Monday, December 28, 2009
One of my big projects of the last couple of years (ever since picking Big Al's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series back up in 2008) has been exploring the roots of modern speculative fiction, and one of the best resources for this has been looking at the list of books in Lin Carter's Ballantine Adult Fantasy series.
The short version of the BAF story (as short a version as I know how to tell, anyway): in the 1960s, Ballantine Books founders Ian and Betty Ballantine noted the rise in popularity of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth series of books (it would be hard not to, with every third baby boomer picking up a complete set) and, deciding that classic fantasy was the current "thing", hired the aforementioned Mr. Carter to edit a new imprint for them featuring the genre.
Now, Carter may not have been much of a fictionist (that's a little unfair of me, as the only fiction of his that I've read have been his Conan pastiches - perhaps there are some Carter fans out there that can inform me of some masterpiece of his I've missed out on), but the guy sure knew his fantasy. Given pretty much carte blanche to publish whatever he saw fit, Carter brought out classic after classic by Lord Dunsany, James Branch Cabell, the amazing Clark Ashton Smith, and many other forgotten fantasy masters, presumably blowing many a hippie's and/or erstwhile Shire-dweller's mind.
The concluding irony? A series that was probably at least in part created to "cash in" on the then-current craze for fantasy fiction ended up barely in the black. No matter. A number of great authors' works were rescued from oblivion; all parties involved came as close as any published series ever has to establishing a fantasy canon (although the later Fantasy Masterworks series also does a fine job), and the Ballantines and Carter now, no doubt, have the great Dharmacakra tilting in their favor.
The original BAF logo (courtesy SF Bookworm)
BAF On The Web
There are several good sources for info on the BAF series on the web. The best by far that I've found is this gorgeous gallery of scans at skwimshmi.com. The Wikipedia article on the series is quite informative (you knew I'd get that one in there, didn't you?), and you can preview the likes of the Carter-edited anthology Discoveries In Fantasy at that other amazing Internet time-devourer, Google Books.
Page 42, Paragraph 8:
This is better than I thought possible. She says we can leave in the early morning hours before dawn. She says, "If we're going to be walking far, it's probably a good idea to fill up our bellies before we do. I'll come back before dawn with more and better things to eat. We'll make our bellies full, after which we'll journey a long way off, just you and me."
Page 43, Paragraph 1 (first full paragraph):
She says, "I'm going to go now, because Hob will be back soon. One more night of lying in the pigpen, and then you'll sleep with me." She bends over and licks my cheek and my mouth. I lick her face back, where the taste of semen is strong, dried on her cheek. She stands and smiles. "Before dawn," she says, "we go out the gate, shut it, and go."
The sun becomes low in the sky, and I eat the poultry* down to the bone. Hob's come back here, and I hear him and the girl whispering in the hut. Hob says something, and the girl laughs. That's good, because I think the girl wants Hob to [still] like her, so he doesn't think she's planning on going away and not coming to see him anymore.
I smile at this. It's great that the girl can lie to Hob. If she's smart enough to do this, she'll be smart when it comes to foraging food and finding it for me. Through the reeds, across the river, the sun's become so big and low that its heat makes the world's edge smoke. The river's so still that I can look on the darkening of the other world there beneath the world there beneath the water, where another bird flies silently.**
*Probably chicken, but who knows? Maybe the girl went duck hunting or something.
**That's a beautiful little image, isn't it? I keep thinking about how much I'd like to teach this book - it's exemplary in so many ways.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Wikipedia article on Prehistoric Britain (for "Hob's Hob", "The Cremation Fields", and "In The Drownings")
Wikipedia article on fairies (for "Hob's Hog")
Wikipedia article on Bronze Age Britain (for "The Cremation Fields")
Wikipedia article on Iron Age Britain (for "In The Drownings")
Wikipedia article on Britannia/Roman Britain (for "The Head Of Diocletian")
Answers.com page on St. Ragener (for "November Saints")
Wikipedia article on the Crusades (for "Limping To Jerusalem")
Wikipedia article on Francis Tresham (for "Confessions Of A Mask")
(featured) Wikipedia article on John Dee (for "Angel Language")
Wikipedia articles on witchcraft, the "witch-cult hypothesis", and witch hunts (for "Partners In Knitting")
Wikipedia article on John Clare (for "The Sun Looks Pale Upon The Wall")
Wikipedia article on the writer Jim Thompson (Moore's most probable influence on "I Travel In Suspenders")
Speaking of Wikipedia, help 'em out if you can, will ya? Thanks.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Now I smell flowers; the girl has come from the hut by the wall around the pigpen and through the gate. She has poultry and bread. She kneels and puts the food down on the hay so I can see it.
I don't look at the food, but quickly say everything I'm thinking about. I say, "It's no good for you to stay with Hob. You and I can go far away, just the two of us, and forage so well that we'll want for nothing." I take her hand and hold it tight, and say, "I think you don't like finding wood for Hob all the time, or cooking his meat. You're not having good times with Hob, that's why you want me to stay and make things better, like you said." She's quiet now, but nods her head "yes".
I say, "If you come with me and travel around the world, you'll have nothing but good times." I keep talking like this until I can't think of anything else to say, and now it gets quiet as time goes by; she doesn't say anything. Oh no. I think I said something bad. She's not going to come with me. She's going to make me go off all alone and not see her anymore. I'm full of fright; it's so quiet in the pigpen now.
She looks at me. She smiles.
"Yes," she says. "Yes."
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Page 41, Paragraph 5:
At night, she's in the hut all alone with Hob. He's bigger than her, and he makes her do things. He puts his penis in her and has sex with her. No. No, it's worse than anything I want to think about. Maybe he makes her rub his erection with her hair, like she did with me - the thought of this is even worse still. Hob doesn't want her to have sex with any man except him - he's scared her, which is why she wouldn't let me put a hand on her. Now I'm upset. Why, it's like she's not hers - she's Hob's!
I think about how it isn't good for her that she's kept all the time by a man that's as evil and crazy as Hob. He's older than the trees; he killed his son in this world, so that he can only see him in the other world. In the other world, where the Urk-kine sit on the shagfoal, beneath the cave-ceiling made of little boys' bones, where Hob makes his son go, as the spirits have indebted Hob to them with the thoughts that he can make his strange path-song [path-spell]. It's so bad that it can't be put into words. I can't let the girl stay here anymore. I'll make her go with me far away, and walk, and journey onwards, and not settle. It's not right for people to settle. There's no good in it.
Page 42, Paragraph 1:
By the white-skinned hut across from the pigpen I hear the girl - she's still looking for food. I think about how it would be if we ran off together. I don't think I'd be good at foraging on my own, but the girl's smarter than me and she can forage many things for us like my mother did. We can walk across the skeleton-woman bridge, and then across the world, the flower-scented girl and I. When she's away from Hob and isn't scared of him anymore, I can make her take off her clothes and open up her legs as far as they'll go.
Inside my clothes, Old Will only tingles a bit, as he's still too weak to stand.
Progress note: Finished "Partners In Knitting" (probably the most darkly beautiful chapter that I've read so far) and "The Sun Looks Pale Upon The Wall" (it helped to read this first). Holy crap! I've only got about 50 pages left. What am I gonna do when I'm finished?
Monday, December 14, 2009
Page 41, Paragraph 1:
She and I stand up, but my legs are shaky and weak. "Come on," she says, and takes my hand in hers, and hand in hand we walk through the flowers and through trees and down the bare hill of stumps. All this time I think of nothing but her hand, our fingers intertwined. I feel better than I ever have in my life. We go down the hill, through the mud and bees, with rot in the stumps and in the air. The flower perfume on the girl draws the bees to us, so I'm constantly swatting them away.
