Surrealism

SURREALISM, n. Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express—verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner—the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.


Thursday Thoughts: Carl Jung’s Map of the Mind

Jung’s map of mind is very believable and reflects a number of other positions. It would probably make a wonderfully hipster t-shirt as well 🙂

Few people have had as much influence on modern psychology as Carl Jung; we have Jung to thank for concepts like extroversion and introversionarchetypes, modern dream analysis, and the collective unconscious. Psychological terms coined by Jung include the archetype, the complex, synchronicity, and it is from his work that the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was developed, a popular staple of personality tests today.

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Among Jung’s most important work was his in-depth analysis of the psyche, which he explained as follows: “By psyche I understand the totality of all psychic processes, conscious as well as unconscious,” separating the concept from conventional concept of the mind, which is generally limited to the processes of the conscious brain alone.

Jung believed that the psyche is a self-regulating system, rather like the body, one that seeks to maintain a balance between opposing qualities while constantly striving for growth, a process Jung called “individuation.

Jung saw the psyche as something that could be divided into component parts with complexes and archetypal contents personified, in a metaphorical sense, and functioning rather like secondary selves that contribute to the whole.

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Read more about Jung here: http://journalpsyche.org/jungian-model-psyche/

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From Plato to Longinus: A Brief History on Writing and Arrangement

“Every speech must be put together like a living creature, with a body of its own; it must be neither without head nor without legs; and it must have a middle and extremities that are fitting both to one another and to the whole work” – Plato in Phaedrus

Much has been said about this subject since its conception as an integral element to rhetoric by the Ancient Greek culture, at least in Western Traditions.  Numerous treatise have been documented since then and there are many perspectives to look at when studying arrangement.  This particular review will focus on a few rhetoricians of antiquity: Plato; Aristotle; Cicero and Longinus.  Since the term “arrangement” is not a set definition, it becomes an idea or philosophy of how and where to apply its conditions.  The canon of arrangement shifts in importance depending on the rhetorician, culture and even political background.  But on the other hand, critics do agree on “at least this much: Every speech must be put together like a living creature, with a body of its own; it must be neither without head now without legs; and it must have a middle and extremities that are fitting both to one another and to the whole work” (Plato, Phaedrus.)  So, lets take a step back into the days of the orator and begin with our Greek origins, at the heart of Athens.

From Plato’s text, Phaedrus the character of Socrates begins his inquiry into arrangement.  Plato uses one of the prime literary pamphlets, One Eroticus by Lysias, distributed in Athens to begin the conversation and study on what rhetoric was thought to be.  Plato was already been aware of the traditional four part structure being used in the Senate and knew exactly how important arrangement is (introduction, narrative, proof and conclusion.)   Except Plato makes a jab at the four-part structure and draws an analogy that the characters Socrates and Phaedrus refer to its structure as having “distinguished four parts within the divine kind” (Phaedrus.)  Calling these four parts something of a divine kind is a sarcastic remark on how all the major rhetoricians of the day follow that structure.  Plato has already made it apparent at this point that arrangement is important, he is merely questioning the standard because he believes that rhetoric “takes many forms, like the shape of bodies, since, as we said, that’s what it Is to demonstrate the nature of something.”  Even though these definitions are quite ornamental, nonetheless, Plato has begun to define arrangement.

Brief History on Arrangement
From Plato to Longinus by Mind on Fire Books, written by Willy Martinez

  A once claimed student of Plato, Aristotle eventually develops his own ideas on rhetoric which he expels in his lectures, published posthumously as On Rhetoric.  In book 3 of this treatise, he applies his investigate methods to breaking down the different ways to talk and make a statement.  The section addressed as arrangement was known as “taxis” to the Greeks which is translated by George Kennedy as having had a connotation to “the arrangement of troops for battle” because “the speaker needs to marshal the available means of persuasion for debate” (Aristotle.)  He lets the reader know that since the orator acts as a guide through the facts, he has to be able to move the reader or listener to react with certain emotions (Aristotle.)  Even though his method is aimed at objectively studying arrangement, Aristotle admits that any narration should be indicative of character, and that this character is reflected by how he manages the facts. Similar to Plato’s critique of the standard for arrangement, Aristotle agrees that “current [writers of rhetoric] make ridiculous divisions”, because they do not properly address the different contexts of the three different types of speeches; the deliberative, judicial and epideictic (Aristotle.)  Aristotle then studies how to deliberate and narrate each type of speech (Aristotle).  Different from the traditional four part structure is his foundation for a six part arrangement: Introduction, statement of facts, division, proof, refutation and conclusion.  This new six part structure begins to develop what will become stasis theory, which is a way of looking at fact, or evidence in a case in order to build an argument.  Stasis theory relies heavily on the arrangement of these facts and evidence.

