Midnight Halloween reading of “The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft

“The Call of Cthulhu”

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 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

Interview with Noelle Myers of the Northern Ink Writers’ Group of Grand Forks, North Dakota

I sat down with Noelle Myers, the moderator of the Northern Ink Writers’ Group, which meets every two weeks in the Grand Forks Public Library in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
The Red River, which flows through Grand Forks north to the Hudson Bay, catastrophically flooded the city in 1997. The Grand Forks Herald won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its coverage of the flood.
We talked about Northern Ink’s Life in the North anthology; fiction genres; literary charities; writers’ conferences; constructive criticism; narrative construction; creating a new genre; geological and economical fiction; the “new adult” genre; “heat” or sex in fiction; rules for publishing and “pirate rules”; taboo subjects in fiction; the difference between romance fiction and women’s fiction or literary fiction; science fiction and Hugo Gernsback; sub-genres; anthologies; the purpose of life; being a better writer; the UND and NDSU sports rivalry; sports, arts, literature, and other frivolity; beauty; collegiate sports funding; online writing groups and writing sprints; dead-tree books and Nooks; antique children’s books; book collecting; the Grand Forks Flood of 1997; antique stores; the library swap shelf; support and encouragement; the Grand Forks Herald and its Pulitzer; and writers’ characters.
“There’s like 20 different -punks.”
-The Voice before the Void

Northern Ink
The Laughing Girls Poetry Reading Series and The Laughing Girls on Facebook
Teegan Loy at Dreamspinner Press
Written? Kitten!
WriteOrDie.com
PaperbackSwap.com

Interview with Noelle Myers of the Northern Ink Writers’ Group of Grand Forks, North Dakota

The Voice before the Void

“Sex and sexuality in speculative fiction” from Wikipedia

Some of the most challenging of ideas.
-The Voice before the Void

“Sex and sexuality in speculative fiction”

Wikipedia

The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.

Sexual themes are frequently used in science fiction or related genres. Such elements may include depictions of realistic sexual interactions in a science fictional setting, a protagonist with an alternative sexuality, or exploration of the varieties of sexual experience that deviate from the conventional.

1872 illustration by David Henry Friston in lesbian vampire story Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu 0Science fiction and fantasy have sometimes been more constrained than non-genre narrative forms in their depictions of sexuality and gender. However, speculative fiction also offers the freedom to imagine societies different from real-life cultures, making it an incisive tool to examine sexual bias and forcing the reader to reconsider his or her cultural assumptions. Continue reading

“Krampus” from Wikipedia

Krampusnacht Special:
Winter is the darkest time of year.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Krampus”

Wikipedia

In German-speaking Alpine folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure. According to traditional narratives around the figure, Krampus punishes children during the Christmas season who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards well-behaved children with gifts. Regions in the Austrian diaspora feature similar figures and, more widely, Krampus is one of a number of Companions of Saint Nicholas in regions of Europe. The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated a pre-Christian origin for the figure. Continue reading

“Curse of the pharaohs” from Wikipedia

Halloween Special:
There is no curse, and there is.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Curse of the pharaohs”

Wikipedia

The curse of the pharaohs refers to an alleged curse believed by some to be cast upon any person who disturbs the mummy of an Ancient Egyptian person, especially a pharaoh. This curse, which does not differentiate between thieves and archaeologists, allegedly can cause bad luck, illness, or death. Since the mid-20th century, many authors and documentaries have argued that the curse is “real” in the sense of being caused by scientifically explicable causes such as bacteria or radiation. However, the modern origins of Egyptian mummy curse tales, their development primarily in European cultures, the shift from magic to science to explain curses, and their changing uses—from condemning disturbance of the dead to entertaining horror film audiences—suggest that Egyptian curses are primarily a cultural, not exclusively scientific, phenomenon.

