes Vulcan II or III, Isaac Asimov’s MultiVac, the plot with Brose and Lantano, re-purposing people across stories, the leadies are slaves, a good Goodreads review, the 1% and the 99%, labouring under delusion, a damn fine analysis, the scandal of the day, obedience, Paul is a history fan, a Roman society, Sulla and Pompey, the triumvirates, private armies, the land grant system is very Roman, proto-feudal (or manorial), Cheyenne is nuked again, Estes Park, Colorado, Philip K. Dick has to throw everything into the crockpot, Pretty Blue Fox, Lincoln Apartments, the Tom Mix tank, 290 movies, Tom Mix had five wives, Philip K. Dick dressed like a movie cowboy, clear evidence you’re living in a Philip K. Dick world, ask me about Plato, The Defenders and The Penultimate Truth are modeled after Plato’s the Myth of the Cave, gin and tonic vs. beer, Dog Stories Monthly vs. the Journal Of Psychological Review, a gestalt, the art of Hieronymus Bosch, everything should be about challenging and questioning, Critical Thinking should be the only class in high-school, nothing can be challenged, no critical thinking, all Yancy’s beliefs are insipid, as close as possible to no beliefs, apolitical (without a viewpoint), William Tenn, Null-P, Dick was really influenced by A.E. van Vogt, “wow, my god!”, a preference for Kriegsspiel, a cosmic wrestling match, The Cosmic Puppets, a nice six hour game of Kriegsspiel, Bach’s art of the fugue, subdued by the plot, troweling it down a bit, The Unreconstructed M stuff, fun to read, a time traveling Cherokee warrior who walked in from another Dick story, Time Pawn, Dr. Futurity, fake artifacts of a fake alien invasion, it gells as a novel, a really good speech about a squirrel, an actual living squirrel, there’s no little scurrying creature at the end, a questionable bow,

However, Adams figures out Lantano was behind the deaths as part of his plot to bring down Brose. In desperation and fear, he joins up with St. James, who discovered a cache of artificial organs, and flees into the Tom Mix tank with him. They discover that Lantano was ultimately successful but contemplate that the biggest lie is yet to come.

that’s the ending and discovery of The Defenders, meeting the quota, they don’t let you out when you don’t meet the quota, there’s no reward and punishment, appreciating The Defenders, in Plato’s The Republic, PKD knows all about Plato (and The Odyssey), the Allegory Of the Cave,

Plato begins by asking Glaucon to imagine a cave where people have been imprisoned from childhood. These prisoners are chained so that their legs and necks are fixed, forcing them to gaze at the wall in front of them and not look around at the cave, each other, or themselves. Behind the prisoners is a fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway with a low wall, behind which people walk carrying objects or puppets “of men and other living things”. The people walk behind the wall so their bodies do not cast shadows for the prisoners to see, but the objects they carry do (“just as puppet showmen have screens in front of them at which they work their puppets”. The prisoners cannot see any of this behind them and are only able to see the shadows cast upon the cave wall in front of them. The sounds of the people talking echo off the shadowed wall, and the prisoners falsely believe these sounds come from the shadows. Socrates suggests that the shadows constitute reality for the prisoners because they have never seen anything else; they do not realize that what they see are shadows of objects in front of a fire, much less that these objects are inspired by real living things outside the cave

fake destruction of San Fransisco, false reconstructions, Stalin with Roosevelt speaking Russian at the White House, 1984 by George Orwell,

Plato then supposes that one prisoner is freed, being forced to turn and see the fire. The light would hurt his eyes and make it hard for him to see the objects that are casting the shadows. If he is told that what he saw before was not real but instead that the objects he is now struggling to see are, he would not believe it. In his pain, Plato continues, the freed prisoner would turn away and run back to what he can see and is accustomed to, that is the shadows of the carried objects. He writes “…it would hurt his eyes, and he would escape by turning away to the things which he was able to look at, and these he would believe to be clearer than what was being shown to him.”

writing lies and having your son believe the lies, Hollywood,

Plato continues: “suppose…that someone should drag him…by force, up the rough ascent, the steep way up, and never stop until he could drag him out into the light of the sun.” The prisoner would be angry and in pain, and this would only worsen when the radiant light of the sun overwhelms his eyes and blinds him. The sunlight is representative of the new reality and knowledge that the freed prisoner is experiencing. Slowly, his eyes adjust to the light of the sun. First he can only see shadows. Gradually he can see the reflections of people and things in water and then later see the people and things themselves. Eventually he is able to look at the stars and moon at night until finally he can look upon the sun itself. Only after he can look straight at the sun “is he able to reason about it” and what it is.

