The SFFaudio Podcast #705 – The Temple Of Death by A.C. Benson; read by Connor Kaye
This unabridged reading of the story (43 minutes) is followed by a discussion of it.
Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Connor Kaye
Talked about on today’s show:
1911, 1903, previously published?, Jack London’s The People Of The Abyss, Ibister & Co., this folk horror thing, researching folk horror, when did these tropes actually start?, secret pagan cults, Connor was naive at that time, some folk horror tropes, a proto-form, the fingerprints of the sources and inspirations, Connor’s youtube version, American and British, The Wicker Man, what is American folk horror?, evidence of religion that came before Christianity, native American nations, The Wendigo, skinwalkers, a Christian worldview, demons and devils or witchcraft, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown, The Minister’s Black Veil, Faith, his beloved signing her name in the book of the devil, a devil worshiping cult, Anerican folk horror is within the christian worldview, secretly in league with the devil, persists to the modern day, the Satanic Panic, Pavlanvs, evangelizing, your new religion is not gonna catch on, this is a wild place, we need wild gods to survive, Lovecraft spans the divide, The Unnamable, the context of Cotton Mather, the witchcraft trials, these things are older than humanity, being an Anglophile, The Moon Bog, the horror from before, Robert E. Howard’s The Lost Race, set in bronze age Cornwall, bandit chief, a secret mission, to which he was used, crude hospitality, a pure Briton but not a pure Celt, a giant cat, a lion and a wolf, he picks a team, they approach it completely different ways, a Christian fairy tale about how Britain become Christian, ancient massive axes to grind, Beowulf, to be Christ-like, Robert E. Howard rejects religion, a Catholic priest, all storytellers and all writers, an intellectual issue to be solved, the movements of people and race mixing, 1927, willing to be a martyr, how good the Christians come across in this story, extremely likeable, tainted opinion, Cornell West wants people to be better, the most charitable position possible, my brother or my sister, bombing people to death, calling out the horror without condemning them as humans, a pre-Christian ideology, if you are a murderer, popish armies, I read about this guy named Jesus, the “good news”, now you don’t have to rot forever in the gray lands, Valhalla for the brave and the good, the promise of Christianity, converted after death, a present evidence of that ancient religion, who doesn’t want peace and love, reverse folk horror, a christian man goes to an island full of pagans, to make him a martyr, its awful vs. there is this awful horrible thing that can be cleansed, more relaxing approach to living your life, hopeful, anti-folk horror, a fear of regression, The Wicker Man (1973), a throwback to what we would have seen before everywhere, proto-folk horror, showing us, The Ritual (2017), worshiped as a duty, a tax, Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched (2021), a documentary, We Don’t Go Back: A Watcher’s Guide To Folk Horror by Howard David Ingham, fear of regression into more superstitious time, where there is not covenant with god, recent Christian converts, Abraham and Isaac, I ain’t like the other Gods, we’re going for a walk, God’s like jk, no more literal holocaust, what we need instead is for you to understand, Christ is the fulfillment of the promise of the Old Testament, I’m the Prince of Peace not the Prince of Vengeance And Judgement, Cornell West, the vigorous, Spider-Man is a real guy, the stories of Christ, a good story, there’s a guy who came here to teach us the error of our ways, let he who is without sin cast the first stone, second layer of thinking, talking in parables, heaven towards our sisters and brothers on the planet, why we like Paulanus so much, offering a hand of friendship and comfort, converted and forgiven, transmuted, the answer to folk horror’s cynicism or worries about human nature, man against man, beast against beast, the cycle of violence, to become the priest you must kill the priest, the breaking of that cycle, the turning of the cheek, the monster is dead and buried, they turn it into a Christian school, the foundation of the new church is on the bones of the dead religion (that nobody really liked anyway), violence, this bloody big monster that’s going to kill people, our priest of death tells his own story, I killed my own brother, the story of Cain and Abel, Cain is marked by God, he is under My protection, that’s the guy who killed his brother, isolated and shunned from society, no option for forgiveness, down the path of horror, live in death, here comes Christianity to save the day, you’re never beyond redemption, a being that deserves respect, seen as irredeemable, a pariah, do not go into the forest, why is he doing this?, I know who this is?, would you like to know more?, would you like to go through the door?, he always says yes, that’s his mission, which race succeeds which race, a reaching out to those who are mistaken, brother let me show you the way, I would like you to live with me for a time, that sounds dangerous, I will, we don’t see the emotional change inside his head, this is gratitude, relief, relaxation, almost grace, you haven’t seen the real me yet, the plank, foggy, shrouded, dark, there is this literal monster caged up, as big as a horse, when it dies we can find another way now, a bizarre god, it