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"Yes, and of the sinners, too."

Erm....yeah, so....I'm not even pretending to be awake. I got to bed sometime after five ayem. Do I have a good excuse, I mean besides the tooth ache. No. Except that I discovered that Vampire: The Masquerade is loads more fun when played in Second Life than with pencil and paper on a tabletop. A new Nareth splinter came into being —— this time a wealthy, young Vietnamese woman dying of an incurable disease. She'd been an assassin, and had learned much of the art of torture, before the illness. She used the last of her fortune to find the Sabbat. Accompanied by her bodyguards (thanks Pontifex and Misi), she entered the city, and contact was made, thanks to a nervous little man, some sort of private investigator. Much time was spent sitting in the painfully over-lit lobby of the Lincoln Hotel, vomiting onto the powder-blue carpet between her feet because the morphine she'd just injected was making her sick. She speaks in French about half the time. She told the bodyguards that their final checks were in their rooms and dismissed them, then sat and waited for the Ravnos woman she been promised would find her. Every moment the dying assassin waited was agony. But the vampire came, finally, the woman named Mara, and the assassin was led to the back room of a seedy little nightclub, where she was questioned, then allowed her first taste, and promised the embrace. She was given a slip of paper with an address, and ordered not to return to her hotel room. Then her typist went the hell to bed.

That's why I'm not awake. What noisy cats are we.

After the minute brouhaha which led to my entry on Saturday, I just keep thinks (as Ceiling Cat would say), "But aren't authors supposed to be critics?" No, not book reviewers. Critics. Isn't that one of the things authors are supposed to do, comment on the work of other authors? Hell, if anything, I think I've been neglectful of that duty. Aren't we supposed to try to keep one another honest by saying what we think about the State of Literature, including the State of Genre Literature? To quote the ever quotable Dorothy Parker, "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force." (quoted in The Algonquin Wits [1968] edited. by Robert E. Drennan). Is that not a duty that we have, as authors, not merely to make shows of empty, token support but when something's shit, to say so? And so when I see these followers of a hack like the wildly successful and admittedly deceased Robert Jordan, when I talk to people who can quote his The Wheel of Time chapter and verse, but who have never even read Tolkien, is it not my responsibility to get pissed off, and to say so? I think it is. Though, I should add, before hurling one of Jordan's books anywhere with great force, the reader should acquire a trebuchet, lest a shoulder be dislocated in the process.

Spooky did the Day in the Life (didl) thing a couple of days back. You can see the fruits of her labour, and quite a bit of Providence and Casa de Kiernan y Pollnac here.

Yesterday, in preparation for writing my introduction on Arthur Machen today, I read "The White People" (1904) again, my second favourite story by him. And re-read much of Wesley D. Sweetser's 1958 thesis on Machen (published in 1964), along with various other bits of criticism. I suppose that far fewer people these days read Machen than read Robert Jordan, or even Tolkien, but its their loss. "The White People" is sublime. And it has such an exquisite opening line —— "'Sorcery and sanctity,' said Ambrose, 'these are the only realities. Each is an ecstasy, a withdrawal from the common life.'"

I was saddened this morning to learn of the death of illustrator Pauline Baynes (1922-2008). When I was a teenager, it was her wonderful map of Middle Earth that adorned my bedroom wall. When I first found Farmer Giles of Ham, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, and Smith of Wootton Major, she was the artist whose work accompanied the text.

Spooky has relisted several items on eBay, so please have a look. Also, if I fail to shill both A is for Alien and the mass-market paperback of Daughter of Hounds, the platypus will be showing me those venomous spurs.

More coffee....

Comments

( 47 comments — Have your say! )
txtriffidranch
Aug. 4th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)
Don't laugh about needing a trebuchet with Robert Jordan. I was finishing up my junior year in high school when Battlefield Earth came out, and so many of my classmates told me that I had to read it that I gave them a chance. About one chapter in, I followed the esteemed Ms. Parker's advice, and I suspect that this was the first of many incidents that led to my getting rotator cuff surgery in 1994. I now have a scar on my right shoulder that looks as if someone tried to cut off my arm with a machete, and I blame Hubbard for it. (If the scar had cut through my Anomalocaris tattoo, I would have dug up Hubbard's body and used it as a coat rack.)
greygirlbeast
Aug. 4th, 2008 05:28 pm (UTC)

I blame Hubbard for it.

I blame Hubbard for so many things.

(If the scar had cut through my Anomalocaris tattoo, I would have dug up Hubbard's body and used it as a coat rack.)

