“The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” by Edgar Allan Poe

Halloween:
A classic, celebrated, unusual horror story.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar”

Edgar Allan Poe

Of course I shall not pretend to consider it any matter for wonder, that the extraordinary case of M. Valdemar has excited discussion. It would have been a miracle had it not — especially under the circumstances. Through the desire of all parties concerned, to keep the affair from the public, at least for the present, or until we had farther opportunities for investigation — through our endeavors to effect this — a garbled or exaggerated account made its way into society, and became the source of many unpleasant misrepresentations; and, very naturally, of a great deal of disbelief.

It is now rendered necessary that I give the facts — as far as I comprehend them myself. They are, succinctly, these:

My attention, for the last three years, had been repeatedly drawn to the subject of Mesmerism; and, about nine months ago, it occurred to me, quite suddenly, that in the series of experiments made hitherto, there had been a very remarkable and most unaccountable omission: — no person had as yet been mesmerized in articulo mortis. Continue reading

“Voynich manuscript” from Wikipedia

Genuine mysteries are so very rare, but here is an artifact of an unknown language, an unknown botany, an unknown madness, an unknown world.
-The Voice before the Void

“Voynich manuscript”

Wikipedia

The Voynich manuscript is an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system. The vellum on which it is written has been carbon-dated to the early 15th century (1404–1438), and it may have been composed in Northern Italy during the Italian Renaissance. The manuscript is named after Wilfrid Voynich, a Polish book dealer who purchased it in 1912.

Voynich manuscript undeciphered untranslated unknown language mystery tome grimoire rare medieval codex book Beinecke Library Yale University page 181 folio 102 recto weird plantsSome of the pages are missing, with around 240 still remaining. The text is written from left to right, and most of the pages have illustrations or diagrams. Some pages are foldable sheets.

The Voynich manuscript has been studied by many professional and amateur cryptographers, including American and British codebreakers from both World War I and World War II. No one has yet succeeded in deciphering the text, and it has become a famous case in the history of cryptography. The mystery of the meaning and origin of the manuscript has excited the popular imagination, making the manuscript the subject of novels and speculation. None of the many hypotheses proposed over the last hundred years has yet been independently verified. Continue reading

“Giant huntsman spider” from Wikipedia

Walpurgisnacht:
What other creatures remain to be discovered?
-The Voice before the Void

“Giant huntsman spider”

Wikipedia

The giant huntsman spider (Heteropoda maxima, “the largest”) is a species of huntsman spider (Sparassidae), a family of large, fast spiders that actively hunt down prey. It is considered the world’s largest spider by leg span, which can reach up to 1 foot (30 centimeters).

1. Taxonomy and naming

The giant huntsman spider was discovered in a cave in Laos in 2001. Over a thousand new species of plant and animal were found between 1997 and 2007 in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

A representative of the World Wide Fund for Nature stated that “some of these species really have no business being recently discovered,” suggesting that it is surprising for such a large species to go undiscovered for so long.

giant huntsman spider Heteropoda maxima Sparassidae species Laos Greater Mekong river basin cave largest leg span Continue reading

“The Ash-tree” by M.R. James, with Digressions

Walpurgisnacht:
Vernal weird horror.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Ash-tree”

M.R. James

Everyone who has travelled over Eastern England knows the smaller country-houses with which it is studded—the rather dank little buildings, usually in the Italian style, surrounded with parks of some eighty to a hundred acres. For me they have always had a very strong attraction, with the grey paling of split oak, the noble trees, the meres with their reed-beds, and the line of distant woods. Then, I like the pillared portico—perhaps stuck on to a red-brick Queen Anne house which has been faced with stucco to bring it into line with the ‘Grecian’ taste of the end of the eighteenth century; the hall inside, going up to the roof, which hall ought always to be provided with a gallery and a small organ. I like the library, too, where you may find anything from a Psalter of the thirteenth century to a Shakespeare quarto. I like the pictures, of course; and perhaps most of all I like fancying what life in such a house was when it was first built, and in the piping times of landlords’ prosperity, and not least now, when, if money is not so plentiful, taste is more varied and life quite as interesting. I wish to have one of these houses, and enough money to keep it together and entertain my friends in it modestly.