sounded like Pan, an idol in the temple, half-goat half-man, The Guide To Supernatural Fiction by E.F. Bleiler, 729 pages, densely typed story summaries, Nemi, he merely held the spear and it killed itself, in the face of Christianity the old religion killed itself, how Christianity came to Britain, no residential schools, how it was done in North America, becoming Catholics by default, how Ragnar Lodbrok became a Christian, that show (Vikings), we don’t know what the priest knows, his fears, his worries, legitimated, I got something in the back room that scares the shit out of me, when the beast breaks out of its cage, a square island, a moat, pens, a temple, a hovel, weapons, ancient weapons?, far away in time or space, he puts down a club, this god who have a half-man half-god to be sacrificed, a sophisticated weapon/religion, story attraction, how strong can your god be if he died on a wooden stick, that’s interesting, just give obedience to that guy over there with the fish hat (the pope), fairy tale structure, William Hope Hodgson, no scroll being uncovered, fairy tale timeline, him as an old man, a one to one, he lived happily ever after, omniscient, the description of the beast, as huge as a horse, his small head was laid back on his hairy shoulders, his red mouth, it could be a lion, a giant wolf, a giant man, its up to your imagination, a series of rough hewn gates, the forest, drawbridge, sheep, a great statue on a pedestal, half-man half-goat crouched to spring, the beginning is interpretable through the end, Cernunnos, the horned god, Herne The Hunter, the Green Man with horns, the merging with man with his primary prey (deer/goats), pre-Christian religion in England is murky, per-Christian Roman culture and religion, The Golden Bough by James Frazer, comparative mythology, the priesthood of Diana, the goddess of nature and hunting, sacred grove, a certain tree, a drawn sword, set upon by an enemy, a priest and a murderer, such was the rule of the sanctuary, how you become a priest of Diana, The King Of The Wood, if A.C. Benson was interested in folklore or mythology, he could have read the first page and got this idea, a Christian Roman, an ironic cyclical thing, what Caesar says, they like sickles and harvesting oak moss, druids, that song from Spinal Tap, nobody knows, they’re strange, Diana of Nemi, conflated with Artemis, Lake Nemi, according to the legend, the Tauric Diana, the myth has it, the temple of Saturn, sacrificed on her altar, a milder form (of human sacrifice), a scared grove, a carved cult image, archaic and Etruscan in form, go to their danger, her priest will hunt you, page 13 (of 36), Paul <- Paulanus, a transformation on the road, the way of Christ, so it is this that is taking hold of the world, women and children in fair houses, the god who made these woods, he loves death and darkness, a brutish sort (of love), the sharp woes and agonies, death sweats and cries of despair, your simple easy-going god might dwell within them, beyond the memory of man, I should be content if it had victory, go to sleep, a nice story, I wish it were true, I’d like you to live here with me, don’t you want to see the scary god in the back shed?, all externalized, a good religion for middle class people with good incomes, the grinding horror of this forest, my God is patient, things will work out in the end, a strange way, hey, you’re not the priest, your god killed him, he goes through the whole story, it’s all about the story, maybe you should be the teacher and replace that temple, how Christianity got its grip on this island, a way of solving the question: how did it come to be?, how did Christianity come to the British isles, this isn’t a colonizer, a fiction, a wandering disciple, it feels Biblical, the language of it, particular style, a good choice, the story of Paul, the messenger of Jesus, that transformational character, apostles vs. disciples, Judas is forgiven too, Tarsus, the apostle of the gentiles, where the most success there is with Jesus, non-Jews become Christians, through personal revelations, post-ascension Jesus, a post-prophet, neither Connor nor Jesse are not a bible expert, contemporaneous but not present, he is the guy who converts non-witnesses, how the the Latter Day Saints do it too, so your religion spreads, to model the behavior, the Good News, Jews don’t prosthelytize, an appeal to it, like Christianity and Islam, god not having to be seen is more fitting, what colour Thor’s armour is, we don’t give his real name, let it be to your imagination, some churches, Jesus embodied on the cross vs. the cross without a Jesus, intellectual strategies, we’re all brothers vs. crusades style, more Jesus centered Christianity, the oldness the art, the discipline, monks, nunneries, self-denial, self-abnegation, literal news, you don’t have to do it the old way anymore, modelling the behavior, acting the Christian, why it works as a really good story, a very strange story, we wouldn’t see the appeal of the change, preachy and judgemental, the way of love and peace among brothers, a whole new world (not being worried about being killed), an insane method of succession, propaganda, Julius Caesar’s accounts, pre-Christian religions written about through and by a Christian lens, human history, the blood eagle, to wield power, to intimidate, the way Genghis operated, the Romans were brutal, openly and ultimately corrupt, cool takeaways from Nietzsche, take it like a Christian, seeing that, they seem to have a conviction that we don’t have, there