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Old 08-30-2017   #11
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Re: Weird Fiction and the Cult of Obscurity

I love Radcliffe.

Anyway, the reason I was going to comment is that people seem to be taking the cult of obscurity as a largely negative thing. There are negative aspects to it, as mentioned with reference to Stewart Lee, but one obvious positive aspect that I can see is that without the cult of obscurity many great writers would never be rescued for posterity. The people who only ever keep an eye on what's already established aren't going to do the job of digging around in the basement for treasures.

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Old 08-30-2017   #12
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Re: Weird Fiction and the Cult of Obscurity

What on earth is 'obscurity' anyway? Pramoedya Ananta Toer is almost completely unknown in the West, but he is very well known in Indonesia. Andrei Platonov has been hugely neglected in the West until recent times and yet the Russians have known for decades that he is one of the best (and strangest) writers of the 20th Century. There are tens of thousands of such examples.

Writers and readers of weird fiction (or any sort of fiction) have to make a decision first and ask themselves this question: what is it that I want? Only after answering honestly will you be able to accurately work out if what you write or what you read is 'obscure' but all the same it will only necessarily be obscure to you. Take the trouble to learn French or Spanish or Italian, etc, and suddenly a whole world of obscurity will become normal, accessible and available.

Certainly we can make a fetish of obscurity. But it's a futile fetish to have because nothing will ever be objectively obscure enough to satisfy the true obscurophile unless they practice considerable self-deception first.

"Nothing can be known, not even this." - Carneades
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Old 08-30-2017   #13
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Re: Weird Fiction and the Cult of Obscurity

Arthur Machen seems to be pretty popular with preteen girls in Generation Z. I was hanging out with some young nieces recently and they confessed that everyone in their class was reading Dork Diaries 5 and The House of the Hidden Light.

Some awesome prose excerpts here that Machen fans will probably enjoy.
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Old 08-30-2017   #14
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Re: Weird Fiction and the Cult of Obscurity

Almost any writer who doesn't have successful films and television shows based on their work is obscure these days because reading literature is simply not a mainstream hobby in our culture. How many fellow Arthur Machen or William Hope Hodgson fans am I liable to meet in a bar?

I still enjoyed the article because it was well written and researched.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 08-30-2017   #15
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Re: Weird Fiction and the Cult of Obscurity

Quote Originally Posted by Robert Adam Gilmour View Post
There's another type of scarcity which interests me: cheap mass produced magazines and books that are not valued enough to be preserved well.

There's British girls' comics and Filipino horror & fantasy comics which are impossible to find now because they were not valued enough and they were too vulnerable because of the cheap paper.

I used to have a lot of dreams about hunting for comics * and finding rare or new things that I'd never heard of.
Sometimes the dreams would feature people selling obscure and powerful horror comics out in the middle of nowhere in some field you had to go through ditches to reach, where nobody could be reasonably expected to find the sellers.
One time it was this guy selling comics out in a dark rainy night. The comics were taller and wider than myself and very fragile, easy to rip and vulnerable to the rain.
Those are very evocative dream images, Robert, might i perhaps 'borrow' them for use in... an obscure comic?

There's this anthology comic from DC, featuring a bunch of clumsily drawn, garishly coloured superhero nonsense and... one supremely beautiful b & w tale drawn by Jeffrey Catherine Jones at the height of her minimalist powers. Even the text is insufferable ( it's by Gaiman ). But those drawings, oh man.
Sometimes i think about cutting out the Jones pages and throwing out the rest, but there's something about that context...
It probably has to do with the allure of obscurity, yes, but it also embodies the central mechanism of comics, which is juxtaposition.

"What can a thing do with a thing, when it is a thing?"
-Shaykh Ibn Al 'Arabi
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Old 08-30-2017   #16
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Re: Weird Fiction and the Cult of Obscurity

Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
Almost any writer who doesn't have successful films and television shows based on their work is obscure these days because reading literature is simply not a mainstream hobby in our culture. How many fellow Arthur Machen or William Hope Hodgson fans am I liable to meet in a bar?

