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Tony Grist

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Blackwood [Nov. 7th, 2004|10:16 am]
Tony Grist
Algernon Blackwood is groovy.

He was at various times an adventurer, a low-life, a secret agent, an occultist, a Buddhist and a radio and TV personality. He wrote a great many books.

As a writer of supernatural stories he's up there with the best.

My gaydar is twitching but I don't think he left any hard evidence either way.

I'm reading his novel The Centaur (1911). Thick treacly prose. A wild Irishman is sailing to the Caucasus and is strangely attracted by a fellow passenger who appears "bigger" than he really is (see what I mean about the gaydar?) He and the ship's doctor think this guy may be an emanation of the Earth's Unconscious Mind (or something of the sort)- a hang-over from the Golden Age.

I guess the title betrays just what kind of hang-over he's going to turn out to be, though I haven't got to the big disclosure scene yet (if there is a big disclosure scene.)

The influence of Henry James hangs heavy. Almost nothing has happened yet and we're 70 pages in. Algie likes to analyze. He likes to speculate. He keeps finding new ways of telling us the same thing over and over again.

Kipling would have knocked off a yarn like this in four or five pages and still not skimped on the atmosphere.

But it is atmospheric. Strange, uncanny, oppressive. It may be nonsense, but it's nonsense with heft.

Jung hasn't published yet, but most of his big ideas are here. We've got the Collective Unconscious, we've got Archetypes. Come on in, Herr Doctor, I've got this stuff that needs systematizing.

Modern Pagans should read Blackwood; he's one of their grand-daddies. Neo-paganism is nothing more than Edwardian romanticism thinned down with white spirit to make it spread more easily.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-11-07 01:29 pm (UTC)
Jung hasn't published yet, but most of his big ideas are here. We've got the Collective Unconscious, we've got Archetypes. Come on in, Herr Doctor, I've got this stuff that needs systematizing. And I thought Jung got his stuff from Freud! Imagine Jung reading Blackwood and: Lo! The Blue Bolt! I suppose we can't credit any of them; we must instead acknowledge the zeitgeist that sensitive people like the tormented Blackwood and the mystical Jung articulated for their time. The Golden Age of ghost stories (says my paperback book, Great Ghost Stories) was from 1864-1912. I guess the nice and polite Victorian era gave us this gift of learning about the inchoate darkness from which primitive emotions arise, because the more those sexual and other strong, taboo feelings were suppressed, the more energy was fed to the psychoid level of the collective. I just pulled from my dustiest bookcase (Blackwood would smile a cold smile) an old tattered (of course!) book from my Jungian days, Ira Progoff's Jung, Synchronicity, & Human Destiny. Here's what he says about the depths of the collective, wherein strong, primitive emotions coalesce to shape the archetypes: "...Great intensities of energy are activated when the human being touches the psychoid level of his nature where instinct and archetype are one." The lighter the surface, the more roiling and energized the depths.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-07 01:48 pm (UTC)
I'm fascinated by zeitgeist. It's as though an idea has a life of its own and forces itself into consciousness through a multiplicity of minds at more or less the same time.

Blackwood credits some of his ideas to William James (which surprises me) and to a German philosopher called Fechner whom I've never heard of before. It seems like Fechner developed a strong version of what has come to be known as the Gaia hypothesis. I think I need to Google him.
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