Martes, Enero 20, 2015

Algernon Blackwood- GAY COUNT

Reading Blackwood, one gets the very distinct sense that he actually liked men. I'm not being a bigot here- whether he intended to or not, there's plenty in his work that could be constituted as "homoerotic." He often had several flattering physical descriptions of his male leads, and even longer descriptions of their closeness to other characters. This closeness of course, is only between two men. Despite some notable female leads (The Lane that Ran East and West, The Touch of Pan, The Empty House's Aunt Julia), the majority of his characters are men, and they happen to be men who are often in situations that have them get close with other men. Without further ado, let me give you some horribly decontextualized, eyebrow-raising snippets from his works to try and paint Algernon Blackwood as Anglo-American horror's LGBT representative. Of course, these examples could simply be my mind jumping to conclusions.


A Haunted Island:

 "I knew nothing of their intentions, and two to one (when the two are big Indians!) late at night on a lonely island was not exactly my idea of pleasant intercourse."


Skeleton Lake:

"This noisy, aggressive Yankee did not suit our fancy much as a possible neighbour, and it was only a slight intimacy between his chief guide, Jake the Swede, and one of our men that kept the thing going at all."


The Occupant of the Room:

"...reflecting that he was already half undressed..."

'"It's not you I rang for!" he said with decision and impatience, "I WANT A MAN. Wake the porter and send him up to me at once hurry! I tell you, hurry!"' <He was talking to a woman in this scene, btw.>


The Man Who Found Out:

"And as he got into bed and thought again of his master's rugged face, and finely shaped head, and the deep lines traced by years of work and self-discipline, he turned over on his pillow and fell asleep with a sigh that was half of wonder, half of regret." (uhm.)


The Wood of the Dead:

"I noted with something like a start that the deep, gentle eyes seemed far more in keeping with the timbre of the voice than with the rough and very countrified appearance of the clothes and manner. His voice set pleasant waves of sound in motion towards me, and the actual words, if I remember rightly, were—"

"I had been oddly drawn into his vein of speech, some inner force compelling me."

"But my astonishment passed quickly into an entirely different feeling when I became aware that the old man opposite had turned his head from the window again, and was regarding me with eyes so bright they seemed almost to shine with an inner flame. His gaze was fixed upon my face with an intense ardour, and his whole manner had suddenly become alert and concentrated. There was something about him I now felt for the first time that made little thrills of excitement run up and down my back. I met his look squarely, but with an inward tremor."

"I knew myself to be on the threshold of a new order of experience—of an ecstasy. Something drew me forth with a sense of inexpressible yearning towards the being of this strange old man in the window seat, and for a moment I knew what it was to taste a mighty and wonderful sensation, and to touch the highest pinnacle of joy I have ever known. It lasted for less than a second, and was gone; but in that brief instant of time the same terrible lucidity came to me that had already shown me how the past and future exist in the present, and I realised and understood that pleasure and pain are one and the same force, for the joy I had just experienced included also all the pain I ever had felt, or ever could feel. . . ."



A Bit of Wood: (I'm sure it's more than just a bit, if you know what I mean. Sorry.)

"And so, finally, it came to a wooden trough that led off some of the precious water to a sawmill where bare-armed men did practical and necessary things."

"He put his weight in a certain way; he strained his hefty muscles..."


Cain's Atonement:

"For an instant, then, the other felt his natural love turn into bitter hate. His own fierce passion, unconfessed, concealed, burst into instant flame. That the girl should become his brother's wife sent the blood surging through his veins in fury. He felt his life and all that he desired go down in ashes. . . . He watched his brother stride towards the water, the deer-skin cast across one naked shoulder..."


The Insanity of Jones:

"The man, he saw, was sitting well back into the corner, with a thick overcoat buttoned tightly up to the chin. His skin was very white, and a heavy black beard grew far up over his cheeks. At first the secretary took him for a stranger, but when he looked up and their eyes met, a sense of familiarity flashed across him, and for a second or two Jones imagined he was staring at a man he had known years before."


Initiation:

"He was as handsome as a young Greek god."