I still enjoyed the article because it was well written and researched.
As with all hobbies and interest, one will gradually become more and more familiar with the subject one is interested in. Of course, you can go on and only read authors that are widely known or available, but the more you read the more you will discover and authors that may have seemed obscure will become something familiar. Also from an outsiderís perspective or a newcomer into this community, it might seem to be more geared towards obscure subjects and authors and a certain reverence for hard to find editions and works. As I mentioned earlier, part of Ligottiís appeal to me was his obscurity. But of course, I would rather his work was easily obtainable to an affordable price as to reach more readers. Often, I find that people who have read a lot or seen a lot of movies etc. tends to forget that not everyone they meet will be as well versed in the subject matter as they are. The thrill of meeting someone interested in the same thing as you, only to find them completely lost as soon as you start talking is a curse that comes with being interested in literature (or other subjects) that falls outside of the mainstream.

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Old 08-30-2017   #17
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Re: Weird Fiction and the Cult of Obscurity

I suppose obscure could mean damn near anything.
Scarcity and exclusivity will factor heavily.
Are Earth Shoes now obscure?
I fear reading for pleasure will itself become obscure within one or two generations.
Most of my X-er and Millennial friends are now "on call" 24/7.
They feel compelled to check constantly lest they fall behind or miss something. What were once stretches of unstructured quiet are peppered with noise.
Staying connected means less time for oneself.
Reading becomes a luxury.

Quote Originally Posted by Robert Adam Gilmour View Post
Are you saying Alison Krauss compromised to accommodate her growing audience?
Spoiler
Wandering off topic here, but no, I don’t think Ms Krauss began pandering for a larger audience.
As her style shifted, and acclaim mounted, more listeners responded.
Not me, though. I did not care for her new style. In Union Station, the mandolin disappeared and the dobro came to the forefront.
I preferred the earlier bluegrass sound, yet acknowledge many more embraced the new.
So, it’s me. My preferences, my tastes. Not Ms Krauss chasing a buck. I hit the exits just as the club started to get packed.
And yes, I was gone before her collaboration with the golden god.
Examples of artists who did alter their sound for a greater audience - Barbra, Rod.
Then again, you did specify 'bands you liked,' and your faves may have stayed truer.
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Old 08-30-2017   #18
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Re: Weird Fiction and the Cult of Obscurity

Quote Originally Posted by Ibrahim View Post
Those are very evocative dream images, Robert, might i perhaps 'borrow' them for use in... an obscure comic?
Yes, I'll talk to you about it soon.

Something I forgot to mention about comic hunting is that despite my strong nostalgia for buying single issues from a variety of dusty back issue shops (in early 00s Glasgow there used to be 7 or 8 of them, they're all gone now), I'm glad that cheaper collected editions have taken over. Buying single issues was terribly expensive, you got lots of adverts and crap you didn't want. A big part of my youthful excitement in those shops was my less refined taste and having less knowledge about what they were selling.

I can still get some of that thrill in good charity shops, some book and music stores that are left.

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Old 08-30-2017   #19
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Re: Weird Fiction and the Cult of Obscurity

Quote Originally Posted by Speaking Mute View Post
If you think that the only thing separating Scooby Doo from immortal greatness is more fainting, sentimental romance, use of the word "sublime", and slowing the plot to a glacial crawl in order to praise sublime French and Italian landscapes, then Ann Radcliff is definitely the way to go.
The landscapes aspect definitely appeals, setting is one of the most important things for me. I hate the idea of Scooby Doo endings but if the castles are still real, I can make do. I read a really beautiful excerpt of her writing once.

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Old 08-30-2017   #20
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Re: Weird Fiction and the Cult of Obscurity

Quote Originally Posted by rhysaurus View Post
What on earth is 'obscurity' anyway?
Good question. I've been interested in obscurity for a long time and I've done a great deal of field work in the area.

I think one interesting effect of the internet age is what has happened to fame.

This chap is talking about why 21st century films are rubbish and brings up the fact that anyone now has a platform for self-expression, including himself:


If, for instance, I met this next chap in a bar or something and happened to tell him I'd been published:


... he might (as tends to happen in my experience) be impressed and ask if he might have heard of me or anything I'd written.

However, judging by his views, there are probably many thousands more people who are aware of his existence than mine. I'm not discussing merit, here, but perceptions. A published book has a kind of prestige (I would say, largely conversational prestige, or possibly it's good on a CV, depending on the job one is applying for), but a weird, uninformed prestige among people who mainly don't even care about that prestige. On the other hand, having hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube is fairly normal now. The point being, such things make the issue of obscurity even blurrier than it might be otherwise.

"As the Director of one of the five greatest museums in our Eastern States has more than once remarked to me, From the Stone Age until now, what a decline!" - Ananda Coomaraswamy
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