We go up the rise with the little thicket of trees and we're down in the reeds; this is the route we take to the hut and the pigpen. We were up on the hill for a long time - I can tell it's afternoon by where the sun's at in the sky. It's gotten cold, so that I pull tighter on Hob's son's clothes, since he's neither alive nor does he need them. The girl opens the gate and tells me to go back in the pen, so that she can find more food before Hob comes back.
I do this, and then sit on the hay and think about a lot of things. The girl goes away to look in the white-skin hut to find something to eat. I think of how she shut her legs so I couldn't rub her vagina, and of how she wouldn't let me touch her breasts, and how she said no man can touch her.
Now I understand everything.
Progress note: I finished "Limping to Jerusalem" (take that, Dan Brown!), "Confessions Of A Mask" (is it just Moore that's obsessed with Guy Fawkes, or are English folks in general?), and "Angel Language" (just when we thought things couldn't get any more disturbing...), and am about halfway through "Partners in Knitting".
Friday, December 4, 2009
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland meets Ulysses in Hell. Probably the most brilliant piece of horror fiction I've ever read - the only thing I can think of that comes close in Poe's "Cask of Amontillado", and this might be even more ingenious than that. I mean, come on - this anticipates the writing style of James Joyce by 15 years (it was written in 1899) and Lovecraft's by nearly a quarter-century. Why isn't this guy better known today? To be placed in the sui generis file alongside Clark Ashton Smith, I guess (i.e., too fuckin' weird for almost anyone to understand, not to mention appreciate).
PS It appears that Alan Moore is a Machen fan, too - check out this and this.
Addendum: I did a little editing of (and added some hyperlinks to) the second paragraph, just for fun.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Quiet. Above the clearing in the trees a flock of black birds flies as one, this way and that with the wind, so high that they become as small as bugs. The girl rubs her hand on the grass to rub off the semen. Now she points with one finger for me to look, and I see where my semen hangs like a little string bridge between the roses aways off. It went farther than I thought; she and I laugh at this.
It gets even quieter now. Far away, on the wind, comes the noise of the settlers, having a good time around their fires. It's the noise of many voices, and the loud noise of a wooden drum beating, and the noise of a bone flute. It's the noise of children and dogs. Now the wind changes direction, and the noise goes away. The girl says, "We need to go back down by Hob's hut now, so that he doesn't get back and find me gone." She says, "You can put your penis back in your clothes," and smiles.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Page 40, Paragraph 2:
She bends over, and holds her head down so that her long bright hair hangs down like vines there all around my penis. Now she takes a long, thick strand of hair in her hand to wrap in her fingers around my hot erection. Oh, she rubs me with her hair, all up and down, all quick and hard so that it pulls and is likely to hurt her head, but she makes not a sound, only rub and rub, and the rubbing's good, and the thought of it is better yet, her hair is so soft and bright in the sun, and a strong sensation moves up my erection, slow like a snail, from my ass, through the width of my penis to the tip where it prickles good, and now a little circle of semen comes out of it, like the dew that comes on the grass at dawn, and she's rubbing harder, faster, and I'm imagining that this isn't the rubbing of hair in her hand, but the rubbing of hair around her vagina, and oh, and the thought of this goes quickly down my belly, up my penis and oh, and the girl is holding harder so that it hurts but the hurt is good, and harder yet to stop my semen, but it is now, and now, and now, a stream of semen falls on her cheek, in her hair, and wets the aurochs skin around her head, and more, and more, on my legs and down her fingers, wetting the grass and white on the bloody eyes of the flowers and oh, and Mother. Mother.
Did this remind anyone else of the last chapter of Ulysses?
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Later: I'm now about 20 pages into "The Cremation Fields" (a.k.a. Chapter Two) and am really enjoying it - the prose is really gorgeous. As much of an interesting challenge as "Hob's Hog" was, it's nice to be in a section of the book where it doesn't take a whole day to get through four pages. I'm also gonna try to read VOTF exclusively now until I get all the way through it and will change the little widget where I have my current reading/listening/etc. listed accordingly. I will continue to post my "translations" of "Hob's Hog" as often as I can, though they will probably continue to be somewhat infrequent as I am currently trying to pick up as much overtime as I can at work.
Page 39, Paragraph 9:
My clothes make a little hut. She wants to see my penis, and she pulls my clothes back off from it, the way a man will pull the skin off an animal that he's caught and run to the ground. My penis is standing in the cold air of this open circle of trees, dark and hot, and now she wraps her fingers around it, and her fingers are even colder, but this is good. Her hand goes up and then down, and inside of it my foreskin goes the same way, and oh, it rubs so softly, and her fingers now become warm.
Now I put my hand beneath her clothes so that I can put my finger up her vagina, but shuts her legs hard and catches my hand between them, all soft and strong and wet with heat. "No," she says. "If you don't take your hand off my vagina, I'm not going to rub you anymore."
Page 40, Paragraph 1 (first full paragraph):
I do as she says, but now I say, "Can I suck your breasts?" She replies, "No. No man can put a hand on me. Just lie back in the roses while I keep doing what I'm doing to your penis." I lie back, so that the roses are up high like some strange bright trees around my head as I'm looking at them from below. I lift my head, so I can see what the girl is doing.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
A noise. I'm frightened. I run back quickly and oh! Many petals from the roses fly up like a bunch of butterflies, and the girl sits up from where she was hidden among them and laughs at me.
I walk through the flowers to where she sits, still laughing with her hand on her mouth and her belly shaking. It's really good to see her, but I'm upset, and was frightened that I wouldn't see her. I say, "It's not nice of you to hide and to make me run. Do you want me to look like a baby?" and so forth. The more I talk, the more upset I become, so much so that I spit as I'm talking.
Now she puts her hand on my penis, through the fur of my clothing, and holds the fur all around my erection, which is where I stop talking.
"Sit down," she says, and pulls on my penis so that I sit down by her in the roses. My legs are shaking, because the bones have gone from them into my penis. It's as if my thoughts go down from my belly and are now all held between her fingers there.
Monday, November 23, 2009
I see a ray of sunlight in front of me, where the smell and singing are coming from, and I run this way. By the earthworm's hill and the river's knee...
There's an opening in the trees, all bright with sunlight, from which comes her voice and her flower-smell; I figure she's not far behind. And there they lie, he and she...
I walk out quickly through the dark, high woods, and come to a blockage in the opening, where there are trees standing in a circle. I'm breathing hard and loud, but everything else gets quiet. The girl isn't here, but the flower-scent is, and I don't understand how she...
I look down. All around my feet and across the open circle are flowers; many red roses, bright below my knees, as if I'm walking in blood. There's no noise. There's no girl. She changed completely into flowers.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I smell flowers now, through the trees in front of me; I walk softly in the direction of the smell, and I come to a fallen, rotten tree, and I can't smell flowers anymore. But... ah. The wind makes the scent come over here, stronger, all along the path to the west of me. I have yet to put either foot on this path before I hear her singing, as if from a long ways off.
Oh, how may I find a mate,
The journey-boy says...*
The smell becomes stronger as I'm running, quickly, on the path, with my feet landing loudly on the dry leaves beneath them. Above this I hear her song float softly from the top of the woods.
Up the valley's edge, the shadow of the tree,
By the earthworm's hill and all...
I come by the briar bush, where I turn to follow the smell. It's like hunting for food, and the thought of this is strange and good in my belly; my blood flows through me quickly. The leaves fly all around my footfalls like many dried-up birds.
And lie with her before
I'm put to dirt all grey...
Now the smell of flowers is everywhere, and my penis becomes erect, so that it rubs roughly on my clothes. The sound of her song is louder, like she's not far away. Up the valley's edge, in the shadow of the tree...
*This is, of course, the same song the girl was singing back on page 26.
Nine pages left.
And Happy Birthday to Alan Moore, Grand Wizard of Englandshire, famed ballroom dancer and classic beauty. He only twitters with his brain.