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Next up on the rostra is Cicero.  In the introduction to Cicero’s On the Ideal Orator, the editor describes a time when the handbooks of the time were leaving the canon of arrangement emptier of content than should be.  The handbooks were clumping the art of arrangement into the same process as invention.  Cicero is said to have understood the importance of a more systematic approach, so he chooses to go back to Aristotle’s approach to arrangement rather than follow the trend at the time (31).  The character Catalus asks his friend Antonius before his departure, “What do you think is the best order of the arguments” (Cicero.)  Cicero expresses his ideas through guise of character and reinforces Aristotle’s presentation of the six part speech (intro, state facts, division, proof, refutation, conclusion) in order to find truth (Cicero.)    In book 2, Cicero further investigates the importance of Arrangement.  He claims that there are two main principals: “one is inherent in the nature of our cases” (208).  It is important to have mastery over the arrangement of arguments because that is how the orator will stir up emotions in his audience.  He then runs through the reasons of his arrangement model, but note that Cicero’s character only identifies three parts, he has condensed proof, refutation and the conclusion (Cicero.)  Yet, still the same as Aristotle’s six parts, only condensed into three.  In book 3, Cicero’s character expresses the importance of arrangement because even if the orator changes one word, they actually change the whole sentence and that an orator can say the same thing in different ways and still convene the same meaning.  This same evidence can also be used to support his ideas of style which are closely related to arrangement.

The next rhetorician to say something about Arrangement is Quintilian in his Institutes of Oratory.  I will not go into detail as to what he says since these readings were not assigned for the class, I would just like to point out where to find Quintilian’s ideas on arrangement for further references.  He devotes book 4 to managing the parts of a forensic speech, book 5 to proofs/arrangement and then promotes stasis theory at book 7.  Stasis theory is something that began with Aristotle and gets added to, transformed or upgraded to the different rhetoricians.

plato on speeches arrangement      The last of the rhetoricians to have said something about arrangement may come from Longinus.  Except his thoughts on the subject are not prescriptive, in fact, Longinus sets out to identify the elements of lofty aesthetics in On the Sublime, so he deals mostly with style and arrangement is not spoke of in a technical manner.  In section 10, Longinus says that there is “a law of nature that in all things there are certain constituent parts, coexistent with their substance” and that the rhetor must have “the power of afterwards combining them into one animate whole”.  Longinus provides the reader with a passage written by Sappho because her “peculiar excellence lies in the felicity with which she chooses and unites together the most striking and powerful features” (Longinus.)   Longinus’s mention of ‘arrangement’ as a canon is subtle and even implicit.  This treatise does not spell out any tangible accounts of what arrangement should be.

“a law of nature that in all things there are certain constituent parts, coexistent with their substance” – Longinus

The classical rhetorical canon of arrangement and its studies by rhetoricians of antiquity still has merit.  We still discuss the art of arrangement today, in our speech, our advertisements, and plans for the day and interacting in our daily lives.  Even though we aren’t all Senate members or interested in legal language, the classical rhetoricians have identified parts of speech that affect all types of communication.

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Glorifying Satan in Literature

Satan: Epic Hero or Villain? John Milton wrote one of the greatest epic poems of all time when he wrote Paradise Lost in 1667. The book tells about man’s creation and fall while detailing characters and the plot beyond what the Bible taught. One of these characters is Satan, which is one of the most argumented, controversial, and popular characters in the history of literature. The reason for controversary is the unclarity of whether or not Satan is a hero or a villain. He contains many qualities that distinguish him as a hero. On the other hand he also has qualities which say he is a villain.

In book 1 of Paradise Lost, Satan is painted as a much more complex figure than just being evil or on the opposite side of goodness. Milton renders Satan as a revolutionary leader with beauty and authority who charges his enslavement against the tyrannical God. Satan motivates and organizes the fallen legions just as any other revolutionary in our history, whom rebuttals against the crown or an unjust government.

Milton builds Satan to be a beautiful angel and “above the rest in shape and gesture proudly eminent stood like a tow’r; his form had yet not lost all her original brightness, nor appeared less than archangel” (line 589). If Satan remains bright and the angels lust for the light then Satan must hold the answer. Milton uses Satan’s beauty to inspire and make the angels feel as if they have found a “glimpse of joy, to have found their chief not in despair, to have found themselves not lost in loss itself” (line 526). Milton also describes Satan’s armaments in colossal measurements. His “ponderous shield … massy, large and round, behind them cast; the bred circumference hung on his shoulders like the moon” and “his spear, to equal which the tallest pine hewn on Norwegian hills” that he used to walk around with in Hell. Such grandeur is to be admired and respected. These physical qualities are what make Milton’s Satan, a devil to be in love with; he is the warrior who faces opposition in spite of knowing the outcome to be a loss.

