Or, Four Weird Tales, by Algernon Blackwood. Lately I’ve been on an Algernon Blackwood kick. I’ve mentioned it before, the way Blackwood writes is very simple; he takes very mundane situations and objects, turning them into interesting tales. The previous story was The Wendigo, a quick read with an interesting premise. Here I am looking at two stories in the book: The Insanity of Jones and The Man Who Found Out.
As we all know, the horror genre is all about eliciting a fear response within its audience, taking very familiar things or situations, and then turning them upside down. After seeing Scream, can you look at your garage the same way still, or do you think twice before going in there alone? Horror is not necessarily in your face, though. Often, it’s more subtle. Sometimes you may not even know it’s a horror story till you get to the end, or till you read it again.
Now, is Four Weird Tales considered horror, or is it just weird fiction? Well, in this case the lines can be easily blurred. If you think about it, H.P. Lovecraft wrote a lot of weird fiction, and most (if not all) of his work was also horror . . . So . . . This neither confirms nor denies anything, meaning that it’s all up to you. Too many choices can slow things down, ironically, so does this mean that nothing gets done?
Algernon Blackwood likes his horror to be more about awe, according to Wikipedia, which makes sense to me. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been enjoying his work so much. The thing I like about these two stories is that the main characters can be sane, or they can be insane; and they’re obviously written in a way that forces you to make a decision. It’s a very intriguing thing to think about; reality and perception are two things which can be very frightening . . .
What it all comes down to is that you really don’t know if what you see is actually there, or if you are perceiving things as they are, or if there is anything at all.
Am I saying that we’re all crazy? Hell no. But if we begin to cast doubt upon ourselves, things can get a bit hairy. I was disenchanted after watching The Matrix, because it did just that: cast doubt upon how I see reality.
Everyone perceives things differently, sees things differently. Some people see things, some see them differently, and others see things that aren’t there.
Or are they there?
See what I mean? So, was Jones really insane, or was he actually living his life according to all of his past lives, settling accounts good or ill? And did the professor really find the answers to life’s deepest questions, answers so revelatory that he lost all hope for life?
Who knows what Algernon Blackwood was thinking on this one . . . The good thing about fiction, is that we don’t have to think to hard on it—it’s not real!
This edition was brought to you by Penny C.
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