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The Zen of the Strange

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Quotes and Musings on Weird Fiction and History

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The Madness is Illusory

"But it would be dangerous to search too earnestly for the allegorical in Titus Groan. It remains essentially a work of the closed imagination, in which a world parallel to our own is presented in almost paranoiac denseness of detail. But the madness is illusory, and control never falters. It is, if you like, a rich wine of fancy chilled by the intellect to just the right temperature. There is no really close relative to it in all our prose literature. It is uniquely brilliant, and we are right to call it a modern classic."   - Anthony Burgess on Titus Groan (1946) by Mervyn Peake

MiskatonicProf

MiskatonicProf

 

The Wisdom of Vampires

"After all, blood is the life force. It reaches into the deepest recesses of both the heart and the brain. It is the familiar of our complete being. To surrender even one drop of it is to suggest a partial surrender of one's utmost self."   - Barnabas Collins, Dark Shadows (Episode 245, 1967)

MiskatonicProf

MiskatonicProf

 

Poe's Detective

"Poe did not want the detective genre to be a realist genre; he wanted it to be an intellectual genre, a fantastic genre, if you wish, but a fantastic genre of the intellect and not only of the imagination.... He could have placed his crimes and his detective in New York, but then the reader would have been wondering whether the events really took place in that way.... As it turned out, it was easier and more fruitful to Poe's imagination to set it all in Paris, in a desolate portion of the Faubourg St.-Germain."
- Jorge Luis Borges, On Writing

MiskatonicProf

MiskatonicProf

 

Memory of the Future

"When [Robert] Graves, in The White Goddess, comes to formulate his theory of poetic composition he connects the creative act with what he calls 'proleptic thought' and 'analeptic thought,' both of which involve 'a suspension of time', and adds, 'one can have memory of the future as well as the past'... the creative act, renewal of the visionary gleam, involves a passive 'lapsing-out' of normal, time-imbued consciousness, and 'memory' takes on an expanded connotation - not just ordinary everyday recall, but a suspended state of rich creative ferment which may involve oracular knowledge of the future..."   - Hugh Underhill, ​The Problem of Consciousness in Modern Poetry (1992)

MiskatonicProf

MiskatonicProf

 

Don't be a Philistine: Just Say "No" to Dagon

"Terrestrial devils are those lares, genii, fauns, satyrs, wood-nymphs, foliots, fairies, Robin Goodfellows, trolli, etc., which as they are most conversant with men, so they do them most harm. Some think it was they alone that keep that the heathen people in awe of old, and had so many idols and temples erected to them. Of this range Dagon amongst the Philistines, Bel amongst the Babylonians... Isis and Osiris amongst the Egyptians..."
- Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621)

MiskatonicProf

MiskatonicProf

 

Waiting for a Marvel

"King Arthur held court at Camelot in Christmas season. On New Year's Day he kept his vow not to begin the feast on such a high day before he had seen a marvel. As he waited, a horseman came riding into the hall, a Green Knight on a green horse; even the knight's hair and skin were green."   - From the introduction of Sir Gawain & the Green Knight, edited by J.R.R. Tolkien and E.V. Gordon (1936).

MiskatonicProf

MiskatonicProf

 

Slandering Egyptologists

"Professional Egyptologists are curiously intolerant people, respecting few opinions but their own, and possessed by a strange reluctance to admit mystery in anything."
- Master of Villainy: A Biography of Sax Rohmer, Cay Van Ash and Elizabeth Sax Rohmer (1972)

MiskatonicProf

MiskatonicProf

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