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Old 08-04-2007   #41
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Re: Robert Aickman

Sasha said: I have not read too much of Robert Aickman, but one story I read recently called 'The Break-through' (I think it was this name) was very disturbing to me. There did seem to be something in common with the writngs of Ligotti, but I'm not sure how much Ligotti himself would say he was influenced by Aickman since he does not seem to like his stories.
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I've just finished my re-read of all RA stories in my possession, and the last few contained 'The Breakthrough', plus 'Into The Wood' (to be differentiated from 'Wood') and 'The Fetch'.
These three stories are very powerful and represent humanity sleep-walking into death as surrounded by motley shapes in various states of this journey. I think Aickman and Ligotti must be blood brothers! One walking into the other like into Mr Can.

I shall do a further summation of this process before I too am absorbed! :-)

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Old 08-04-2007   #42
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Re: Robert Aickman

As a rider to the previous post, I've not made a secret in recent years that my four life-time favourite fiction writers are: Robert Aickman, Elizabeth Bowen, Marcel Proust and Thomas Ligotti.
And, thankfully, they are all protected by The Intentional Fallacy.

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Old 08-05-2007   #43
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Re: Robert Aickman

Ligotti has more 'Purity' in his writing whilst Aickman -- 'Mark Ingestre: The Customer's Tale' and 'The Swords' as just two examples among many -- has more impurity? Perhaps that makes Ligotti's self-defensively viewed* seediness (yellowish haze) and disciplined lack of erotic charge more powerful because Aickman is that same yellowish haze, erotic charge etc. with none of the evocative conflicts that one imagines (from the writing) besetting Ligotti in his battle between self and seediness.

I find myself drowning in potentiaL fallacies in broaching this!

When saying 'Ligotti' or 'Aickman' above, I do not mean the two people themselves, but the inferred writers behind the words, as created by the words, rather than them creating the words. The inferences and the realities may be quite at odds with each other, but that is unknowable.

*'viewing' as a process of insulation against it?

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Old 08-06-2007   #44
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Re: Robert Aickman

Quote Originally Posted by DF Lewis View Post
Ligotti has more 'Purity' in his writing whilst Aickman -- 'Mark Ingestre: The Customer's Tale' and 'The Swords' as just two examples among many -- has more impurity? Perhaps that makes Ligotti's self-defensively viewed* seediness (yellowish haze) and disciplined lack of erotic charge more powerful because Aickman is that same yellowish haze, erotic charge etc. with none of the evocative conflicts that one imagines (from the writing) besetting Ligotti in his battle between self and seediness.
Or, put another way, as perceived by you, Ligotti's 'purity' benefits from its battle against an encroaching 'impurity', while Aickman's essential 'impurity' suffers as being a 'purity' in itself without any attempts to shift.

Whatever the case, both writers do treat of similar experiences and visions with a similar audience - and both are underrated; they should be (and will be) big players in Literature with a capital L.
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Old 08-17-2007   #45
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Re: Robert Aickman

I read 'Rosamund's Bower' today. It was either a very badly written story or a brilliant one. Anyone willing to share views on it? It may be Aickman's secret masterpiece. I like the grey peacock.
SPOILER: The motley characters were swine in disguise? And why be led towards death in this rite-of-passage when all that happened was nothing beyond death except no change at all? An anti-climax.? Nothing can change.
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Old 08-19-2007   #46
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Re: Robert Aickman

I don't think I've got that story in my library, Mr Can; it sounds intriguing.

Barry reminded me today on the TLO Shoutbox about 'HORROR: Another 100 Best Books' Carroll & Graf (2005) edited by Stephen Jones & Kim Newman, where I have an essay on Elizabeth Bowen. I note from Barry that this essay is next door to TL's own essay on Sweeney Todd. Anyone interested in Sweeney Todd would be interested in Robert Aickman's story 'Mark Ingestre: The Customer's Tale' I mentioned above.

