Back When I Was a Young Cultist

The blog has been quiet over the last few weeks because I’ve been recovering from both the end of the semester and the sheer joy that was World Horror. I’ve been trying to sum up WHC2015 in a blog post, and I haven’t been able to get a handle on it yet. The sum of that experience was more than a con report can convey, in very large part due to the people I met and spent variously a little, a lot, or not enough time with.

One thing I’ve been doing in the post-semester exhaustion, however, has been reorganizing my office. We moved into this house a couple years ago, and I very quickly put things into makeshift order. The result was that my office got cluttered quickly, and there wasn’t space for all of my books. Over Memorial Day weekend, I remedied that with a trip to IKEA, and now I get to see old friends I haven’t been visually acquainted with for a while. I’ll have more on that later, perhaps, but one thing I found that I had entirely forgotten about was an ersatz diary I started back when I was a young cultist. Part of a sample entry from 1988:

diary entry

The gate! The key!

In this diary I with no apparent forethought blended events from my life with material appropriate to any number of protagonists from Blackwood, Lovecraft, Machen, etc. The idea of originality in fiction wasn’t foremost in my mind in 1988, and frankly it still isn’t. I want to write the stories I care about, in what I hope is a fresh and interesting manner, but I think we’ve come far enough from the Modernist project that some people now use a cartoon view of Pound’s wish to “make it new” as their guide star. I don’t see copying, pastiche, homage, bricolage, originality, or radical experimentation as points on a spectrum stretching from good to bad or bad to good, but rather as overlapping zones in n-dimensional space.

In other words, the next time someone—critic, writer, relative, partner—tries to tar whole swathes of writing with any of the above brushes, keep your salt shaker handy, a smile on your face, and repeat to yourself in the words of All the Internet since 2006,

christ, what an asshole

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