Sep 04 2015

I See Dead People

Over the past day or two, I’ve had the (mis)fortune of having Aylan Kurdi’s photo assault my senses without warning in my Facebook feed.  I suspect this photo will go down in history alongside that of Phan Thi Kim Phuc and countless other photos documenting the extremely tragic consequences of being caught in the crossfire of war and unnecessary violence.

I also had the (mis)fortune (several days ago) of seeing Alison Parker and Adam Ward gunned down by Bryce Williams/Vester Flanagan, both from Ward’s perspective, and Flanagan’s perspective.

And, then, of course, there are people shooting up churches, movie theaters, schools, etc.

And, as usual, there is outrage.  There is anger. There is righteous indignation.

After that, there is outrage that there isn’t enough outrage.  There is anger that there isn’t enough anger. There is righteous indignation that there isn’t enough righteous indignation.

As usual.

Then there is the inevitable “While you were distracted by this Thing, This Other Thing was happening!” type hectoring, about how we’re all “sheeple” and puppets of the media/government/etc. and we should be ashamed, but oh wait, here’s the Next Thing to be outraged, angered and indignant about.

As usual.

There are also occasional forays into “You’re outraged for the wrong reasons and I’m outraged at you!”

(to note: Kim Davis denying marriage licenses in Kentucky for “religious” reasons, but pointing out her hypocrisy based on multiple divorces and children born out of wedlock, is now being called “slut shaming” and nobody’s allowed to point out the very obvious fact that she looks kinda like Annie Wilkes in Misery).

"Dirty Birdies! No Cockadoodie Marriage License for YOU!"

“Dirty Birdies! No Cockadoodie Marriage License for YOU!”

Aren’t we all pissed off about someone shooting a lion, too?  Or are we done with that now?


Let’s talk about dead people.

While not directed at me in particular (thankfully, or I would be forced to cut a bitch), it seems that I’m now seeing the outrage-that-there-isn’t-enough-outrage phase of the reactions to the photo of Aylan Kurdi’s body on the beach. People are getting cranky that others aren’t publicly displaying their outrage in sufficient quantities.

So, let me offer my reasons for NOT going on about this particular tragedy in great length on social media (and by “great length” I mean “at all”).  Because, you know, my silence on the subject obviously means I’m either apathetic or a monster of some sort.

  1. Aylan Kurdi is the same age as my son.
  2. Aylan Kurdi’s position on the beach is in many ways similar to a position in which my son likes to sleep.
  3. My son was born prematurely, 6 weeks after we found out about him even existing.
  4. My wife and my son almost died a few days before he was born.
  5. My wife’s blood pressure reached Scanners – type levels, that everyone we’ve told the numbers to, is in awe that she didn’t stroke out.
  6. As a result, my son was born via emergency C-Section, after an entire night of all of us staying awake, trying to keep my wife and son alive.
  7. My son was not breathing when he was taken out. They had to intubate him immediately.
  8. My wife almost died again in the recovery room, and had to be taken to the ICU.
  9. My son then spent the next 11 weeks in the NICU.  During this time:
    • He developed Necrotizing Enterocolitis.
    • One of the other infants in the NICU died from this.
    • My son was also diagnosed with Tracheomalacia.
    • My son had frequent Apnea Bradycardia episodes.
    • Because of these things, he coded a number of times, including once while sleeping on me, and once while feeding from his mother.
    • My infant son had more wires and tubes sticking out of him than the humans in The Matrix.
    • My wife (bless her) spent every single day, all day, in the NICU with our son.
    • I could only spend the weekends, due to being 120 miles south  and starting a new job. This tore me apart inside, and still does.
  10. As if all this wasn’t enough, the time you spend in the NICU is not private.  You’re surrounded by other premature infants with their own host of medical issues, their parents, their doctors, and the assorted alarms going off around you. Constantly.
  11. We all survived this (yay!), but then shortly after we got home, the three of us got the flu, and this happened:
    • My 3 month son coughed up some phlegm and aspirated on it.
    • I picked him up, and he was cold, and his body had as much rigidity as a dead salmon you’d pick up at the fish market.
    • We called 911, and during the longest 10 minutes of my life, I was able to half-resucitate him, and keep him alive long enough for the paramedics to show up.
    • I got to ride in an ambulance with my 3 month old son fighting for his life in the back for the second longest 10 minutes of my life.
    • We spent all night at the local hospital that told us they didn’t want him there because they weren’t comfortable with the idea.
    • Our ER nurse kept disappearing, and I had to keep my son breathing for hours, by manually stimulating him.
    • When they finally moved him to a different room in the ER, he started to code again. This brought about a flood of doctors attempting to perform CPR, injecting him with Ketamine (for reasons I still don’t understand), and unsuccessfully trying to intubate him for far longer than necessary.
    • All of this while waiting for us to get transferred back to the NICU where we’d started (120 miles north). And then finding out that the helicopter had to turn back because of bad weather.
    • I then got to ride in an ambulance for 120 miles in back, with my son, stabilized, but in a metal canister, and beyond my ability to touch.  All I could do was watch him through a small window.
    • Then 10 more days of the NICU.