a sign of madness,

Plato continues, saying that the freed prisoner would think that the real world was superior to the world he experienced in the cave; “he would bless himself for the change, and pity [the other prisoners]” and would want to bring his fellow cave dwellers out of the cave and into the sunlight. The returning prisoner, whose eyes have become acclimated to the light of the sun, would be blind when he re-enters the cave, just as he was when he was first exposed to the sun. The prisoners, according to Socrates, would infer from the returning man’s blindness that the journey out of the cave had harmed him and that they should not undertake a similar journey. Socrates concludes that the prisoners, if they were able, would therefore reach out and kill anyone who attempted to drag them out of the cave.

other levels, the fake journal entries, the time scoop, in the geological strata, a critical thinking story, what makes us believe the Earth is as old as it is is evidence, pointing in the direction of a Truth, a little bit paranoid, Philip K. Dick has a whole story about it, an evidence laying assassin robot, questioning the science, then you have a Philip K. Dick story, Vulcan’s Hammer, a real theme he’s struggling with, don’t get into conversations with strangers, you’re a human being … I guess, it’s great to be in a country where you don’t understand the language, an afterword by Thomas Disch, a downhill racer of a writer,

If Dick had stopped to think (but that’s something a downhill racer can’t do), he might have realized that there was an essential dramatic disparity between the two stories he was trying to weld together. The Yancy part of the plot generated a story about dirty tricks in high places, a genre for which Dick possesses little flair (compare le Carré and his better imitators), while that element of the story that all readers remember, after the lapse of however many years, is the notion of the human race imprisoned in underground factories because they’ve been tricked into believing that a nuclear war has destroyed the world. It’s an extraordinarily resonant idea. One thinks of the dwellers in Plato’s cave who know nothing of the reality but the shadows cast on the wall; of the similar destiny of Wells’s Morlocks; of the prisoners in Beethoven’s Fidelio; and of ourselves, living in the shadows of a nuclear threat that is only bearable by pretending that it does not exist. To have recognized that our situation is a kind of madness (“What, me worry?” sang the Titanic’s passengers) has not helped us toward a solution, for our situation with respect to the bomb is not much different in 1983 than it was in 1964. And for that reason The Penultimate Truth, for all its flaws, remains a book that can speak to the terror that is the bedrock of our social order.

plotting the distance away from a nuclear target in order to survive, a nuclear wasteland in every movie, an insipid Kardashianism seems to have taken over, we seem to have gotten worse, the fading away of the nuclear threat, the 99% accepting the 1%, breaking free from the cave seems impossible, the internet is our Yancy, like the same things on Facebook, we all have the same opinions, political correctness is like fascism except you can’t use that word, John Wayne day backlash (because he was apparently super-racist), Donald Trump is a power word, he’s willing to say whatever he wants to say, you have to come to that, arguing with the racism, Hieronymus Bosch are loveley, the Kriegsspiel argument, everyone should struggle with this, a dictate from on high or social mimesis, walking by the lottery counter, there’s no way to fix that, think about it, don’t just think the right thing because its the right thing, the re-writing rooms, the proles kind of ignore the prole-feed, the tankies who don’t know, the meek inheriting the Earth, maybe we aren’t meek enough, sprawling demesnes, the human condition, a good book, pulling the veil or reality aside, back to the shadows, from The Republic, the leadies are the leaden weights, the armies of the 1%, how much do you need to be educated, is it for gold or for lead?, Mr. Dick you did something with it, a downhill skier of a writer, add The Mold Of Yancy, he’s such a great idea man, he really engages with the situation, Souvenir by Philip K. Dick, The Defenders is improved upon reflection,

The wonder is how often Dick was able to produce work of real interest and wit in these marathons of typewriting. For readers who read at a pace proportioned to his speed of writing (as most sf fans learn to do, or else cease being fans), the dull patches disappear into a haze of white powder as they careen down the slopes of the narrative. It is the ideas they are after, and Dick always provides more than a sufficiency of these.

Disch knew what Dick was all about, the longer novelettes, he has to pay the bills, too much plot, not enough story, welding together three stories, what was your process, MAN!?, Marissa attended a conference with a bunch of Dick wives and lovers, how much is reflected in what Marissa heard?, how much he loved everyone, feeling betrayed and angry, how funny he is, playing tricks on people, I love that Dick is seemingly incapable of being self-concious about what he loves, Roog, can you pick a subject that is less cosmic in scope, passionate about weird little things, watching a pilot for a new Science Fiction show, Colony (TV show), domesticity, “yeah, I’m out”, sympathy for the characters, overlaying crappily manipulative music, engaging with them in a real way, that dog was a real dog named Snooper, Jonathan Lethem, so good at self-examination, he’s the anti-facsist, he’s wise as well as crazy, he’s blind but he’s glimpsed greater truths, gnosticism, his fallout stories, we will miss them, you should be reading these PKD books, our listeners aren’t watching the Kardashians, are they?

