There is Life Before Reading Moby-Dick, and There is Life After Reading Moby-Dick

Life is paradox.
-The Voice before the Void

There is Life Before Reading Moby-Dick, and There is Life After Reading Moby-Dick

Works mentioned:
Report to Greco by Nikos Kazantzakis
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman Melville
Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amour
50 Great American Short Stories edited by Milton Crane
Great Short Works of Herman Melville edited by Warner Berthoff
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
“Arma Virumque” by Ambrose Bierce
The Sermon on the Mount by Jesus
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare
The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
The Sea-Wolf by Jack London
The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

Other authors mentioned:
Homer
Mark Twain
Robert Benchley
Patrick F. McManus
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Edgar Allan Poe
H.P. Lovecraft

“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

“The Dead Valley” by Ralph Adams Cram

Halloween:
All the more creepy to think this based upon some obscure forgotten folklore.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Dead Valley”

from Black Spirits and White

Ralph Adams Cram

I have a friend, Olof Ehrensvärd, a Swede by birth, who yet, by reason of a strange and melancholy mischance of his early boyhood, has thrown his lot with that of the New World. It is a curious story of a headstrong boy and a proud and relentless family: the details do not matter here, but they are sufficient to weave a web of romance around the tall yellow-bearded man with the sad eyes and the voice that gives itself perfectly to plaintive little Swedish songs remembered out of childhood. In the winter evenings we play chess together, he and I, and after some close, fierce battle has been fought to a finish—usually with my own defeat—we fill our pipes again, and Ehrensvärd tells me stories of the far, half-remembered days in the fatherland, before he went to sea: stories that grow very strange and incredible as the night deepens and the fire falls together, but stories that, nevertheless, I fully believe. Continue reading

“The Night Ocean” by R.H. Barlow and H.P. Lovecraft

Halloween:
Amidst brooding philosophy, the pieces of the horror lie unobtrusively throughout the story for us to fit together. A superb story.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Night Ocean”

R.H. Barlow and H.P. Lovecraft

I went to Ellston Beach not only for the pleasures of sun and ocean, but to rest a weary mind. Since I knew no person in the little town, which thrives on summer vacationists and presents only blank windows during most of the year, there seemed no likelihood that I might be disturbed. This pleased me, for I did not wish to see anything but the expanse of pounding surf and the beach lying before my temporary home.

My long work of the summer was completed when I left the city, and the large mural design produced by it had been entered in the contest. It had taken me the bulk of the year to finish the painting, and when the last brush was cleaned I was no longer reluctant to yield to the claims of health and find rest and seclusion for a time. Indeed, when I had been a week on the beach I recalled only now and then the work whose success had so recently seemed all-important. There was no longer the old concern with a hundred complexities of colour and ornament; no longer the fear and mistrust of my ability to render a mental image actual, and turn by my own skill alone the dim-conceived idea into the careful draught of a design. And yet that which later befell me by the lonely shore may have grown solely from the mental constitution behind such concern and fear and mistrust. For I have always been a seeker, a dreamer, and a ponderer on seeking and dreaming; and who can say that such a nature does not open latent eyes sensitive to unsuspected worlds and orders of being? Continue reading

Infinite Pages: 4 Stories by Jorge Luis Borges, from Wikipedia

Jorge Luis Borges’ Birthday:
Four stories of philosophy, touching upon fantasy, horror, and weirdness, and even H.P. Lovecraft.
Spoilers.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Aleph”

Wikipedia

“The Aleph” is a short story by the Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. First published in September 1945, it was reprinted in the short story collection, The Aleph and Other Stories, in 1949, and revised by the author in 1974.

Plot summary

In Borges’ story, the Aleph is a point in space that contains all other points. Anyone who gazes into it can see everything in the universe from every angle simultaneously, without distortion, overlapping, or confusion. The story traces the theme of infinity found in several of Borges’ other works, such as “The Book of Sand.” Continue reading

“The Music of Erich Zann” by H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft’s Birthday:
Upon Brennan’s recommendation.
“Happy birthday, Mr. Lovecraft. And with that, let begin the season of Halloween.”
-The Voice before the Void

“The Music of Erich Zann”

H.P. Lovecraft

I have examined maps of the city with the greatest care, yet have never again found the Rue d’Auseil. These maps have not been modern maps alone, for I know that names change. I have, on the contrary, delved deeply into all the antiquities of the place, and have personally explored every region, of whatever name, which could possibly answer to the street I knew as the Rue d’Auseil. But despite all I have done, it remains an humiliating fact that I cannot find the house, the street, or even the locality, where, during the last months of my impoverished life as a student of metaphysics at the university, I heard the music of Erich Zann.