So, then.  We all survived, because, you know, #WhitePrivilege or something. And this now brings us to Aylan Kurdi, washed up on the beach.

If you re-read #3-11 above, I think -I hope- you would understand that I have PTSD from all of this.  Now, if you tie that back to #1 and #2, above, you’ll understand why I don’t have a whole lot to say about Aylan Kurdi.  But in case you don’t, let me elaborate:

It isn’t that I don’t feel Abdullah Kurdi’s loss.  The problem is, I do.  Seeing Aylan. Seeing Aylan on the beach.  Seeing how big (little) he is, and the position he’s in, brings #3-11 screaming back to me.  In my mind, in my body, in my veins.  I want to throw up. I want to scream.  Abullah has said “I want to bury my children and sit beside them until I die.”

And the problem is, I get that.  I know that.  I know because I came close to that too many times.

So, why am I not joining in the outrage on social media?

Because, ultimately, it doesn’t do anything.

It doesn’t save lives. It doesn’t change the world (unless you count some of the lynch mobs launched from Twitter), and, frankly, to me, it often straddles the line into masturbatory exercises about tragedy porn.

“But it raises awareness!”

Great! I’m aware!

Now what?  Do we all pat ourselves on the back for being “aware” now?  I’m aware. You’re aware. Now we don’t have to do anything else.  We’re aware.  All we need to do now is make sure everyone else is aware, too.  And if they’re not contributing to the Chorus of Being Aware (via “liking and sharing”) then THEY ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

I am aware that a disproportionate number of African-Americans are killed and/or imprisoned by the police.  I’m aware of this. For the record, I think this sucks.

I am aware that some white kid shot up an African-American church.  I’m aware of this. For the record, I think this sucks.

I am aware that the frankly ludicrous solution to this was for everyone to run around demanding Confederate flags be taken down, because this would instantly solve racism, or something.  More likely, it’s just going to piss people off.  Also, I find the logic of “you lost the war, why are you flying it?!” to be a dangerous road to take.  I look forward to the eradication of the Palestinan flag by the Left based on the same grounds. Yeah, I didn’t think so (and, for the record, I fully support Palestinan statehood).

I am aware that #BlackLivesMatter.  I believe they do.

I am also aware that #AllLivesMatter.  I also believe they do.  That includes your life. My life. My wife’s life. My son’s life. Aylan Kurdi’s life. The lives of those killed in the Charleston church shooting. The people killed by Anders Breivik. Everyone’s life.  Yet this is frowned upon as being somehow “racist.” (Personally, I think that by believing that #AllLivesMatter, it means I’ve got your back, regardless, and you don’t have to worry about whether I think you’re in the cool kids club or not.  But that’s me, and I refuse to be an “ally”.)