"I saw him come swinging down the dusty road; tall, deep-chested, his broad shoulders a trifle high, and his head set proudly. He looked like a young chap in training, a thoroughbred, every inch of him. At the same time there was a touch of something a little too refined and delicate for a man, I thought. "

'"Well," he asked, "what would you like to DO, Uncle Jim? I'm at your SERVICE, and I've got the whole afternoon till supper at seven-thirty." I told him I'd like to go through that WOOD. "All right," he said, "come along. I'll show you." He gave me one quick glance, but said no more. "I'd like to see if I FEEL anything this time," I explained. "We'll locate the very SPOT, maybe." He nodded.' (Christ, Blackwood was just taking the piss at this point.)

"There's a bit of him in you as well as in me..."

"There was an expression on his fine big face that made my blood go curdled. I got cold feet right there. It mastered me. In him, behind him, near him--blest if I know which, through him probably--came an enormous thing that turned me insignificant. It downed me utterly." (OH COME ON. This was pretty overt.)

'And then he added, with a touch of disappointment: "I thought you'd like it. You weren't afraid last night. You felt the beauty then."'

"I wished I had his teeth, as well as the muscles in his arm."

"He stood beside me in his grey flannel suit, with his brilliant eyes and his great shock of hair, looking more like a column of light than a human being."

"He took my hand he must have felt mine trembling, but his own was cool and strong and felt like silver and led me forward into the depths of a wood that seemed to me quite endless."

"A pale, delicate hand reached out to take my own. And something broke in me."

"Because if you can't you haven't understood this account I've tried to give of the experience Arthur gave me."




An Egyptian Hornet

"He realised in a flash that he was poorly clothed--in a word, that he was practically half naked."

"...it also knew quite well that he was naked."

"He conducted morning service half an hour later with an expression of peace upon his handsome face."



The Regeneration of Lord Ernie

He had qualities that made boys like and respect him; he won their confidence. (And abused it.)

...he realised that fate offered him a chance when the Secretary of State for Scotland asked him if he would give up his other pupils for a year and take his son, Lord Ernie, round the world upon an educational trip that might make a man of him. (A chance for what?)

He liked ' Bindy ' for himself. It was in his heart to 'make a man of him,' if possible. (HOLY OBVIOUS, BATMAN)

They were almost like two boys together. “You are a chap and a half, Mr. Hendricks. You really ought to be in the Cabinet with my father.”

‘Just as you like,’ he added with a drawl and a smile. ‘I’m ready for anything.’

“You'll do what no one else could,” the anxious father told him, “for he worships you, and you can sting without hurting him..."

“...nothing dull or melancholy; an occasional fling, if he wants it-I'd welcome a fling as a good sign-and as much intercourse with decent people, and stimulating sight-seeing as you can manage or can stand,” the Marquess added with a smile.

Yet a night could work no harm. Whence came, he wondered, the fleeting notion that it might do good?

...for love made all else uninteresting; only, he remembered swarthy, dark-faced messengers descending into the sleepy hamlet from time to time, big, mountain-limbed fellows with wind in their hair and fire in their eyes; that their visits produced commotion and excitement of difficult kinds; that wild orgies invariably followed in their wake; and that, when the messengers went back, they did not go alone.

Yet all the tutor wanted now, this chance week in late October, was to see again the corner of the mossy forest where he had known that marvellous thing, first love; renew his link with Leysin who had taught him much; and see if, perchance, this man's stalwart, virile energy might possibly overflow with benefit into his listless charge. (Yeah, I'm sure a "link" will let that man's "stalwart, virile energy" OVERFLOW into your VERY YOUNG AND INNOCENT charge.)

Reclining there, he looked so big and strong and handsome, yet in reality was but a painted lath without resistance, much less attack, in all his many inches. (Aw, did he come up too short for you?)

Hendricks stood still in his tracks. There was a decision in the voice and manner that arrested him. The confidence, the positive statement, the eager desire, the hint of energy—all this was new.

They reached the carpenter’s house, where their lodging was, soaked to the skin. THEY DRIED THEMSELVES, and ate the light supper of soup and omelette prepared for them—ate it in their dressing-gowns. (Oh, they dried each other off?)

...this is a place and a half, isn’t it? It stirs me all up...

His own affection for the lad was genuine, but impatience and adventure pushed eagerly through the tenderness. If only, oh, if only he could put life into that great six-foot, big-boned frame! ... The idea was utterly incredible, but surely no harm could come of trying the experiment. (I'm sure you'd love to put life in him.)

