“Fear is a healthy instinct, not a sign of weakness. It is a natural self-defense mechanism that is common to felines, wolves, hyenas, and most humans. Even fruit bats know fear, and I salute them for it. If you think the world is weird now, imagine how weird it would be if wild beasts had no fear.”
-Hunter S. Thompson-
…if They Are Educational?
What was you first experience with a good (the is as subjective of a word as you can get) horror story? I’m talking about the first time you read an adult horror story, not a children’s story. My guess is that some story by Edgar Allan Poe will come to mind for many of you, it does for me. Most of us had our first experience with Poe in junior high or maybe freshman year, and “The Cask of Amontillado” is often the first story we read and/or is the most memorable.
“The Cask of Amontillado” came to mind when I started thinking about this month’s topic concerning grave thoughts. I don’t want to spoil the story for the few of you out there who haven’t read it (well, maybe it’s not taught anymore but damn near everybody my age has read it). A grave, of sorts, plays an important role in the story so I decided to give it another read. I came away with a few observations. First, the exposition of the story discusses some of the finer points of revenge. Second, there is a whole of drinking going on in this story (hell, the title references booze). Finally, with proper planning and execution you can get away with murder. I’m not trying to disparage the story in any way. It’s a well written, compact story that incorporates many elements of classic gothic fiction, but damn I don’t remember these points from way back in junior high.
I figure my teacher all those years ago was more interested in teaching Poe the author (the man’s tormented life plays a large role in his appeal to many people, adolescents included) than really focusing on the content and context of the story itself. Either way I remember the class reading it and enjoying it. But I can’t help but think that today, in a world where people are easily offended and triggered, if teaching the horror classics of Poe would still be considered educational? Give it another read or first read and let me know what you think.
“The Cask of Amontillado” from The Best Short Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (2011) by Edgar Allan Poe.
The graveyard is a solemn example of being alone in a crowd.
Six Bearers of Wisdom
• “Every heart has its graveyard.” -Zora Neal Hurston-
• “As we go on with our lives we tend to forget that the jails and the hospitals and the madhouses and the graveyards are packed.” -Charles Bukowski-
• “Many a fervid man writes books as cold and flat as graveyard stones.” -Elizabeth Barrett Browning-
• “Man is the only religious animal. In the Holy task of smoothing his brother’s path to the happiness of heaven, he has turned the globe into a graveyard.” -Mark Twain-
• “Politics can be the graveyard of the poet. And only poetry can be his resurrection.” -Langston Hughes-
• “Cemetery, n. An isolated suburban spot where mourners match lies, poets write at a target, and stonecutters spell for a wager.” -Ambrose Bierce-
The Return of Thrills and Chills
Graveyard, boneyard, and cemetery are just a few words used to identify a final resting place. This collection of synonyms (some a little more euphemistic than others) is just one aspect of the graveyard that fascinates me. A graveyard can be a bit of a contradiction. It is both a source of history and an end of it. It is a solemn place that is often ornately decorated. It is a place where people are both remembered and forgotten. The graveyard is both literal and symbolic. These contradictions are worthy of a close study and a bit of conversation.
We walk, pedal, and drive by graveyards on a regular basis. Some of you, like me, may live near or grew up next to a graveyard. They play important roles in our lives and in our art. Graveyards in one form or another exist in almost all cultures and throughout time. October is the ideal month to take a closer look at graveyards as place and idea.
When Friendships Are Bad
So here we are on the final day of September about to roll into the witching month of October. I figure one last observation concerning bad medicine is in order before I shift to all things horror and Halloween. Been giving some thought to friendships of late and how they can be connected to bad medicine.
I wonder if picking bad friends can be habit forming? Bad friends come with bad advice, and bad advice is a lot like bad medicine. We often take both medicine and advice without thinking about possible side effects or if either is bad for us in the long run. Once we start taking that bad medicine and bad advice it may be hard to stop, even if we start to notice it’s bad for us. Bad medicine and bad friends have a way of making us feel good in the short run and that is the beginning of a habit.
So what’s the take away? Maybe I’ve just had a few more bad friendships than others (or maybe fewer, don’t really know you), but I do believe that if you aren’t careful you can find yourself with some bad friends that will leave you with some long term negative side effects.