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Old 10-20-2016   #11
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Re: Do You Remember Your First Time?

Reading a copy of Narraciones Extraordinarias by Edgar Allan Poe my parents had in the house when I was 9 or 10 and loving it, especially The Fall of the House of Usher.

Your fall should be like the fall of mountains. But I was before mountains. I was in the beginning, and shall be forever. The first and the last. The world come full circle. I am not the wheel. I am the hand that turns the wheel. I am Time, the Destroyer. I was the wind and the stars before this. Before planets. Before heaven and hell. And when all is done, I will be wind again, to blow this world as dust back into endless space. To me the coming and going of Man is as nothing.
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Old 10-20-2016   #12
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Re: Do You Remember Your First Time?

I remember seeing a copy of Poe's stories at the library. What caught my eye as a 12-year-old was the picture on the cover of a crow perched atop a skull. The first stories I read in it were A Descent Into The Maelstrom and The Pit and the Pendulum. My child imagination made them vivid in a way it had not with any other story I had read before, and I was hooked.

“Evolution cannot avoid bringing intelligent life ultimately to an awareness of one thing above all else and that one thing is futility.”
Cormac McCarthy, The Sunset Limited
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Old 10-20-2016   #13
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Re: Do You Remember Your First Time?

I had always been hooked on Horror film and TV. I loved weird music, but wasn't much of a reader until I turned 14. I was finishing my freshman year at an all-boys Catholic high school and flunking most of my classes - including English. Naturally, I was fascinated with Hell and the totures of the damned so one day I stopped by the Science Fiction Shop (in NYC) and found a copy of this ...



It wasn't what I was hoping for, but then again it didn't have to be.
The first story was Yours Truly Jack the Ripper.
Robert Bloch will always be my first love in Horror fiction.
Once I started reading him, I couldn't get enough.
It has been that way ever since.
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Old 10-21-2016   #14
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Re: Do You Remember Your First Time?

Personally I was primed for receptivity to horror from a young age; my early childhood was spent in Roswell, NM of supposed UFO crash infamy, with the result that by age 6 I had become obsessed with all manner of 'paranormal' and crytozoological phenomena - aliens, bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, etc. Moving to California the summer prior to beginning 1st grade was probably the pivotal event for several reasons: first, we now had cable tv for the first time, and after seeing Claude Rains' The Invisible Man (a story I had earlier become obsessed with in its Illustrated Classics' version) I was hooked on the classic Universal horror films; second and more importantly, while helping unpack after the move I came across some antique American lit textbooks my father had obtained at an auction years prior, and which contained the first stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe I would read - 'The Fall of the House of Usher', The Bells', and 'The Raven', which became my favorite poem for quite awhile. Shortly thereafter, I would also discover RL Stine's series of Goosebumps novels, which were then just starting, and my status as a lover of horror was permanently guaranteed.

- Also, after seeing some parallels with earlier commentators, I found it interesting to note that, while I was a 'sensitive', highly strung child virtually from infancy, it wasn't until that same move to California that my anxiety kicked into overdrive, increasing in intensity and becoming more or less constant. Because both of these began around the same time there's some 'chicken and egg' style uncertainty about which came first and what triggered what, but I think I can safely say that if horror didn't save my life, contrary to conventional thought, it has provided boundless therapeutic value over the years - a way of sublimating perhaps those mundane but overwhelming terrors of everyday living with concentrated doses of artificial horror. . .

"When a man is born. . .there are nets flung at (his being) to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets." - James Joyce

Last edited by ChildofOldLeech; 10-21-2016 at 01:49 AM..
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Old 10-21-2016   #15
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Re: Do You Remember Your First Time?

I’ll never forget my first encounter with the writing of Thomas Ligotti, or the circumstances that lead to my seemingly accidental discovery of “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race” This wonderful book was my introduction to the genre of supernatural horror as well as the plain old ordinary horror that’s inherent in the simple everyday fact that there is something rather than nothing. That book and this website have been a gold mine for me and have lead me to discover so many wonderful things that I would have never found otherwise. Naturally there was a terrible price to be paid for these things, but all things considered I’d do the deal all over again without hesitation.

My father had just died. For the time being I was numb, but I knew that I would soon have to confront some very negative emotions, and that they would probably last for a very long time. I knew it was going to be bad, but thankfully I had no real idea what was headed my way!