In the faint starlight the tall ungainly figure filled the doorway, ERECT and HUGE, the shoulders squared, the trunk no longer drooping. The listlessness was gone. He stood upright, limbs straight and alert; the sagging limp had vanished from the knees. He looked, in this semi-darkness, like another person, almost monstrous. And the tutor drew back instinctively, catching an instant at his breath. (oh my...)

‘It’s perfectly natural, Bindy, that you feel too excited to sleep. We’re in the mountains. The air stimulates tremendously—it makes the heart beat faster.’ (Yes, such STIMULATION is perfectly natural, young boy.)

'...Oh, Mr. Hendricks, isn’t it all glorious—all too glorious and ripping for words!’ And his brown eyes shone like lamps. ‘You mean that it’s spontaneous, natural?’ the other guided him, welcoming the new enthusiasm, yet still bewildered by the startling change. (Yes, just lie back and let it happen.)

‘They’re doing it, I mean, because they have to,’ came the decided answer, ‘and because they feel it. They’re not just copying the world.’ He put his hand upon the other’s arm. There was dry heat in it that Hendricks felt even through his clothes. ‘And that’s what I want,’ the boy went on, raising his voice; ‘what I’ve always wanted without knowing it—real things that can make me alive. I’ve often had it in my dreams, you know, but now I’ve found it.’

‘But I didn’t know. You never told me of those dreams.’

The boy’s cheeks flushed, so that the colour and the fire in his eyes made him positively splendid. He answered slowly, as out of some part he had hitherto kept deliberately concealed.

'...It’s awfully far down in me, but it’s so real I knew it must come out one day, and that I should find it. Oh, I say, Mr. Hendricks,’ and he lowered his voice, leaning out across the window-sill suddenly, ‘that fills me up and feeds me’—...—‘and gives me life...' (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IntimatePsychotherapy)

Then he burst out again, ‘I vote we go. Will you come with me? What d’you say. Eh?’
They stared at each other hard a moment. Something as primitive and irresistible as love passed through the air between them. With a great effort the older man kept the balance true.
‘Not to-night, not now,’ he said firmly. ‘It’s too late. To-morrow, if you like—with pleasure.’ (Yes, with PLEASURE, you young, innocent lad.)

Lord Ernie seized his hands with enthusiasm. His vigour was so disconcerting that it seemed to affect his physical appearance. The body grew almost visibly; his very clothes hung on him differently; he was no longer a nonentity yawning beneath an ancient pedigree and title; he was an aggressive personality. The boy in him rushed into manhood, as it were, while still retaining boyish speech and gesture. It was uncanny. ‘We’ll go more than once, I vote; go again and again...' (50 shades of Ernie)

Hendricks moved slowly then towards the door, with the remark that it was advisable now to go to bed since they would be up late the following night—when he noticed for the first time that the pillow and sheets were crumpled and that the bed had already been lain in. The first suspicion flashed back upon him with new certainty. (Uh-oh. Trouble in paradise?)
Lord Ernie was already taking off his heavy coat, preparatory to undressing. He looked up quickly at the altered tone of voice.
‘Bindy,’ the tutor said with a touch of gravity, ‘you were alone just now—weren’t you—of course?’
The other sat up from stooping over his boots. With his hands resting on the bed behind him, he looked straight into his companion’s eyes. Lying was not among his faults. He answered slowly after a decided interval.
‘I—I was asleep,’ he whispered, evidently trying to be accurate, yet hesitating how to describe the thing he had to say, ‘and had a dream—one of my real, vivid dreams when something happens. Only, this time, it was more real than ever before. It was’—he paused, searching for words, then added—‘sweet and awful.’

He hid his face in his hands a moment, then looked up with a hint of censure in his eyes. ‘Why didn’t you tell me that such things were done? You never told me,’ he repeated.
‘I didn’t know it myself until this evening. Leysin——’ (That you were gay.)
‘I thought you knew everything,’ Lord Ernie broke in in that same half-chiding tone.
‘Monsieur Leysin told me to-night for the first time,’ said Hendricks firmly, ‘that such people and such practices existed...' (Such people? Such practices?)

