Adalbert is a forum for me, to post ephemera, photography, poetry, occasional travel notes, and various spontaneous motions. Cover photo: Parsonage where my great-grandfather spent his early years. Taken near Liegnitz, Silesia, ca. 1870.
Over several previous months this year I read William Hope Hodgson'sThe Night Land (1912). As with M.P. Shiel's The Purple Cloud, of which I wrote in a previous post, The Night Land possesses a framework in which the central story is presented as a series of dreams or visions. The protracted march of the readers's eyes, brain, and hands through the lengthy book (if you read it in analog form, as I did) mimics the vastness of the desolate, cryptic landscapes, as the hero voyages across a future sun-less earth (someone once made a similar parallel with War and Peace). No matter how many times I read many of the sentences, I had difficulty grasping their meaning. "But of you I ask kind understanding, and to call me not a thing of conceit because that I did understand; for truly I knew my faults, even so well as you, that do know all of my going" (p. 280). Is there a clearer way to phrase this? Repetitions in language and incident abound. The quote, which I have referenced before, from Dr. Johnson, about Paradise Lost, also applies to Hodgson's work: "None ever wished it longer than it is." The Night Land is at the same time a stunning and brooding evocation of a moribund planet. Certain descriptions of the monsters and forces who haunt the Night Land, the hypnotic repetition of words such as "Monstruwacans," the suggestiveness of the journey "Down the mighty slope," the strange implications of multiple lives lived simultaneously, the Ballard-like ruin of a flying machine, all demonstrate Hodgson's curious genius.
Out of the amniotic past seeped spring summer wind,
inchoate in the breath of a comet. As if from outside machinery I observe myself
in the late 1960s in our backyard, blurred lawn at my feet. My sister bore a
stick, approaching the hive of hornets, in memory in a tree, honeycomb
sibilant, bugs rattling in crawlspaces, compound eyes with bad vision, venom
darning all. A swollen limb, scoriac and teeming, held the nest of the insects,
a root skinned to the teeth, white paper like britches.
Once Dad came home when I was in a nap – he offered
me a red hand in a toy globe, a hypnagogic trinket.
“Don’t hit the tree.We’re not supposed to hit the tree,” my mandible working. As sure as the
seasons fly through space, my sister marched on the nest and whacked.Sting marks reddening as the beasts erupted,
we screamed toward the sliding door.
I took the above photograph in August 1975 in Yellowstone Park, one of the first photos I ever took. The scene looks a little bit like ancient Mars painted by John Martin.
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Last night I watched a DVD someone sent me years ago, of The Devil's Messenger, a three-part anthology with Lon Chaney, Jr, (directed by Curt Siodmak and Herbert L. Strock, and based on a Swedish TV series), who gestured palm-up, leered plaintively, engaged his eyebrows, and searched a Rolodex, as he played Old Scratch. I expected some execrable throwaway movie, based on the lurid DVD cover, but found myself engaged by the stark acting and sets, and effective supernatural concepts. The production felt like a sort of bridge between film noir, and the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone,and The Outer Limits. The ending was exceptionally odd.
And I include this site I found, not for the content, but for its having survived from the very early days of the World Wide Web (the site last updated 10/31/95). This is what the Web looked like when I first checked it out around 1996, which is why I mostly abandoned it for several years after.
Some of the books I gleaned at the local library's book sale last week. I dowsed some serendipitous finds, including This Earth of Mankind by Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer (This Earth of Mankind... As opposed to this earth of ... the aliens? Yaaaaah!) A Groff Conklin-edited anthology, Zora Neale Hurston'sMules and Men, The Pathseeker by Imre Kertész, and a boxed set by Woody Allen (one of my high school English teachers used to read to us pieces from Side Effects once in a while).
I went back to Eugene, Oregon – a college town – only after twenty-four years dissected, passed. Stood outside the room wherein I once dwelt, time rich as skunks, lodestone sounding Honshu or Arendal, Fit four quarter centuries back, to propellers and graves, Forward, to Queen Marie, naves whistling in Columbian hills, by then they ride gravity waves. I trailed toward room 218, next to the incense of mouldered room 217, a populous choice, Angels of plywood tattling, left a fecund stone slammed in the security gate, Could ascend the staircase to where I could wait. Clove cigarettes, dead professors, seething chains of oaks, Sticky rice on spectral plates.
