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Old 09-13-2017   #121
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

From the non-fiction of his I've read, I gather Aickman was something of a "classical" conservative, a believer in the rights of the individual--I suspect current political fads like "intersectionalism" would've appalled him--and cultural preservation, with a healthy skepticism for the alleged benefits of progress in all its forms. He reveals something of an unfortunate prudish streak at times, voicing disdain for more explicit or "sadistic" forms of horror writing, but also expresses support for artistic freedom and opposition to censorship in his reviews.

I'm not much interested in lit-crit analysis and breakdown of fiction at the best of times, and especially not of the sort of "deconstruction" that uses a piece of writing as a cudgel to batter its author's reputation and worldview (while simultaneously elevating the critic's). But when it comes down to it, I agree with Des's view that "the text is all we have" if, as in Aickman's case, the writer happens to be dead. I just don't believe there is any objective truth that we can divine from it.

More importantly, I agree with the assertion that Aickman was not a didactic writer. I probably wouldn't have tolerated more than a couple of his stories otherwise, and those would be long forgotten by now. He does appear to have inserted personal views into his narratives from time to time, usually with satiric intent, but without intruding on the events of the story itself, or forcing a particular perspective.

What I get from his fiction has never been the promotion of a particular set of values over others. If anything, I get the sense of an artist who treated his material, and his audience, with a certain unusual level of respect. I suspect that, for the most part, the great subtlety of his tales arose from a desire to treat the idea of "supernatural" forces and the higher mysteries of existence with respect and intelligence.

If there is a consistent theme to be found throughout Aickman's work, it is not the subversion of any particular worldview. It is the subversion of ALL worldviews by forces that exist forever outside of them.

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Old 09-13-2017   #122
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

Quote Originally Posted by cannibal cop View Post
He reveals something of an unfortunate prudish streak at times, voicing disdain for more explicit or "sadistic" forms of horror writing, but also expresses support for artistic freedom and opposition to censorship in his reviews.
His views on film were sometime surprising. Ramsey Campbell said he preferred Night of the Living Dead to the more subtle The Leopard Man, and he hated Don't Look Now.
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Old 09-17-2017   #123
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

Quote Originally Posted by Robin Davies View Post
His views on film were sometime surprising. Ramsey Campbell said he preferred Night of the Living Dead to the more subtle The Leopard Man...
That makes sense to me. NOTLD is a great horror movie, one of the best, and The Leopard Man would only seem pretty, well, tame beside it. And I figure that Aickman is a sharp enough critic not to let any squeamishness on his part interfere with his judgment.

I am very surprised to hear that he hated Don't Look Now, though. Stunned. Shocked and dismayed, even. I'd have thought they were a match made in heaven.

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Old 09-19-2017   #124
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

Quote Originally Posted by cannibal cop View Post
I am very surprised to hear that he hated Don't Look Now, though. Stunned. Shocked and dismayed, even. I'd have thought they were a match made in heaven.
He loathed the sex scene in particular, but also Donald Sutherland's accent and the way Roeg used Venice, among other things. Other detestations included the magazine Private Eye, Tippett's Midsummer Marriage and the film Sleuth.
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Old 09-19-2017   #125
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

Quote Originally Posted by Ramsey Campbell View Post
Quote Originally Posted by cannibal cop View Post
I am very surprised to hear that he hated Don't Look Now, though. Stunned. Shocked and dismayed, even. I'd have thought they were a match made in heaven.
He loathed the sex scene in particular, but also Donald Sutherland's accent and the way Roeg used Venice, among other things. Other detestations included the magazine Private Eye, Tippett's Midsummer Marriage and the film Sleuth.
I love Tippett, but also loathe Midsummer Marriage.
Hate is eclectic.

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Old 09-19-2017   #126
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

I find it delightful that Aickman's taste in films was so different from what many readers expected. It just reminds us of the complexity of a real human being. It's not the Politically Correct Equation where one trivial action or belief that harms no one, defines a man as a saint or sinner. In stone. Forever.

Last edited by Druidic; 09-20-2017 at 06:45 AM..
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Old 09-19-2017   #127
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

I wouldn't say Night of the Living Dead was less subtle than The Leopard Man. Just more graphic. I don't think The Leopard Man was as subtle as the same director's Cat People or I Walked with a Zombie

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 09-20-2017   #128
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

There are times when i read Aickman and think he is less subtle than he's often portrayed as being. Don't see why we should associate him with 'subtlety,' really.

Of course there are degrees of subtlety, and after passing each degree the previous one will look coarser than the current one.

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Old 09-20-2017   #129
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

Quote Originally Posted by Ramsey Campbell View Post
He loathed the sex scene in particular, but also Donald Sutherland's accent and the way Roeg used Venice, among other things. Other detestations included the magazine Private Eye, Tippett's Midsummer Marriage and the film Sleuth.
Now Sleuth I can understand, though it probably plays a little better today. Just seeing the likes of Caine and Olivier sharing screen time is a more appealing prospect than anything in contemporary cinema. God knows what he would have made of the remake.

It's still hard for me to fathom his feelings for Don't Look Now, though. Maybe he thought it disrespectful to Du Maurier's story (though I feel it enhances the tale significantly, and lends a gloominess and uncanny images that altogether feel very ""Aickman"). Or perhaps the movie affected him so deeply he found it uncomfortable to admit it, the contrary old sod. (Just kidding, RA, we love ya, man.)

Of course, I shouldn't really be surprised if his abhorrences were as eclectic as his interests.

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Old 09-20-2017   #130
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

Leopard Man is the weakest on those Lewton box sets. Bad script.

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