‘So you mean, when you say “sweet and awful,” that it was very real to you?’ he asked. He insisted now with purpose. ‘Is that it, Bindy?’
The other replied eagerly enough. ‘Yes, that’s it, I think—partly. This time it was more than dreaming. It was real. I got there. I remembered. That’s what I meant. And after I woke up the thing still went on. The man seemed still in the room beside the bed, calling me to get up and go with him——’
‘Man! What man?’ The tutor leant upon the back of a chair to steady himself. (A TOTAL STRANGER?)

'...But this man—tell me—did he stay on after you woke up? And how did he go?'

'...And how he went I can’t explain at all, for I didn’t see...' (Oh, he went at him from behind, so he couldn't see.)

Repression, it seemed to him just then, was the least desirable line to take.

While Lord Ernie finished his undressing... (Gee, Mr. Blackwood, you sure enjoy mentioning whenever young men undress. Does your name also indicate what you prefer as far as lumber goes?)

‘Let it all come out. Repress nothing. Let him have the entire adventure. If it’s nonsense it can’t injure, and if it’s true it’s inevitable.’ (If you let him have the ENTIRE 'adventure', then yeah, it will injure him. But I suppose if it's true he's gay then it IS inevitable that he'll take some more, uh, blackwood up there.)

Upstairs he lingered a long time over his own undressing, listening, waiting, watching for the least sound below...he stole stealthily downstairs to the boy’s door; then, reassured by the heavy breathing that was distinctly audible...

The tutor woke clear-headed and refreshed. All that had happened the night before seemed out of proportion and unreasonable. There had been exaggerated emotion in it: in himself, because he returned to a place still charged with potent memories of youth...

Until this moment no word of the preceding night had passed the lips of either.

It was the first reference to the other sex, as evidence of their attraction for him, Hendricks had ever known to pass his lips. Hitherto, though twenty years of age, the lad had never spoken of women as though he was aware of their terrible magic. He had not discovered them as females, necessary to every healthy male. It was not purity, of course, but ignorance: he had felt nothing. Something had now awakened sex in him, so that he knew himself a man, and naked...For all energy, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual, is fundamentally one: it is primarily sexual. (In a more philosophical turn...)

From lips that ordinarily sighed in listless boredom poured now a ceaseless stream of questions and ejaculations, ringing with enthusiasm. (You sure have a penchant for putting the words 'lips' and 'ejaculations' in the same sentence, Mr. Blackwood.)

They met together on the rounded top, stumbled, clutched one another frantically, then slid with waving arms and flying cloaks down the slippery surface of damp moss—laughing wildly.

‘Where is the boy—your boy?’

His love for the boy leaped headlong at the skirts of this terrific salvation. A majestic possibility stormed through him.

And Hendricks, sympathetically following the boy’s performance as though his own mind and body took part in it, experienced then a singular result: it seemed the heart in him began to roar. This was no rustle of excited blood that the little cavern of his skull increased, but a deeper sound that proclaimed the kinship of his entire being with the ritual. His own nature had begun to answer. From that moment he perceived the spectacle, not with the senses of sight and hearing, separately, but with his entire body—synthetically.

There may have been—indeed, there was—an interval, for Hendricks caught, again and again repeated, the boy’s great cry of passionate delight above the tumult.

"...and amid it all the slim, white shoulders of the boy, his clothes torn from him, his eyes ablaze..."

And at first he could not tell whether his instinct was to return himself, to rescue his precious boy...

And Hendricks knelt beside him. Remorse and shame made him powerless to do more as he pulled the torn clothing over the neck and chest and heard his own heart begging for forgiveness. He realised his own weakness and faithlessness. A great temptation had found him wanting....




The Sacrifice:

He was glad to have the younger man behind him.

The movements of himself and his companions, especially the POSITIONS each occupied relatively to the other, established some kind of intimacy that resembled speech, suggesting even question and answer.

Let the body imitate, reproduce—in a bedroom, in a wood—anywhere—the movements of the stars, and the meaning of those stars shall sink down into the heart.

Without a sign of hesitation or reluctance, he bared his chest to the sun and wind. The flash came swiftly, instantly, descending into his heart with unerring aim. He saw the gleam in the air, he felt the fiery impact of the blow, he even saw the stream gush forth and sink into the rocky ground, far redder than the wine.... (Men have to take their clothes off to receive some of that divine energy.)