 
 

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After the fall, Satan is the first to rise with an infinite resounding speech although the fallen angel’s usurpation has failed. Satan comments “all is not lost; the unconquerable will, and study of revenge, immortal hate, and courage never submit or yield… that glory never shall his wrath or might extort from me” (line 106). These are the kinds of words and speeches that boil men’s blood and give them reason to erupt. Satan has not yet given up; this failure has only fueled the assault for another attack against the “tyranny of Heav’n” (124). Paramount to a good leader, Satan motivates his fallen equals on multiple accounts. When a comrade informs Satan about his distress of being in hell, Satan responds “Fall’n Cherub, to be weak is miserable doing or suffering” (159). To affirm more power in Satan’s words, he then charges the rest of the fallen angels to “awake, arise, or be forever fall’n” and when they heard they “were abashed, and up they sprang” (330). Clearly Satan is their opulent protagonist to whom they pledge their loyalty to. These fallen gods look to Satan similar to the central Americas looking to Che Guevara to liberate them from the tyrannical government.

 
 
 

Once Satan has called his “legions, angel forms, who lay entranced thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks,” they arise to the voice of their general to transform Hell into their new Heaven because “the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n” (302) (250). When Mammon dives underground to retrieve gold, he arises to build a temple that “not Babylon nor great Alcairo such magnificence equaled in all their glories, to enshrine Belus or Serapis” (720). This is evidence that Milton suggests the new kingdom of freedom, with more wealth and luxury than any human could construct. A revolution is once again being debated as the Angels swarm to the palace of pandemonium, “as bees in spring time, when the sun with Taurus rides, pour forth their populous youth about the hive in clusters” (770).

 

It is the Miltonic verse which sketches the ethereal beauty in Satan and the eternal revolution. Milton depicts Lucifer as a strong leader with grandeur, beauty and the intelligence to confront God in guise. It is this dynamic protagonist who drives the human emotion of this epic.

 
 
 

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Insurrection and Sedition in Castro and Shakespeare

Insurrection and sedition are nothing new. Shakespeare and Castro wrote about these acts, here’s what you can learn from them.

In one of the chapters of my book, “On Writing Horror: the Art of Fear Appeals,” I compare one real revolution, to a fictitious one. The Cuban revolution led by Castro of the 1950’s is compared to Shakespeare’s revolution in “Henry 6.”

Insurrection and Sedition

In Henry 6 part 2, Jack Cade attempts to overthrow the crown by means of a peasant’s revolt.  According to Che Guevara’s Guerilla Warfare manual, Jack Cade had two fundamental aspects on the conduct of revolutionary movement which should have secured a victory: popular forces and an active insurrection, though, Cade fails due to a lack of proper relation between the peasants and because of his poor leadership skills. 

In order to better understand why it is that the peasants revolt failed in this fictional revolt, I will compare it to an actual revolt that did succeed, the Cuban revolution of 1953.  This was the “Movimiento revolucionario 26 de Julio”, when Fidel Castro mounted hi first armed challenge against Fulgencio Batista. Although Shakespeare’s revolution never really occurred, it does mimic true revolutionary ideas and movements, and although, there are infinite perspectives to analyze in any revolution, this work will only attempt to illuminate the necessity for a strong leader and a “healthy mob” in order to produce a victory in Shakespeare’s play.  

Having a Strong Leader

Vector illustration of a blooding clenched fist held high in protest.

With the importance of a strong leader in mind, a comparison of Cuba’s revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro with Jack Cade is necessary.  Fidel Castro can be considered a good revolutionary leader because unlike Cade who fled the battle and starved to death, Castro not only fought but he accomplished his usurpation.  We first see a sign of Cade’s selfishness when he grants himself the power to “knight” himself in order to do battle with Sir Humphrey Stafford (H6P2 4.2.118). Castro on the other hand, was convincing fellow revolutionaries in Cuba to sacrifice buying food and cigarettes so that they could purchase rifles and bullets (Santamaria 24). At the climax of Cade’s rebellion, Cade loses the crowd and runs off, as opposed to Castro who led the first assault against the Batista regime, stood and fought until he was captured (Hansen34).  After Castro was exiled, he left for Mexico where he would organize another attack on the regime to liberate Cuba; he continues to fight, unlike Cade who just gives up the fight without even attaining enough strength to take care of himself. Cade still had the popular forces on his side because the movement was unsatisfied with the monarchy; its just that he completely gave up! Instead of reminding the peasants of their claims to land and educational reform, le laments:

“Was ever feather so lightly blown to and fro as this multitude?  The name of Henry the Fifth hales them to an hundred mischief’s’ and makes them leave me desolate.  I see them lay their heads together to surprise me. My sword make way for me, for here is no staying”

From Henry 6, by Williams Shakespeare

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Rebellion of Jack Cade
Rebellion of Jack Cade, or an insurrection?

