Outward Surge of Power

horror, weird, quote, Algernon Blackwood

An excerpt from The Man Whom the Trees Loved, by Algernon Blackwood

The outward surge of some enormous Power was what she felt . . . something to which every instinct in her being rose in opposition because it threatened her and hers. In that moment she realized the Personality of the Forest . . . menacing.

–Algernon Blackwood

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A Banana For Your Thoughts

Because money is ridiculous.

A Banana For Your Thoughts

Because we repeat the title for search engine optimization. That’s probably not how those work, but this is a horror blog and the internet is filled with angry, cannibal trolls. So, today was supposed to be ‘Horror Quote Hump Day’ (yes, we’re still trying to make that a thing) and there was an awesome quote from The Wolves of God that I wanted to share, but unfortunately that never happened. So, apologies are due.

But, on the topic of Algernon Blackwood (who wrote The Wolves of God), I’ve still been keeping up with reading his works. So far I have to say that his strength lies in his short stories. So far the best ones I’ve read are still The Willows, and The Wendigo (which is my favourite of the two). Recently I started to read Chinese Magic (who knows how that will turn out). The worst book by him that I’ve read is (I literally forgot the name because it was not that great in my opinion, so bear with me) . . . . Da, na, na, na, banana, na, na, na . . . The Centaur.

Sorry, allow me to rephrase that.

THE CENTAUR!

(Why not?)

It was long-winded, and didn’t quite deliver on the psycholgical horror–which it is not. It’s not really horror. Maybe you could argue that parts of it are implied horror. Only from the perspectives of the secondary characters however. The story itself is more about the main character’s spiritual journey. At times the story would come on to a really good idea.

A good idea for an Algernon Blackwood horror story!

But then there would be a bout of description diahhrea so bad, that whatever spark of genius that was born would shrivel up in dissapointment, slinking away like a spanked monkey, then promptly dying in a moldy box out yonder. A much more poetic way to kill an idea, you will not find. Unless it’s a bad idea. Bad ideas don’t deserve anything.

But, long story short, I actually skipped pages. Lots of them. Just to get to the point.

Long story short: The Centaur is not one Algernon Blackwood’s best. (And if it is . . . Why I oughta!)

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The Mysterious, the Ominous–Whatever You Like

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The Mysterious, the Ominous–Whatever You Like

You know, I haven’t done a speculative entry for months now. Partly because I don’t know what to write half the time (which is the charm I suppose). The other part? I don’t always feel like pulling inane drivel from between the air molecules. It’s not as easy as it seems either.

But this quote illustrates an idea I’ve been grasping at for the past year (since the Enigmatic Monster Project began).

Dark nights. Dark in a suggestive way, meaning full of intent. Out of the ordinary. Not just the absence of light . . .

When is darkness more than just the lack of light? (When is a door not a door?)

Huh.

It seems that the more I think about the smaller things, the larger they become. Simple things become ambiguous. And yet the world still turns.

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For the Love of Trees

For the Love of Trees

The Man Whom the Trees Loved is another short, supernatural horror story from Algernon Blackwood. You can download it for free from Project Gutenberg, or buy it on Amazon for cheap (in mega-pack form).

By the way, we love Algernon Blackwood. Blackwood good. Delicious, even . . .

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Mundane Things, Part Two

Four Weird TalesMundane Things, Part Two

When I went back to reading Four Weird Tales, I noticed something in the grouping of the stories. It seemed to me that the first two stories dealt more specifically with beliefs. We know that if you believe something, it will colour the way you see things (a nice rose tint, perhaps). For the sake of argument, I’ll say that The Insanity of Jones and The Man Who Found Out deal more specifically with beliefs and their effects upon perception; in a nutshell, a certain belief affects the way these characters think and act, and ultimately how they see their day to day lives.

(Well, that was slightly redundant . . . Only just slightly, a little tiny bit . . . Maybe.  )

If those two deal with belief and perception, what do the other two deal with then? Again, for the sake of argument, I’m going to say that they deal with what we see. That is to say, we see before we perceive. Everything else follows after that . . .

. . . I see therefore I think, and then I think some more . . .

(And maybe I discern some great truth? Or see something.)

The Glamour of the Snow was right up my alley; I loved it because it was a perfect mix of all of my favourite things. Now in that story our main character isn’t seeking out great truths or hunting down enemies from certain past lives—he’s leading a normal life, working by day and socializing by night (while still managing a reasonable bed time too, I bet). There’s nothing abnormal about him, so when our antagonist comes waltzing right in he doesn’t know any better. It looks like a normal person, and that person is a lady!