Anubis Shrine jackal statue grave goods Tutankhamun tomb ancient Egyptian King Tut pharaoh curseThere are occasional instances of genuine ancient curses appearing inside or on the façade of a tomb, as in the case of the mastaba of Khentika Ikhekhi at Saqqara. These appear to be directed towards the ka priests to protect the tomb carefully and preserve its ritual purity rather than as a warning for potential robbers. There had been stories of curses going back to the 19th century, but they multiplied after Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. Continue reading

“Tomb of Orcus” from Wikipedia

An ancient tomb in Italy bears the only known picture of a mysterious monster of the underworld.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Tomb of Orcus”

Wikipedia

The Tomb of Orcus (Italian: Tomba dell’Orco), sometimes called the Tomb of Murina, is a 4th-century BCE Etruscan hypogeum (burial chamber) in Tarquinia, Italy. Discovered in 1868, it displays Hellenistic influences in its remarkable murals, which include the portrait of Velia Velcha, an Etruscan noblewoman, and the only known pictorial representation of the daemon Tuchulcha. In general, the murals are noted for their depiction of death, evil, and unhappiness.Tomb of Orcus mural chthonic daemon Tuchulcha and hero These Theseus in underworld 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

“And the Greatest of These is War” by James Weldon Johnson

Johnson makes the point well by depicting the Pride of Hell.
O War. O War.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“And the Greatest of These is War”

James Weldon Johnson

Around the council-board of Hell, with Satan at their head,
The Three Great Scourges of humanity sat.

Gaunt Famine, with hollow cheek and voice, arose and spoke,—
“O, Prince, I have stalked the earth,
And my victims by ten thousands I have slain,
I have smitten old and young.
Mouths of the helpless old moaning for bread, I have filled with dust;
And I have laughed to see a crying babe tug at the shriveling breast
Of its mother, dead and cold. Continue reading

“The Judgment Day” by James Weldon Johnson

Easter Special:
Christian eschatological imagery is insane, and awesome.
(Easter is for zombies.)
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Judgment Day”

James Weldon Johnson

In that great day,
People, in that great day,
God’s a-going to rain down fire.
God’s a-going to sit in the middle of the air
To judge the quick and the dead. Continue reading

“The Devil” by Zitkala-Sa

A young Dakota girl deals with Christian culture as it is thrust upon her.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Devil”

Zitkala-Ša

Among the legends the old warriors used to tell me were many stories of evil spirits. But I was taught to fear them no more than those who stalked about in material guise. I never knew there was an insolent chieftain among the bad spirits, who dared to array his forces against the Great Spirit, until I heard this white man’s legend from a paleface woman.

Out of a large book she showed me a picture of the white man’s devil. I looked in horror upon the strong claws that grew out of his fur-covered fingers. His feet were like his hands. Trailing at his heels was a scaly tail tipped with a serpent’s open jaws. His face was a patchwork: he had bearded cheeks, like some I had seen palefaces wear; his nose was an eagle’s bill, and his sharp-pointed ears were pricked up like those of a sly fox. Above them a pair of cow’s horns curved upward. I trembled with awe, and my heart throbbed in my throat, as I looked at the king of evil spirits. Then I heard the paleface woman say that this terrible creature roamed loose in the world, and that little girls who disobeyed school regulations were to be tortured by him. Continue reading

“Dark romanticism” from Wikipedia

Edgar Allan Poe’s Birthday Special:
All great and dark.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Dark romanticism”

Wikipedia

Dark romanticism (often conflated with Gothicism or called American romanticism) is a literary subgenre centered on the writers Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville.

As opposed to the perfectionist beliefs of Transcendentalism, the Dark Romantics emphasized human fallibility and proneness to sin and self-destruction, as well as the difficulties inherent in attempts at social reform.