This passage on insurrection and sedition can be conferred directly with Jack Cade, the one whose mind was also swayed like a feather, to and fro.  He uses his sword to make way for his exit when he should have aimed it towards the monarchy. After all, he would have to fight to the death regardless- why not die for what was originally intended to be the cause (4.8.56).  Cade should have mustered his last strengths and “appealed to the revolutionary will of the people as the final authority in questions of government” (Hansen 36). So if cade were in a stronger, who was in the battle for the duration of the fight, and by conferring his advantages with Che Guevarra’s ideologies (popular forces with an active insurrection), Cade should have succeeded. 

The Power of the People

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Insurrection and sedition are components to moral panics theory.

Along with a leaders’ influence on the revolution, one can also compare supportive persons within each movement as types of reference from which we can gather perspectives from the mobs themselves.  In this instance, a more dynamic view of the different mindsets in each revolution adds color and context to the two different rebellions. For example, Craig Bernthal states in Jack Cade’s Legal Carnival, that Dick the butcher and Smith who are rebels fighting for Cade and are “very sophisticated about Cade’s pretensions [yet] mock him through heavy-sided asides” (260).  With this statement one can deduce that the Shakespearean rebels were well aware of the problems but they didn’t believe in their leader. Dick the butcher then begins the campaign with: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” (4.2.75).  Dick the butcher is instigating a cause that he does not fully understand to the extent that he should before propelling innocent people to their deaths; he acts spontaneously out of certain disdain that he has towards the treatment of the lower class.  Bernthal is correct in saying that they “articulate legitimate abuses”, but their lack of methods of embodying this ‘cause’ in a logical manner fails, thus, leading their revolt to crumble from within (259). Contrast to Dick the butcher and his ideologies, a supportive character from the Cuban revolt must also be compared for a case to build insurrection and sedition. During the first assault led by Castro against Batista, Haydee Santamaria played an important role in the assault at Moncada, Cuba, and remained an iconic figure just as Dick the butcher’s lines play an integral part to his character.  Haydee Santamaria was a supporter of the Castro movement from the start, in a time when “the bomb and the bullet were ballots”, and when “students were revolutionaries almost by definition” (Santamaria 21).  Santamaria recalls the days when they would cook for ten rebels and 20 would show up, but they were all happy to share because they understood the ‘cause’ and the necessity for teamwork (25). The Cuban rebels that launched the initial assault were well informed and knew exactly where their duty lay; they took care of each other first. This is why having strong, intellectual supportive characters are important; the revolution is only as strong as its weakest link.  By understanding the supportive characters in each movement, we can shed some light on the virtues of the people and their true motives, in order to understand why a healthy mob is crucial for winning.  

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How to lead an insurrection and sedition by Che Guevarra

Once the importance of leadership and teamwork are accounted for in an insurrection, the importance of politics comes into question.  Both popular forces fought for a reform that was driven by the un-satisfactions of the people towards their governments.  Geraldo Sousa, author of The Peasants Revolt and the Writing of History in 2 Henry VI, focuses his attention on Shakespeare’s use of literacy and how it conflates with power; and this was what Cade’s rebellion was fighting against – the use of literacy to oppress a people.  Sousa asserts that Shakespeare constitutes “something deeper than a meditation on English society; he closely studies the connection between writing, history and power” (181). Jack Cade is seen as the aggressor of the ink pen and literacy.  The Poor cannot read and write legal records, which places them under the pedestal of the aristocrats and submits the illiterate to their service. Sousa also suggests that “questions of literacy are thus inextricably bound up with questions of power” (179). And it is this issue on illiteracy which leads to land reform. In comparison, we have Castor’s rebellion which was also combating a corrupt government who hoarded all of the power in a feudalistic sense- that is to say that it was limited to the privileged.  In addition to “the illegal evicting of people from their property, which is precisely the complaint of the first petitioner in act 1” in Shakespeare’s play the Cuban’s were also very, very clear about wanting land reform (Bernthal 262). After Castro was caught and imprisoned, he was allowed a trial where he plead “a passionate defense of the right of a people to revolt against oppression” (Hansen 36).