That my memory is broken, I do not wonder; for my health, physical and mental, was gravely disturbed throughout the period of my residence in the Rue d’Auseil, and I recall that I took none of my few acquaintances there. But that I cannot find the place again is both singular and perplexing; for it was within a half-hour’s walk of the university and was distinguished by peculiarities which could hardly be forgotten by any one who had been there. I have never met a person who has seen the Rue d’Auseil. Continue reading

“Nyarlathotep” from Wikipedia

H.P. Lovecraft encounters Nikola Tesla and dreams a nightmare.
-The Voice before the Void

“Nyarlathotep”

Wikipedia

Nyarlathotep is a name used for a character in the works of H.P. Lovecraft and other writers. The character is commonly known in association with its role as a malign deity in the Lovecraft Mythos fictional universe, where it is known as the Crawling Chaos. First appearing in Lovecraft’s 1920 prose poem of the same name, he was later mentioned in other works by Lovecraft and by other writers and in the tabletop role-playing games making use of the Cthulhu Mythos. Later writers describe him as one of the Outer Gods.

Although the deity’s name is fictional, it bears the historical Egyptian suffix -hotep, meaning “peace” or “satisfaction.” Continue reading

“Nyarlathotep” by H.P. Lovecraft

Few things are as fun as Lovecraft at the height of his powers.
Nary a word in excess here.
A wonderful evocation of the atmosphere of the End of the World.
-The Voice before the Void

“Nyarlathotep”

H.P. Lovecraft

Nyarlathotep… the crawling chaos… I am the last… I will tell the audient void…

I do not recall distinctly when it began, but it was months ago. The general tension was horrible. To a season of political and social upheaval was added a strange and brooding apprehension of hideous physical danger; a danger widespread and all-embracing, such a danger as may be imagined only in the most terrible phantasms of the night. I recall that the people went about with pale and worried faces, and whispered warnings and prophecies which no one dared consciously repeat or acknowledge to himself that he had heard. Continue reading

“The Sorcery of Aphlar” by Duane W. Rimel with H.P. Lovecraft

The power of prayer… entreated upon odd things.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Sorcery of Aphlar”

Duane W. Rimel with H.P. Lovecraft

The council of twelve seated on the jewelled celestial dais ordered that Aphlar be cast from the gates of Bel-haz-en. He sat too much alone, they decreed, and brooded when toil should have been his lot. And in his obscure and hidden delvings he read all too frequently those papyri of Elder æons which reposed in the Guothic shrine and were to be consulted only for rare and special purposes. Continue reading

“Caterpillars” by E.F. Benson

Halloween Special:
Does knowledge of the world come through dreaming or waking?
Or both?
Or neither?
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Caterpillars”

E.F. Benson

I saw a month or two ago in an Italian paper that the Villa Casana, in which I once stayed, had been pulled down, and that a manufactory of some sort was in process of erection on its site.

There is therefore no longer any reason for refraining from writing of those things which I myself saw (or imagined I saw) in a certain room and on a certain landing of the villa in question, nor from mentioning the circumstances which followed, which may or may not (according to the opinion of the reader) throw some light on or be somehow connected with this experience.

The Villa Casana was in all ways but one a perfectly delightful house, yet, if it were standing now, nothing in the world–I use the phrase in its literal sense–would induce me to set foot in it again, Continue reading

“The Hoard of The Wizarrd-Beast” by H.P. Lovecraft and R.H. Barlow

H.P. Lovecraft’s Birthday Special:
A decidedly Dunsanian fantasy adventure.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Hoard of The Wizarrd-Beast”

H.P. Lovecraft and R.H. Barlow

There had happened in the teeming and many-towered city of Zeth one of those incidents which are prone to take place in all capitals of all worlds. Nor, simply because Zeth lies on a planet of strange beasts and stranger vegetation, did this incident differ greatly from what might have occurred in London or Paris or any of the great governing towns we know. Through the cleverly concealed dishonesty of an aged but shrewd official, the treasury was exhausted. No shining phrulder, as of old, lay stacked about the strong-room; and over empty coffers the sardonic spider wove webs of mocking design. When, at last, the giphath Yalden entered that obscure vault and discovered the thefts, there were left only some phlegmatic rats which peered sharply at him as at an alien intruder.