Have a good one, Affable Al. We love ya.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Now she says, "If Hob kills the boy in the other world, why, he'll still be alive in this one. And if Hob kills the boy in this world, he'll be alive in the other one, where you saw him and Hob by the light of the moon, like you told me."
This is the hardest thing to understand that I've ever heard. I don't say anything; I just look a long ways off, to where the village stands by the river. The settlers are doing a lot of different things, by the look of them. They're hanging up bright skins on their huts; and people are quickly walking around many smoking fires, this way and that. I think it's a good time for them, but I don't know how.
The girl gets up off the stump now and walks slowly, idly, in little circles, kicking at dry leaves with her foot so that they fly everywhere. Her little circles get bigger and bigger and she goes farther and farther away from me, until she comes to the edge of the woods that rises up behind us. I think she's going to turn back toward me, but oh! Oh, she walks beneath a big dark tree where I can't see her! I'm all alone, with tree stumps all around me, below the frightening open sky.
Page 38, Paragraph 1 (first full paragraph):
I stand up quickly and run for the trees, the way I saw the girl go. I yell, "Come back here! Where'd you go?" and so forth, but she says nothing, and I come into the high, dark woods and stop to look all around. There are trees everywhere, and more trees behind them, and many dark paths go through here. I try to hear the noise of her soft step on the leaves, but it's all quiet - she doesn't make any noise.
Ten pages left.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
"Why, how's this?" I say. "How can a story as strange as this become even stranger?" The girl looks at me and doesn't smile. Her face is expressionless. She looks in my direction, but it's like she's seeing something a long ways off.
She says, "The settlers were going to make Hob put his son to the axe - if he didn't, Hob and his son would be cast out, and die. But Hob didn't want to kill his son. He thought and thought about this, and realized there was only one thing he could do."
I say, "What's that?"
She says, "This is the strange part. Hob put the boy to the axe, so he's dead. But no one knows if he was killed in this world or killed in the other world. No one but Hob knows which one it was," she says, "this world or the other. This is something I didn't know." I look at her and say nothing.
Monday, November 9, 2009
I say, "I saw Hob and his son, by the light of the moon."
She turns to me quickly, looks at me hard, and speaks in a whisper. "How's that?" she says.
I tell her all that I saw; she doesn't reply. I say, "It's like those strange times when I see the shagfoal and see my mother. I see them at night when I shut my eyes." At this she nods to tell me that what I'm saying is right.
Page 37, Paragraph 1 (first full paragraph):
She says, "At night, when we shut our eyes, we go to another world, where the shagfoal is, and where dead people are, and many strange things like that." She says, "It's this other world that makes more strangeness still in the talk of Hob and his son."
Sunday, November 8, 2009
H.P. Lovecraft’s Favorite Weird Tales ed. Douglas A. Anderson (Cold Spring Press 1-59360-056-9, Oct 2005, $14.00, 391pp, tp, cover by Daniel Govar); Anthology of 18 stories listed by HPL as his favorite literary and popular weird tales. Edited and with an introduction by Douglas A. Anderson. Authors include Arthur Machen, Ambrose Bierce, and A. Merritt.
7 · Introduction · Douglas A. Anderson · in
11 · I THE LITERARY WEIRD TALE
12 · The Fall of the House of Usher · Edgar Allan Poe · ss Burton’s Gentlemen’s Magazine Sep, 1839
30 · The Suitable Surroundings · Ambrose Bierce · ss San Francisco Examiner Jul 14, 1889
38 · The Death of Halpin Frayser · Ambrose Bierce · ss The Wave Dec 19, 1891
52 · The Novel of the Black Seal · Arthur Machen · nv The Three Impostors, John Lane, 1895
87 · The Novel of the White Powder · Arthur Machen · ss The Three Impostors, John Lane, 1895
102 · The Yellow Sign · Robert W. Chambers · nv The King in Yellow, New York & Chicago: F. Tennyson Neely, 1895
119 · Count Magnus · M. R. James · ss Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, Edward Arnold, 1904
131 · The White People · Arthur Machen · nv Horlick’s Magazine Jan ’04
165 · The Willows · Algernon Blackwood · na The Listener and Other Stories, London: Eveleigh Nash, 1907
209 · The House of Sounds · M. P. Shiel · nv The Pale Ape and Other Pulses, London: T. Werner Laurie, 1911
235 · The Moon Pool [Walter Goodwin] · A. Merritt · na All-Story Weekly Jun 22 ’18
279 · Seaton’s Aunt · Walter de la Mare · nv The London Mercury Apr ’22
307 · II THE POPULAR WEIRD TALE
308 · Beyond the Door · Paul Suter · ss Weird Tales Apr ’23
324 · The Floor Above · M. L. Humphreys · ss Weird Tales May ’23
336 · The Night Wire · H. F. Arnold · ss Weird Tales Sep ’26
343 · The Canal · Everil Worrell · ss Weird Tales Dec ’27
362 · Bells of Oceana · Arthur J. Burks · ss Weird Tales Dec ’27
374 · In Amundsen’s Tent · John Martin Leahy · ss Weird Tales Jan ’28
We go up farther and look and see that we're above the hill with the building on it; we then go up more still. In the building all the aurochs and pigs are lying down (the pigs, by the dirt wall) to hide from the wind. I follow the girl and say nothing because it's hard to catch my breath and the wind takes everything we say aways off from us. We walk up and up, toward the treeline, which rises up all black above us there by the valley's edge. The girl walks in front of me, and the wind rubs her flower smell in my face.
We stop by the treeline and sit down on a stump, and for a long time we're so out of breath we can't speak. I look at the building below us on the hill there, where the herd-keeper, all little, comes from the middle of the building's inside circle. He walks between the aurochs, across the circle, and comes through the gate by the circular pen where there are pigs and chickens. In his hands he holds a container which is full of ground wheat, which he throws to the chickens for them to eat. Now he goes back by the wooden hut and we don't see him anymore.
I turn to the girl as I sit by her on the stump. "How old is Hob?" I say.
She looks at me, and now looks aways off to pull at the aurochs hide around her wind-blown hair. She says, "Hob is older than me and you and someone the same age as you [put together]. He's older than any man I've ever heard of. " I reply, "It's strange. It's not good that a man can be alive for such a long time." I say this with a dark inflection, so she knows I don't like Hob. I want her to come to dislike Hob, so she'll like me more. Yet she only smiles, and looks across the valley, and says nothing.
Thanks to my wife Michele for her assistance with this post.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
"Today we're going up to the valley's edge," she says, "above the animal pen up on the hill. From there we can see the river valley and many other things."
I put my penis back in my clothes. "Yes," I say, "this is good," and so forth, but I feel myself blush. She stands up to walk by the gate. The wind pulls at her long, bright hair, so that she has to pull the band of aurochs hide around it down tighter. It looks good, flying in the wind. "Come now," she says. "Come up to the valley's edge."
[We go] between the reeds and through the thicket of trees, and now down in the wet mud, where the stumps are all black with rot. The girl follows a path in front of me, so that she doesn't step into the mud holes (neither do I, as I'm following her), and by this route we come up a big hill that runs up the valley's edge. Around us are stumps, and the open sky is above us. To the west is the hill with the building on it, where I can smell ox and pig and hear the noises they make, because the wind is coming from there toward me.
Page 36, Paragraph 1 (first full paragraph):
As the girl and I are walking up the hill, the wind makes many dried leaves run at us, all across the grass. End over end they come, very quickly, like many little animals running before a forest fire.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Page 35, Paragraph 3 (first paragraph after the break):
My feet and hands are cold now. I try to open my eyes but they're held shut with eye-snot*, which I now scratch off so I can open them better. Daylight has come, but it's a grey day. There are so many sky-beasts that they make one beast so big that it hangs across the whole sky. The old wind blows hard, and it howls here above the pigpen.
