Wednesday, July 28, 2010

MythosCon and Mythos Writing


Adam Niswander's (pictured, left) MythosCon has these new attending members: John Pelan, Simon Strantzas, Richard Gavin, Sean Branney and Andrew Leman!

I am especially excited about Sean and Andrew attending, for they are the lads from The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society who have filmed H. P. Lovecraft's The Whisperer in Darkness -- a film that one hopes will be completed by the time the con takes place so that we may see a screening of it there. MythosCon is going to be the Lovecraftian event since the NecronomiCon of elder aeons. I am extremely excited about meeting up with so many people whose works I have admired but have yet to meet in person.

I just got the DVD to Pickman's Muse, and those of you who follow me on MrWilum will have seen my rather distracted video review of it. I have also written a review of the film over at Amazon. It is, quite simply, one of the finest renditions of
Lovecraft tale ("The Haunter of the Dark") ever filmed, and it captures, superbly, some of the finest moments of HPL's actual story.

Been really worn down by all that it now takes to be my mother's live-in caregiver, as her health continues to deteriorate and she becomes weaker. This has taken a toll on my writing -- but I now have a wee bit over 2,000 words on a new story, one that I have been wanting to pen for decades: my semi-sequel to Bob Bloch's "The Skull of the Marquis de Sade." I am combining elements of Bho's tale with HPL's fun/silly revision, "Medusa's Coil," and the finish'd product will be hopefully eldritch up ye arse. I am writing the story for Kevin Ross's forthcoming anthology, Dead But Dreaming II. Hopefully, he'll like it. If not, I'll place in with ye contents of my next Hippocampus collection.

I am also writing a wee tale with a new collaborator, Jacob Henry Orloff (such a way-cool name for a horror writer!), and I'll begin work on that as soon as I've finish'd this other new tale, whut I hope to complete by end of week.

I'll be dining with Leslie and S. T. Joshi this week-end, and that is always delightful and inspirational. So the work continues, slowly, under rather impossible circumstances. I hope to see lots of you in October at The H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival and CthulhuCon in Portland!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Isle of ye Dead


It's curious and wonderful when life and art conjoin, mysteriously, fantastically. Some time ago, influenc'd by a temporary genre that was called "The New Weird," I decided to try and invent a new locality in which to set some newer tales, an urban setting. I envision'd creating some fabulous city (China Mieville was probably the major source of inspiration & desire in this), sophisticated, modern, cutting edge. I don't know what inspir'd my idea that this would be a city of exiles, as I don't remember what came first, the idea for such a city or my main character in it, based on Oscar Wilde and named "Sebastian Melmoth," which was the name that Wilde took when he went into exile in France. The idea seemed rich and full of possibilities -- endlessly so. I would write in this new series tales that were not Lovecraftian.

Ha! The first tale of Gershom, "Some Buried Memory," is Lovecraftian up ye arse, a tale of ghouls connected (subtly, one hopes) to "Pickman's Model." It was rejected by Weird Tales and will see its first publication in my Centipede Press omnibus, The Tangled Muse. I have this sinking feeling that it's not a very good story, but I like it nonetheless. In this tale, I describe an island, not far from the city, that serves as burial ground, to which one gets by way of raft. Well, the other day I was looking at Symbolist art online, and I came across the bottom image -- which instantly took my breath away. "That's it," I cried to empty air. "That's my isle of Death!" You can imagine my wonder when I discover'd that ye title of the piece is "Isle of the Dead," by Swiss Symbolist artist Arnold Bocklin (1827-1901). This was one of those wonderful moments when I found in art a product of my own imagination. I love such magical moments.

The second tale of Gershom is "The Tangled Muse," and I feel it is one of my best stories. And yet -- how perverse is my approach to inventing a "modern" city to serve as locality for a new series of Urban weird fiction. My Gershom is nothing more than a combination of that which I adore in Literature. It is a combination of Wilde's London and Baudelaire's Paris, with a wee bit of Kafka's Prague on the side. It is antient & haunted & ethereal. It is the opposite of modern in every way. I am now writing my third tale of Gershom, "Let Us Wash This Thing," and I am aiming for something profoundly decadent. We shall see if I succeed.