One day I was sitting around waiting for the impact when the words “existential dread” popped into my head. I wasn’t familiar with this phrase in its usual context as a philosophical term. I had encountered it in something written by the guitarist John Fahey, probably an interview or the liner notes to one of his albums. Though I didn’t really comprehend their full meaning, these seemed somehow relevant to the situation that I currently found myself in. I went to google for advice, typing “Existential Dread” into the search bar.

After bouncing around on different websites I was stopped cold by the title of a book: “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race” Much like the phrase that inspired my web search, this series of words, although I could only guess at their meaning, resonated with me somehow and seemed relevant to my current situation and state of mind, though I can’t really say why I felt this way. I knew based on the title alone that I just had to own a copy of this book. I ordered it immediately on Amazon without so much as reading the product description or a single review. I’m still amazed by how much this title struck me at the time. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a book before or since based on nothing but the title.

I will never know what the experience of grieving for my father would have been like if I had not been reading and digesting Ligotti at the time, nor can I know how encountering Ligotti’s writing might have affected me during a more emotionally stable period. Nevertheless, there is no doubt in my mind that the combined effect of the two was far more powerful and devastating than either could have been if taken on their own at different times. I really believe that reading Ligotti during this volatile period opened doors that would otherwise have remained closed and locked despite what would have been a very painful grieving process on its own.

Conspiracy ultimately did me a great service by opening my eyes, however briefly, to the unmitigated horror and suffering of everyday ordinary existence. What I saw thanks to Ligotti was surely only a pale reflection of the suffering inherent in organic life, only a faded echo. I only saw it for a second, less than a second, but I SAW it and I felt it for the briefest moment, and this tiny glimpse was enough to burn me to the ground. I don’t know how else to say it. This was a terrible experience, but a confrontation of this kind would probably have happened sooner or later anyway, and I can’t help but feel that the annihilation that resulted was more thorough and cleansing since the fire was aided by the jet fuel of natural grief.

Things seem to have calmed down for me after this experience, and I’m still not sure what, if anything, to make of it. I feel that something is drastically changed, that something inside of me has been broken, perhaps beyond repair. At the same time it feels like whatever broke wasn’t needed anyway, or that things are better somehow now that it’s broken? Can words really have such an effect on a person?

There is no substitute for hands on, direct experience. To my mind Conspiracy comes terrifyingly close to conveying direct experience through the written word. I didn’t read this book, I had an encounter with it.

In closing I’d just like to thank the deceased John Fahey. I would like to think that this is all his fault. There is no question that he was a conspirator in these perfectly timed events, though he could never have known or suspected.
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Old 10-21-2016   #16
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Re: Do You Remember Your First Time?

Wow, great first post, Marmadus!

Oh yes, Poe's 'Descent into the Maelstrom.' It STILLL terrifies me!

"Ulay Importantay Le Speciale Massage Ma'amselle"
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Old 10-21-2016   #17
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Re: Do You Remember Your First Time?

This bad boy right here when I was 7:



It's about a summer camp where the counsellors act super snooty and occasionally earthquakes break out. If I recall correctly, the camp counsellors are actually a cult worshipping the camp mascot King JellyJam– a monster who sweats snails, and his burps after eating kids are the cause of the seismic activity. In hindsight the story was sort of The Hospice by way of Shadow Over Innsmouth and fostered my early interest in weird horror brought about through anxious social situations.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay

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Old 10-21-2016   #18
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Re: Do You Remember Your First Time?

This , followed quickly by this .

TEG
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Old 10-21-2016   #19
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Re: Do You Remember Your First Time?

Wow, those are huge images. Sorry about that.

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Old 10-21-2016   #20
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Re: Do You Remember Your First Time?

Yeah, I wrote a piece about discovering Lovecraft a while back:

You only get to discover Lovecraft once—in a worn paperback with tanned leaves, or the severe little hardback with faded golden letters down the spine on the library shelf, or in the soft pages of an old magazine in your dad’s office, or lurking in some plain and unglamorous archive on the internet. Though you may encounter him again in a thousand different forms, there is never again the sense of discovery, of coming across the unknown. Only the familiarity of revisiting someone you have already met, and the ritual of re-reading what you had once read.