Alison Parker and Adam Ward were shot in cold blood by someone who took the time to post the fucking video online. That someone, Vester Flanagan, was a gay black man.


The cold harsh reality of life is that it is complex (beautifully, painfully complex), and cannot be summed up in simple categorizations based on hashtags, or whatever groups one identifies with. To simply categorize anyone is to dehumanize them.

And that’s not something I’m okay with.

I am aware that H.P. Lovecraft was a racist.  For the record, I simply don’t give a shit.

Personally, I don’t think “awareness” is enough when it comes to problems such as these. Awareness is a cop-out. Go fucking do something, if you’re up in arms about an issue, or, alternatively, recognize the limitations of what you can do. I can be upset about Aylan Kurdi (and I am).  I can be upset about all of these issues.  But what I can’t do, realistically speaking, is anything to directly help the refugee situation, the victims of the latest shooting, or the outrage du jour.  While posting about these things on social media might make some people feel better (by bringing “awareness”) to me, it’s (too often) an empty gesture.


If you want to find a helpful organization to give to, then please do. I respect that.

If I had money to spare, I’d probably do the same.

Life doesn’t check your hashtags to make sure you’re one of the Good Guys (please forgive my use of cis-gendered heteronormative binary privileged nomenclature here).

And while I concede and agree that we all deal with shit differently, I am also a firm believer in Chapter 6 of the Gospel of Matthew when it comes to these things:

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them (verse 1)

When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others (verse 2)

When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others (verse 5)

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting (verse 16).

So don’t assume my “silence” on an issue is apathy (even though it’s entirely possible it may sometimes be). For me, Facebook is not “life.”  I owe you no explanations or reasons for my perceived silence on any issue. You don’t know what’s going on in my head, or my heart, or even my life.

Though now, close to 2,000 words later, you have a glimpse.



One response so far

Apr 28 2015

Simple “Solutions” to Complicated Problems

Published by under "Activism"

I’m going to start right off and tell you that I fucking hate the Mondawmin Mall.

In 1991, I worked down the road from Mondawmin. I was an assistant manager for the largest music retailer in the country (at the time).  At least 100 times a day, I was told that whatever we had was cheaper at Mondawmin.  If we didn’t have it, Mondawmin did.

“You got Mint Condition?  You got Nu-Nu? No?!”

“I’m going down MonDAWmin!”

(pronounced just like the sign says)


Mondawmin was apparently the paradise where everything and anything resided, and could be had for far less than us clueless white folk up the street were charging – IF we were even hip enough to what “the kids today” were listening to.

When your company is based out of Minnesota, it takes a long time to figure out that not everybody is going to be into Garth Brooks.

The store I was in was at a mall that was making a transition in clientele – like the Chris Rock joke: “Every town has two malls.  The mall the white people go to, and the mall the white people used to go to.”

There was a lot of racial tension in the mall.


Personally, I don’t give a rat’s ass what color your skin is. I’m more interested in whether or not you’re an asshole.

We dealt with a lot of assholes.

When the Rodney King verdict went down, a number of assholes decided it would be a good idea to stir shit up at the mall where I was working. A number of assholes decided it would be a good  idea to get in my face about it.

Because, apparently, I was telecommuting in to the jury or something.

Or, maybe, it was because “something” about me reminded them of the cops who had beaten King.

I also found out that night that some of my co-workers were assholes. Even though we’d worked together for months, and had gotten to be good friends (or so I’d thought), apparently none of that mattered.

Me?  I was just there, trying to do my job.  I was 21 years old, and not making shit for pay. Eventually you run a cost/benefit analysis on interactions with the public. If I ask you if you need help finding something, are you going to jump my shit because you assume I’m profiling you as a shoplifter?  Or if I leave you alone, will you jump my shit because I’m “obviously” snubbing you because of your skin color.

Oh, and by the way, me calling security on your ass has nothing to do with your skin color.  It has to do with the fact that you have 30 CDs stuffed down your pants.