I've been suffering through a couple of months of mental and artistic chaos and stupidity. Everything I have try'd to do has been the wrong thing, and almost everything I have written these past two months has been deleted -- they were failures in almost every way. It's so boring. I want to write, and I want that happiness that comes when you've penned something that seems worthwhile. Writing, at times, feels like a form of self-creation -- we build our psyches, our souls, our personae, as we pen our poetry and prose. The spiritual limbs that I have try'd to create these past many weeks have been stunted, lifeless things. I'm hoping the things I am now trying to evoke will be a bit more successful. I've also started a wee prose poem sequence, "These Deities of Rarest Air," with which I am semi-pleased. It all goes so slowly, and I want this new book for Hippocampus all completely written by this year -- whut nigh seems an impossible task. Still, the struggle is worthwhile, because I love this life of Literature.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Humanity





My friend Joe, a brilliant sculptor, made the wonderful work below, whut he calls "Queen in Yellow." I'm so mesmerized by it because when he sent it to me I was working on a rewrite of a Lovecraftian story in which a new character is a madwoman in a graveyard who wears an attachment of wings on her back, & to have this artistic rendering of my character was just too strange and wondrous. But the story isn't working out -- indeed, I've come to loathe it -- so I am going to write a prose poem featuring this figure. My own character did not hold a wee scythe as Joe's figure does, and that really got my imagination going. I had a scene, in my rewrite (whut I have now discarded), where my main character told her how beautiful she is. Her reply is to take the blade of her scythe and rip it into her face, and then tell him, "Beauty is so easily blemished."

The painting to ye left, of ye sad creature peering into ye pool, is the one original work of art that will appear in The Tangled Muse, illustrating my story, "Inhabitants of Wraithwood," whut had its first publication in S. T. Joshi's Black Wings. I love this eerie illustration, & it so amus'd me that he put in ye Mormon Temple with its golden Angel Moroni amongst ye inhabitants! The gent who did the "Wraithwood" painting is a Swiss lad named Gwabryel, and he has done other work for Centipede Press, such as that above for the Poe and F. B. Long editions of Masters of the Weird Tale.

Here at my Mother's house we have a rather splendid view of three spots wherein the townsfolk shot off their mammoth fireworks displays for ye 4th. It was strange tonight, for I am non-patriotic and anti-social, but as I watched the fireworks displays from our huge front window and listened to the gather'd neighbors at ye intersection where the local kids were lighting their various gizmos, I felt a curious desire to linger amongst ye People. I lasted fifteen minutes before I grew cold & restless. Five minutes after I returned home, a huge downpour of rain fell from heaven and dispurs'd ye crowd. It felt good to try and be neighborly, which is not a talent in which I excel. I am what Lovecraft is so often accused of being: a eccentric recluse. But this is actually a great neighborhood. Indeed, our zip code, 98118, is the most culturally diverse zip code in all of America, according to ye new census. I like the neighborhood because it is usually extremely quiet -- so important for we who write.

Yesterday's post brought The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, by ye brilliant Thomas Ligotti. Its philosophy is that it would be preferable not to exist than to be human and live in this awful world. I am on page 69. The book is not depressing to me because I care so little about humanity -- which makes me a complete failure as a Christian, lacking charity as I do. I don't know if my attitude is typical of the artist -- I want to be left alone; my best friends are my books. I can enjoy human society sometimes, especially gatherings of poets or Lovecraftians, and there are individuals whom I dearly love and long to hang-out with, although being with them makes me aware of my human faults and frailties. Tom's book posits the question, if you had to choose to exist or not exist -- whut wou'd be your choice? My immediate inward reply was, "I wou'd choose to exist, because of the experience of Shakespeare." The idea that I may never have experienced the emotional and intellectual nourishment of Shakespeare fills me with utter dread. (Yet I must confess this is mostly from reading Shakespeare and listening to the plays beautifully perform'd by British players; I have sat through productions of the plays that were utter torment and made me ache for death.) My life has been an experience of joys and sorrows, wonders and tragedy. The life I am living now is almost continuously miserable. I often sit here at my writing table with my head in my hands muttering, "I can't take this any longer." I am not afraid of death because I know it is not an end of existence -- we have neither beginning nor end. But what keeps me wanting to stay alive with an intense desire is greed for Literature (always with a capital L), the need to read and read and read. Some may call it an "an escape from reality" to dwell almoft constantly in this basement, alone with my books. The idea of an escape from reality is too bogus and absurd, and only ignorant morons mouth such an idea. So, yes, I absolutely choose to stay alive, so as to read and ponder -- and sometimes to write. That is the meaning of my little life.