There had been no accountings since Kishan the old keeper had died many moon-turns before, and great was Yalden’s dismay to find this emptiness instead of the expected wealth. The indifference of the small creatures in the cracks between the flagstones could not spread itself to him. This was a very grave matter, and would have to be met in a very prompt and serious way. Clearly, there was nothing to do but consult Oorn, and Oorn was a highly portentous being. Continue reading

“Bloop” from Wikipedia

Let’s say it was ice. But it was Cthulhu.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Bloop”

Wikipedia

Bloop was an ultra-low-frequency and extremely powerful underwater sound detected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1997. The sound was consistent with the noises generated by icequakes in large icebergs, or large icebergs scraping the ocean floor.

Analysis

The sound’s source was roughly triangulated to 50°S 100°W (a remote point in the south Pacific Ocean west of the southern tip of South America), Continue reading

“The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft

1934 May 11 sketch of statue icon of Old One Great God Cthulhu by HP Lovecraft author creator in short story The Call of CthulhuCosmic horror.
/
However phantasmical his narratives may be, Lovecraft’s assertion that it is horrific to ponder what immensities in our universe must lie hidden from us oozes through as profoundly true.
/
(R’lyeh might be the capital of North Carolina.)
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Call of Cthulhu”

H.P. Lovecraft

Of such great powers or beings there may be conceivably a survival… a survival of a hugely remote period when… consciousness was manifested, perhaps, in shapes and forms long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing humanity… forms of which poetry and legend alone have caught a flying memory and called them gods, monsters, mythical beings of all sorts and kinds…
–Algernon Blackwood

I. The Horror in Clay

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur of the cosmic cycle wherein our world and human race form transient incidents. They have hinted at strange survivals in terms which would freeze the blood if not masked by a bland optimism. But it is not from them that there came the single glimpse of forbidden eons which chills me when I think of it and maddens me when I dream of it. Continue reading

“The Man Who Found Out (A Nightmare)” by Algernon Blackwood, part 3

A weird ending… but what other ending could be possible?
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Man Who Found Out
(A Nightmare)”

Algernon Blackwood

part 3

5

It was five o’clock, and the June sun lay hot upon the pavement. He felt the metal door-knob burn the palm of his hand.

“Ah, Laidlaw, this is well met,” cried a voice at his elbow; “I was in the act of coming to see you. I’ve a case that will interest you, and besides, I remembered that you flavoured your tea with orange leaves!—and I admit—”

It was Alexis Stephen, the great hypnotic doctor.

“I’ve had no tea to-day,” Laidlaw said, in a dazed manner, after staring for a moment as though the other had struck him in the face. Continue reading

“The Man Who Found Out (A Nightmare)” by Algernon Blackwood, part 2

Knowledge is fearsome to possess, sojourner, but take solace: you shall never possess it.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Man Who Found Out
(A Nightmare)”

Algernon Blackwood

part 2

3

A year passed slowly by, and at the end of it Dr. Laidlaw had found it necessary to sever his working connexion with his friend and one-time leader. Professor Ebor was no longer the same man. The light had gone out of his life; the laboratory was closed; he no longer put pen to paper or applied his mind to a single problem. In the short space of a few months he had passed from a hale and hearty man of late middle life to the condition of old age—a man collapsed and on the edge of dissolution. Death, it was plain, lay waiting for him in the shadows of any day—and he knew it.

To describe faithfully the nature of this profound alteration in his character and temperament is not easy, but Dr. Laidlaw summed it up to himself in three words: Loss of Hope. Continue reading

“The Man Who Found Out (A Nightmare)” by Algernon Blackwood, part 1

Summer Vacation Special:
A quintessential weird tale.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Man Who Found Out
(A Nightmare)”

Algernon Blackwood

part 1

1

Professor Mark Ebor, the scientist, led a double life, and the only persons who knew it were his assistant, Dr. Laidlaw, and his publishers. But a double life need not always be a bad one, and, as Dr. Laidlaw and the gratified publishers well knew, the parallel lives of this particular man were equally good, and indefinitely produced would certainly have ended in a heaven somewhere that can suitably contain such strangely opposite characteristics as his remarkable personality combined.

