Unbidden

October 29, 2017

The ghosts swarm.
They speak as one
person. Each
loves you. Each
has left something
undone.

Did the palo verde
blush yellow
all at once?

Today’s edges
are so sharp

they might cut
anything that moved.

The way a lost
word

will come back
unbidden.

You’re not interested
in it now,

only
in knowing
where it’s been.

Rae Armantrout

choose the form of a cat

October 29, 2017

cat alert

FAMILIARS: Familiars like to live in a small box of earth, a dusty pouch, or pocket. Are fed on milk, blood and bread. On Birthdays, they should be given a small crumb of the Host. Are often toads, but almost never frogs. Most often choose the form of cat or bird in preference to smaller creatures such as mice, rats, bugs, lice, which are susceptible to the careless handling of pesticides. Are inheritable.

Barbara Ninde Byfield
The Glass Harmonica: A Lexicon of the Fantastical

A Suggestion for the Future

October 29, 2017

At the same time. In Science Fantasy magazine, I wrote the first version of The Eternal Champion, based on my reading of Victorian gothics mostly, in which a character is doomed never to die, always to take part in some kind of trial, to fight for one side or another in order to attain balance.

And in the Elric stories, for the same magazine, I was developing the notion of the Cosmic Balance, which ideally was always equally balanced between Law and Chaos. Chaos for me could be pretty terrible, with everything in a state of constant change, unstable, while Law represented stability and consistent justice. However, I had soon begun to understand that the world requires equal doses of Law and Chaos to survive. No life without death, no law without chaos. The constant internal debate of the artist.

I think Milton was a big influence there. I had a wonderful Doré Milton, which, with Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress,” had a huge influence on me as a kid, mainly because of the imagery and because I came to assume that every narrative should carry at least two stories! Anyway, I also found that the multiverse and the eternal champion offered me ways of viewing the same event from different perspectives, allowing me to put the same characters in different contexts.

Michael Moorcock
Siren’s call: a talk with Michael Moorcock
LA Times 9th August 2009

sunrise

With an “overturned brandy glass” for a planchette, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes often navigated their handmade Ouija board for inspiration. In a note accompanying Plath’s poem “Ouija,” Hughes describes how she “occasionally amused herself, with one or two others, by holding her finger on an upturned glass, in a ring of letters laid out on a smooth table, and questioning the ‘spirits.'”1

The name of their usual spirit guide was Pan. He spelled out everything from his favorite poems by each poet—“Pike,” in the case of Hughes, and “Mussel-Hunter” by Plath (the spirit admitted: “I like fish”)—to what the couple should name their children or which press would publish Plath’s next book (correctly: “Knopf”).

As Plath recalls in her journal on July 4, 1958:

Even if our own hot subconscious pushes it (It says, when asked, that it is “like us”), we had more fun than a movie.2

The Ouija board was her husband’s idea, as Plath scholar Kathleen Connors writes: “Along with compiling lists of potential subjects for Plath’s poems and stories, Hughes advised her on meditation techniques, and used hypnotism and their hand-made Ouija board on a regular basis. Calling these sessions ‘ magnificent fun,’ Plath was intrigued by the concept of ‘Pan,’ their main ‘spirit contact’ called on for advice on poetry subjects, and sometimes to get numbers for horse races.”3

Many poems were inspired by this process, the two most notable being Plath’s “Ouija” and “Dialogue Over a Ouija Board.” The latter is a conversation between a couple, Sibyl and Leroy, about the nature of channelling itself. Ultimately, that particular verse drama ends with the two concluding:

When lights go out
May two real people breathe in a real room

Plath writes in “The Colossus” (interestingly, Pan’s own “family god,” was named ‘Kolossus’):

Perhaps you consider yourself an oracle,
Mouthpiece of the dead, or of some god or other.

Or perhaps not. Either way, for Plath, channelling was one means of coming in contact with herself.

1. Sylvia Plath: Collected Poems (Faber & Faber, 1981), p. 276.
2. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath (Anchor Books, 200), ed. Karen V. Kukil, p. 400.
3. Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath’s Art of the Visual (Oxford University Press, 2007), ed. Kathleen Connors and Sally Bayley, p. 111-112.

An Urgent Warning

October 29, 2017

You have been warned!!

Get away while you can…

It took some time for me to realise that your mind was actually the scene of the crime…

All of us play with fire. But are we careful enough to keep warm, or simply careless enough to get burned…?

We fucked until she was just a breathless tremor in my arms…

ancient leather-bound tomes

October 29, 2017

A young fool like Freirs would probably refuse to believe it. Like the rest of his doomed kind, he’d probably expect such lore to be found only in ancient leather-bound tomes with gothic lettering and portentously sinister titles. He’d search for it in mysterious old trunks and private vaults, in the “restricted” sections of libraries, in intricately carved wood chests with secret compartments.

But there are no real secrets, the Old One knows. Secrets are ultimately too hard to conceal. The keys to the rites that will transform the world are neither hidden nor rare nor expensive. They are available to anyone. You can find them on the paperback racks or in any second-hand bookshop.

T.E.D. Klein
The Ceremonies