субота, 25. јун 2016.

ŠUMSKA STRAVA – Ričard Gevin

            Ričard Gevin (Richard Gavin) je jedan od značajnijih i boljih novih pisaca horora. Pažnju mi je privukao pričama koje sam redovno nalazio u nekim od najboljih antologija (Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, The Grimscribe's Puppets, The Children of Old Leech, Delicate Toxins, Shadows Edge…) i izbora (Best New Horror, The Year's Best Weird Fiction, The Best Horror of the Year) koji su mi dolazili u ruke, pa sam zato overio i njegovu solidnu zbirku At Fear's Altar.
            Ono što njega izdvaja iz mora današnjih horor pisaca jeste činjenica da se Gevin intenzivno bavi ezoterijom i okultizmom, i kao teoretičar i kao praktičar, a to se vidi i u njegovoj prozi. On je, takođe, priredio antologiju okultnog horora Penumbrae – nju sam prikazivao u RUE MORGUE magazinu, i uskoro ću ovde obznaniti i taj rivju.
            Kada je nedavno najavio svoju najnoviju, petu po redu, zbirku, pa još sa naslovom ŠUMSKA STRAVA (SYLVAN DREAD), shvatio sam to ne samo što moram da overim, nego je krajnje vreme da ovog pisca podržim, koliko mogu, i preko magazina RUE MORGUE za koji već godinama pišem (pretežno o knjigama, ali ponekad i o filmovima). To nije bilo teško, tim pre što je Gevin Kanađanin, i što je svojevremeno i sam pisao za ovaj magazin.
            Uradio sam s njim iscrpan, zaista dobar intervju. Deo njegovih odgovora završio je u mom opširnom članku (na celoj strani magazina) koji sam naslovio "The Woods Are Lovely, Dark and Deep" (kao omaž jednoj pesmi Roberta Frosta koju sam predavao, svojevremeno, dok sam radio na fakultetu). Taj članak izašao je u magazinu RUE MORGUE #167 za jun, i evo kako izgleda naslov.
Tekst ne smem ovde da kačim, bar ne ucelo, ali evo odlomka u kojem opisujem neke od priča iz ove zbirke:
In “Thistle Latch” a man’s memory of a strange boy who used to live in the woods before disappearing leads to his rediscovery, decades later, amidst a vision of an orgiastic scene of rampant, mutating flora. “The Old Pageant” is about a couple who visits a long-deserted cabin in the woods where a strange mimicry takes place (“if we weren’t careful there would be things from the woods that would take our place in the world”). “Tinder Row” depicts a dead-end street near the town’s main viaduct where the soil is thin, “not in its physical compound but rather its spiritual aspect”, so that it enables “Soul-moulting”. In the touching “Wormwood Votaries” a man meets his childhood self and rekindles memories of his encounters with elemental spirits and of watching with “the Eyes of the Spine”. And “Primeval Wood” features a strange humanoid hawthorn growth (reminiscent of a primitive idol) in the woods which affects its founder, a suddenly single man, proving, like many other tales in this book, that “certain miracles are reserved for the wayward and the damned”.

            Ako ste voleli moj roman ZAVODNIK, možete sad baciti pogled da vidite kako ruralni gotik i šumski horor sa paganskim zaleđem i čestim okultnim referencama funkcioniše u inostranom, severnoameričkom ambijentu.
            Evo kako ovu zbirku najavljuje izdavač:
Those who dwell unseen within the hedge, the grotesques emergent in the weave of tangled roots, the writhing form amid the shadows of the Willow boughs—all are keepers of a rustic and terrible wisdom predating the emergence of mankind. Lurching between disembodiment and wholly manifest flesh, the baleful forces of wasteland and rural barren have long been etched upon the human soul.