I digress.

My point is, speaking from experience, I can say that the area of Baltimore where all of this shit started has been smoldering for years. If not decades.

The unnecessary death of yet another black man at the hands of yet another police force was just the spark that pushed things over the edge.

For the record, I think this shit (where “this shit” = “the unnecessary death of yet another black man at the hands of yet another police force”) needs to stop.

It is here that I would like to introduce a concept put forth by Robert Anton Wilson, in his book Quantum Psychology:


“Sombunall” can be defined as “Some, but not all.”

Sombunall cops are assholes.

Sombunall Muslims are assholes.

Sombunall Christians are assholes.

Sombunall Hasidic Jews are assholes.

I’ve even met a Sikh asshole.  For the record.

Sombunall white people are assholes. I’ll let you decide if I am.

I honestly don’t care what you think of me, and I’m pretty comfortable with who I am these days.

Sombunall black people in my store after the Rodney King verdict were assholes.

Sombunall black people in my store after the Rodney King verdict were not assholes.

Probably just about everybody (I’m guessing) who was out in Baltimore last night were pretty upset over Freddie Gray’s death (as am I).

Sombunall of those people used this as an excuse to be assholes.

Sombunall white people (who may or may not be cops) use this as an excuse to be assholes.

This then creates an asshole vortex, which gathers in intensity and and overwhelms people’s thinking by obliterating the “sombun” part, and making them start believing that ALL X ARE Y.

Interestingly, though, I’m finding the comments I see from people I know on both sides of the political spectrum are rather telling.

On the Right, we have pretty much what you would expect (Sombunall people on the right – I’m only referring to a portion of the people I know on this end of the spectrum) – “All Black people = bad / All White people and cops = good”

On the Left, though, in Sombunall instances, it’s getting a little more twisted.

In one instance, there was a fellow taking considerable glee in the destruction, making sure to chastise anyone who was aghast at the violence as “not having learned the lessons of history.”

What those lessons were, he never said.

This strikes me as disingenuous, in that there appears to be an underlying tone of desperation to his glee; a need, a desire, to be recognized as being a GOOD GUY. If he’s just a little more zealous about the riots than the average rioter, then he’s proven he can be part of the club.  I would suggest that this is based out of fear – fear that “they” will come for him, too, and judge him not on his merit (or asshole quotient), but on something arbitrary, like, say, the color of his skin.

So, in a way, he is now assuming that Sombunall black people are going to assume that Sombunall white people are bad, and he has to prove his street cred in order to survive the upcoming race war. If he keeps declaring he is an ALLY loud enough, maybe “they” will listen, and bless him, and he will be “safe”.

As long as people do his bidding and behave in a manner of which he approves, and recognize him as being one of them (gooble gobble), then all is well in the world, because, boy, does he ever feel the righteousness of their anger.

Or something.

A second response I have seen from the Left, is that white supremacists had somehow provoked the riots.

Maybe.  I wasn’t there. I don’t know.

But to assume that Sombunall of the rioters would have been perfectly peaceful if only it hadn’t been for those pesky white supremacists, is to also devalue the humanity of the rioters. “Those” people are perfectly peaceful and docile creatures unless victimized by the the inherently evil white man.

Here we again, have someone wearing a Good Guy Badge, and proudly flying their Ally Flag (for the same reasons as above), but at the same time denying the humanity of both black people and white people. How?

By suggesting that it is impossible for black people to be assholes, and for suggesting that white people are inherently assholes (except when they’re enlightened enough to put on Good Guy Badges and shout their Ally status from the rooftops – behaviors which seem asshole-ish to me), you deny people the ability to think for themselves, and to engage in the very nuanced behavior that makes each of us human, even if it means behaving like an asshole.

THAT, in my opinion, just perpetuates the Asshole Vortex further.

People are (understandably) upset over the continued escalating death rate of black men at the hands of various police departments.

I, personally, do not agree with rioting, looting, burning shit down, or any of the other violence that has been happening of late in response.