But this is a digression. I have to tell you of a curious series of events which happened in such a house as I have tried to describe. Continue reading

“Body Ritual among the Nacirema” by Horace Mitchell Miner

Worth listening twice.
-The Voice before the Void

“Body Ritual among the Nacirema”

Horace Mitchell Miner

Most cultures exhibit a particular configuration or style. A single value or pattern of perceiving the world often leaves its stamp on several institutions in the society. Examples are “machismo” in Spanish-influenced cultures, “face” in Japanese culture, and “pollution by females” in some highland New Guinea cultures. Here Horace Miner demonstrates that “attitudes about the body” have a pervasive influence on many institutions in Nacirema society.

The anthropologist has become so familiar with the diversity of ways in which different people behave in similar situations that he is not apt to be surprised by even the most exotic customs. In fact, if all of the logically possible combinations of behavior have not been found somewhere in the world, he is apt to suspect that they must be present in some yet undescribed tribe. The point has, in fact, been expressed with respect to clan organization by Murdock. In this light, the magical beliefs and practices of the Nacirema present such unusual aspects that it seems desirable to describe them as an example of the extremes to which human behavior can go. Continue reading

“Happy the Man” by Horace

“Happy the Man”

Horace

translated from the Latin by John Dryden

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

“Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen

World War I
“Sweet and fitting it is
To die for one’s country.”
Poem emblematic of the First World War, and of all war.
-The Voice before the Void

“Dulce et Decorum Est”

Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! –  An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. Continue reading

“The Haunted House” by Pliny the Younger

Halloween Special:
The frugal and fearless, weird-seeking hero-philosopher Athenodorus is our kind of guy.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Haunted House”

from correspondence

Pliny the Younger

translated from the Latin by John Delaware Lewis and William Melmoth

edited by The Voice before the Void

The Greek Stoic Philosopher Athenodorus Rents a Haunted House by Henry Justice Ford Cananites Confronts the Spectre Pliny the Younger ancient ghost storyThere was at Athens a mansion, spacious and large, but of evil repute and dangerous to health. In the dead of the night a noise, resembling the clashing of iron, was frequently heard, which, if you listened more attentively, sounded like the rattling of chains, distant at first, but approaching nearer by degrees: immediately afterwards Continue reading

“The Cult of the Monstrous Man-God” by The Voice before the Void

Easter Special:
True-to-life Lovecraftian horror. / Any good analogy seems obvious in retrospect. / “Well, why don’t you write a story that a few million people will love and a few hundred million people will hate?” – “I can do that.” / The Greatest Story Ever Told.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Cult of the Monstrous Man-God”

The Voice before the Void

“It is tonight, Larsen.”

Alexandrov was picking through coils of rope stacked on a shelf. With his right hand, he hoisted one coil off the shelf and upward into the florescent light glare from overhead, eyed it, then, pursing his lips in apparent satisfaction, stuffed the rope into the rucksack in his left hand.

“What, exactly, is tonight?”

Alexandrov’s summons to the clubhouse that morning had been peremptory and irrefusable; it was the culmination of many months of outlandish research and surreptitious inquiry.

“I have information – don’t ask me how I got it – of a secret ritual taking place this very night, Larsen. It is a ritual of a most bizarre and enshadowed cult.” Continue reading

“Mors et Vita” by James Edwin Campbell

A brilliant little poem.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Mors et Vita”

James Edwin Campbell

Into the soil a seed is sown,
Out of the soul a song is wrung,
Out of the shell a pearl is gone,
Out of the cage a bird is flown,
Out of the body, a soul!

Unto a tree the seed is grown,
Wide in the world the song is sung,
The pearl in a necklace gleams more fair,
The bird is flown to a sweeter air,
And Death is half and Life is half,
And the two make up the whole!

“Apologia Pro Poemate Meo” by Wilfred Owen

ANZAC Day Special:
In commemoration of the First World War
Perhaps there can be no more poignant context for poetry than pointless, grinding, immense slaughter; perhaps there can be no greater poet than Wilfred Owen. In his “Apology for My Poetry,” Owen beautifully inscribes the perversity of soldier-victims of slaughter finding joy in their camaraderie and in their own perpetration of slaughter, and he indicts all of humanity for its institution of war that compels such perversity. The title is mordant; it is we who must apologize to Owen – and to all the other victims of war – for creating the conditions in which he created this poetry.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Apologia Pro Poemate Meo”

Wilfred Owen

I, too, saw God through mud,–
The mud that cracked on cheeks when wretches smiled.
War brought more glory to their eyes than blood,
And gave their laughs more glee than shakes a child.

Merry it was to laugh there–
Where death becomes absurd and life absurder.
For power was on us as we slashed bones bare
Not to feel sickness or remorse of murder. Continue reading