The Defenders by Philip K. Dick - Galaxy Science Fiction, January 1953

The Mold Of Yancy by Philip K. Dick - IF: Worlds Of Science Fiction, August 1955

The Unreconstructed M by Philip K. Dick - illustration by Frank Kelly Freas

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #364 -AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Lottery In Babylon by Jorge Luis Borges

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #364 – Jesse, Bryan Alexander, Mr Jim Moon, and Paul Weimer talk about The Lottery In Babylon by Jorge Luis Borges

Talked about on today’s show:
aka The Babylonian Lottery, 1941, 1962, The Library Of Babel, baffling mystifying, blurring and seeping, The Garden Of Forking Paths, the framing story, the context, he’s leaving, in this “statement”, missing fingers, a rented cloak, a tattoo of the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, fleeing the city, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime Of The Ancient Mariner meets Forrest Gump, abomination and criminal, the sacred disorder of our lives, an affection for the company, Solar Lottery is a similar Philip K. Dick novel, company vs. corporation, like everyone in Babylonia…, that’s a lot of proconsuls, metaphorical, metonymies for the high and the low, Dark City, those Borgesian moments, deliberate inaccuracies, the hand changed hands, Borgesian translations, The Pit And The Pendulum, a story without hop with Hope as the title, not having firm ground on any detail solidifies the Borgesian effect, Labyrinths, the company’s communications, a mask factory, trash and kipple, Thomas Ligotti, one of the heresies, lottery is a myth we tell ourselves to make sense of chance, The Red Tower, an authentic madman, sacrifices, priest or sorcerer, Kabbalist magic, the mysterious assassination, where’s A?, he’s B, he turned into a god!, deified, a god of Chance, Heliogabalus, Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick, an autistic boy, they’re reading the same books, omnivorous readers, reincarnation, thinking through reincarnation, Jesse’s weird theory, I’m Napoleon, more than just wish-fulfillment, what if we are living in a universe in which there is only one soul, the Platonic references, no need to follow the laws of time, John Rawls’ the Veil Of Ignorance, it’s a lottery in essence, a rich European healthy body, what we would want for other people is what we would want for ourselves, justice, if we take it as literally true…, we can’t see all of his body, waiting for Charon to show up in his boat, a perfect story for the middle of the twentieth century, the least inequality, the most inappropriate story for the twenty-first century, a radical document, when is this taking place, after Elagabalus but before the fall of Babylon?, the barbers, the mythology, to omit -> to interpolate -> to change, making a curved line between points, this is the symbolic scheme, infinite draws, all that is necessary is that time is infinitely divisible, one of those Xeno stories…, an infinitely divisible strawberry pie?, something tricky going on here, the company’s origins as a religious explanation for fate, as noted on the Wikipedia entry, Qaphqa (Kafka), The Castle, a sacred latrine -> it’s a holy shit -> it’s a pisser, mask factories, the messages come from the kipple, the sacred lions, scribbles on the ruined walls of the mask factory, thicker layers, the tease of Plato, we’re still in the cave, the Allegory Of The Cave, if it’s not a cabal… (kabbal?), it must be the lottery, were all a part of the secret cabal, the Paranoia RPG, trust the computer, trust the company, Jim’s punishment and Jesse’s reward, a spy LARP, the intertwined nature, I have throttled the sacred bulls, declared invisible for a year, based on a Robert Silverberg story, no matter what happens he gets executed, a universal solvent, application to the modern day scientific view, random chains of cause and effect, science as a conspiracy theory, god playing dice, medium sized objects are subject to physical laws, the ghosts and shadows of quantum mechanics, an expert in Anglo Saxon, studying Norwegian history as one does, some hidden premise, reminiscent of Olaf Stapledon, was To See The Invisible Man by Robert Silverberg inspired by this story?, like Lovecraft family Borges’ family had a huge library, of these executors…, enriched torture, a Swiftian character, the last sentence as a thesis statement, what’s the worse horror, the lottery as a consolation religion, think about that in 1941.

The Babylonian Lottery by Jorge Luis Borges

Posted by Jesse Willis