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Showing posts from October, 2012

The Wendigo

Algernon Blackwood’s “The Wendigo” is not what I expected. Before going into the story, I knew the Wendigo was a werewolfesque creature of Native American mythology and expected that to be what the story was about. Having read Blackwood before, I should have known better. Instead, this is a deeply psychological journey into the dark recesses of the mind. The tale begins with a group of four men going on a hunting trip in northern Canada. Simpson, the young protagonist, and his uncle, the wise psychologist, Dr. Cathcart, team up with Hank and Dfago as their guides into the backwoods. The trouble begins when they split up into two groups (the doctor and Hank in one, and Dfago and Simpson in the other) to cover more ground. After behaving strangely, Dfago disappears into the night, leaving Simpson to fend for himself. No story better encompasses the dread of nature felt by the late Victorians than this novella. The ever rational, modern men of science are confronted with the unimag

The Dance Manias of the Dark Ages

The Dancing Mania by Hendrick Hondius (1642) Dance mania was a craze that hit Europe primarily in the late fourteenth through sixteenth centuries. Gangs of people, usually young, would spontaneously gather in circles and begin a spasmodic, jerking, convulsive dance. They would twist and contort wildly, scream, and even foam at the mouth. While in the throes of the mania, they would be delirious and seemingly unable to see or hear anything around them. Some would have fantastic visions of both heaven and devils and would shriek out the names of whatever spirits they saw. Others would fall to the ground gasping for breath, only to spring back up and continue the bizarre dance. Groveling in the mud like pigs, making animal sounds, making obscene gestures, and ripping off their clothes to dance naked were not uncommon; even outright sexual intercourse has been documented as occurring during these manias. The fit would conclude with the maniacs finally collapsing on the ground in com

A Trip To The Historic Voodoo Museum

Between Bourbon and Royal Street, just a few blocks away from the Saint Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square, you will find the historical Voodoo Museum. While the French Quarter has numerous Voodoo shops and other touristy boutiques, the Voodoo Museum really stands out. Even though it's been nearly three years since I visited New Orleans, I still find myself reminiscing over the photos and short video my wife filmed of this little museum. This museum is authentic. None of the cheap imitations you find in the other shops you’ll find peppered throughout the Vieux CarrĂ©. Photos and videos are not only allowed, but encouraged--another aspect that sticks out here because most of the other Voodoo shops do not allow photos. One of the displays that is particularly interesting is the alligator-headed man known as “L’Acallemon.” He seems to be a scarecrow stuffed with Spanish Moss. The name “L’Acallemon” is difficult to translate; it is not French, most likely from a local

Honey Scream

I have tons of writing to do, house chores, and god knows what else I’ve neglected. So naturally I spent an hour and a half inserting Honey Boo Boo into Edvard Munch’s masterwork “The Scream.”