From the preeminent author of At Fear’s Altar and The Benighted Path comes Sylvan Dread, Richard Gavin's long awaited fifth collection of preternatural tales. Bound within are thirteen nightmares exploring the Sinister Pastoral, the dominion prevailing at the intersection of mortal reckoning and the primoridum of daemonic Nature.
As a meditation on the forces of predation and parasitism, monstrous fecundity and decay, and those hidden folk who occupy the spaces between the branches, Sylvan Dread evokes the primeval wood — the place where all dreams and nightmares begin. In this isolate copse we witness the excavation of abominations long earthbound, the twilight of the rational, and the forgotten violence of the Dionysian Rite.

' Gavin's writing serves as a testament that great masters once crafted great stories
...and as evidence that they shall do so again.'
--- Thomas Ligotti

            Ovih dana je iz štampe izašla i Gevinova non-fiction knjiga THE BENIGHTED PATH, na mračno-okultne teme. Više o njoj čitajte dole, u intervjuu koji sam uradio s njim.
 Interview with Richard Gavin 
By Dejan Ognjanović
(c) RUE MORGUE magazine

How similar or different is this collection to your previous ones?

While there is something of a Richard Gavin “voice” that runs through all my fiction and thus gives it some type of continuity, I do feel that SYLVAN DREAD marks a departure from the more recognizably weird horror stories I’ve done previously. These are more folk horror and ghost stories. With this book I made an earnest effort to beguile rather than disturb. I worked closely with Daniel A. Schulke, my editor at Three Hands Press, who encouraged me to drift as far from commercial genre fiction as I wished to go. These stories are still supernatural horror, but they operate more on the fringes of that form. As a writer, I am happiest when wayfaring, when I’m bewildered by a half-formed narrative. None of my stories are ever plotted in advance. They set their own course and I simply transcribe them. I trust my instincts enough to know when to shelve a piece because it is losing its thunder. That is how my four previous books have been created.

How personal are the stories in this collection in terms of actual experiences, memories?

There is a great deal of personal memory and impression in the book. But it bears stating that, ultimately, these are works of fiction. Readers needn’t look for what they suspect to be an author’s biographical confessions in the text. Again, as I stated earlier, my stories may inspire people in a literary sense, but they should never be taken in a literal sense. I believe that any writer worth their salt should be doing more than manufacturing plots and characters. They should be conveying their keenest impressions of existence. After all, developing a highly personalized mode of literature, a genre of one if you will, is the only hope a writer has at creating something original. Plots, themes, characters – all of these things slip into broad archetypal patterns that have existed for millennia. All the stories have been told. But they have not been told by us, and that makes all the difference.

How have your esoteric and mystical beliefs shaped your fiction?

I believe in the hidden realm that lies within and beyond the world of forms and matter. This perspective has allowed me to live the bulk of my life in a liminal state. I find the logic-obsessed, materialistic, industrialized civilization to be a planetary madhouse, thus I keep my interactions with it to a bare minimum. For all the benefits that civilization has granted humanity, it has also all but divorced us from living deeper, more reflective lives. It has caused us to regard nature and the animal kingdom as little more than resources to be exploited. In the Middle Ages the clergy tended to regard nature as a demonic realm and in a certain respect they were correct; nature’s will is stronger than ours and its ways can demolish humanity’s ambitions in an instant, whether those ambitions take the form of building a house in a hurricane zone or attempting to live one’s life according to a set of intellectual commandments that run counter to our instincts. A pious man may want to dedicate his body and soul to the tenets of some hygienic faith, but his instincts will always prevail. Lust, anger, and other natural energies infiltrate our lives. Try debating your body out of being sexually aroused or from its fight-or-flight response. It is pointless.
Humanity tends to fear or despise that which it cannot control, which is why supernatural horror serves as the perennial inconvenient reminder that there will always be forces that thwart an individual from his or her “life-plan.” 21st-century humankind dwells in a bubble of egoism, willful ignorance, and self-gratification at all costs. That is a worldview I don’t even respect, let alone share. Given this, my fiction is the polar opposite of conservative horror. Instead of warning against the terrible things that will occur if one dares to break the social contract, my work is about people who slip through civilization’s cracks and thereby feel the scales peeling back from their eyes. There is a great deal of dread in my work, but people always fear breaking the mould that coddles them. What my characters find is that those conservative rules you referenced have been not their safeguard but their blinders. They achieve liberation in all its beauty and awfulness.