But I understand where it’s coming from.  I understand the despair.  And this time, I know the neighborhood where it’s going down.

I also do not agree with the behaviors of Sombunall police officers who feel the need to go around killing unarmed black men.

The Asshole Vortex will continue until we can find a way to look each other in the eye and find some common ground.

I am becoming increasingly of the opinion that the word Sombunall needs to be put into circulation sooner, rather than later.

This is getting old.

All of it.

Oh, and for the record, I actually went to Mondawmin Mall once, to see if they really did have “everything.”

They didn’t have shit.

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Aug 06 2014

life…and death.

Published by under Death

You really should go read this, too.

No responses yet

Aug 05 2014

cri de coeur

Published by under between

You really should go read this.

It articulates a lot of what is between the lines I speak and write.

Everyone I Know is Brokenhearted.

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Jul 16 2014

This Isn’t About YOU…

Some background:

I am not a psychologist. I am not a psychiatrist. I have a pretty solid knowledge base on things like Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorders – things I learned about the hard way. I am also pretty well-versed in Jungian thought, and have a reasonable understanding of Freud.

I have one of a handful of certifications in Dream Studies from an accredited university.  I have studied various dream work traditions, have written countless papers on dreams, written a three hundred page thesis on visitation dreams from the dead, covering the complete history of the phenomenon as viewed by anthropology, psychology, parapsychology, spiritual and religious traditions, and phenomenologically. I have presented my research at conferences and other speaking events.

I also suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, due to the above-mentioned hard-won knowledge of Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorders, as well as the complicated birth of my son, and the resulting issues that came with it (short version – almost lost him and his mother multiple times, he was born 10 weeks early, and spent a fair amount of time in the NICU, where if I wasn’t keeping track of his issues, I was also witness to the insanity of a multitude of issues for a number of other premature infants). We won’t even go into what my wife went through from this.

That’s her story to tell.

The meat of the matter:

Lately, I’ve noticed a  troubling pattern of behavior (I’d say “problematic” but I really hate that word in its current usage) occurring in a number of circles I travel in. Someone will ask for advice or help with a situation they have on hand.

People’s responses will make no sense.

“I’m having a problem with ____________ in my life, and I don’t know how to handle it. I could really use some advice.”

will often be met with

“Just accept that this is what the universe wants for you right now.”


“You just need to set your intentions properly!”


Meanwhile, the person asking the advice is getting no advice on how to deal with his very real, very visceral, actual problem. Instead, he is given a litany of prefabricated affirmations that don’t help him, but instead reaffirm the belief systems of those making them. “Please help me with some ideas” is now being responded to with reminders to him, and those making them, that one must believe certain things.

This is equivalent to the Jehovah’s Witnesses I once saw in Berkeley trying to get people to take Watchtowers while systematically ignoring the homeless camped out right next to them.

The platitudes, I believe, are directed more at the person making them, than the person soliciting advice. “Oh shit, bad things happen, I better remind myself that I shouldn’t go there, because my etheric body might be bruised.”  I’m not entirely sure this is a conscious process. I think, after a while, it becomes habit.

Tonight’s source of frustration (and, really, I do want to get this site back on track away from bitching about everything at some point), is a discussion wherein someone I presume to be a therapist solicited advice about helping a client who just gave birth, whose child is in the NICU, and who is having nightmares.

Hmm.  Do I know something about this?  Maaaaybe.

Originally, there weren’t many details. One person already had it figured out, though:

“I could almost guarantee that she’d be picking up on the energies in the hospital.”

So I asked for more information.  This is how I learned that things like the NICU were involved. After I found some of this out, I provided some of the background from above, and suggested:

“I know my wife and I have been dealing with PTSD for 2 and a half years now as a result of our own situation (kiddo is fine, btw), and still occasionally have nightmares dealing with material from that time. This could be a bit of a ride for her. Unfortunately, I’d say it’s also normal. I’d say deal with the trauma at hand, and don’t look for external stuff (hospital energies), otherwise you’re just avoiding what needs to be dealt with, and what is right in front of everybody’s nose.”