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Castro and Guevarra leading the Cuban Revolution/Insurrection and sedition of the 1950’s

War is Ugly

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Che Guevarra wrote a book on leading an insurrection and sedition

Also what is evident from both revolts is the necessity to kill the opposition in order to attain any type of reform or change;  this is also where the difference between a healthy mob and an unhealthy mob lay. In the Cade rebellion, which Bernthal describes as “carnival: ‘an astonishingly consistent oppression of anarchy by sedition’”, we witness instances where the mob is bloodthirsty and murder under absurd circumstances (259).  In respects to the murdering of Emmanuel by the mob, Bernthal asserts that this was an attack against “records and recorders whose presence permitted and promoted the oppressive collection of revenues” (266). Cade insurrectionists were fighting against illiteracy, but it was their way of proving their point which would render their actions as carnival or foolish.  The rebels seem to think that the proper way to win land reform is by destroying the records, but the more logical route would be to make education open to the masses. And this issue is addressed in Act 4, scene 7, when Cade sends Lord Say to his death because he supposedly has “corrupted the youth of the realm in erecting a grammar school” (line 35). Cade then charges him with sending men to prison because they could not read and then accuses him of riding a well decorated horse, as if to suggest that Cade is running out of “OK’ reasons for murdering Lord Say.  Another example of doing a poor sedition in gathering the support of the people would be Cade’s abuse of power; he states that it would be treason if anybody addresses him as anything less than Lord Mortimer. Then when a soldier immediately walks into the scene and refers to ‘Lord Mortimer’ as Jack Cade, hi is then knocked to the ground and killed. This is exactly the same kind of oppressive force that the rebels believe they are fighting against, yet they flow with it during their bloodthirsty frenzy (4.6.7). This differs drastically from Haydee Santamaria’s biography, she recalls Castro’s order to “[not] shoot for pleasure; don’t kill for pleasure” (Santamaria 39).  Castro on the other hand, was more sympathetic and did not “oblige [anybody] to take part in the attack” (Santamaria 37). Those who refused to fight before the attack were allowed to leave for their homes and Castro would refuse to brand them as traitors, “considering only that they were not, at that time, ready to go along with the plan” (30). Castro did not have people within his own community unjustifiably murdered. This is why Castro succeeded in rallying a second attack on the Batista regime and ultimately, the usurpation; he respected the locals and understood that a healthy mob and their cooperation were necessary to win.

These conclusions in which two rebellions were synchronized into two distinct causes and then embodied under the Guerrilla Warfare manual, illustrate the importance of strong leadership and a healthy mob.  Jack Cade and the peasants’ revolt fail due to a lack of both of these ideals. 

To read more about the art of fear appeals and Horror, check out my book, “On Writing Horror: the Art of Fear Appeals.”

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“The man who conforms by obeying unjust laws and permits anybody to trample the country in which he was born, the man who so mistreats his county, is not an honorable man”

Fidel Castro
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The Genre Master: Auditory Horror in Anne Radcliffe’s Fiction

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The Genre Master article written for Mind on Fire Books

To be a master in the horror genre takes work and an understanding of how writers create an atmosphere ripe for fear. Apparitions, or ghosts, or mysterious sounds and settings have long been associated with tales of haunted spaces through the centuries; through short stories, folklore and different mediums of delivering the narrative, the shape and form of these narratives have taken different shapes across cultures.  Author of Apparitions, Ghosts, Fairies, Demons and Wild Events writes that “Writings about apparitions informs us what various people think is important about their psyches and selves, about truth, error, mystery and the constitution of the real world” (Marshall 141). This claim is made from an anthropological perspective but it points us in the direction that this study will traverse for understanding how an author may write about these subjects in mainstream Western culture.

The gothic writer in the English history after the 1700’s was also interested in using the technique of horror for their fiction.  A few centuries later, this tradition remains a powerful genre and it has adapted to modern technologies such as television, radio and internet.  In Manu Aguirre’s work, Geometries of Terror, Aguirre supplies us with society’s interest in these new Medias, primarily with examples of films such as The Things From Another World, The Beast from Twenty Thousand Fathoms.  Aguirre plants his argument next to Anne Radlicffe’s novel, The Italian to support his claim that these works show an affinity for spatial control in the horror genre.  I will also argue in favor of the genre being dependent on spatial geography.  However, these geo-spatial haunting effects must first be prepped for a supernatural effect.  Prepping the reader for this effect would include Jonathan Marshall’s emphases on the persons psyche and the constitution of the real world; only, I view these statements from a rhetorical understanding.  If a writer of gothic fiction wants to be successful in scaring their audience, they must prepare the reader mentally for an emotion worth reading for.