You really have an Anomalocaris tattoo? Dude...
(no subject) - txtriffidranch - Aug. 4th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - corucia - Aug. 4th, 2008 09:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
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docbrite
Aug. 4th, 2008 06:32 pm (UTC)
so many of my classmates told me that I had to read it

I don't know about you, but the more people who tell me I just have to read something, the less of a chance there is that I will ever crack its cover.
(no subject) - txtriffidranch - Aug. 4th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - docbrite - Aug. 4th, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
txtriffidranch
Aug. 4th, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, and the next time you get some wanker whimpering about how your idle comments offended his/her delicate sensibilities, feel free to steal my line: "I haven't heard that much impotent whining from an irrelevant nonentity since Pearl Jam's last tour."
martianmooncrab
Aug. 4th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC)
I have 3 copies of Machen's Pan, two which have the Greg Bear intro (signed). I have gifted that particular edition several times.

I was out and about yesterday at Michael's (big crafting store) and they have started their Halloween items, several of which have "Spooky" on them. Mug, note list, .. stuff.. I had a giggle, how does Spooky get her name out there so prominently?
greygirlbeast
Aug. 4th, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC)

how does Spooky get her name out there so prominently?

You kidding? She has a better agent than I do.
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nullmode
Aug. 4th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
I have to agree about Jordan. His writing reminds me of two of my mother’s sayings; she's a librarian, mattress mouth and diarrhea of the pen. She uses those to describe anything that is overly long and pointless. Which was exactly what Jordan’s work amounted to. I did read a few of the books. When it became apparent that I had to slog through all those pages and find out that almost nothing happens I quickly decided never again to waste reading time that way. I mean how can you write like that? Four or five hundred pages and almost no plot advancement! I have no idea why his work was so well liked. Sigh........
jtglover
Aug. 4th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
Apologies in advance for the length and anger of this comment.

Isn't that one of the things authors are supposed to do, comment on the work of other authors?

Not in SF, it isn't. Criticism is expressly forbidden in genre, or hadn't you heard? Academics can wank about "the closet economy of uni-hornal chastity in early Beagle," but other than that, it's expected that you smile and make nice. Because we're a community. And communities are helpful, and supportive, and they don't say mean things to each other! Because we aren't writing literature here, we're having fun! Dude, don't piss in the Cheerios!!! Being harsh is, well, harsh, and we don't like that here. You can take your harsh over to those mean people in literary fiction who bag on each other constantly Gawker! (Even the lit fic people don't criticize too much anymore.)

I am, and have for a long time been, having trouble coming to grips with the schizophrenia of SF. Some authors are doing it because they love it, to tell fun stories that people will enjoy, and who are (implicitly if not explicitly) going to be hurt and offended by criticism. At best they'll think it not relevant. Other authors are doing it for all the reasons people who strive to write great fiction do so, but even there I don't see too much criticism, thought perhaps I'm looking in the wrong place. And because of the non-critical culture, I always have the feeling that criticism is always perceived as a personal attack (which it sometimes is, sometimes isn't).

It's all about the cult of the fan: consuming and enjoying and not evaluating. Is it right to criticize people who aren't trying to Write Serious Fiction? Is it right to say "dude I really loved [title] because of the fight scenes" to someone who labored three years to create (what the author hopes will be) an immortal opus? I don't know the answers, but I know that I am frustrated by lack of a serious critical culture. (Which means, I suppose, that I should go out and write some, but that's a story for another day.)
greygirlbeast
Aug. 4th, 2008 05:56 pm (UTC)

Not in SF, it isn't. Criticism is expressly forbidden in genre, or hadn't you heard? Academics can wank about "the closet economy of uni-hornal chastity in early Beagle," but other than that, it's expected that you smile and make nice. Because we're a community. And communities are helpful, and supportive, and they don't say mean things to each other! Because we aren't writing literature here, we're having fun! Dude, don't piss in the Cheerios!!! Being harsh is, well, harsh, and we don't like that here.

*blink*

You're joking, right? I mean, we're not talking about fanfic...

the non-critical culture

Herein lies the problem.