A photo I took taking a picture of myself in New York in 1994, in the entrance to Saddam's US-based diplomatic outpost to the UN. What Bolesław Bierut-type agent, or agents, operated on the far side of the one-way (or two-way) mirror? The time frame was not that of the first Gulf War (which signaled the onset of what one might call thelengthy Persian Gulf War Period -- which one could say we are still in). Nor was this the period of the "mission accomplished" banner, or "shock and awe," or anything synchronized with the current air war. This was also a few years before the "Desert Fox" operation. I snapped this photo during the long years of the Bush 41/Clintonian no-fly zones, a time of sanctions and sporadic warfare of varying intensity.
4 October 2014 I queued up for the Best of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival at the Hollywood Theater in Portland. The festival occurred on a hot October evening. In due time I absorbed the nearly five hours of short films. The Falstaffian gent seated to my left obliquely involved me in a type of conversation. Through the darkened auditorium I viewed movies both old and new to me. Dirt Dauber I had seen, and it held up mightily with its surreal stream of humor and darkness. The Raven dramatized Poe's lines with littoral scenery and much emotion. The organizers included some good stop-action cinema, including an atmospheric Japanese version of The Festival. I also viewed not one but two versions of From Beyond, the intensely funny Doctor Glamour, a pleasantly understated version of W.F. Harvey's August Heat, and more besides.
The choices tilted heavily toward shorts from the last 5-10 years of the HPL Festival-- a few older selections would have been nice. But the event was mostly outstanding. The absence of the usual merchandise vendors made it a purely filmic night.
The evening proceeded without a thought of Lovecraft's racialism. This is because his legacy and influence result from his role as a writer. His racialist views have had little or no impact, as far as influencing others to take up similar beliefs.
Photos of me in Providence, Rhode Island, August 1986
A stamp from Mongolia, a Hungarian stamp for the Beethoven birth bicentennial, another for a piece by Bartók, a stamp from Dubai marking the centenary of Dickens' death (because nothing says "Dickens" like a desert kingdom), and a U.S. stamp in honor of Robinson Jeffers.
Last week a few days unfolded for me in Eugene, Oregon. Inexplicably I had kept away from the city for almost a quarter century. Put four of those units together and you're in the World War I era.
The chief reason I traveled to Eugene was to attend a talk by Dr. Joby Patterson on my ancestor Norma Bassett Hall. The day also included a guided walk through the exhibition of Hall's work at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, and coincided with the release of Dr. Patterson's book on the artist. That day signaled the culmination of a process which began (as far as my involvement went) nearly a decade earlier, when I saw an Antiques Roadshow segment involving the acquisition of a Hall print at a Goodwill store. (And no, Arthur W. Hall wasn't a "Scottish fellow.") In response to the episode, I sent the following email to The Oregonian newspaper, on April 27, 2005:
I would have enjoyed Inara Verzemnieks' "Road Show reappraisal," (April
24, 2005) for its clear depiction of what antiques and collectibles can
bring out in people; and for its description of a "Antiques Roadshow"
shoot. But I was also interested in the article, since Norma Bassett
Hall is my great-great aunt. Although I have been aware of Hall and her
prints for a long time, Verzemnieks' piece has led me to find out more
about my ancestor.
On May 10, 2005 I contacted the author of the newspaper article mentioned in the email. Through her I met Dr. Patterson. I have indeed, almost ten years later, "found out more about my ancestor" through her tremendous efforts.
Dr. Joby Patterson, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, August 23, 2014, with slide of the Cottage in Skye print.
It behooved me to locate the student housing-type building where I lived for two years while attending UO. It abides, like a Pequod of the dry docks.
I set out on a walk through the spokes of the sun's heat to view the memorial statue to Ken Kesey, The Storyteller. Ken had another visitor that day.
"Mason Riech" -- a misspelled rendition of child actor Mason Reese's name.
"Kintire" -- a reference to Paul McCartney and Wings' song Mull of Kintyre. The friend who drew into being The Book of Srang and I had a fascination for this song. The place-name "Kintyre" is what intrigued us, just the sound of the word -- we knew nothing about the actual site. This reference dates The Book of Srang to late 1977 or sometime in 1978.
"The Human Jukebox" -- a street performer my friend saw on a trip to San Francisco. My friend told me the musician sat in a large cardboard box. Drop in a coin and one would get a brief trumpet tune.