Now I smell cooked fish. Now, apples. I smell flowers.
"Come," she says, "here's some food. Where do you want to go today?"
I eat the apples and the fish while she kneels quietly beside me. I stand up to take a piss. The old wind is so strong it carries the smell of my piss far away, so I can piss on the pigpen wall without being afraid that Hob will find me. My penis is big, but it gets smaller as the water comes out of it. I turn and see that the girl is looking at my penis and smiling.
*And what do you actually call that stuff, pray tell?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Anyway, here it is, with the books listed in roughly the order I plan on reading them:
H.P. Lovecraft's Favorite Weird Tales - Douglas A. Anderson (ed.)
Island - Aldous Huxley
The War Of The Worlds - H.G. Wells
The Time Machine - Wells
The Island Of Dr. Moreau - Wells
The Invisible Man - Wells
The First Men In The Moon - Wells
The Food Of The Gods - Wells
In The Days Of The Comet - Wells
Splinter Of The Mind's Eye - Alan Dean Foster
Cthulhu's Heirs - Thomas M.K. Stratman (ed.)
The Histories - Herodotus
Utopia - Sir Thomas More
Complete Tales & Poems - Edgar Allan Poe
The Coming Of Conan The Cimmerian - Robert E. Howard
Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
The Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis
A Wrinkle In Time - Madeleine L'Engle
I might change it up a bit and tackle Splinter Of The Mind's Eye (there's a real obscuro one for all you Star Wars geeks out there) after, say, The Invisible Man if I'm getting sick of Wells by that point (which I probably will be), but otherwise I think I'm pretty much gonna go in that order.
I'd also like to get my hands on the following titles, eventually (after I read all the stuff on the list above, of course):
Dreams From My Father - Barack Obama
To Your Scattered Bodies Go - Philip Jose Farmer
Behold The Man - Michael Moorcock
Crash - J.G. Ballard
A Harlan Ellison collection (I'd love to tackle the monstrous (1,200 pages!) Essential Ellison: A 50 Year Retrospective, but I'm thinking that something like Deathbird Stories might be a little more realistic - I love Ellison, but I don't wanna read just him for a year.)
The Haunting Of Hill House - Shirley Jackson
Rosemary's Baby - Ira Levin
Perhaps Lovecraft's Horror In The Museum or some other volume of classic weird fiction I haven't checked out yet.
What's on your list(s)?
Okay. Back to business.
Page 34, Paragraph 5 (first paragraph after the break):
Now another strange thing comes. I hear a noise, and know it's my mother, hopping on one foot through the trees to find me -I open my eyes to look at her but don't see her. There's only the pigpen, quiet in the dark, and the noise is coming from behind the wall with the gate in it. I stand up to walk to the wall in the light of the moon, which has climbed high in the sky while was unaware. Now I'm by the wall, and I look across it.
All around the rise, the reeds have become white and sharp, like ice in the moonlight. Walking in the grass, bent over*, is Hob, and a boy walks by him. Like the moon and the reeds, they're white, and everything is white, and I see now that Hob's face isn't black anymore except where the black is rubbed dark into his eye-sockets, so he can't wash it away.
Page 35, Paragraph 1:
The boy walks by Hob, and the hair on his head is black and cut short. I see that he doesn't have hair on his chin or face, so I think he's even younger than me. Out of the reeds now, their white shapes walk up the rise to the little thicket of trees, and Hob walks hand in hand with the boy. The moonlight falls whitely on their backs and their asses, which go into the trees and turn into pieces in the blackness of the branches, where I see no more.
For a long time I look at nothing, and now I sit back down in the hay. I think that boy is Hob's son. I think of my mother, leaning on the tree and saying, "Where did my foot go?" It's a strangeness of the dark. The dark makes it so we can see spirit-dogs and dead people. The hay is warm. The dark presses on my eyelids now, as I don't have the strength to hold them up. And warmth. And dark.
*the best I can do with "low to he's belly"
Thursday, October 22, 2009
It looks like he's coming back here through the reeds, so I bend down behind the wall and crawl on all fours like a pig to the little branch-hut, but I don't go in. I pull the straw above me to get warm, and look to the sky, where the sun-blood has dried up and become all black, like with my knee.
There is a path, off out in the dark, which is made of strange sayings. It goes from the edge of the world to the edge of the world, and many sons have been sacrificed to make it. Perhaps their bones are set beneath the path, all around the world, so that the bones make a ceiling for the world below us, where the shagfoal tread through the dark, with little Urks sitting on their backs to scratch the boy-meat off the bones that hang above them.*
This world has become big and dark all around me, and the pigpen wall looks a long ways off. I hunger for the girl, for her to lie here by me, like my mother but better-smelling. The world makes me little, so that I'm so frightened I can't move or do a thing. I shut my eyes, and the sky goes away, and the world goes away, but the dark does not - it stays here by me. There's no way to stop the dark.
*That's the part that Benny was talking about several posts back. My God! What a startling image - like something out of Baudelaire's nightmares.
I don't move for so long that my bones start to hurt, so I crawl out of the branch-hut now to stand. I walk forwards and back to make my leg better, and look out across the wall of the pigpen and, likewise, across the world.
I see Hob a ways off, and I stoop behind the wall so he doesn't see me. I peek out above the top of the wall now. He crosses the reeds to the thicket of trees opposite the river. The edge of the world behind him has become blood and smoke. Hob stands with the light behind him so that he becomes all black, like a shadow.* The antlers around his head are like thin black hands, scratching at the sky to catch all his thoughts so they don't fly away.
He bends over, then stands up to walk, and then bends over again. I figure he's foraging wood, because now I see branches underneath his arm. Maybe they're for the mound of branches that stands before the aurochs hut. He walks like one who's putting actions to his thoughts and thought to his actions, which is something my mother used to say all the time, but not about me. He bends down here and then there, gathering more and more branches under his arm.
Page 34, Paragraph 1 (first full paragraph):
He turns around now, so that one edge of his frightening face is all lit up, and the sunlight is like wet blood on his antlers. I think that Hob is not of the earth, as I and my nomadic kind are, born of the earth and living by the earth and put to the earth. He is of fire. The fire's charcoal is around his eyes. The fire's blood is on his horns.
*I.e., our narrator is seeing Hob in silhouette
I'm now 30 pages into the chapter. I don't believe it.
Friday, October 16, 2009
I think since my leg is healed I can journey on. If I stay much longer in the pigpen, why, Hob can't help but find me; it's better that I go away from here. But now I think that I can forage little if I go all alone, and I'll be hungry. I think about the girl now, about how little her feet are, and the thinness of her ankles and legs below her clothes. I think about her hair, all bright and wrapped around with white aurochs hide. I want to pull this wrap from her so that her bright hair falls down about her arms, and now I realize that to go away from her is to see her no more.
In my belly my thoughts are all vexed, and they fall now to hit and bite one another like cats. There's no peace in me. I hear a noise by the hut, like a man speaking to a girl - I think Hob's come back here. I don't like Hob at all - all my thoughts are alike in this. They become quiet in my belly, where they lie and all think darkly about Hob.
I chew on the soft, grey bread, and the sun goes down in the sky. My shadow, no longer afraid, rests his long black head against the pen, and puts his ear by the aurochs skin, as if to better hear what's being said [outside] there.
Across the river, I can see that the sun is hurt as it sets. I think the sky-beasts have caught and tore at him, because his blood has fallen on them, so that the whole sky has become bloody. It's hard for me to hear, for I hear the cry of pain of the sun even though he's too far off to make noise.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I reply, "Yes," and, "You're right," and so forth, yet there's a sadness in my voice so that she understands that I don't like it that she'll be away for a long time.* Ah. It's like she doesn't hear the sadness in my voice. She turns away from me to walk to the entryway and the gate, where she stops and turns back to me. She smiles at me now.