1. Characteristics

G.R. Thompson stressed that in opposition to the optimism of figures like Ralph Waldo Emerson, “the Dark Romantics adapted images of anthropomorphized evil in the form of Satan, devils, ghosts, werewolves, vampires, and ghouls,” as more telling guides to man’s inherent nature. Continue reading

“The Kiss of Death (The Inexorable)” by Carmen Sylva

Chillundity by the Queen of Romania.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Kiss of Death (The Inexorable)”

Carmen Sylva

translated from the German by Helen Zimmern

The sea was running high and was black as night. Only the crests of the endless waves glistened in the lightning that flashed across the heavens. The storm was raging towards the land and threw the ships upon the rocks, so that hundreds of human lives perished in the ocean. Then of a sudden it seemed as though the storm grew entangled among the cliffs on the shore, and condensed into a form that reared up tall and pale against the mighty heavens. It was a grave youth with unflinching black eyes, who leaned upon a sickle and held an hour-glass in his hand. He gazed across the waters with an indifferent air, as though the wrecks, and corpses beneath, concerned him as little as the sand in his glass, which trickled down evenly, steadily, regardless of the blustering of the storm, or the sudden quiet. There was something iron-like in the youth’s features, in his eyes there lay a power that destroyed all things they looked upon; even the ocean seemed to be numbed by them, and to grow silent with fear. Day dawned, and flooded with roseate hues from the rising sun. Sorrow came stepping over the cliffs. She stretched out her arms to the youth.

“Brother,” she cried, “brother, what have you done! You have raged terribly, and did not hear how I called you, ay, cried for you so eagerly.”

“I heard nothing,” said Death. “I felt myself too quiet, so I roused myself. A few vessels were lost in the act.”

“O pitiless one!” said Sorrow.

“I do not comprehend your grief,” answered the somber youth; and turning from her, he walked away. Continue reading

“The Raven” from Wikipedia

Tremendous literary history.
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“The Raven”

Wikipedia

“The Raven” is a narrative poem by American writer Edgar Allan Poe. First published in January 1845, the poem is often noted for its musicality, stylized language, and supernatural atmosphere. It tells of a talking raven’s mysterious visit to a distraught lover, tracing the man’s slow fall into madness. Continue reading

“Sioux Names and Their Significance” by Charles Eastman

The venerable Eastman provides elucidation.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Sioux Names and Their Significance”

from Indian Scout Talks

Charles Eastman

We Sioux had three classes of names; first, birth names; second, honor or public names; third, nicknames. The first indicated the order in which children were born into the family; as “Chaskáy,” first-born son, “Wenónah,” first-born daughter, and so on to the fifth child, who was presumed to be the last. There were a few who carried this childhood name through life.

The nickname usually records some humorous act or odd characteristic of the boy or man. It is seldom a flattering one. There is an imaginary Indian personage called “Wink’tah,” who is supposed to be ever on the watch for an excuse to coin a ridiculous name, and such a name will travel like a prairie fire before its owner is aware of it. Continue reading

“A Goblin Story” by Theodore Roosevelt

An astonishingly creepy story by one of the most popular of U.S. Presidents.
Any contemporary listener has a ready name for the “goblin” of this story.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“A Goblin Story”

from The Wilderness Hunter

Theodore Roosevelt

Frontiersmen are not, as a rule, apt to be very superstitious. They lead lives too hard and practical, and have too little imagination in things spiritual and supernatural. I have heard but few ghost stories while living on the frontier, and these few were of a perfectly commonplace and conventional type.

But I once listened to a goblin story which rather impressed me. It was told by a grisled, weather-beaten old mountain hunter, named Bauman, who was born and had passed all his life on the frontier. Continue reading

“Spirit Buck” by Karen Zenner

Mythic narrative.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Spirit Buck”

Karen Zenner

The first year I went hunting –
with Pa and Mike –
Everyone winked at me, and said,
“He looks like he’s all set for Ol’ Spirit.”
And I grinned and said I was.

