Well, it’s pretty generally known in the States that I got into writing because of Lovecraft. He’s taken a lot of blame for a lot of things that he’s not really responsible for. But I did send my first fan letter to him because I read about his previous stories in the letter column of Weird Tales. There was nowhere to get them. They weren’t reprinted; they weren’t available. So I wrote to him and asked whether he knew where I could find some of this stuff and he offered to let me borrow all of his published work. And then at about the fourth letter on he suggested I try my own hand at writing — he’d be glad to read it and comment on it. And he also gave me a list of correspondents that formed what would later become known as the ‘Lovecraft Circle’. The result of that I got in touch with August Derleth, who lived out at Sauk City about 125 miles from where I was, and Clark Ashton Smith, Eddie Hoffman Price, and J. Vernon Shea, who was not a professional writer, but certainly one of the most avid fans and one of the most knowledgeable. And this increased my area of operations considerably, and some of the people I remained in correspondence with for many, many years to come. It was a very rewarding experience.

Bear in mind I’m talking about times when I was 16, 17, 18 years old, and it was quite a thrill to associate with such people even through correspondence, or know people like Weinbaum and Farley and work with them in the Fictioneers group, where we didn’t read stories or anything but helped each other with plot problems. That was very, very interesting.

Robert Bloch
Fandom Panel: Cinecon 20th April 1981

i am reading ancient poetry composed thousands of years ago, and the words dance off my tongue like rain bouncing off of flower petals, filled with so much life for a language that so many have called dead. around me, the ghosts of those who lived long ago settle in beds of their own words, their paper blankets tucked up to their chins as they listen to their bedtime story. their happy sighs are the whispers as i turn the pages; their soft, sleepy breaths are the rhythm of the words that flow around us. a warmth fills my chest as i keep reading. they are content, and i know that i am not alone.

sarah thoodleoo

The spirit world

April 28, 2018

In ancient times the world of spirits was everywhere acknowledged because it was a matter of direct experience and open to all but the most insensitive. The world of spirits was as familiar to primitive man as is the dream world is to modern man. The spirit world became the later “spiritual” world after undue emphasis on mans’ mental development had obliterated the astral world in which he originally had moved with as much ease as in the mundane world.

Kenneth Grant
Nightside of Eden

tied together

In the years that have elapsed since [the Holocaust], the fallacy of these arguments has become apparent. We have been compelled to recognize that millions in Germany were as eager to surrender their freedom as their fathers were to fight for it; that instead of wanting freedom, they sought for ways of escape from it; that other millions were indifferent and did not believe the defence of freedom to be worth fighting and dying for. We also recognize that the crisis of democracy is not a peculiarly Italian or German problem, but one confronting every modern state. Nor does it matter which symbols the enemies of human freedom choose: freedom is not less endangered if attacked in the name of anti-Fascism than in that of outright Fascism.

Erich Fromm
Escape From Freedom

a grave national defect

April 24, 2018

Zhang Haiying

I have not been domiciled in England. I have had the odd six months at a time, I mean, which is just about the length of time I enjoy England for. It gives you time to see your friends, get all the free meals you can, and everyone is glad to see you, to begin with, and so on. But I must confess that I’ve been a European since I was eighteen, and I think it is a grave national defect that we aren’t Europeans any more. We were talking today at lunch about Kingsley Amis. I was thinking about the anti-living-abroad trend or something – which implies a sort of unpatriotic attitude on my part – but, you see, my heroes of my generation – the Lawrences, the Norman Douglases, the Aldingtons, the Eliots, the Graveses – their ambition was always to be a European. It didn’t qualify their Englishness in any way, but it was recognized that a touch of European fire was necessary, as it were, to ignite the sort of dull sodden mass that one became, living in an unrestricted suburban way. Things would have been vastly different if I had had a very large private income, been a member of the gentry, had a charming country house and a flat in town and the ability to live four months of the year in Europe: I should certainly have been domiciled in London. But when you’re poor and you have to face shabby boarding houses and all the dreariness of South Ken or Bayswater or Woburn Place, with only the chance of seeing Europe in snippets of a month at a time, you have to make the vital decision as to whether you live in Europe and visit England, or whether you live in England and visit Europe.

Lawrence Durrell

Interview with Gene Andrewski & Julian Mitchell for Paris Review Issue 22


April 14, 2018


A song in the valley of Nemea:
Sing quiet, quite quiet here.

Song for the brides of Argos
Combing the swarms of golden hair:
Quite quiet, quiet there.