She says, "Those clothes look good on you. You look better with them." Now she goes through the entryway and shuts the gate and goes away to where I can't see her, but as I shut my eyes, I can still see her smile in my mind.
I lie under the hay and by the branch-hut and take my pants off so I can look at my knee. The leaf that the girl put on my leg has gotten drier, as has the mud that's holding it to my leg. I take the leaf between my fingers and lift it way up from my leg; below the leaf there's soft skin growing, and the injury on my leg is all but gone.
Now I put the clothes back around my leg. She says I look better in them, and I think she's right, yet the feel of the clothes is strange to me. From the front of the white-skin hut I hear the girl go this way and now that, doing things I can't see, yet the smell of flowers is everywhere. With a hand inside my clothes, I scratch the soft skin growing below my knee. I chew on the bread while many thoughts come to me.
*I think it's interesting that he thinks that the next morning is a long time from now. Actually, I find most of the interaction between the narrator and the girl pretty charming. He's got it bad, doesn't he?
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Page 31, Paragraph 4:
The men, far away, lift their hands - I do the same. The girl doesn't move. She says, "It's good that they see you with me." "How's it good?", I say, and she replies, "Since the men see that I know you, they're not going to throw stones at you anymore." Way off on the other edge [of the river?] the men walk into where the trees are, so we can't see them anymore. "Come on now," says the girl, "let's get back to the white-skin hut before Hob gets back from the village downriver where he went."
Page 32, Paragraph 1 (first full paragraph):
Walking back, we walk slowly on the wet wood. We come down the ramp from the bridge, and I think about the skeleton woman lying in the darkness below our feet - about all she thinks of in her thin and empty head.*
Taking a long route through the trees at the river's edge and across the reeds, we come to the pigpen. I can tell by where the sun's at in the sky that it's noon. My shadow has become little and frightened - it's hiding beneath my feet.
Resting on the dirt wall, the girl says she's going now to do work for Hob. She scratches at her neck like she has an itch, and says, "I can't come to the pigpen at night, because Hob wants me for a lot of things. I'll come see you in the morning." She says, "I have some bread that I made [for you] so you won't get hungry in the meantime."
*I love that sentence; I'm not really sure why.
Friday, October 9, 2009
A link to the New York Times story, including the full citation:
In Surprise, Obama Wins Nobel For Diplomacy
I see there's already 400+ comments on it. Holy crap! I follow stuff like this pretty closely, and I totally did not see this coming (neither did Obama, apparently).
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
"It's a woman," the girl says. The woman was put here alive, so that her spirit will stay by the bridge and make the bridge good, so that it doesn't fall or catch on fire." Now the girl stands up and says no more and walks up the ramp, onto the bridge; I follow behind her. As she walks she makes another saying, strange and like a bird's, but it's not the saying about the valley's edge and the darkness of the trees and so forth. She sings this quicker, and it sounds good. It goes like this:
Lie she there beneath the wood,
And bone is she, and bone is she
Lies she there my woman good,
And by the river go we.*
We walk across the bridge, stepping from log to log slowly so we're not slipping on the mold that grows on them, and we come to the middle of the bridge (where one edge is the same distance away as the other). The cold wind is strong now, and the river is so loud beneath us that we can't hear what the other is saying. The girl says something I can't hear, and I say, "How's that?", and she yells louder, and so on. Now above the noise of the river she says, "Look now! Look to the other edge!", and points with her finger to where she wants me to look.
There across the water I see many settlers out hunting. They have spears in their hands and they drag a deer behind them. I'm afraid, because I remember that the girl said they might throw a stone at me - they're that rough. I tell her this now, and make to run off the bridge, but she says, "Hold on." She says, "They know me - they won't hurt you while I'm here. Look," she says, "those men are making a sign at us. Make a sign at them," she says, "and sign that all's well."
*I preserved the rhyme scheme and the meter this time. Yes, I know - that and a couple of bucks will buy me a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
Page 30, Paragraph 6:
She says, "How did you see the bridge in the dark?", and I reply by telling her about how I came here to take a piss, after which I went back to the pigpen. She looks at me as if she's thinking about this and smiles. "Come on," she says, "so we can stand on the river bridge."
We walk the whole length of the path, and the river bridge gets bigger as we get closer to it; it's so big that I can't imagine how many trees had to fall to make it. Here by the edge of the bridge, there's a ramp that comes up to it to make the end of bridge higher than the river's edge. The girl lies down on her belly on the ramp up to the bridge, her nose pushed up to the black logs to look between them. Her clothes cling to her ass and show its shapeliness - it makes me think about lifting them up and looking at her, but ah, I'm not going to do it. "Come here," she says, "and look between the logs."
Page 31, Paragraph 1:
I lie down by her on the bridge and look where she tells me to, through the black logs into the darkness beneath them. For a little while I don't see anything, only darkness, but now I can see better, and I see a thin, white shape lying still in the dark. I can't tell if it's a man or a woman, but I can tell it's become nothing but bones and dried-up skin. Its clothes are holey all over, yet there's no hair on the skull, as if it was torn from them. Their eye-sockets look like they're staring at us, and set in its jaw is its teeth, smiling at me.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
What's your favorite work by Alan Moore?
Voice Of The Fire 0 (0%)
V For Vendetta 0 (0%)
Watchmen 2 (50%)
From Hell 1 (25%)
The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen 0 (0%)
Other 1 (25%)
The term "magical realism" is basically horseshit.
Agree 2 (66%)
Disagree 0 (0%)
Don't know 0 (0%)
The term "horseshit" is basically magical and realistic 1 (33%)
Which of the following authors is your favorite?
H.P. Lovecraft 5 (62%)
William S. Burroughs 1 (12%)
Robert Anton Wilson 1 (12%)
Thomas Pynchon 0 (0%)
Michael Moorcock 0 (0%)
Haven't read any of 'em 1 (12%)
Please take a moment to vote in my current poll (in the upper right-hand corner of the page) while you're here. Thanks.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
ALA Banned Books
Here's an article on the same topic in the American press, if you'd like to compare.
Authors, banned books part of 1st Amendment salute
Before anyone accuses me of "getting all political", I need to state that I feel that freedom of speech is protected by the U.S. Constitution and should therefore be considered a non-partisan issue, at least here in the States. It occasionally seems to me that my friends on the Right forget that their speech is protected by the First Amendment, too.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
"What did Hob's son think about this?" I say. She moves her neck and arms, to show she doesn't know. She says, "It doesn't matter what Hob's son thinks about it - there's no good in it for him. If he runs away from the village he won't have anything to eat, and won't survive very long. If he doesn't run, Hob will kill him. Hob's son may do one thing or the other, but neither one nor the other is good for him."
She puts up her arms to stretch her back. Her little breasts push their shape against her clothing. Now she stands up and says to me, "Come on, so we can walk farther along the river's edge." She puts out her hand to pull me up so that I'm standing. Her hand is sweaty.
We walk by the river now and say nothing; we walk through a hill of dead leaves that comes up to our knees, and by walking through them scatter them everywhere. We walk underneath the trees, where we see the bridge aways off. The bridge looks bigger in the sunlight than it did in the dark - I tell the girl this. She stops, and turns to look at me.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Page 29, Paragraph 6:
Across the water a bunch of ducks rise up loudly and fly aways off above the wetness and the water, in the direction of the valley's edge. A caterpillar falls on my foot - the furry kind. I pick it up between my fingers now and pull, so that I tear it to pieces, and I play with it for a long time like this, and lick it* from my hand. The girl turns away from the river now to look at me. "It's the nomadic people that put their sons to the axe," she says.
"No," I say. "Beasts and birds don't either, unless they're crazy. I've never heard anything as frightening or strange as this before. Why, I can't think of anything worse than putting children to the axe." I go on like this, and [then] say, "Didn't Hob like** his son? Otherwise, how could he do that to him?"
