Essential reading –

Scouts in Bondage and Other Violations of Literary Propriety by Michael Bell 

Bell an antiquarian book dealer from Lewes, presents fifty vintage books whose titles and content will puzzle and amuse the contemporary reader.

Of particular interest is ‘Girls’ Interests’, and ‘Single-Handed Cruising’ not to mention, ‘The Resistance of Piles to Penetration’.

[“This trinket of sensation you feel now will be a delight compared to the onslaught of agony that awaits at our hands -“

Gary Tunnicliffe; Hellraiser : Revelations]

Damsels in distress have been a part of cinematic grammar since the medium’s invention, from Pearl White narrowly escaping certain death in the “Perils of Pauline” serials to the tried-and-true crowd-pleaser known as “woman in jep” (showbiz parlance for “woman in jeopardy”). But the genre took a radically darker turn in 1992, when the psycho-thriller “The Silence of the Lambs” won five Oscars, including best picture.

Suddenly a film in which the women-in-jep were being flayed alive — and the story’s wily, charismatic anti-hero was a cannibal, no less — left the confines of hoary melodrama or B-grade pulp and became respectable, glossed with the patina of awards-worthy seriousness. Soon, films from “Seven” and “Kiss the Girls” to “Sin City”…were upping the dubious ante on how gruesomely women could be raped, tortured, disfigured or otherwise degraded — with extra points if the victims were under 18.

Not only have the perils of Pauline become exponentially more perverted, pornographic and pervasive, they’ve become the lazy screenwriter’s go-to springboard to get the action underway…

Ann Hornaday
In movies, violence against women lets filmmakers indulge toxic fantasies
The Washington Post, 19th September 2014

Lucid Dreamer

March 10, 2020

wake up
the blue feathers are full,
whispering against your morning skin
dragging beads and netting
across the willow hoop’s frame
where delicious nightmares remain
hostage to the dreamcatcher’s spidery cradle

open those eyes
to your favourite dark thoughts
watch them make love to remnants
of soft images you tried to keep afloat
within a sleep-cloud above your head

but your nightmare-girl sighs,
blue feathers bind her wrists together
shadowed body pliable and caught
between the spikes and plumages

you’ve come to claim your punishment
because terror has never
whetted your appetite the way she does
never traced its tongue
so far inside your mind
never wrapped long, stroking fingers
around your spine
so hard
with that hot, nightmare blood
dripping and staining the sheets

open your lips
to simmering bites
against the curve of your throat
swallow your nightmare-girl down
keep her aching in your belly

wake up
splay your palms against webbing
and beads where the blackest thoughts
are caught,
where you’d rather live between the warm
thighs of illusionary darkness bound in terror,
and make love in a bed of blue feathers

Sara Tantlinger

Sex Has a Way

March 10, 2020

Sex has a way of softening limbs,
oiling joints and melding hearts.

We burrow in closer
wrapping arms and legs over and under each other.

Earthy blanket of sleep covers us
two bodies releasing one breath.

Finding home,
coiled and tucked in each other’s sweat.

Wendy Lee

While my chosen form of story-writing is obviously a special and perhaps a narrow one, it is none the less a persistent and permanent type of expression, as old as literature itself. There will always be a certain small percentage of persons who feel a burning curiosity about unknown outer space, and a burning desire to escape from the prison-house of the known and the real into those enchanted lands of incredible adventure and infinite possibilities which dreams open up to us, and which things like deep woods, fantastic urban towers, and flaming sunsets momentarily suggest.

H.P. Lovecraft
Notes On Writing Weird Fiction

There were once women in Denmark who dressed themselves to look like men and spent almost every minute cultivating soldier’s skills; they did not want the sinews of their valour to lose tautness and be infected by self-indulgence.

Loathing a dainty style of living, they would harden body and mind with toil and endurance, rejecting the fickle pliancy of girls and compelling their womanish spirits to act with a virile ruthlessness. They courted military celebrity so earnestly that you would have guessed they had unsexed themselves.

Those especially who had forceful personalities or were tall and elegant, embarked on this way of life. As if they were forgetful of their true selves they put toughness before allure, aimed at conflicts instead of kisses, tasted blood, not lips, sought the clash of arms rather than the arm’s embrace, fitted to weapons hands which should have been weaving, desired not the couch but the kill, and those they could have appeased with looks they attacked with lances.

Saxo Grammaticus
History of the Danes
From: MCLAUGHLIN, M., (1990), The Woman Warrior – Gender, Warfare And Society In Medieval Europe. Women’s Studies – an Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol.17(3-4), pp.193-209.

It’s a matter of whether you’re content to focus on everyday events or whether you want to try to encompass the entire universe. If you go back to the literature written in ancient Greece or Rome, or during the Middle Ages and much of the Renaissance, you’ll see writers trying to write not just about everything that exists but about everything that could exist. Now as soon as you open yourself to that possibility, you are going to find yourself talking about things like intelligent robots and monsters with Gorgon heads, because it’s becoming increasingly obvious that such things could indeed exist. But what fascinates me is that the ancient Greeks already realized these possibilities some 500 years before Christ, when they didn’t have the insights into the biological and physical sciences we have today, when there was no such thing as, say, cybernetics. Yet when you read the story of Jason and the Argonauts, you discover that the island of Crete was guarded by a robot. Somehow the Greeks were alert to these possibilities despite the very primitive technology they had — and they put these ideas into their stories. Today it’s the SF writers who are exploring these things in our stories.

Gene Wolfe
Interview with Larry McCaffery, November 1988

Perhaps there are certain ages which do not need truth as much as they need a deepening of the sense of reality, a widening of the imagination. I, for one, do not doubt that the sane view of the world is the true one. But is that what is always wanted, truth? The need for truth is not constant; no more than is the need for repose. An idea which is a distortion may have a greater intellectual thrust than the truth; it may better serve the needs of the spirit, which vary. The truth is balance, but the opposite of truth, which is unbalance, may not be a lie.

Susan Sontag
Simone Weil
collected in: Against Interpretation


March 10, 2020

Repetitive days and nights, like carbon copies of themselves, endlessly repeating – so much so, that only a faint inky halo remains, a chemical smudge at the edge of my boredom…