Under the rolling comb of grass,
The sword outrusts the golden helm.

Agamemnon under tumulus serene
Outsmiles the jury of skeletons:
Cool under cumulus the lion queen:

Only the drum can celebrate,
Only the adjective outlive them.

A song in the valley of Nemea:
Sing quiet, quiet, quiet here.

Tone of the frog in the empty well,
Drone of the bald bee on the cold skull,

Quiet, Quiet, Quiet.

Lawrence Durrell

A rainbow

Simply because of the power and universally shared perception of colour, the rainbow becomes an alphabet of the range of human emotions. These associations of colours easily translate into magical and perceptual technology applied to everything from psychotherapy to candle spells.

Used all together, the rainbow then translates into an open road for That Which is Possible for human beings. Appearing after a storm as it does, the rainbow offers promise, hope and healing, as Noah and his wife saw it after the Flood.

Iris is perhaps the most personable mythic deities to represent the rainbow. She is given as the daughter of the oceanic Elektra (not the Electra of Trojan myth or the Pleidean star sister) and Thaumus. She often appears in the same capacity, and even in the company, as fellow messenger god Mercury, and she shares with him the depiction of winged head and feet. Her duty is primarily to Zeus and Hera. Many other religions see the rainbow as not a deity but as a road, a connection between Heaven and Earth, and it is not wasted on many mythopoetic systems that the rainbow appears to go beneath the Earth at the horizon and then back up again, suggesting a continuously circular bridge between above and below, between life and death.

In tarot, the 14th trump card, Temperance, is often depicted as an Angel who mixes fire and water into a vessel which then pours forth a rainbow. In some decks, including the Crowley Thoth deck, Temperance is replaced (or reinterpreted) by the Art card. Crowley was himself something of an artist and many of his groups of associates and friends as well as he had little use for Temperance but religious devotion to Art, so the transposition suggests. Since the rainbow is the basis of the artist’s palate, it makes magical sense to correspond the two. As in the nature of the rainbow, the Temperance Angel combines the pure elemental essences of fire (light) and water (the drop of cloud vapor) to create the rainbow. This would explain why even older interpretations of the Tarot do not give Temperance the modern day definition of purity and restraint, but rather one of transformation by way of alchemy, the perfect combination of elements. One element in the right proportion perfectly tempers another to create a thing of beauty. The Temperance Angel is often depicted standing next to iris flowers, reinforcing its association or equivalence with the goddess Iris.

The other Tarot card that features the rainbow is the Ten of Cups. Usually, it depicts a heterosexual nuclear family of two parents and two children, boy and girl, celebrating home, prosperity, and family beneath the rainbow, which is encrusted with ten golden, overflowing Cups. It symbolizes the attainment of material and familial blessings, the crowning glory of adulthood, presumably after all the prerequisite rites of passage, the Storms.

The arch of the rainbow has also been used as a political symbol of diversity, and it may be that Reverend Jesse Jackson was not the first who used it as a symbol of racial tolerance and mutual support, as the rainbow creates an arch, and each block that forms the architectural arch is necessary for creating that portal from one stage of understanding and evolution of thought into another, following the imperative of Grace. By the alchemy of all the races and of all walks of life, the strength of the arch and the permanence of the doorway are improved. Evolution and ecology also teach us the lesson that strength and resiliency of the ecosystem are improved by diversity in species.

This very radical concept that differentness is acceptable, and that even our survival may depend upon it, is certainly one of comfort to any individual who has ever been marginalized or made to feel different or even unwelcome in the dominant culture. The next political use of the rainbow’s power of diversity is by the Gay Pride movement. Was the rainbow borrowed from Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, or is it Judy Garland’s rendition of “Over the Rainbow” in Wizard of Oz that made the Rainbow flag colours a banner under which to rally? I believe it fair to say that Art and Gayness have long felt comfort in each other’s arms. The alchemy of the Temperance Angel would imply that a serendipity of the several theories would combine to make the most radiant of hues, and perhaps a most splendid political alliance.

Could it mean that Iris of the Rainbow is therefore the goddess of art and creativity, of the diversity of race and human expression of sexuality and all other potential ways of being and vision? I propose that she be considered as such, and her conversations with me on these subjects lead me towrite this very monologue. Iris is easily the Goddess of Gay Pride, Art, and Racial and Political Diversity. In other words, everything under the rainbow, creative potential as perceived and expressed by humans.