"That isn't it," says the girl. "That isn't it at all. Hob loves and wants his son more than a man loves and wants his mate. More than the fire loves the dry tree. He doesn't want to kill his son."
Page 30, Paragraph 1:
I say, "But Hob can say 'no' to this, and say he's not going to kill his son, because his in charge of a lot of people."
"People want the path," she says. "People want skins and meats, and the good times that having the path come by them will bring. The settlers have gotten food and clothing and so forth for Hob for a long time, and now they want him to make a path for them, as is their due. If he doesn't kill his son and make the path right, he won't be in charge of them anymore. If he doesn't do right by them, why, they'll want to make him and his son go away from here. Cast them out, and make them forage, which might be the death of them."
*The caterpillar goo, presumably
**I think our narrator uses the same word for "like" and "love"
Monday, September 28, 2009
Now she talks about the antler-headed men, and of their spell.* "The spell is a creation stranger and bigger than anything ever made in the world before, bigger than the circle of standing stones that people have made on a big field, far in the east.** She says, "To create this spell, the antler-headed men need a power and a strangeness of thought that they haven't had before. A power that comes from the other world, beneath the earth, where the spirits walk."
"Hob and his stick-headed kind take this power from the spirit world," the girl says, "and the spirits, likewise, take their due from the antler-headed men." Now she is quiet. "How do the spirits take their due?" I say.
She explains how the spirits take that which the antler-headed men want more than anything else in the world, whatever that may be. This thing is put to the axe by the antler-headed men - killed - and is then taken by the spirits down to the other world. As is due for this, the spirits give power to the antler-headed man, and strangeness in his thoughts, so that he may cast the spell correctly.
"And with Hob," I say, "what's this thing that he wants more than anything in the world, which the spirits make him put to the axe?" Now she takes her foot from the river, white and cold, with little beads of water standing out on it. "It's his son," she says. "It's his son."
*I'm not really sure how I want to translate "saying-path" here - I'm going to go with "spell" for now, for reasons that should become apparent as we go along.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Promethea yet). My eyes wander to the 6th and 7th panels of page 22 (I'm afraid you'll have to follow along in your own copies at home, folks - our scanner is presently covered under a small mountain of paper), in which the one cop is looking into the Comedian's file. I notice the number on the file: 801108, which, as Doug Atkinson points out in his excellent annotations, is a "palindromic number, and all the numbers in it have vertical and horizontal mirror symmetry," in keeping with the chapter's theme of symmetry and mirroring.
Then, following a weird hunch that I had, I picked up my copy of DC Universe: The Stories Of Alan Moore (still my favorite collection of Moore comics, aside from the Watchmen TPB) and turned to the page in The Killing Joke where Batman is walking in Arkham Asylum in the cell block where Two-Face and the Joker are held. I look at the number on Two-Face's cell - 0751. Hm - no help there. I look at the number on the Joker's cell - 0801. A-ha! Aside from the amusing link with the Comedian (a comedian is a joker - geddit?), I figure there's some significance to the number 801 besides that and the mirror symmetry thing. (Are you with me so far?). So I Google 801 and I'm reminded that 801 is a band that the musician Brian Eno was in back in the 70s. Why is this significant? Well, Alan Moore is a huge fan of Eno's, to the extent of naming a Swamp Thing story that he wrote, "Another Green World" after an Eno song of the same name. Wait! It gets better! The name 801 comes from a lyric in a song called "The True Wheel" from the album Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy). The name of the chapter in which we see the Comedian's file, "Fearful Symmetry", is taken from a poem called "The Tyger" by William Blake. And what's the Comedian's real name?
Why, Edward Blake, of course.
Who but Alan Moore could take us from an comics anti-hero to a super-villain to a groundbreaking ambient musician to a visionary poet and then back to the anti-hero?
The Comedian in Watchmen. Art by Dave Gibbons
Ad for Batman: The Killing Joke. Art by Brian Bolland
William Blake by Thomas Phillips (Wow! He's huge!)
Page 28, Paragraph 7:
Now she stands up and turns to me. She says, "Come on - put on those clothes so we can walk by the river's edge." I stand up and do as she says; I put the clothes on my legs, my belly and my back, and on my feet. They feel strange.
From the pigpen we go by the hut, where the pile of firewood is that stands bigger than me. We come off the rise and by the reeds to the river's edge, where I came to take a piss before. We walk by the river there. I say to her, "You were telling me about the antler-headed men and the big path-saying, but you didn't say what this has to do with Hob's son or how he went away."
Page 29, Paragraph 1:
She says, "If you sit with me beneath the trees by the river's edge, I'll tell you everything there." And now we find the tree and sit here on the grass; she sits with her foot hanging down and her toes in the water, which makes bright rings.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Flowers. Dawn. The girl says, "Come - Hob has gone off to the village down the river. Come on, sit up," and so forth. She takes me by my ratty hair and pulls a little. "Come now," she says. "I have food for you." Now I open my eyes and sit up.
Ah, it's good that I didn't cross the bridge last night, and see no more of her. She's sitting by me with the sunlight on her, with skin whiter than the strip of aurochs hide wrapped around her hair. She's holding some bread in one hand and pears in the other.
The pears are soft and good to eat; their juice runs down my chin. She smiles at this, and says she's found something else for me that's not food. Now I look and see clothing by her. There are pants, shirts, and moccasins.* "How did you come by those clothes?", I say, and as I'm saying this I spit a little piece of pear onto her hand. Now she lifts up her hand, sticks out her tongue, and licks it off, looking at me the whole time. A prickling comes in my penis.
"The clothes are Hob's son's," she says, and says nothing more about it. She looks by the river, bright in the sun, and squints. I say, "How could Hob's son leave and not take his clothes?"
She still looks at the river. She says, "He didn't need clothes where he was going."
*Or the Neolithic equivalents thereof
Friday, September 18, 2009
Now I come alongside the river and through the trees, where I now see, a ways off in front of me, the river bridge I saw from the valley's edge. It's so big, and it's all made of wood - now I understand how it is that there are so many stumps nearby. The bridge lies on top of a lot of river huts like beavers make, and the noise of the river becomes loud below it. On the other edge, across the river, I see a path go a ways off, all bright in the white light of the moon.
I have an urge. I have an urge to walk across the bridge, to leave by the moon-white path from the valley and return here no more. My mother didn't raise me to do strange things like sit by huts with antler-headed men and girls that smell like flowers. I'm one of the nomadic people, and am made for walking. I want to rise up out of this valley, where everything's wet and rotten-smelling. A village by the river, where the shagfoal walk. There's no good in it.
Yet I think now of a lot of things. If I walk all alone and don't find anything to eat, I'll go hungry, like before I came to the white-skin hut. I think of the girl, with the strip of ox-fur holding back her long bright hair, and the smell of flowers all around her and the many good things she says. I think about Hob's son, whom I want to hear about, and now I look at the bridge and the white path across it, and hear the loud noise of the river, falling there in the dark.
Page 28, Paragraph 1 (first full paragraph):
I take a piss against the tree, and turn, and go back by the river's edge, and through the reeds, up the dirt rise and around the white skin hut, where I come by the pigpen. I crawl in the branch hut and beneath the hay. I shut my eyes, so that all of the world goes from me.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I think about how one may say something that isn't so; and more, on all a man can do with thoughts like this - they're that big. I think about how a long strange saying is like a path on which a man can journey all over the world. The girl has put so many strange thoughts in my belly that there's no peace in me.* I turn this way and that on the hay, and now I need to take a piss.