How the Masters of the Horror Genre Elicit Fear

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The Genre Master: Auditory Horror in Anne Radcliffe’s Fiction

The intent of this work is to analyze how Anne Radcliffe provides a framework for sustaining supernatural effects in the novels Mysteries of Udolpho and Romance of the Forest.  One of the tools Radcliffe uses to accomplish this is by controlling audible psychology; Radcliffe deploys the interjection of random voices or questionable sounds which are expended from unknown locations that leave the characters questioning their own rationale and sense of direction or attachment to the location.  This study explores where Todorov leaves amiss in his definition of the fantastic: “We might indeed characterize such events as supernatural, but the supernatural, though a literary category, of course, is not relevant here” (35).   In this study, how the supernatural is rhetorically used in within the literary category, is the aim.  It is Radcliffe’s understanding and mastery of the character-mind and character disorientating tactics that allows her to entertain her readers with hauntings in these two novels.

Auditory Disruptions to Question Reality

Controlling the character’s reality constructs of subjectivity/objectivity and supporting them with a superstitious community, are compound, with her use of the auditory sense.  To add the third support beam to sustain supernatural effects, Radcliffe sprinkles different scenes with disorienting sounds which Todorov would label as the period of “uncertainty” (37).  In both works, characters are forced in “observing the peculiar tone in which” sounds, music and voices are delivered (Udolpho 62).  Similar to what Todorov explains in his definition of the fantastic, these sounds place the character in a state of ambivalence between the real and imaginary: “as [Emily] listened, her heart faltered in terror, and she became convinced, that the former sound was more than imaginary” (355).  Although the aim of this paper does not directly support Todorov’s definitions of  the fantastic, he does provide us with a good heuristic for analyzing moments of uncertainty, which in this case, are auditory disruptions used to disorientate characters.

Setting Up Audible Horror

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The Genre Master article written for Mind on Fire Books

Radcliffe sets up these auditory disorientations towards the beginning of Udolpho in Volume one where Emily’s father is still alive and she is seeing perceiving things objectively.  Emily wants to sooth her father’s pains so she decides to play some tunes for him with her lute, which was left in the fishing house.  As she approaches the fishing house “she was surprised to hear the tones of the instrument” but upon entering the room, she finds it “unoccupied” (9).  Being that this happens before her rationale becomes subjective, she dismisses these sounds due to the “melancholy gloom of evening, and the profound stillness of the place, interrupted only by the light trembling leaves, heightened her fanciful apprehensions” (9).  At this point in the novel, the sounds are explainable as being imaginary because of the setting.  On the journey to France, Emily and her father are forced to take rest at unfamiliar locations due to her father’s health, and on one of these instances where they are searching for a community; they ask a peasant about the chateau in the distance.  The peasant responds with a tone noted by the characters as being “peculiar in which it was delivered” (62).  Emily’s father elects to continue through the woods to try their luck despite the peasant advising them not to go there.  They enter the forest where they begin to hear music: “the sounds were distant and seemed to come from a remote part of the woods” (64).  Since Emily is still with her father, she doesn’t immediately question the reality of these sounds, rather, she insists that they are real and attempts to find their origins.  Later on though, these same sounds are disorienting and push Emily further into the threshold.  During her stay at Udolpho, Emily stays up late one night until midnight when she heard the soothing sounds of the lute coming from a distance unperceived and the “long suffering had made her spirits peculiarly sensible to terror, and liable to be affected by the illusions of superstition- it now seemed to her, as if her dead father had spoken to her…but with the inconsistency so natural, when imagination guides the thoughts, she then wavered towards a belief as wild” (330).  Coupling these auditory instances with a subjective mind places the characters right at the point of ambivalence between the real and imaginary as Todorov suggests.

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Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller which causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all man and woman. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

On Writing Horror Willy Martinez

  • On Writing Horror amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of fear resides. An anthology of works studying the way in which writers evoke fear and how they may affect us. On Writing Fear is an index of terror, drawing from Aristotle, Longinus, Edmund Burke, Che Guevarra, Wordsworth, Foucault, H.P. Lovecraft, Todorov, and many more.

    Chapters include digital illustrations created by the author.

    Also available at the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

    A must have collection of research on the power of Horror- a tormented treatment of the human passions!

    Table of Contents for On Writing Horror

    Ch 1. Fear and War: Crafting the War on Terror Using Fear Appeals Ch 2. The Art of the Coup D'etat Ch 3. The Feminine Supernatural versus the Male Supernatural Writers Ch 4. Projecting Ghost Children to Find Identity Ch 5. The Supernatural Power of the Sublime in Wordsworth's Poetry Ch 6. Disorienting Characters with Haunted Spaces and Auditory Hallucinations Ch 7. Modern Ghosts Ch 8. The Fantastic in Fear Ch 9. The Fun Side of Fear: Faustus' Tricky Imp of Satan Ch 10. Glorifying Satan

    Some of the art included:

    [caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="188"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="200"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignnone" width="194"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption]

9 Brilliant Video Games Inspired by Books

Some video games have fantastic story lines with incredible plot twists and shockers, but there are several that are happy to be based on written stories that have come before them. From epics to books to comics, these are the 9 most brilliant video games inspired by literature. Books have inspired all kinds of different media, video games included. It’s pretty rare for games to be directly taken from books, which means there are a lot of video games you didn’t know were books first. Games tend to adapt features, atmospheres, and ideologies from books, which makes for intriguing stories and hidden Easter eggs for the most observant of players.