Are your activities in the fields of the occult and of horror fiction part of the same process, or are they relatively different?

My ethos is fairly holistic. My engagement (or what some might prefer to call faith) in the Spirit realm is often, but not always, given expression in my fiction. The most marked distinction between these two pursuits is that when I am writing fiction I am cognizant of the fact that narratives are something that every reader engages with for different reasons. Some read horror stories purely for entertainment; others analyze the genre’s socio-political subtext; readers like myself tend to favour works that evoke and satisfy a deeply-held poetic sense of the haunted and the unworldly. There is no correct or incorrect way to read fiction.
I wish to be clear that my stories are not attempts to proselytize or to convince readers of anything. My fiction can be read as literary evocations of esoteric experiences, but they should never be mistaken for literal reportage of those experiences. There is a marked difference between weaving a thread of the authentic into a narrative in order to arouse a response in a reader and foolishly presuming that a reader or indeed an author accepts supernatural stories as being thoroughly and literally real.

How do you deal with the almost inevitable (or is it?) demonizing of the things you love? I’d assume you’re a lover of nature, but horror genre demands that it is depicted in its darker aspects, as a threatening force, as a source of terror…

I love nature because it is both beautiful and threatening. I believe that nature has always represented the ineffable and that the bulk of humanity has always resented it for that reason. We are reliant on nature, are inextricably bound to it, and yet many cannot reconcile themselves with that vast, unfeeling and often baffling world. Nature is not the inert, pastoral backdrop to our lives any more than the past is some remote relic. Both are living and often perilous things.

You also have a new non-fiction book, THE BENIGHTED PATH, which deals with a lesser-known esoteric tradition. What is it really about?  

The Biocentric philosopher-mystic Ludwig Klages (1872 – 1956) developed the term Night Consciousness to describe this mode of engaging with the world on a primordial, imagistic level, as opposed to the rational mode that has dominated the present age. Through this intuitive, poetic experience, one can interact with the soul of reality that dwells within and beneath the physical realm. Though the word "benighted" developed a negative connotation meaning “ignorance,” my book restores its original meaning, which was to be overcome by darkness. That may sound unappealing to many, but it is how I’ve lived the bulk of my life.

Algernon Blackwood spent some time in Canada and was inspired by it for some of his best tales, including “Wendigo”. He was also, just like you, deeply involved in the mystical and the occult. How close or different to him and his approach to mystical (occasionally cosmic) horror do you feel?

Blackwood is one of my literary touchstones. Discovering his work in my early twenties was a revelation. His work exhibited that rare quality that I’d been trying (ineptly and awkwardly, for I was a novice writer) to imbue my fiction with: a sense of ecstasy. Even many of the classic horror authors I admired lacked this quality. Their apparitions were often fashioned to either simply scare or to act as some kind of warning against doing that which man was not meant to do. Algernon Blackwood expressed not simply terror but also beauty. That is something I strive to convey myself. I utilize fear as a sensitizing force, a way to flex the reader’s perceptions of the world and of themselves. By first evoking terror, I can then introduce various visions or concepts that I find beautiful. Conversely, the things I find beautiful are often terrifying. These two emotions are inseparable in my work.

Originalno je ovo izašlo na sajtu RUE MORGUE-a, OVDE.

A ako vas je Gevin zainteresovao, ali se još nećkate da li da kupujete njegove knjige, evo imate jednu njegovu finu pričicu onlajn – i to ne makar koju, nego iz zbirke omaža Lerdu Baronu nazvane The Children of the Old Leech!
Dakle, čitajte priču “The Old Pageant” (koja se nalazi i u SYLVAN DREAD) – OVDE.