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Old 08-27-2007   #47
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Re: Robert Aickman

Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Mullins View Post
As long as we're on the subject (sort of), does anyone on here have any idea where one might find the Jeremy Dyson Aickman adaptations? I know there is a short of The Cicerones and a radio adaptation of Ringing the Changes. I can't think of anyone I'd rather see adapting any of Aickman's work than a member of The League of Gentlemen...
You can listen to a recording of Ringing the Changes here: http://www.box.net/public/1luau3oc81#4:1075545

It used to be possible to download these files and burn them to disk - which I've done with Ringing. Unfortunately the site has changed and now they're available as streaming audio.

The Channel 4 film of The Cicerones is reasonably good, just 15 minutes long. If you really want it, let me know.

When I commented at another site that The Visiting Star was a fairly 'straightforward' story, naturally someone disagreed with me, so I re-read it. The result was the following post, which I'll copy here for what it's worth:

Aickman seems to see Isabella Rokeby the actress as divided into two selves, the self as perceived by others, created partly or entirely in the other person’s mind, and Rokeby as she really is. Rokeby doesn’t age because people see her as they want her, like the anima. But I have difficulty with this because Myrrha (Mirror) is Rokeby’s personality, and surely the personality is the façade, the mask. Rokeby comments at one point that she has many masks.

Mr Superbus is her helper, he smooths her path, "rids me of people who want to hurt me." I suppose he’s a sort of Cerberus/Anubis figure, guarding the way. Rokeby, Myrrah and Superbus are all Rokeby – the different parts of the fragmented mind composing her true Self. The audience and other actors of course could also be said to be part of her, observing her and therefore infinitely recreating her.

I suppose the journey into the mine could be a seen as journey into the subconscious.
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Old 08-28-2007   #48
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Re: Robert Aickman

As I haven't had time to write much lately, I'll add a little more to this thread with some lines I wrote months back about No Stronger Than a Flower (I quote myself at every opportunity; I have no saving grace):

Quote
The result of Nesta's change of hairstyle reminds me of a series of photographs that appeared in the Daily Mirror, long ago. The photos were all of the same woman, all showing her with different hairstyles. The photos had the subtitle “Only a man would think these were photos of different women.”

When Nesta appears with a change of hairstyle, Curtis doesn’t recognise her.

As she continues to make small changes, he becomes angry, presumably because he realises that he’s no longer controlling the changes. He is disgusted and alarmed by her nails.

The story is prefaced by a line of Shakespeare, which also supplies the title. Is Nesta becoming like a flower, with nails growing like thorns?

Her wearing of a veil is interesting. In the Tarot, the veil is worn by the Priestess which represents the ‘horned goddess’ and the moon. She is the source of all feminine power. The veil is also that which guards the secrets of the temple.

Beauty could be said to be a woman's power.

At one point she says: “You know I had no idea... how deep it goes. Most people know nothing. Nothing. It goes to the very bottom of life.”

Is Aickman writing about beauty?

At the end, Nesta begins to unwind her veil. But Curtis is unable to look at her. She gives him a photograph of herself, but he tears it up.

Is there a suggestion that she needs the photograph to remind herself what she looks like? Or looked like?
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Old 02-20-2008   #49
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Re: Robert Aickman

I think Aickman covers a wider band of emotions than Ligotti. Ligotti tends to stay in the fear frequencies, while Aickman will include much more of the relationship emotions and just about any emotion really.
Ligotti's world really only uses characters to create a sense of a dark universe, while Aickman connects the dark universe with the characters. They create it and are part of it, while Ligotti has his people being attacked by it.

Of course both their works overlap in this regard.

Ligotti is much more comic book, I find. Aickman's world is more an oil painting.
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Old 02-20-2008   #50
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Re: Robert Aickman

A writer that is quite like Aickman is L.P. Hartley. He's not as consistently good or subtle as Aickman but he's worth checcking out. He works on the same kind of fear.
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