story is an inversion of ours, submission and peace and willingness to suffer, a judo flip on the mind, a weird flex, Constantine, hey we’re all Christians now, a politic move, literally leading an army, all of that considered, a more mentally healthy worldview, murder or sacrifice, human sacrifice doesn’t seem that cool, there is a textbook, apocrypha, the King James Bible, Jesus wants you to support the war in Iraq, when somebody was accused of adultery, having literacy, a subset of Christians, these are our brothers and sisters we need to cherish them, it doesn’t negate bravery, act as if you believe because you hope it is true, why people believe things, a kind of discipline and rigor, codes of behaviors that need to be served, he doesn’t have a book with him, spreading the word based on what he has read or what he was told, this is how you read, you can read it for yourself, the power struggle, controlling who can read, be rich and hire a tutor, send your kid to be a copyist, minor nobility, acquiring wealth, roles for people even if they can’t read, when the printing press comes in, Koreans who became Christians in the 19th and 20th centuries, analyzing through angles, nothing is in a steady state, a story science, like science, an ice-core sample, as early as 1903, through the other data that we know, folk horror is still with us, our first urban legend for Reading, Short And Deep, urban legends don’t have a first publication, Rapunzel, Lucy Crane and her brother, High Beams, The Killer In The Back Seat, my cousin heard this from her brother, this is a story that can only exist in the 20th century, coming out of a context, working with a specific text, who told it to who in what context?, a document frozen in time, we can infer some things, what A.C. Benson may be doing that we didn’t notice, the Greeks and the Romans were from peoples that had these things, they might have their version of Pan, we can trace a lot of it, Google Books scanning, the two things, a connection there, drawing those connections, use an index, The Tempest by William Shakespeare, Caliban’s mom (Sycorax), Setebos, Solomon Kane, The One Black Stain by Robert E. Howard, Patagonia, a reference to Magellan, Antonio Pigafetta, that’s the same god!, a contemporary book, deep archaeological extractions, we can be wrong but we can always go back to the original sample, people like to fiddle, like chain of custody, reading old stories richer, who cares if a book references Trump now, the golden haired dunce, they just assumed people would know what they were talking about, 1921/7, Randall’s Round by Eleanor Scott, it’s obvious when you know, new volumes of The Golden Bough, here in the future where we are, all we see is the racism, they’re so sexist back then, how randy 1950s Americans were, going steady, the 1950s slick magazines, sex habits of teenagers, we think they’re so repressed, you’re only getting part of it, there can be nudity, why women should get married younger, a vague memory of your parents or grandparents, the actual archaeological stratum, the fossils of the culture, they have skin and put on makeup, recording history, leaving out bits of information, holding yourself accountable, humans are self-centered, when recording history, print media sources, what were the gossip rags talking about, Victorian England as prudish, venereal diseases, orphans in Dickens, public prudity and private indulgence, The New Accelerator [by H.G. Wells], all the drugs, heroin at the grocery store, hashish, poppy smoking clubs (opium dens), heroin was a product made by Bayer, give it to your kids, moral panics over coffee and tea, kill lots of people to get tea or rum cheaper, deploy your soldiers with rum, the Rum Rebellion in Australia, an act of rebellion against Governor Bligh, hiding under his bed, a government overthrown, the trucker rebellion in Canada, a Boxer Rebellion is china, not just religious mania, twice, famously he had mutinies under him, reading about 5 or 6 times, as many stories, historical significance, it has a literal monster in it, folk horror that contains monsters and monster-free folk horror, werewolfy creature, the symbolic part, at the center, the reason it is locked up, how native people dealt with criminals, paddle you out to an island, we don’t want to kill each other, governments make us kill, a committee, why the hangman wears a mask, a faceless thing, indigenous Australian criminal justice, a free shot, go back to livin, it’s hard when it’s murder, a chaotic person who can’t be controlled and is dangerous, anthropology in uni, much like Julius Caesar, like JFK, royalty from the society, they disaffect from the royal line, punishments come from the community of power, rogues, the philosophy of love, “take care of it”, whack em, so many metaphors, synonyms for words that has massive taboos, euphemisms, obscured behind layers of meaning, execute means do, to carry through to the end, executive power is the power to do, he gotta get done, gotta get got, a murder who wants to be forgiven, all people are good or can be,
the breaking of the cycle, the priest’s brother is like that, what are the options, a much harder story to tell, asking for forgiveness (rather than permission), talking to little kids about Spider-Man, he’s a do-gooder, in a punishment society, make a virtue of thinking through , what would Jesus do, N-Law launchers to blow up tanks in Ukraine, don’t send weapons to death squads, chickenhawks run the society.
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