For Mark Ebor, F.R.S., etc., etc., was that unique combination hardly ever met with in actual life, a man of science and a mystic.

As the first, his name stood in the gallery of the great, and as the second—but there came the mystery! Continue reading

Octavia E. Butler, Part 2: Notable Works

Extraordinary stories.
⁓The Voice before the Void

Octavia E. Butler, Part 2: Notable Works

compiled from Wikipedia

Lilith’s Brood

Lilith’s Brood is a series of three science fiction works by Octavia E. Butler. The three volumes (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago) were previously collected under the title of Xenogenesis; the collection was first published under the current title of Lilith’s Brood in 2000.

Synopsis

The first novel in the trilogy, Dawn, was published in 1987. The story begins after the United States and the Soviet Union obtained nuclear weapons and their actions resulted in a terrible nuclear war that left the earth uninhabitable. Humans are all but extinct. The few survivors are plucked from the surface of their dying world by an alien race, the oankali. The title character Lilith (a black human female) awakens from stasis centuries later on an oankali ship. She meets her saviors/captors and is repulsed by their alienness. The oankali don’t have eyes, or ears, or noses, but sensory tentacles over their entire bodies with which they can perceive the world much better than a human can. Stranger still, the oankali have three genders: male, female, and ooloi. All oankali have the ability to perceive biochemistry down to a genetic level, but the ooloi have the ability to directly manipulate genetic material. Ooloi can mutate and “evolve” any living thing they touch and build offspring gene by gene using the genetic material from their male and female mates. Despite their alienness, the ooloi are strangely alluring – sexually arousing even while being visually repulsive. Continue reading

“The Star” by H.G. Wells

A vision of a world in apocalypse.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Star”

H.G. Wells

It was on the first day of the New Year that the announcement was made, almost simultaneously from three observatories, that the motion of the planet Neptune, the outermost of all the planets that wheel about the sun, had become very erratic. Ogilvy had already called attention to a suspected retardation in its velocity in December. Such a piece of news was scarcely calculated to interest a world the greater portion of whose inhabitants were unaware of the existence of the planet Neptune, nor outside the astronomical profession did the subsequent discovery of a faint remote speck of light in the region of the perturbed planet cause any very great excitement. Scientific people, however, found the intelligence remarkable enough, even before it became known that the new body was rapidly growing larger and brighter, that its motion was quite different from the orderly progress of the planets, and that the deflection of Neptune and its satellite was becoming now of an unprecedented kind.

Few people without a training in science can realise the huge isolation of the solar system. The sun with its specks of planets, its dust of planetoids, and its impalpable comets, swims in a vacant immensity that almost defeats the imagination. Beyond the orbit of Neptune there is space, vacant so far as human observation has penetrated, without warmth or light or sound, blank emptiness, for twenty million times a million miles. Continue reading

“The Repairer of Reputations” from The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, part 3

Weirdness and crime and insanity come to a head of horror.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Repairer of Reputations”

from The King in Yellow

Robert W. Chambers

part 3

III

One morning early in May I stood before the steel safe in my bedroom, trying on the golden jewelled crown. The diamonds flashed fire as I turned to the mirror, and the heavy beaten gold burned like a halo about my head. I remembered Camilla’s agonized scream and the awful words echoing through the dim streets of Carcosa. They were the last lines in the first act, and I dared not think of what followed—dared not, even in the spring sunshine, there in my own room, surrounded with familiar objects, reassured by the bustle from the street and the voices of the servants in the hallway outside. For those poisoned words had dropped slowly into my heart, as death-sweat drops upon a bed-sheet and is absorbed. Trembling, I put the diadem from my head and wiped my forehead, but I thought of Hastur and of my own rightful ambition, Continue reading

“The Repairer of Reputations” from The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, part 2

A portrait of weirdness and insanity and horror, indulgence and love, the city in springtime, forbidden knowledge, foreboding.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Repairer of Reputations”

from The King in Yellow

Robert W. Chambers

part 2

II

I climbed the three dilapidated flights of stairs, which I had so often climbed before, and knocked at a small door at the end of the corridor. Mr. Wilde opened the door and I walked in. Continue reading

“The Repairer of Reputations” from The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, part 1

Walpurgis Night Special:
A story unique and masterfully weird… and our world’s introduction to the King in Yellow.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Repairer of Reputations”

from The King in Yellow

Robert W. Chambers

part 1

Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink beneath the lake,
The shadows lengthen
In Carcosa.

Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies
But stranger still is
Lost Carcosa.

Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Dim Carcosa.

Song of my soul, my voice is dead;
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
Lost Carcosa.

Cassilda’s Song in “The King in Yellow,” Act i, Scene 2.

The Repairer of Reputations

I

“Ne raillons pas les fous; leur folie dure plus longtemps que la nôtre…. Voila toute la différence.”

Toward the end of the year 1920 the Government of the United States had practically completed the programme, adopted during the last months of President Winthrop’s administration. The country was apparently tranquil. Everybody knows how the Tariff and Labour questions were settled. The war with Germany, incident on that country’s seizure of the Samoan Islands, had left no visible scars upon the republic, and the temporary occupation of Norfolk by the invading army had been forgotten in the joy over repeated naval victories, and the subsequent ridiculous plight of General Von Gartenlaube’s forces in the State of New Jersey. The Cuban and Hawaiian investments had paid one hundred per cent and Continue reading

“Of Withered Apples” by Philip K. Dick

Walpurgis Night Special:
From autumn into spring, perfect weirdness from the regent of reality-challenging stories, Philip K. Dick.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Of Withered Apples”

Philip K. Dick

Something was tapping on the window. Blowing up against the pane, again and again. Carried by the wind. Tapping faintly, insistently.

Lori, sitting on the couch, pretended not to hear. She gripped her book tightly and turned a page. The tapping came again, louder and more imperative. It could not be ignored.

“Darn!” Lori said, throwing her book down on the coffee table and hurrying to the window. She grasped the heavy brass handles and lifted.

For a moment the window resisted. Then, with a protesting groan, it reluctantly rose. Cold autumn air, rushed into the room. The bit of leaf ceased tapping and swirled against the woman’s throat, dancing to the floor.

Lori picked the leaf up. It was old and brown. Her heart skipped a beat as she slipped the leaf into the pocket of her jeans. Against her loins the leaf cut and tingled, a little hard point piercing her smooth skin and sending exciting shudders up and down her spine. She stood at the open window a moment, sniffing the air. The air was full of the presence of trees and rocks, of great boulders and remote places. It was time—time to go again. She touched the leaf. She was wanted. Continue reading

“The Mermaid” by Ben King

International Women’s Day Special:
Glorious romance, if a bit fishy.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Mermaid”

Ben King

Sweet mermaid of the incomparable eyes,
Surpassing glimpses of the April skies.
Thy form, ah, maid of the billowy deep!
So rare and fair, but to possess I’d creep
Where the old octopus deep in his briny haunts
Comes forth to feed on anything he wants;
Where mollusks crawl and cuttlefish entwine,
There on crustaceans be content to dine.
What ecstacies in some calcareous valley,
Had I but scales like thee ’tis there we’d dally,
There seek each peak and let no other bliss
Be more enchanting than one salt-sea kiss;
There sit and bask in love, and sigh, and feel
Each other’s fins throb, Continue reading

“Dream-Land” by Edgar Allan Poe

This is the Poe you have been looking for.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Dream-Land”

Edgar Allan Poe

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named Night,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule—
From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of Space—out of Time. Continue reading

“An Inhabitant of Carcosa” by Ambrose Bierce

Influential weird fiction.
The scariest thing about ghosts is that you might become one.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“An Inhabitant of Carcosa”

Ambrose Bierce

For there be divers sorts of death – some wherein the body remaineth; and in some it vanisheth quite away with the spirit. This commonly occurreth only in solitude (such is God’s will) and, none seeing the end, we say the man is lost, or gone on a long journey – which indeed he hath; but sometimes it hath happened in sight of many, as abundant testimony showeth. In one kind of death the spirit also dieth, and this it hath been known to do while yet the body was in vigor for many years. Sometimes, as is veritably attested, it dieth with the body, but after a season is raised up again in that place where the body did decay.

Pondering these words of Hali (whom God rest) and questioning their full meaning, as one who, having an intimation, yet doubts if there be not something behind, other than that which he has discerned, I noted not whither I had strayed until a sudden chill wind striking my face revived in me a sense of my surroundings. I observed with astonishment that everything seemed unfamiliar. On every side of me stretched a bleak and desolate expanse of plain, covered with a tall overgrowth of sere grass, which rustled and whistled in the autumn wind with heaven knows what mysterious and disquieting Continue reading