As a lad, I fell into Lovecraft through my father’s old paperbacks. Filled notebook pages with names and the titles of books real and imaginary, building a library of the mind and tracing the borders and milestones of Lovecraft Country. It was what I did, back then, as we moved from one post to the next, our little family out of sync with the schedules of other folk. The military is not always kind to families; school years and curricula varied from one place to another. Always the new kids. Holidays often saw my brother and I visiting our grandparents in Massachusetts, to hear strange yet familiar accents and drive down winding lanes past dry stone walls, to play in the snow beneath looming evergreens, to smell wood-smoke on the air, and hold our breath as we passed cemeteries. Far and away from the decrepit villages and archaic towns that Lovecraft promised, but a constant to cling to, no matter where we were stationed.

Adulthood brings new perspective, and while I carried my appreciation for Lovecraft into manhood, exposure to Lovecraft’s letters and the critical literature surrounding the man and his work—and just greater exposure to literature in literature—changed the way I read his work. Unthinking praise gave way to more considered analysis: the architecture of the stories, the way he structured the plot, language, and characters, is now more apparent to me; his influences and precursors are now more obvious, the events of his life and thought reflected more clearly on the page. It wasn’t quite a rediscovery of Lovecraft, but it was a very different way of looking at and understanding the man and his work. It’s no wonder I got out the notebook again, though these days I look for very different things.

I still go through my Yuletide ritual reread of “The Festival,” which smacks of the kind of ghost-story that M. R. James would have whispered before a blazing log to attentive younger relatives. In an age when holidays are often anything but holy, and the rest of the world teeters between saccharine sentiment and crass commercialism, it brings a smile to my face to read of that pilgrimage to old Kingsport, the strange relations and queer books with odd and exciting titles. I could be back in my grandfather’s library in New England, watching the snow fall on the lichen-covered stones outside, if only for a little while.

“The Cats of Ulthar” is another story dear to my heart, and one that I tend to push on the cat-lovers in my life. Friends and cousins devoted to their four-footed furry fiends, who hardly have time or interest to read indulge me every now and again, probably not sure what to expect. “Cats” is like “The Festival” in the respect that it’s a liminal tale, on the edge of Lovecraft’s Mythos, skirting the longer and more involved stories—and yet, oddly central too. There is no need to read The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath to understand or appreciate “Cats,” or vice versa, but I have always held that “Cats” is a better tale, more complete and satisfying in itself. “Cats,” like “The Festival,” stands alone, yet is a part of a greater fabric.

My most well-thumbed edition of Lovecraft has a rectangle of onionskin tucked in near the spine, at the beginning of “The Picture in the House.” The opening paragraph is as pure a distillation of Lovecraft as you’ll find anywhere, seemingly effortless yet beautifully suggestive and leading at the same time. It assumes a conclusion that some might—and have—fought over. Yet the sentiment is pure, and the underlying message of local horrors resonates to anyone familiar with that habit of those who have stayed too long in one place, to glamourize and fetishize the strange and exotic. Why else do we spend hours in libraries, reading of dead kings in their finery, or the lost wonders of civilizations that succumbed to war and famine, flood and earthquake, degeneration and neglect? Why else do we thrill at the lush prose of Clark Ashton Smith, or the vivid impulse of Robert E. Howard, the quiet glory of Arthur Machen and the timeless enchantment of Lord Dunsany, except for the shadows of something else on otherwise small and drab lives?

“The Picture in the House” is only seven and a half pages in this edition, and I have read it many times, careful always to put the marker back in its place. It is perhaps not the best story that Lovecraft ever wrote—“The Colour Out of Space” or “The Shadow over Innsmouth” would vie for that; and it is less popular than “The Dunwich Horror” or “The Rats in the Walls.” The ending is pure pulp, the final line dashed as the levinbolt strikes, which critics have their fun with, and the nameless narrator takes back seat to pure exposition more often than not. Yet it is so direct and excellent in its hinting, without ever showing; it is what the milk man shudders at when he sees the dawn, and the Pain of the Goat cast in gold, and the wide-eyed stare of another woman wearing the face of Ligeia. It was, for my younger self, the perfect introduction to Lovecraft. Even today, I can turn back to it with a smile, and picture in my mind that terrible butcher’s shop of the Anziques, and hear that old Massachusetts accent speak of victuals with such terrible relish.

You only get to discover Lovecraft once—but better than never having discovered him at all.

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