Naturally, things follow their course. We know well before he does that something is amiss. The minor side characters know what’s going on before he does, because he doesn’t truly know what he is actually seeing.

Because he hasn’t seen anything like it before.

(And if he doesn’t know what he’s seeing, what on earth is he going to think?)

This can be argued to death. But I think you get my drift. Just a little food for thought. Now let’s take a moment to salute those authors of horror and weird fiction—and thank them—for ruining perfectly mundane things!

We all know those authors of horror and weird fiction scare only out of concern for our well-being.
So let’s take a moment to keep it monstrous. Love the monster on Facebook.
(Facebook is pretty creepy sometimes too. Remember the time when the status box asked you what you were doing? Remember when it called you by name? WHOA!)

Mundane Things, Part One

Four Weird TalesMundane Things, Part One

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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The Wendigo

the_wendigoBefore I went on my outrageous tirade against The King in Yellow I decided that I really wanted to read The Wendigo by our favourite unassuming author: Algernon Blackwood.

Question 1: Why did I read The Wendigo?

When the internet was first introduced to my world, a whole new dimension opened itself up to me: a new dimension filled with old friends. Being an Apple groupie at heart, I immediately went to iTunes, and then downloaded podcasts, and like any self-respecting human being one wasn’t enough. Few things seldom are.

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Unassuming

“They rose upwards in a continuous stream from earth to sky, vanishing utterly as soon as they reached the dark of the sky.”

-Excerpt from The Willows, by Algernon Black.

The triumph of The Terror turned into the trepidatious tale of The Willows.

Algernon Blackwood.

Say it slowly. Doesn’t his name just make you want to shout? Whether you shout in joy or in pain is up to you, however . . .

Allow me to take a few moments, just to compare Blackwood with Lovecraft. I’m no expert on either, I’ll be the first to admit, but I’m fairly certain I’m a good judge at feelings. The feeling I get when I read or even hear the name Algernon Blackwood is fear. Not an overwhelming fear. No. Just a hint. Less is more, as they always say. It’s the subtle type of fear, that insidious fear which worms its way into your mind, turning it against you.

When I hear HP Lovecraft I feel something close to romance. But a more philosophical kind. It’s also an enigmatic name all in itself. Because it’s an unassuming name. It’s like a whispered challenge at the back of your mind. Just when you think you’ve made up your mind about the man, when you’ve thought you’ve figured him out, he presents you with a silver plate.

The horrors of his mind are on that plate.

A little plate of dread that you never expected. Not even once.

What’s more is that in each story that plate has a nice cover; you can cover what you wish to ignore.

If you can already see something then you can readily hide it with relative ease. A small mercy.

When I began reading The Willows I had no idea what to expect. What strikes me now about the story is that it starts very innocently. A man is recounting his experience of a certain expedition made with a friend. The two are paddling down a European river in their Canadian canoe.

Why? I don’t know. Why not?

I was reminded strongly of the two friends in The Hound. However, whereas the two in The Hound were complete idiots, the two in The Willows were not. These men didn’t mess around with things they didn’t understand. They stuck to their guns.

In this trepidatious tale I was taken on a journey which suddenly took a rather unexpected turn. I was presented with things I never would have expected from Blackwood. I finished the story in two or three days. It both disturbed and satisfied me.

I saw much of myself in that story. Not from the characters themselves, but from their experience. As I read on I was presented with ideas not unlike my own. I was perturbed all the way through.

It was my ability to relate to the story which frightened me the most.

Algernon Blackwood has no mercy. The Willows had no convenient cover. He fixed up the plate and then kept it on the kitchen table for everyone to see.

It looked delightful and we took a bite.

Then the bite bit back. And it wouldn’t let go. As the pain grew and grew our eyes opened wider, and we began to see all that there was to see.

But only a little.

Because a little is a lot!

Our minds then completed the rest of his dangerous design.

We spun about, downward in a dreadful spiral, and we all knew . . . How could we be so unassuming?

“We’d better get off sharp in an hour,” I said presently, feeling for an opening that must bring him indirectly to a partial confession at any rate. And his answer puzzled me uncomfortably: “Rather! If they’ll let us.”

-The Willows, by Algernon Blackwood.

P.S: His design, or his aim, was to scare us.