The Singular Death of Morton:
They were weary with the long climb, for neither was in his first youth, and the July day had been a hot one. Their little inn lay further in the valley among the orchards that separated the forest from the vineyards.
-
Neither of them talked much. The big man led the way, carrying the knapsack, and his companion, older, shorter, evidently the more fatigued of the two, followed with small footsteps. From time to time he stumbled among the loose rocks. An exceptionally observant mind would possibly have divined that his stumbling was not entirely due to fatigue, but to an absorption of spirit that made him careless how he walked.
-
‘All right behind?’ the big man would call from time to time, half glancing back.
‘Eh? What?’ the other would reply, startled out of a reverie.
‘Pace too fast?’
‘Not a bit. I’m coming.’

...and the older man, still a little in the rear... (A little WHAT in the rear?)



Dream Trespass:
"All that I divined and loved in the man, usually somewhat buried, came forth upon the surface."



H.S.H.

"...he hung his soaking clothes at a new angle before the fire..."

"On the threshold, for a second, his outline stood full in the blaze of firelight with the sheet of darkness behind it, stately, erect, commanding, his cloak torn fiercely by the wind, but the face hidden by a low-brimmed hat; and an instant later the door shut with resounding clamour upon the hurricane, and the two men turned to confront one another in the little room."

"...partly to the lightning glare of the man's masterful and terrific eyes..."

"...while helping the man remove his cloak...the stranger, after all, though striking, was not of appearance so uncommon as to cause alarm; the light and the low doorway had touched his stature with illusion. He dwindled. And the great eyes, upon calmer subsequent inspection, lost their original fierce lightning."

"...there was, about this late wanderer of the night, some evasive, lofty strangeness that set him utterly apart from ordinary men."

"The Englishman examined him searchingly, surreptitiously, but with a touch of passionate curiosity he could not in the least account for nor explain."

"For the first presentment had been of splendid youth, while on the face, though vigorous and gloriously handsome, he now discerned the stamp of tremendous age."

"D'elane gave up the search, aware that something unalterably splendid stood before him. Solemnity and beauty swept him too."

'"I have already eaten," said the stranger courteously, "and, with my thanks to you, I am neither wet nor tired. The afflictions that I bear are of another kind, though ones that you shall more easily, I am sure, relieve."'

"But as he did so a singular gesture of the other caught his eyes. Before touching bowl or plate, the stranger took the fruit and brushed his lips with it. He kissed it, then set it on the ground and crushed it into pulp beneath his heel."

"And Delane, unable to explain the amazing contradictions, felt recklessly, furiously drawn to this trapped wanderer with the mien of a king yet the air and speech sometimes of a woman and sometimes of an outcast child."

"The power and sweetness in that resonant voice took his breath away as he heard it break in upon his own uncertain accents:"

"With a shiver impossible to control, half of terror, half of pity, Delane moved a step nearer to the marvellous stranger."

"And love surged through him too. It was significant, he remembered afterwards, that he felt it incumbent upon himself to stand."

'The kingly eyes looked clear into his own, completing his subjugation out of time. "I would follow you," ran his thought upon its knees, "follow you with obedience for ever and ever, even into a last damnation. For you are sublime. You shall COME again into your Kingdom, if my own small worship-"'

"'Not otherwise...could I now show myself to you.'"

'"...was the light in your heart that guided me," came the answer, sweet, beguiling as the music in a woman's tones, "the light of your instant, brief desire that held love in it." He made an opening movement with his arms as he continued, smiling like stars in summer. "For you summoned me; summoned me by your dear and precious belief: how dear, how precious, none can know but I who stand before you."'

"And with an air of native majesty he held his hand out to be kissed."

"The one real thing, the one desirable thing, the one possible, strong and beautiful thing was to bend his head and kiss those imperial fingers. He moved noiselessly towards the Hand. He raised his own to take it and lift it towards his mouth--"

"And the Hand that floated in the air before him to be kissed sank slowly down below the possible level of his lips."

"But I claim," he roared, "your heart. I claim you by that instant of belief you felt. For by that alone you shall restore to me my vanished Kingdom. You shall worship me."

'"And I claim you" he said, "by my understanding sympathy, and by my sorrow for your God-forsaken loneliness, and by my love..."'

"Delane moved slowly after him, opening his arms. Tenderness and big compassion flung wide the gates of love within him."



See? 'Alternative lifestyles' are alive and well in horror literature.

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