Page 27, Paragraph 1 (first full paragraph):
I can't piss by the white-skin hut, where Hob might smell me. I crawl out of the branch hut to stand up and cross the pigpen. I go out by the hole in the wall, and now I walk quietly in front of the hut where there's a little hill of branches and briar; the girl and Hob have foraged a lot of firewood and put it here. Now I go around the edge of the stick hill and come by the edge of the dirt rise.
There in the sky above me the sky-beasts have all pulled back, one from another, and behind them is the moon. By its light I see the reeds standing all sharp and white, so I can see where the grass is tramped down all flat, like the path that the girl takes to the river to get water. Now I come down off the rise and onto a dry path free of mud that I can walk on.
My leg doesn't hurt - it's getting better. I look down at it. The leaf that the girl put below my knee is still there, held to my leg with mud. This is good. I walk on and going this way come to where the slow, dark river moves between the trees - I go there, too. I didn't think I'd have to walk this far to piss, but it's good for me to walk instead of lying in the pigpen.
*You can imagine a lot of similar thoughts going through Adam's head after he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge, can't you?
Now there's a loud noise coming from the white-skin hut, across from the pigpen here - it's Hob. He yells, "Where's that girl? Is that a girl making noise behind my hut?" and so forth. The girl jumps up and says quietly, "I'm going to go a ways away so that Hob doesn't find me - and find you, too, while he's at it." She starts to walk off through the hay, enclosed in the smell of flowers. "Hold on," I whisper, because I'm afraid that Hob may hear. I say, "You didn't talk about Hob's son or how he went away like I wanted to know."
"It's a long story," she says, "longer than I can tell you all at once. At dawn Hob is going off - when that happens I'll come back here and tell you more about Hob's son." Now she bends down and licks my cheek.
She stands up, and turns, and she leaves quick as a deer, through the entry, around the pigpen, off into the darkness. I can't see her anymore. Her flower-smell is taken by the wind, as if the wind wants no one else to smell it, only him. Beneath my belly, I have an erection, against which the hay prickles sharply. Her spit becomes cold on my cheek.
Whispers come from the white-skin hut: the man to the girl and the girl back to the man, and now all is quiet. Her flower-smell has all gone away, so I can smell more of the pig that used to be here. I smell a rotten tree with its stump full of stagnant water, and I smell the slow river, moving far away. Now I turn so I'm facing up, with my back to the hay, looking up to the sky. There's nothing in the sky but darkness.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Page 26 (the one with the lovely Jose Villarrubia illustration on the facing page), Paragraph 1:
Here she says no more, but sits up and takes a breath. Now she softly makes a noise that has words in it, yet it's better than anything I've ever heard before, except from birds. The words she uses are like this*:
It puts a chill in my belly to hear her. Now she's quiet and says no more, but I can still hear her song, because it goes around and around, like a bird with a broken wing, in my head. Up the valley's edge, in the shadow of the tree...
Oh, how may I find a mate, the journey-boy says
Up the valley's edge, in the shadow of the tree, by the earthworm's hill and all
And lie with her before I'm put to dirt all grey
Up the valley's edge, in the shadow of the tree
By the earthworm's hill and the river's knee
And there they lie, he and she, beneath the grass and all
*I've tried to preserve the rhyme scheme of the original, but the meter's kind of fucked, I'm afraid.
Friday, September 11, 2009
"There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth."
"No reason to get excited," the thief, he kindly spoke,
"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."
All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.
Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.
Copyright ©1968; renewed 1996 Dwarf Music
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Page 25, Paragraph 2:
"Why, if a path like this is made," she says, "even more good times will come by the village here than will come to other villages, because the river bridge is here - journeying men have no way to go other than to come by here, and many good times will come here with them."
I turn onto my belly now, with the hay prickling my penis. I lie with my ass and legs in the little branch-hut and my head and arms outside of it. I turn my head to look into the sky, where I can tell that the sky-beasts have all shut their eyes because I don't see any lights. I think about the path that the girl's been talking about, but I can't really picture it fully. I say to the girl, "How would the path be made if a lot of people don't walk by it? How can people walk along this path if they don't know the way?"
Now her talk becomes strange and hard to understand. "There's a way that a man can know of the path even if the path is so long that it goes all over the world, and the way of it is this," she says. "In all of their many villages, there are antler-headed men that make a strange and long description that tells of many things. It tells of the village where the antler-headed man is, and tells of the hills and routes nearby, so that people who come from other places can find a way to him. Now all the many descriptions by the many antler-headed men are set in a line, to make one big description even bigger than them, that tells of the way from the southern coast to the northern forest."
"Why, how is this?" I say. "If a description is that long, a man can't understand it all at once!" "Ah," she says now, "this is where the strange part comes. The antler- headed men make their long description in such a way that a man can hear it one or two times and then know it forever. The saying of it is made with noises that are like each other, that is, in a form of speaking that is unlike any other, so you can remember it better."
That's the most complex explanation of a song I've ever heard!
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Anyway, here's the ones I have read:
Get Shorty – Elmore Leonard
Watchmen – Alan Moore & David Gibbons (suprise!)
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
The World According to Garp – John Irving
The Shining – Stephen King
Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison
Interview With the Vampire – Anne Rice
Slaughterhouse-five – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
The Godfather – Mario Puzo
2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Wolfe
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
On the Road – Jack Kerouac
Seize the Day – Saul Bellow
The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
The Last Temptation of Christ – Nikos Kazantzákis
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
Animal Farm – George Orwell
Native Son – Richard Wright
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
Keep the Aspidistra Flying – George Orwell
At the Mountains of Madness – H.P. Lovecraft
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Thin Man – Dashiell Hammett
The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett
A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway
Red Harvest – Dashiell Hammett
All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce
Tarzan of the Apes – Edgar Rice Burroughs
Howards End – E.M. Forster
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
The Awakening – Kate Chopin
Dracula – Bram Stoker
The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
The Blithedale Romance – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Moby-Dick – Herman Melville
Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
The Purloined Letter – Edgar Allan Poe
The Pit and the Pendulum – Edgar Allan Poe
The Fall of the House of Usher – Edgar Allan Poe
Frankenstein – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Emma – Jane Austen
A Modest Proposal – Jonathan Swift
Moll Flanders – Daniel Defoe
Here's a link to the entire list, if you want to check it out.
She says, "Hob was here with his son by the river for a long time, where the settlers come so Hob can counsel them and do a lot of things for them. For all he does, the settlers find skins and food and many things for Hob, as is his due."
"Of all the things there are for Hob to do," she says, "there's one thing that's bigger than the others." She says, "There are many villages across the world, from sea to sea, and all of them have antler-headed men like Hob. The antler-headed men all come together in one place, to talk and to counsel one another, after which they all talk about a big task that they've thought of together. I sit the other way around in the grass - I'm glad I can hear this."
She says, "The antler-headed men's plan is to make a path, bigger than any path that's ever been made, which goes from the sea in the south to the forest in the north. The path is to run by the hills and the high places, and by the valley's edge."
Page 25, Paragraph 1:
This is a longer distance than I can imagine, because I've never seen the sea - I've only heard of it. "How would it be good to make this big path?" I say to her, as she sits in the dark and plays with her hair. She says, "The path would be there for many people's travels, so that people from one village could journey to another village far away and take stones and hides with them and trade them for things from the other villages. This way, all villages will have things they haven't had before, and good times will come to everyone that lives along this path."
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I hear the noise of doors moving in the entryway, and I smell flowers, and that's good. The girl comes into the pigpen and comes across to the little hut where I'm sitting. I start to say a lot of things to her, but she puts her hand to my mouth, and signs for me to be quiet. Now she whispers like the sound the wind makes in the reeds.
She says quietly, "I've come with food for you." Out of her wrap she now takes cooked meat and a food that I don't recognize that's hard on the outside and soft on the inside. I take this from her to eat, and say, "How is this hard and soft?"