 

Bioshock:

 
 

BOOK IT’S BASED ON: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957)

Ayn Rand’s system of objectivism is everywhere in BioShock. In both Atlas Shrugged and 2K’s hugely influential shooter, a society of brilliant minds secludes itself away from the ungrateful world. However, while the former champions this individualism and isolationist capitalism, the later strongly critiques it. As players explore the underwater city of Rapture, they find a world ravaged by self-indulgent experimentation and rampant individualism to the detriment of society. BioShock is an exploration of the extension of Rand’s vision–not increased production, not incredible innovation, but rather a society so focused on the individual that it devours itself alive.

 

American McGee’s Alice:

 
 

BOOK IT’S BASED ONAlice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)

The classic Alice In Wonderland was reimagined by Quake and Doom veteran American McGee into one of the craziest, horrifying and brilliant games of 2000. The graphics won’t hold up any more, but here’s the plot: Alice had to be institutionalized and now, as a teenager, she’s thrust into the world of Wonderland where she meets the characters we’re all familiar with. Except in here, everyone has a darker, twisted image, like the riddle-toting Cheshire Cat or the Mad Hatter who really puts the “mad” into his name. As far as reinterpretations go, this is my favourite of a children’s classic.

 

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Suikoden:

 
 

BOOK IT’S BASED ONShui Hu Zhuan by Shi Nai’an

Shui Hu Zhuan is one of the great Chinese novels, following the story of 108 outlaws granted amnesty who then turn to fighting for the government. Suikoden is less of a direct adaptation and more of a reimagining, as the novel’s 108 protagonists become the 108 stars of the game and the entire thing takes place in a fantasy setting. Instead of focusing on adapting the plot exactly, Suikoden instead captures the quest of finding all 108 allies and getting them to work together for a greater cause. Each game in the series features a new set of 108 characters to recruit against a fearsome enemy, making each game a new imagining of the classic story.

 

Assassin’s Creed:

 
 

BOOK IT’S BASED ON: Alamut by Vladimir Bartol (1938)

Vladimir Bartol’s Alamut is a less than flattering portrayal of the Hashshashin, a medieval band of warriors and assassins, but it serves as the inspiration for Assassin’s Creed nonetheless. The Hashshashin, the etymological root of “assassin,” were a specific sect of Nizari Ismailis, themselves a sect within Islam who opposed the Sunni Seljuq authority during the medieval period. Alamut paints the group as dangerously deceived, while the game takes a different approach, casting the Assassins as largely a force for good whose intense loyalty comes not from drugs and deception but from dedication to a cause. The scene in which Altair plunges from a tower comes direct from the novel, as does the Assassin’s motto, “nothing is true; everything is permitted,” which is a slight variation on, “Nothing is an absolute reality; all is permitted.”

 

Dune:

 
 

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BOOK IT’S BASED ON: Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)

Back in 1965, Frank Herbert wrote a fantastic novel called Dune, which would go on to become the world’s best-selling science fiction novel. In 1984, David Lynch (yup, that David Lynch of Mulholland Drive and The Elephant Man) turned it into a movie, but that flopped. In 1992, it was turned into a game that was a massive hit. It’s quite unplayable now, but back then, it was one of the best strategy games around.

 
 

The Witcher:

 
 

BOOK IT’S BASED ONThe Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski (1994)

The Witcher is one of the more direct book-to-game adaptations, but even it is quite different than its literary inspiration. Both follow the adventures of Geralt of Rivera, a monster hunter (called a witcher) in a fantastic setting based on Polish myth. But rather than The Witcher books drawing people to the games, it’s largely worked in reverse. Though Sapkowski is a cult favorite in Poland, the books weren’t translated into English until 2007, the same year as the release of the first game. Since The Witcher 3 garnered so much attention for its commitment to fantastic open-world storytelling, it’s no surprise that players have turned to the books for more of the same.

 

Metro 2033:

 
 

BOOK IT’S BASED ONMetro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky (2005).

Dmitry Glukhovsky’s Metro 2033 takes place in post-apocalyptic Moscow, as humanity’s last survivors live in the underground remains of the metro system. Under the rule of warring factions, people must try to survive their hostile world as well as their brutal leadership. In Metro 2033 the game, the story is largely the same, but when you play rather than read about the events it becomes much more about horror and survival than pure sci-fi. Though the events do differ somewhat, the influence and relationship between the book and game is clear. The adaptation is a prime example of how a narrative can change when adapted into a different form, as the game’s survival horror elements make the terror of the novel more visceral and enjoyable for those who like their media terrifying.

