I’m getting older.
Sunday was my thirty-eighth birthday. I’m on the threshold of middle age, past the halfway mark towards retirement, and the father of a young child. Life right now has taken on a very transitional quality, I’m in a liminal space where I look forward to multiple possible futures in the coming years.
To celebrate we drove north up the California coast until we came across a fourteen-mile road leading to a remote beach. The ocean, the wind, sand on my bare feet, watching my daughter play, invokes the most numinous sensations. Later we had a picnic and explored a nearby creek. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the first days of my thirty-eight year.
A few weeks ago my wife was working on a project for the day so I decided to take my daughter on a trip to visit my mother. She lives on the other side of Los Angeles, an unpleasant drive that I usually avoid. After running around the beach for a few hours my kid was exhausted and she passed out in the car. I didn’t want to wake her up so I drove around my old city. I drove by my middle school, the parks my brother and I used to play at, the streets we used to ride our bikes on. Those were happy times.
Reflecting on my childhood I realized that I am older now than my dad was back then, he’s been dead for twenty years. I think back sometimes and it feels like everything happened yesterday.
Time has a sacred quality. Some moments, like watching your daughter play in the waves, transcend the present and enter a sacred space. A place where my father is still alive, my brothers and I all live close together, we ride bikes till sunset only to rise again for endless days of fun. It’s like those moments exist outside of our day-to-day dull and vulgar existence.
Ancient and Medieval man lived in a state of magical sacredness. His world was alive with spirits, ghosts, demons, magic, and grandeur. Every storm held secrets, every tree mysteries, life was a struggle but it was also punctuated by the mystery and magic of sacred feasts and celebrations.
Modern man, we are stale and plastic. We lack orientation to a spiritual axis Mundi so we live in a spiritual puddle afraid of the past and the future. Our eyes are closed to the spiritual currents of our universe, dulled by self-imposed electronic jamming, but now and then we manage to get a glimpse of the primordial ocean.
I just have to find out how to keep my eye open.
The Song of Kali is with us. It has been with us for a very long time. Its chorus grows and grows and grows. But there are other voices to be heard. There are other songs to be sungDan Simmons, Song of Kali
I’ve had a craving for horror. In the last two months, I read thirteen horror novels. Here are the ones I recommend.
A Winter Haunting by Dan Simmons. A sort of sequel to his horror masterpiece Summer of Night, Haunting is a deep character study of a damaged and distraught man dealing with divorce and breakdown. Read Summer of Night and follow it up with this one.
The Outsider by Stephen King. I’m not big on King. Ignoring his infantile boomer liberal tendencies his novels never stuck with me until now. The Outsider, while not great, has an interesting premise and satisfactory ending.
Song of Kali by Dan Simmons. A novel that captures the miasma of filth and depravity found in the poverty-stricken degenerate corners of South East Asia. A journalist is investigating the return of a famous Calcutta poet previously thought dead. The story starts at a suffocating pace to match the hot Indian nights and ramps up to insanity when a death cult to Kali takes over the narrative. An intellectually terrifying novel.
The Fisherman by John Langan. Two young widowers relieve their sorrow by quietly fishing in the woods around Woodstock until they hear rumors of a weird spot called Dutchman’s Creek. Rumors that go back centuries and involve a mysterious magician known as Der Fisher, ancient gods, German immigrants, occult magic, and the resurrection of the dead. Excellent take on cosmic Lovecraftian fiction.
“It seemed that if you listened to that snow hissing long enough, you wouldn’t just hear it telling you that it was waiting for you, you’d hear some terrible secret—a secret to turn your life black.”Peter Straub, Ghost Story
Ghost Story by Peter Straub. One of the classic horror novels that kicked off the 1980s golden age of horror fiction. Ghost Story is about a group of aging men who gather weekly in the self-described Chowder Society, where they discuss life and tell each other ghost stories. Unfortunately, great evil from their youth has returned and is determined to destroy them and the idyllic upstate New York town they live in.
When it comes to horror I prefer slow character-driven suspenseful novels and movies. Violent slasher and splatter horror bore me.