After Auschwitz

February 29, 2020

as black as a hook,
overtakes me.
Each day,
each Nazi
took, at 8:00 A.M., a baby
and sautéed him for breakfast
in his frying pan.
And death looks on with a casual eye
and picks at the dirt under his fingernail.
Man is evil,
I say aloud.
Man is a flower
that should be burnt,
I say aloud.
is a bird full of mud,
I say aloud.
And death looks on with a casual eye
and scratches his anus.
Man with his small pink toes,
with his miraculous fingers
is not a temple
but an outhouse,
I say aloud.
Let man never again raise his teacup.
Let man never again write a book.
Let man never again put on his shoe.
Let man never again raise his eyes,
on a soft July night.
Never. Never. Never. Never. Never.
I say those things aloud.
I beg the Lord not to hear.

Anne Sexton

I think the new science fiction, which other people apart from myself are now beginning to write, is introverted, possibly pessimistic rather than optimistic, much less certain of its own territory. There’s a tremendous confidence that radiates through all modern American science fiction of the period 1930 to 1960; the certainty that science and technology can solve all problems. This is not the dominant form of science fiction now. I think science fiction is becoming something much more speculative, much less convinced about the magic of science and the moral authority of science. There’s far more caution on the part of the new writers than there was.

J G Ballard
Interview with George MacBeth on BBC radio, 1 February 1967

Science fiction has struggled to achieve the same credibility as highbrow literature. In 2019, the celebrated author Ian McEwan dismissed science fiction as the stuff of “anti-gravity boots” rather than “human dilemmas”. According to McEwan, his own book about intelligent robots, Machines Like Me, provided the latter by examining the ethics of artificial life – as if this were not a staple of science fiction from Isaac Asimov’s robot stories of the 1940s and 1950s to TV series such as Humans (2015-2018).

Psychology has often supported this dismissal of the genre. The most recent psychological accusation against science fiction is the “great fantasy migration hypothesis”. This supposes that the real world of unemployment and debt is too disappointing for a generation of entitled narcissists. They consequently migrate to a land of make-believe where they can live out their grandiose fantasies.

The authors of a 2015 study stress that, while they have found evidence to confirm this hypothesis, such psychological profiling of “geeks” is not intended to be stigmatising. Fantasy migration is “adaptive” – dressing up as Princess Leia or Darth Vader makes science fiction fans happy and keeps them out of trouble.

But, while psychology may not exactly diagnose fans as mentally ill, the insinuation remains – science fiction evades, rather than confronts, disappointment with the real world.

Gavin Miller
Fan of sci-fi? Psychologists have you in their sights


February 29, 2020

Well, in my more pedantic moods, I note that literary is an adjective, and that it’s something that can be applied to any genre. However, I also note that some publishers have started to apply the label to work by people such as Victor LaValle and Paul Tremblay. In that sense, I think it refers to work that brings techniques and approaches to writing fiction usually associated with mainstream fiction to bear on the materials of horror fiction. It’s something that writers have done before: Peter Straub’s Ghost Story is my favourite example, but you could go back through Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes to Shirley Jackson ’s Haunting of Hill House, and from there leap to Henry James’s Turn of the Screw, and so on. I tend to think of the literary as fiction that, the more you as the reader put into it, the more you get out of it — which I think asks the writer to put as much of him/herself into it as s/he can. I try to do that with my fiction, to bring everything I have to the story at hand. This means what I’ve learned from the great writers of the horror tradition on the one hand, and what I’ve learned from the great writers of the mainstream tradition on the other.

John Langan
Interview with Marion Deeds, 21st February 2017

approaches to writing fiction

February 29, 2020

We’re literally all faking it. Neil Gaiman? Lied about his experience to get his first publication. F. Scott Fitzgerald? An absolute disaster who couldn’t spell. Donna Tartt? Committed to her authorial brand before anyone knew her name. The only thing that makes someone a writer is their decision to do the work and call themselves a writer. You do that long enough, and soon other people start calling you a writer too. When I first started posting my writing on Tumblr way back in ye olde 2012, I posted my poems in quotations with my pen-name at the bottom like a “real” author That created the social proof I needed for people to search for my name, ask my questions about my work, and encourage me to keep going.

S.T. Gibson
Ten Things They Don’t Teach You in Your Undergrad Writing Workshop

Witchcraft Music

February 29, 2020

In Charge

February 29, 2020

Wouldn’t it be wonderful?

Weekly (daily) visits to the cunnilingus salon? Once there you might sit, spread-legged, gossip with your neighbours while one of the male/female attendants administers to your ‘needs’ with their restless, burrowing tongue.

The deep, wet pleasure of oral sex should be readily available to every woman on demand. What could be better than having your vulva licked, and surrendering yourself to infinity – feeling your carnal energy disperse, ultimately, in a humongous squirting orgasm?

Bliss, indeed!

The tongue is so much softer than fingers, it provides such gentle stimulation. To be eaten is to be consumed, to ‘die’ with pleasure, becoming food for another person.

Oh, if only such cunnilingus salons were available now – we must start a world-wide campaign for them. Women Demand Cunnilingus Salons! It is a right, a necessity!

Chloe Thurlow summed it all up in her novel, Katie in Love:

“Cunnilingus is a girl’s best friend. Cunnilingus is life. Everything else is just waiting. An orgasm during cunnilingus turns you into an angel. You grow wings and glimpse paradise.”

Octopodiform Deterrent

February 28, 2020

haiku is a genre of poetry

February 28, 2020

What seems most difficult for some people to understand is that haiku is a genre of poetry, not merely a form.

Indeed, the great majority of haiku now published in English does not follow a set syllabic form, but pay greater attention to another aspect of haiku form, its internal structure. Haiku are generally composed of two parts with a caesura or pause between them. When the images comprising the two parts are well chosen, this pause allows for internal comparison between the images. When the poem is written in three lines, the pause usually occurs at the end of either the first or the second line. This produces two parts of unequal length, which preserves the asymmetry that is an important characteristic of Japanese haiku form. Kôji Kawamoto has named these two parts the ‘base’ and the ‘sumperimposed part.’ According to Kawamoto, the base of the poem provides interest while the superposed part provides significance.

Lee Gurga
Richard Wright’s Place in American Haiku
The Other World of Richard Wright: Perspectives on His Haiku, ed. Jianquing Zheng