About Me

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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. The "xothique" portion of the web address is a nod to Clark Ashton Smith's fictional continent of Zothique.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Algernon Blackwood's Episodes Before Thirty: Innocence and Experience in Old and New Worlds

Algernon Blackwood’s Episodes Before Thirty, from 1923 (a gift from a friend), was a revelation, to one who has previously read only his superb fiction. The book is a carefully-composed, thoughtful memoir, written by a man in his 50s, looking back on the travails and lessons of his youth; with an eidetic richness in its prose. The volume ran parallel to his fiction in some ways, in its concerns with the occult and supernatural, but offered other moods and elements, as well. Blackwood’s tales of supernatural mystery and occult events, provided my introduction to his writing. His powerful story, The Willows, which I read in a Scholastic anthology when I was about eleven, spoke to me, and stayed with me, even at that early stage of my life. 

Blackwood’s (by his own description) cocooned upbringing, with doting, yet austerely religious parents, was succeeded by harsh realities (contrasting with immersion in the spiritual qualities of the natural world, on a Canadian island, and other places), through his travels and various occupations in North America. The story begins in media res in New York City; with descriptions of tough living conditions reminiscent of George Orwell’s Down and Out In London and Paris. The autobiography also covered his childhood in Great Britain, and his introduction to Eastern thought, through a chance encounter with a volume of Patanjali.  From the future author’s immersion in the inferno of Tammany-era New York, to his succession of side hustles and jobs (including working as a journalist for the New York Times, and other newspapers), to his brief experiences with morphine (and one experiment with cannabis), to his transformative “meetings with remarkable men,” including attorney, poet, and mystic, Alfred Louis, the book provided a captivating experience.  Although, as a cryptic remark about occult experiences toward the end of the tome indicated, what is absent from the book was telling, also.

“These woods, this river, ruled the world, and somewhere in the heart of that old forest the legendary Wendigo, whose history I wrote later in a book, had its awful lair.”—p. 143

 -- by Jonathan Falk, June 2018

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Oracular Pencil

A portrait of me, at around the age of seven, by Mary E. Libby.