She hisses, as if to say I'm louder than I need to be. She says, "That food is made in the fire from wheat flour made from the wheat that grows nearby, with a little water mixed in." I eat it, and it's good, and the cooked meat's good in my mouth. It tastes like ox. She sits silently on her knees by me. My mouth's empty now, and I can't think of anything to say to her except about Hob's son, and how it is that he's not here anymore.
She looks at me, and the bats fly in circles through the sky above the pigpen. A quiet time goes by, and now in the dark she says, "Ah, it's a long story, and there's no good in it." Now she's quiet, so I think she's not going to say anything else. I'm wrong.
EDIT: I forgot to type in the last couple of sentences of paragraph 5 when I first posted this. Sorry - it's corrected now.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Page 23, Paragraph 6:
I crawl in the little branch-hut now and dig underneath the hay. I put the jerky in my mouth to chew; my belly feels good. My walk from the thicket of trees has made me weak, and now I lie with my cheek to the prickling grass, and suck on the meat, and close my eyes.
Paragraph 7 (first paragraph after the break):
Now I open them. Everything's dark. Something's in my mouth. Why, it's the jerky stick. The end of it has become soft, like shit, and the taste of meat is thick on my tongue. Something's prickling my cheek, yet I remember flowers, and the girl, and the hut, and the pigpen that stands by it, and I remember the way I came here.
There across from the pigpen stands the white-skin hut - from there I hear a man saying many things and a girl speaking back to him. I think Hob's come back here from what he was doing with the settlers.
Page 24, Paragraph 1:
Now everything gets quiet. I sit in the hay, chewing on the jerky - some time goes by like this.
I'm now 20 pages into this chapter - woo-hoo!
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I saved a blog entry I had started back on 8/19, and completed it just now, and instead of posting at the top of the front page of my blog, it posted back by my 8/19 post.
Here's the post, if anyone wants to read it - it's about Newsweek's Top 100 Books list.
Does anyone know how I can prevent this from happening again in the future?
Page 23, Paragraph 2:
The dirt walls of the pen come up to my neck; the wall has an entryway with a wooden door. The dirt floor of the pigpen is all covered up with hay, thick and warm, and in the corner stands a little hut made of branches. I can't smell much of a pig odor here, because I mostly smell flowers. The girl opens the door and we go into the pigpen.
"Hob's not going to look in here," she says, "now that the pig's no longer here." She says, "If you hide in the hay, I'll go do work for Hob, after which I'll come back at night with food for you." Now she puts in my hand another stick of jerky to eat until she comes back, and now she opens the door to go out. I want her to stay longer. I try to think of something to say to her so she won't leave so fast.
I say, "How is it that you say Hob doesn't have a son anymore? Did his son go the way the pig that used to stay in this pen went?"
At this she looks down; a dark look comes over her face. "Hob's son doesn't come here anymore," she says, and then says, "I'm going now." She leaves and shuts
the door behind her. She walks around the hut so I can't see her anymore, but I smell her, like flowers falling off trees.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Her smile becomes wider at this, and she says, "It's good for me to find someone like you, that thinks and speaks strangely. Come on - you don't have time to think about this. Come across the reeds and by the white-skin hut so you can hide in the building there."
She stands and takes my hand - her hand is little now, and warm. "Come now," she says, and pulls, and this way she helps me stand. I don't have any strength, and she puts her arm around my back to help me walk. It smells like I'm walking bent over with my face in flowers.
We come down slowly off where the thicket of trees is and now we walk through the reeds, where there's a dry path between the water and the mud. The path goes by the dirt rise where the white-skin hut stands, and now we walk up the rise, her arm around my back, and come by the hut. We've only walked a little way, but the strength has gone from me; my legs are shaking.
Page 23, Paragraph 1:
Seen from here, the hut is bigger than I thought, though it's made for only one man and one girl. For the first time I understand how it is with Hob, being the boss over many people. Times are good for him. Hopefully, times will become this good for me.* The girl pulls my hand, and we walk like this around the hut until we come to the pigpen.
*Jeez - even in 4,000 BC, people were jealous of each others' status symbols.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Sweet. I never realized you can embed entire books from Google Books in your blog. I'll have to be careful - I'll have the entire bloody Library of Congress here if I don't look out. :)
This makes me frightened. I think of his black face, his sticks like the horns of an animal, and say, "It'd be good for me to journey on, so that he doesn't find me." I try to stand up now, but there isn't much strength in me.
She frowns even bigger and says, "Your leg hasn't had time to get better, and you haven't ate enough." She's right. She says, "You can hide where Hob won't find you - where only I'll know where you are. Behind the hut," she says, "there's a dirt building wall for a pigpen. Hob doesn't have the pig anymore - the building's empty, so you can hide in it." I realize this is the building I saw by the light of the fire.
"You can stay there," she says, "while your leg's getting better, and I'll find food for you. If Hob sees that more food's gone, why, I'll tell him that the food was taken by a rat."
This is something stranger than I can understand. I think about it this way and that, but I can't understand it correctly. "How is it," I say now, "that I change into a rat?"
She smiles at this, and says, "You're not going to change into a rat. I'm just going to be saying that to Hob." I look at her. I still don't understand what she's saying, and seeing this makes her smile bigger. "Why," she says now, "don't you understand that you can say something that isn't so?"
This is an idea that I've never heard of - that you can say something that isn't so. It's a bigger thought than I can hold in my mind all at one time. I look at her with my mouth hanging open. I shake my head and make the sign for "no".
This stuff is not actually as silly as it sounds - lying creates cognitive dissonance, which in turn create negative emotions which make it difficult to think - so essentially we're hard-wired to tell the truth. (Yes, I know that makes politicians even more difficult to understand than they already are.)
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Page 21, Paragraph 6:
The skin on her face is soft, but she has little scratch-marks on her cheek. A butterfly flies all around her hair, and now it sits on the strip of white fur wrapped around her head. "How did you come to be with Hob," I say, "if he's dark and isn't well?"
She sighs and says, "I come from a far-away place, and have been made to work for Hob. Hob has say over many settlers, for he is a..."
Here she says something I don't understand. I say, "How's that?" She says, "It's like a wise man [or shaman], but stranger."
"Hob no longer has a son to work for him on his big makings," she says now, "which is how I was made to come and work for him, and cook his food, and find wood for him, and so forth." She frowns when she says this. The lowing of an aurochs comes from way up and the reeds around the hut are grey and move like smoke in the wind. "Where is Hob now?" I say.
Page 22, Paragraph 1:
"Before sunrise he walked off," she says, "to journey to the settlers downriver there. He has many things to do, after which he's coming back here."
This is about as far as I've ever got in this book, by the way, so I'll be headed into terra incognita here soon.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
She now turns quickly to look at me. "How did you see Hob?" she says, giving me a funny look. I say, "I saw you go for river water, which Hob set by [above?] the fire, from which a whiteness came." I tell her of how I saw Hob put the whiteness on her face, after which I saw no more.
She falls slowly, with her back to the grass, her arms across her eyes to keep the light out of them. "That white is perfume," she says, "to make me smell like flowers." I understand that I saw how the antler-headed man put flowers in the water, which became white - she said it right.
We lie on the grass. In the sky above us, the sky-beasts are now running after the sun, not the other way around. They catch up to him and eat him - the sun is no more and the light goes from the sky. The old river is grey now, and the reeds are likewise grey. I say, "How did you find food for me and make my leg better?" Now she sits up a little as she lies there, resting on one arm and looking at me. Her bright hair falls into her eyes, where she pushes it back.
"I'm all alone except for Hob," she says. "There hasn't been anyone for me to talk with or walk with in a long time. Hob's old, with darkness in his thoughts - he's not doing well, and doesn't talk a lot. I found milk for you and helped make your leg better so you could tell me of the many things you've seen in the world, so I'd have good things to think about when I'm alone with Hob."