The Electric Octopus in the Sky

The other night I dreamed about the end of the world.

The dream started off in a state of confused urgency. My mother was still alive and I was checking on her at the old house where I grew up. She was in the advanced stages of pulmonary disease, just as I remember her from a year or so before her death. For some reason, my sister had entrusted her with the care of a number of Rottweilers. Good dogs except for one that seemed to be edging on a bad turn, snapping and snarling at the other dogs. He had a glassy vacant look in his eyes, perhaps like people have before a psychotic episode. Or so I imagined in the dream. Mom was complaining that the dogs were a great burden to her, and she explained how she was increasingly afraid of the one. There had been some close calls. I was very distressed over the situation and I promised that I would confront my sister and have the dogs removed from her care at once. Mom discouraged me in a passive way, saying there would be too much paperwork. As I assisted her with her nebulizer, I assured her repeatedly that it wasn't a problem, that I would take care of it.

Jump-cut to a resort location. A capacious hotel atrium, no idea where. My wife was with me and there was the vague understanding that our presence, wherever we were, was related to mom's Rottweiler situation. I worried that I was letting my mother down. I worried that too much time had passed, and that she was in grave danger, or worse. I tried to collect my thoughts, to focus on whatever it was that needed doing. Perhaps it was the paperwork. Was there a government office nearby? Had I even spoken with my sister? In frustration, I tried to recall.

Suddenly there was a commotion and everyone began filing out into the common area outside the hotel entrance. My wife and I proceeded with the others and, also with the others, we turned our eyes upward. Across the entire horizon, there was something that appeared as a vast black letterbox cast stark against the clear daylit sky. It was pulsating and growing and in an instant the sharp white static image of what resembled a giant octopus appeared in the frame. The thing was spiraling and undulating and it was awesomely bright against the pitch black space of the obelisk, or whatever, in which it was contained.  Panic overcame the crowd. People began running in all directions.  I locked my position and firmly grasped my wife's arm. She turned to me and I said to her, "This is it. This is how it ends. I love you. These people are wasting their time. Let's just brace ourselves."

Amid the chaos, we held to one another. And waited. Within moments, darkness enveloped the day and there was an unfamiliar chill as the Octopus-thing spread across the firmament. I thought about how unlike a shadow it was, and I noted that the specter was soundless, which was eerie but seemed to make sense. In a kind of mental reflex, I concocted a theory — of which I felt certain — that our universe was in a state of collision with another dimension. I thought about Schopenhauer's Will, and I tried to remember if I had read ever anything about this. A weird sense terror gave way to calm tinged with terror and I felt a pang of quotidian disappointment over the fact that I would never know what caused this to happen. I would never know if my theory was correct. I thought about my mother and the dogs and I hoped it would happen quickly for her. For everyone, everywhere.

A couple of nights a week, I wake up screaming. This has been happening for as long as I can remember. When I lived alone, I would be stirred awake by the sound of my own voice. Nowadays, my wife usually wakes me from the terrors. "Chip! Chip! You're screaming again!" she'll say, and her voice will summon me from the throes of some dark rushing epiphany that is usually forgotten in an instant. On the nights when she can't get back to sleep, she'll lug her pillow to the other room and watch television. I can sleep under the white noise of a fan, but she needs to be lulled by the glass teet. Usually a Monk episode on DVD.

Memento mori.

Temporarily Stairs

Well, it's been over a month since I last checked in or posted anything here, and I see that my Typepad log is full of long-abandoned drafts that I may or may not revisit in time. I suppose there were some broken promises of little consequence as well, but the plain fact is that I have been very busy. Bought a house and am in the laborious process of packing and slowly moving from one bad part of town to another. Moving is a bitch — especially for a couple of incorrigible pack-rats with far too many books and an unreasonable number of cats.

Also, I've been working on a number of Nine-Banded Books projects. Mostly, I've been preparing Jim Crawford's Confessions of an Antinatalist for press. Jim's a funny guy, and as it turns out, a natural raconteur. I
think it's fair to say that his memoir-manifesto is unlike anything in
the literature, and I mean that in the best possible sense. Antinatalism, as I have learned,
is a subject that rouses hostility and fitful incredulity wherever it's
encountered, and I am hopeful that Jim's personal touch will go some
way toward defusing the prickly, misconceived refrains that are
invariably hurled against us procreative contrarians. Regardless, it's
a helluva good read that hits all the right points with good humor and
a gaggle of memorable analogies and yarns. Jim's book goes to the printer tomorrow, so we should be stocked in a few short weeks.  When the big brown truck drops em off, I'll throw up a front-and-back cover along with a postage-free 9BB order link. In the meantime, you can place advance orders through Amazon.     

9BB is also set to release a paperback reprint of Peter Sotos' remarkable novel, Comfort and Critique.
This one is being published by arrangement with Void Books, a now
defunct "publisher of high quality, limited edition books for
collectors and connoisseurs of challenging and iconoclastic literature"
that did every little thing just right. Void originally published
C&C in a sumptuous hardcover edition a half-decade ago. The 9BB
edition will be the first priced-to-sell paperback and will feature a
new cover. Peter's stuff isn't for all tastes, but I believe he's one
of the great living writers, and one of the few possessed by genius.
Later down the road, the loose-laid plan is to do a couple of other
Sotos books, including a new work and a reprint of  Tool. for which I have begun writing a new introduction.

Also, Ann Sterzinger's dyspeptic novel of unquiet desperation is
now on track for a mid-year release. Her book is called NVSQVAM (Nowhere), and it's a virtuoso display of hipster-bait with heart. Ann is an old-school novelist in a world cluttered with pomo peacockery and derivative neo-realist hackwork. Her stuff straddles the thin line between cynicism and romance, and she knows how to move her guys around. I like what she does and I hope you will too.

Finally, I suppose I should mention that the Samuell Crowell project is chugging along at pace. In
addition to presenting an authoritative and newly revised edition of
the The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes, the 9BB volume will be
supplemented with two equally
weighty essays, the first being an updated restatement of Crowell's air
raid shelter thesis, Bomb Shelters at Birkenau, the second
being a completely new work entitled "The Holocaust in Retrospect,"
which provides a sober and theoretically focused appraisal of key developments in revisionist
and counter-revisionist discourse over the past decade. The book is sparingly photo-illustrated, and I'm writing a publisher's intro; doing my best Barney Rosset, since the big dogs have missed the call. I want you to
read this one, folks — especially if my on-and-off dalliance with the
H-Bomb gives you the willies. Sam's work is studious, and his perspective is utterly without comparison. I also think his book is genuinely important, but time will tell.

There are other projects in the wings, back-burnered or delayed with due apologies to the good people involved. But this is the laundry list for 2010. It's going to be interesting.  

In closing, I'd like to encourage anyone who's still checking in to tune the web dial over to Kevin Slaughter's podcast series at Underworld Amusements. There are great interviews with Steve Sailer, John Derbyshire and others. And I'd like to encourage you to pre-order Thomas Ligotti's The Conspiracy against the Human Race, an absolutely captivating book that combines rogue lit-crit with an original study of esoteric traditions in philosophical pessimism to advance a thesis that many readers — though not I — will dismiss as repugnant. Once the dust settles, I'll be back on the beat with a review.

Until then…

Memento mori.


Memento mori.