He lowered his voice at once to reply, leaning forward a little over the fire, an indefinable change in his face that made me avoid his eyes and look down upon the ground.
“All my life,” he said, “I have been strangely, vividly conscious of another region—not far removed from our own world in one sense, yet wholly different in kind—where great things go on unceasingly, where immense and terrible personalities hurry by, intent on vast purposes compared to which earthly affairs, the rise and fall of nations, the destinies of empires, the fate of armies and continents, are all as dust in the balance; vast purposes, I mean, that deal directly with the soul, and not indirectly with mere expressions of the soul—”
“I suggest just now—” I began, seeking to stop him, feeling as though I was face to face with a madman. But he instantly overbore me with his torrent that had to come.
“You think,” he said, “it is the spirit of the elements, and I thought perhaps it was the old gods. But I tell you now it is—neither. These would be comprehensible entities, for they have relations with men, depending upon them for worship or sacrifice, whereas these beings who are now about us have absolutely nothing to do with mankind, and it is mere chance that their space happens just at this spot to touch our own.”
COMPARATIVE LITERATURE ISSUE
Self-Reflexivity in the Serbo-Croatian Folk- Tale, by Mzsczy Mczszy.
Comic Structures in Holocaust Literature, by Horst Wessel and Elie Wiesel.
101 Uses for a Dead Explicator, by D. Funcke Katz.
Derrida and the Neutron Bomb, by Gerald Pantagraff.
Vomit: The Stow of Reader-Response Criticism, by David Yech.
The Joy of Socks: Foot Fetishism in France, by Henri Pair and Germane Brie.
The Condemned of Altoona: Late Existentialism in Eastern Pennsylvania, by J-P Salaud.
Punishing the Text: An Archaeology of Literary Leather, by Michel Godemiche.
Praxis und Taxis: Rilke als Schmarotzer, by Marie von Thurn und Taxis-Hohenlohe.
Sexist Repression and Counter-Revolutionary Imagery in the Later Poetry of Trumbull Stickney,
by Medusa Petard and Gloria Monday.
Dust from the Chickenhouse Floor: Coprophagy in American Colonial Literature, by Frank “Temps” Perdue and Bruce Jackson.
The Rhetoric of Secondary Aphasia, by Pablo Lacuna, Ph.D.
The Dirty Denizens: Black Semiotics, by Nathan A. Detroit and Seymour Sebeotnik.
Tickling the Text: A Primer of Literary Tact, by Lillie Bullero and Belle Bottoms.
The Kitchen Kink: Recipes for Critical Boredom, by “Big Al” Cook, the Galoping Gourmet.
The Joy of Gay Deconstruction, by F. Neechie and E. Coli.
The Philologist in the Attic, by the late Lev Spritzer.
Doing Her Thing: Auto-Eroticism in ‘Silas Marner’, by Raveloe Weber.
Cretins and Hydrocephaloi: Chips from My Buffalo, by El Fiddler.
The Skeleton Key to ‘Love Story” Revisited, by Eric Siegel.
Come in Your Trunks: A Reader’s Guide to the Beach Epics, by Annette Funicello, D.Phil.
Metonymy Is My Middle Name: Reflections on a Life in Language, by Roman Jakobson.
Phallic Imagery in the Notebooks of Henry James, by Leonardo Gaffito.
The Art of Darkness: Up the River with Conrad, by Francis Ford Coppelius.
Poetry and Flatulence: Petomania in the Romantic Ode, by H. Boom, Ph.D.
The Stiffest of the Corpse: An Exquisite Corpse Reader Paperback
Andrei Codrescu, editor
Nay, a few were so enthusiastically ambitious as to run approximately the streets with their oral predictions, pretending they were despatched to evangelise to the town; and one mainly, who, like Jonah to Nineveh, cried within the streets, ‘Yet 40 days, and London will be destroyed.’ I will not be superb whether he said yet 40 days or but some days. Another ran about naked, except a pair of drawers about his waist, crying day and night time, like a person that Josephus mentions, who cried, ‘Woe to Jerusalem!’ a little earlier than the destruction of that city. So this terrible naked creature cried, ‘Oh, the remarkable and the dreadful God!’ and stated no extra, but repeated the ones words continually, with a voice and countenance complete of horror, a speedy tempo; and nobody should ever discover him to stop or rest, or take any sustenance, at least that ever I ought to hear of. I met this terrible creature several times within the streets, and might have spoken to him, however he might not enter into speech with me or anyone else, but held on his dismal cries always.
A Journal of the Plague Year
Some time in the first few months of Covid, in 2020, there was a guy walking down the street outside my place. “Fuck Covid!” He yelled, loud enough for the neighborhood to hear. My guess was that he’d just lost some job prospect, or something fell through due to the shutdown.
But what literature does, which formal philosophy for example commonly does not – and what literature can hardly help doing – is yield more than its writers know. In thinking about human life, it offers as much excess, untidied material as it can by not only thinking but re-creating the very objects of thought—offering more from within the very middle of things, I will argue, than a more secondary discipline can provide with more formally set starts and goals. Writers offer this by creating not so much a line of argument as a resonant space for thinking. In a book on his reading called A Dish of Orts (1893), the Victorian fantasy writer George MacDonald speaks of Wordsworth as a poet not so much offering ideas as putting the reader into the places (physical, mental, and situational) from which such ideas originally arise so that they come of themselves.
Davis, Philip. Reading and the Reader: The Literary Agenda
I remember meeting for the first time one of the leading literary men in America, a man whom I had supposed from his books to be filled with melancholy. But it so happened that at that moment the most crucial baseball results were coming through on the radio; he forgot me, literature, and all the other sorrows of our sublunary life, and yelled with joy as his favorites achieved victory. Ever since this incident, I have been able to read his books without feeling depressed by the misfortunes of his characters.
Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness.
J. R. R. Tolkien was a master of Worldbuilding, working on his Middle-Earth world from about WW1 until his death. The Lord of the Rings is full of lovingly crafted and referred-to details, many of which are left unexplained, whose stories first got public with the posthumous publications of the earlier stories.
- One thing Tolkien knew from his studies as a linguist and English teacher is that some of the old myths recreate the Cryptic Background Reference effect entirely by accident, when the relevant poems or stories are lost — the medieval Finns probably had an explanation of what a Sampo (from The Kalevala) is, for example, but it didn’t survive the Middle Ages.
- Then there are some things which never got elaborated on, even posthumously, like in The Hobbit when Bilbo makes reference to “the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert.” Nothing remotely similar is ever even spoken of again.
- “Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things.”
- Half of fun of reading Tolkien is this. Go read The Silmarillion and go back and read The Lord of the Rings. Now revel in all the references most people didn’t get the first time around. That part of the song Aragorn sings in The Fellowship of the Ring about Beren and Lúthien? Now you know the whole story. Bilbo’s song about Eärendil that Aragorn seemed to find so cheeky to sing in Rivendell? It was about Elrond’s father (and mother) who he hasn’t seen in five thousand years and probably dredged up some bad memories about the ransacking of his home when he was a child by the sons of Fëanor. The list goes on.
- The Second Prophecy of Mandos, which describes what the end of the world will be like, is referenced (though not by name) in virtually all of the canonical stories of Middle-earth. However, the prophecy itself does not appear in canon — only in Tolkien’s earlier drafts for The Silmarillion.