The rainbow is not the creatrix, nor is Iris, but Iris of the Rainbow speaks to those created by the Mother, who eventually terrifies, abandons or at least disappoints us by becoming the Destroyer (the Storm). Often immediately upon separating ourselves from the Mother, many of us undergo a Storm of spirit, where our basic right to exist, our ability to “fit in” or care for ourselves is called into question. By looking to the promise in the sky, the light of the sun transforms within the tears in our eyes into the Rainbow, which offers hope, redemption, and a promise that all of us have a part in creating the world.

In nature, the rainbow has but few rare natural expressions. In the hands of humans, however, it becomes the basic tool of art, allowing the creation of many forms of colour, including the return to black, a combining of all the colours of pigment, which combine to approximate the primordial lack of light, absence of colour. As a tool, the rainbow artist’s palate combines in limitless colours, shades, and shapes to create that which is possible.

Cedar Stevens
The Myth, Magic and Science of the Rainbow

The serious writer

March 29, 2018

a city of the future - London

There has always been a difference between the SF author and the author who writes science fiction; the difference, say, between an Isaac Asimov and a George Orwell. These days the difference is becoming increasingly marked. The majority of SF published last year was category fiction, like the western and the detective story, with well-defined conventions within which writers rang changes on familiar themes (space exploration, robots, totalitarian megalopolises) with various degrees of skill. In the past year or so, however, there has been an increase in another kind of SF, written by people whose early reputations were made in the SF magazines but whose work has long since ceased to abide by the category conventions, and which many deny is “proper” SF at all.

When these writers still produce SF it is because they’re moved by the same spirit which produced Wells’ “Time Machine,” Huxley’s “Brave New World,” Orwell’s “1984;” they happen to find certain SF elements useful for expressing their particular moral concerns. These writers include Brian Aldiss, J. G. Ballard, Langdon Jones and Americans like Thomas Disch and Harvey Jacobs. Of late, and with similar moral intention, Jack Trevor Story has started to write SF, as have writers like Paul Ableman and Doris Lessing. The difference is between a writer who uses an SF idea and one who writes SF because he can’t easily do anything else. The only pity is that sometimes the better writers are given the least attention. The serious writer who has left the SF category behind him is often more talented and sophisticated.

I hope that next year we shall see closer attention given, say, to Thomas Disch’s “334,” about ordinary New Yorkers managing to live ordinary lives in a world which would seem hellish to us but which they accept (as people do) as perfectly normal. J. G. Ballard’s new novel, provisionally called “Crash,” will have a present day setting and will continue to define its moral themes in terms of man’s relationship to his technological myths (and to his automobiles in particular).

Some of the new SF novels might contain no SF. I speak from experience. It was only after I had finished my last SF novel that I realised I had included less than 400 words of what might reasonably be called science fiction. It wasn’t intentional: it happens naturally during the process of selecting what you need for your theme and discarding what is useless. A good writer, after all, should create his own conventions. Whatever the best SF is these days, it certainly isn’t SF any more.

Michael Moorcock
What does the future hold for Science Fiction
The Guardian 16th September 1971


Where would Shakespeare have got if he had thought only of a specialized audience? What he did was to attempt to appeal on all levels, with something for the most rarefied intellectuals (who had read Montaigne) and very much more for those who could appreciate only sex and blood. I like to devise a plot that can have a moderately wide appeal. But take Eliot’s The Waste Land, very erudite, which, probably through its more popular elements and its basic rhetorical appeal, appealed to those who did not at first understand it but made themselves understand it. The poem, a terminus of Eliot’s polymathic travels, became a starting point for other people’s erudition. I think every author wants to make his audience. But it’s in his own image, and his primary audience is a mirror.

Anthony Burgess
Interview with John Cullinan in Paris Review spring 1973

lost her daughter

March 27, 2018

yoni steaming

So much sorrow! Demeter has lost her daughter! And to lose this daughter is to lose the joy of life itself. Kore was the scent of flowers. Kore was the green and growing. Kore was the one who brought vitality to her mother’s garden. And when the first chill met the summer air – we knew that we had lost her once again.

The girl must awaken to the woman within. Kore journeyed far beyond her mother’s garden, and into the arms of her lover. Lord of the Underworld, god of the dead, ruler of the darkness beneath the earth… Hades…Pluto. He called to Kore and she answered. And she became Persephone, Queen of the Underworld and Healer of Souls. Light met Darkness. Life met Death. And Demeter, not knowing where her daughter had gone, grieved for the loss of innocence. The world froze.

River Roberts
The Courage of Spring
Between the Worlds, spring 2009