 
 

Call of Cthulu: Dark Corners of the Earth:

 
 

BOOK IT’S BASED ON: The Call of Cthulhu by HP Lovecraft (1928)

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth isn’t subtle about its inspiration–it comes directly from HP Lovecraft’s short story “The Call of Cthulhu,” which introduces the tentacle-faced being that’s become so popular in pop culture. But the game doesn’t stop there; it’s heavily inspired by “The Shadows over Innsmouth,” as well, combining the two stories for a supernatural horror experience that blends the investigation and psychological fear that characterizes Lovecraft’s work. Though it doesn’t concretely follow any one particular story, it’s situated firmly in Lovecraft’s universe. With survival horror mechanics like limited ammo and decreasing sanity, the game creates the distinct atmosphere of dread that runs through Lovecraft’s most famous works.

 

Dynasty Warriors:

 
 

BOOK IT’S BASED ONRomance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong

Yet another popular series based on a great Chinese epic, Dynasty Warriors takes the much-beloved Romance of the Three Kingdoms and turns it into an incredibly fun hack and slash game. The novel follows the dynamics of the late Han dynasty as three main powers–Cao Wai, Shu Han, and Eastern Wu–fight for dominance. With the exception of the first game in the series, which plays more like a straightforward fighting game, Dynasty Warriors lets players step into those battles as a sort of superhuman participant capable of taking down hundreds of enemies single-handedly in one battle. Each fight is a recreation of its historical counterpart, giving players the opportunity to experience a (heavily fictionalized) version of it firsthand. The story is told largely through cutscenes that refer to the events of the novel, adding interpersonal drama, backstabbing, and motivation to the thrilling musou-style gameplay.

Literary Terms: Gothic, Grotesque, and The Uncanny

Dark Night

Gothic Literature– Merriam-Webster defines Gothic as: adj., “of or relating to a style of writing that describes strange or frightening events that take place in mysterious places.” Gothic literature all started with with Horace Walpole’s novel Castle of Oronto in 1765, and the tradition was continued by writers such as Ann Radcliffe, and in classic horror stories like Frankenstein and Dracula. The genre itself was named after the architecture that inspired it: the medieval castles and ruins in which much of Gothic literature takes place, and which often play a vital role in the narrative’s plot. Gothic literature has evolved over the years to include subgenres such as Southern Gothic literature, which takes place in the American South and is associated with much-beloved authors Flannery O’Conner and William Faulkner, among others. The Gothic tradition continues today in the works of such writers as Joyce Carol Oates and Julia Elliott.
The Uncanny – What exactly is the uncanny? We can think of no one better to explain this slippery term and its history than Marjorie Sandor, who contributed an essay on the uncanny earlier this month. Read it here. A preview: “The sensation of uncanniness is, at its core, an anxiety about the stability of those persons, places, and things in which we have placed our deepest trust, and our own sense of identity and belonging. And what’s exciting about this for writers of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction, is that it invites us to practice uncertainty.”
The Grotesque – Nowadays, when people talk about “the grotesque,” their meaning is closer to its adjectival form: “very strange or ugly in a way that is not normal or natural.” The grotesque in literature focuses on the human body, and all the ways that it can be distorted or exaggerated: its aim is to simultaneously elicit our empathy and disgust. Very much like the uncanny, the grotesque draws its power from the combination of the familiar and the unfamiliar, or the familiar distorted. Gothic fiction often has elements of the grotesque, such as Mary Shelley’s monster in Frankenstein or the off-kilter characters in Flannery O’Conner’s stories. In its earlier iterations, the term “grotesque” was used in a way that overlapped more with “the uncanny,” referring to works that blurred the line between the real and the fantastic, such as Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” in which the human protagonist is transformed into an insect. It is interesting to see the ways in which these terms overlap, and it’s important to note that their exact “definitions” can be hard to nail down because of the way they have changed over time.
Terror and Horror – Terror and horror are often used interchangeably, but the two terms are actually quite different. Last year, Lincoln Michel contributed a brilliant essay on the difference between the two: “Terror is the feeling of dread and apprehension at the possibility of something frightening, while horror is the shock and repulsion of seeing the frightening thing. Terror is the sounds of unknown creatures scratching at the door; horror is seeing your roommate eaten alive by giant rats. Terror is the feeling a stranger may be hiding behind the door; horror is the squirt of blood as the stranger’s knife sinks in.”
What other terms do you use to talk about frightening fiction? Share in the comments.