May I quote this comment in tomorrow's entry?
(no subject) - jtglover - Aug. 4th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - jtglover - Aug. 4th, 2008 07:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
To put it another way... - jtglover - Aug. 4th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: To put it another way... - greygirlbeast - Aug. 4th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: To put it another way... - jtglover - Aug. 4th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
txtriffidranch
Aug. 4th, 2008 06:45 pm (UTC)
Actually, you're right on the money about far too many fans taking legitimate criticism as a personal attack. I used to describe the phenomenon as "the Church of Saint Spock the Pointyeared", because it's almost identical to the response from a religious fanatic toward any criticism of his/her faith, whether or not it's justified. In the light stages, it's the whining of "Can't you just have fun with it?" when someone makes light of George Lucas's lack of storytelling ability; in extreme cases, well, you have the Cat Piss Men who attempt violence (and sometimes succeed) against a complete stranger who dared state an opinion other than what the Cat Piss Man wanted to hear.

By way of example, back in the early Eighties, Starlog magazine used to have a summer review issue, where various esteemed science fiction, fantasy, and horror authors would review the summer's genre films. Robert Bloch reviewing Gremlins, Theodore Sturgeon reviewing The Last Starfighter, and the like. The shrieking was long and loud from the CPM contingent when Norman Spinrad dared poke big holes in the plot and characterization of Return of the Jedi at the end of 1983, but you had no idea of the screaming a year later when Arthur C. Clarke dared note that Star Trek III wasn't a particularly good movie. I'm ashamed to say that I still know people in Dallas fandom (although I haven't associated with them in years) who still refuse to read anything by Spinrad or Clarke, not based on tastes in fiction, but because they dared blaspheme against the Church of Skiffy, where we have to endorse everything no matter how bad it may be because "we fans have to stick together."
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stsisyphus
Aug. 4th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
...I discovered that Vampire: The Masquerade is loads more fun when played in Second Life than with pencil and paper on a tabletop.

*blinkblink* I would have thought that any WoD online-RP (even in SL) would have been completely anathema to you. I would have thought that the dissonance between your expectations of urban fantasy and such would have precluded you from participating in a V:tM sim. Between a kind of inflexible world-build, and the general asshats who I find tend to congregate in that particular setting...I dunno. I'd be cautious about this.

I hope they haven't asked you to draw up a character sheet.
greygirlbeast
Aug. 4th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
I hope they haven't asked you to draw up a character sheet.

Oh. but they have.

blinkblink* I would have thought that any WoD online-RP (even in SL) would have been completely anathema to you.

Sigh. Surprise. It's not like this is art —— just a game —— and I've played V:tM in RL; even did some writing for White Wolf back in the '90s —— "The Comedie of St. Jehanne d'Arc," "Stoker's Mistress."

Edited at 2008-08-04 06:50 pm (UTC)
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mr_earbrass
Aug. 4th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
It's always--for obvious reasons--more difficult for me to pick a favorite short story rather than a favorite novel by asn author, particularly when one is as prolific as Machen. That said, for personal reasons I think I enjoy "The White People" even more than "The Great God Pan." I read "The White People" for the first time last year and it was one of the few stories in recent memory that actually put the spook on me. Something about the girl's narrative, the description of the woodland leading up to the Place, and the sly bits with the nanny actually creeped me out, something which does not happen nearly enough given the volume of supernatural fiction I ingest. Also, Machen's framing device works a little better there than in other stories, I think. Some of his work relies on contrivances and coincidences reminiscent of Dickens (Or a roleplaying game, for that matter) whereas this works brilliantly because he knew enough to not try and wrap it all up with a nice, neat bow.

By the by, I really dug your observations in re: "Ghost Story" and "The Great God Pan." One of the best things about knowing the greats is picking up on homages and influences like this. I've just discovered William Hope Hodgeson, for example, and the impact his "The House on the Borderland" exerted on Lovecraft--and to a lesser extent, C.A. Smith--is as fun to examine as it is palpable in the respective texts.
nightwitch
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:00 am (UTC)
"The White People" is one of my favorite works of horror, and my favorite of Machen's. I think it's sad too that so few people know of him.

"The dark nymph, Alanna, came, and she turned the pool of water into a pool of fire. . . ."

- Arthur Machen -
"The White People"
loki1978de
Aug. 5th, 2008 09:29 am (UTC)
I love the background you give this new rp char.
Hopefully we will hear more about it in the future.

Thanks for informing me about the death of Pauline Baynes. I immediately used the A3 printer to print the map in colour (thanks for providing the link) and putting it at the office wall. In case you ask: Yup our office raises some eyebrows

Tried to get into SL to catch you early saturday Europe Time, ........but i cant seem to remember my password *crumbles to dust in shame*...and the secondary safety doesnt work either
( 47 comments — Have your say! )