Notes on the weird – XIV

When she did write of evil spirits that attempt to manipulate mankind…she clearly viewed the evil as a real, consuming agency which robbed the individual of his identity; but she also believed that there was an even greater evil than demonic forces – a hidden, insidious evil arising from mean’s desire for scientific knowledge. A demonic spirit could rob an individual of his identity, his soul; an obsession with scientific advancement could do similar damage to society.

Margaret K. Gray on Mrs Oliphant

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Notes on the weird – XIII

By far the strongest influence on my life was Nature; it betrayed itself early, growing in intensity with every year… The early feeling that everything was alive, a dim sense that some kind of consciousness struggled through every form, even that a sort of inarticulate communication with this ‘other life’ was possible, could I but discover the way…

Algernon Blackwood

Notes on the weird – XII

Horror: [For the affect of horror to be invoked] it is not enough for the mundane world to be invaded, assaulted, seduced, taught or inveigled from another sphere…nor is it enough for monsters simply to exist… What generates the frisson of horror is an overwhelming sense that the invader is obscenely, trangressively impure. The monster of horror are befoulers of the boundaries that mark us off from the Other.

John Clute, Encyclopedia of Fantasy

Notes on the weird – XI

These stories have been written in the hope of giving some pleasant qualms to the reader, so that, if by chance, anyone may be occupying in their perusal a leisure half hour before he goes to bed when the night and house are still, he may perhaps cast an occasional glance into the corners and dark places of the room where he sits, to make sure that nothing unusual lurks in the shadows. For this is the avowed object of ghost-stories, and such tales as deal with the dim unseen forces which occassionallly and perturbingly make themselves manifest. The author therefore fervently wishes his readers a few uncomfortable moments.

E.F. Benson

Notes on the weird – IX

Bad Place: Any place with a powerful flavour of wrongness and rottenness. Haunted dwellings, evil woods, dark towers, sometimes even wastelands. What makes a bad place may be the psychic taint of evid doings, or deluded perception or some ritual desecration.

David Langford, Encyclopedia of Fantasy

Notes on the weird – VIII

…Knowledge lies within us. It is to be found nowhere else. It is a matter of delight and inaccessible horizons, rather than of question and answer. Truth can only be found through the imagination, and those whose imaginations have been cramped with answers will never find it.

Robert Aickman