Only a few had actually seen Spirit,
And then there was them that said they’d
gotten off a shot,
But you could count them on one hand. Continue reading

“Ragnarok, The Twilight of the Gods” by Thomas Bulfinch

We do not know when the end will come, but we do know that the end will come.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Ragnarok, The Twilight of the Gods”

from Bulfinch’s Mythology

Thomas Bulfinch

It was a firm belief of the northern nations that a time would come when all the visible creation, the gods of Valhalla and Niffleheim, the inhabitants of Jotunheim, Alfheim, and Midgard, together with their habitations, would be destroyed. The fearful day of destruction will not, however, be without its forerunners. First will come a triple winter, during which snow will fall from the four corners of the heavens, the frost be very severe, the wind piercing, the weather tempestuous, and the sun impart no gladness. Continue reading

The Ten Commandments from the King James Bible

Easter Special:
The omissions–support the impoverished, honor thy children, don’t commit slavery, don’t commit warfare–are glaring, and the inclusions–don’t create any representative art, don’t swear, don’t do any work every seventh day, don’t commit adultery–are baffling. Basing a civilization’s ethics upon such nonsense would likely lead to immense human suffering. / Interesting about Chapter 20 of Exodus are the forgotten commandments that follow the primary ten, to wit: 11) that you shall make a dirt altar to your god and upon it sacrifice your sheep and oxen to him; 12) if you use rock to make an altar, don’t work the rock; and 13) don’t have any steps leading up to the altar, because when you climb steps, dudes behind you can look right up your skirt and see your junk.
⁓The Voice before the Void

The Ten Commandments: Chapter 20 of the Book of Exodus

from the King James Bible (Authorized King James Version, standard text of 1769, Cambridge edition)

And God spake all these words, saying,

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Continue reading

The Secret Book of John from Wikipedia

Easter Special:
Angelic incest, repercussive masturbation, and mutant demons: a bizarre secret mythos meant to be revealed only to adepts, complete with an injunctive ancient curse… straight from the lips of Jesus Christ.
⁓The Voice before the Void

The Secret Book of John

Wikipedia

The Secret Book of John, or the Apocryphon of John, is a 2nd-century CE Sethian Gnostic Christian text of secret teachings. Since it was known to the church father Irenaeus, it must have been written before approximately 180 CE. It describes Jesus Christ appearing and giving secret knowledge (gnosis) to the apostle John. The author describes this having occurred after Jesus “has gone back to the place from which he came.” Continue reading

The Lost Continent of Mu from Wikipedia

Make up an extravagant, mysterious, elaborate idea, and it just might live for generations.
⁓The Voice before the Void

The Lost Continent of Mu

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mu is the name of a fictional continent that was once believed to have existed in one of Earth’s oceans, but disappeared at the dawn of human history.

map from The Lost Continent of Mu by James Churchward 1927The concept and the name were proposed by 19th-century traveler and writer Augustus Le Plongeon, who claimed that several ancient civilizations, such as those of Egypt and Mesoamerica, were created by refugees from Mu—which he located in the Atlantic Ocean. This concept was popularized and expanded by James Churchward, who asserted that Mu was once located in the Pacific. Continue reading

“Thor’s Adventures Among the Jötuns” adapted by Julia Goddard

Adapted from the Icelandic Prose Edda, this is cra-zee.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Thor’s Adventures Among the Jötuns”

adapted by Julia Goddard

Once upon a time Thor set out upon his travels, taking Loki with him, for despite Loki’s spirit of mischief he often aided Thor, who doubtless, in the present expedition, felt that Loki might be of use to him.

So they set off together in Thor’s chariot, drawn by its two strong he-goats, and as night drew nigh, stopped at the hut of a peasant, where they asked food and shelter.

“Food I have none to give you,” said the peasant. “I am a poor man and not able even to give supper to my children, but if you like to rest under my roof you are welcome to do so.”

“Never mind the food; I can manage that,” said Thor, dismounting from the chariot and entering the hut.

It was a poor place, and not at all fitted to receive one of the Asi, but Thor was glad enough to meet with it, wretched as it was.

“You can kill the goats,” said he; “they will make us an excellent meal.”

The peasant could not help thinking that it was a pity to kill two such fine animals; but wisely thinking Continue reading

“Thunder God” by The Voice before the Void

Always are there gods.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Thunder God”

The Voice before the Void

The thunder must have meaning, for surely
All must have meaning;
The world we live in cannot be meaningless!
Why would the sky roar?
The sky must be angry!
The sky must be angry at something we have done!
We must believe this,
For we cannot acknowledge that the sky takes no notice of us
And roars at nothing, for nothing.