For still other people, the solution to the problem was simple.

“Theoretically, I would expect more permeable psychic boundaries when ill. And just imagine all those sick people with their bodies dreaming, a tapestry of pathological images that get muddled together. The chance of tapping into the images of others seems highly probable.”


“just the energy alone in a hospital, a place where people are usually ill and feeling their most vulnerable!”

and, my favorite:

“My personal experience of being in a hospital ER for a wasp sting last summer is that I left with lots of attachments – people who passed through the ER and hospital. As an energy worker and shaman I employed a friend to assist me and together we cleared the energies. This lady might want to work with someone to check and clear attachments.”

These types of responses seemed to become the norm, and I realized that nobody’s actually listening or taking into consideration the very real needs of the woman having the nightmares. Instead, what everybody was more interested in, was how badass of a “healer” they could be, because they could do things like be sensitive to energies, and clear them.

These things are great, and all, and I’ve seen some really amazing work done in this regard.

However, I think this may not be the time or the place to get excited about swooping in like the Shamanic Avenger and cleaning out the residual “hospital energies” that someone is inadvertently tuning into.  I’m sorry, but “I got stung by a wasp and I’m a shaman” does not qualify you to accurately assess this situation.

At this point, I felt compelled to try to steer this conversation back to the general vicinity of helpful:

“Not to be a colossal dick about this, but when you’ve just given birth, and your baby is in the NICU, “hospital energies” are the least of your problems, worries, or concerns. If someone had brought this up to either my wife, or myself at the time (and believe me, we’re both actually rather sympathetic to things of this nature), we probably would have punched them. If you want to go there with this person, great. But I would only do so after you’ve exhausted the angle of helping her work through the trauma. Otherwise, you’re avoiding the obvious, and ultimately doing the person no good.”

It was too late.

They all agreed that this woman’s nightmares and birth trauma were “a privileged time for dreaming” (not in the “check your privilege” sense), and her dreams are probably amazing, and wow, isn’t it great that the original poster would be able to witness them! (okay, I’m extrapolating that last part). The decided upon solution was to clear the psychic attachments that the woman had picked up from the assorted hospital energies.

I’m a little let down, if not unsurprised that rather than actually dealing with the difficult issue of this woman and her nightmares, the real interest lies more in reaffirming the particular world views of those offering the advice. “I believe in energies, and how they affect us so let’s avoid looking at trauma – because that’s scary – and offer some sort of vague externalized reason for the discomfort and pain that this person is feeling, rather than actually help them.

Becoming a psychotherapist, becoming a dream worker, even, is a seductive thing. You get to dress up and be a superhero or call yourself a shaman and feel all tingly in your etheric body. YOU HAVE POWER TO HEAL (or something).

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but going out and helping others is about them – not you. Going out and helping others, should benefit and aid them, not stroke your ego for how awesome and enlightened and powerful you are.

Because if it is, you have no business being in the business.

You help no one.

People have tried to use this approach with my wife, and with me.

It doesn’t help.

And as I said.

It just made us want to punch people.

Update: A thought has come to me this morning, which is that if one is going to posit such things as “hospital energies” and tapping into the collective traumas of those around you, would not the “healing energies” provided by the doctors, nurses, and staff have any counter-balancing effect?  Or is there a subtle suggestion that these dream-working “healers” are far superior to such things as western medicine?

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Jul 10 2014

Three Adjectives That Need to Die

Published by under horror,These Kids Today

In pondering what I’m about to suggest, I’ve realized that a lot of this goes back to my childhood.  If not my childhood, at least around the time I was in high school. This was the time I discovered an artist, a filmmaker, and an author, all of whom I still love.

(in reverse chronological order)

The Author:

The only known photograph of Lovecraft smiling...

The only known photograph of Lovecraft smiling…

Howard Philips Lovecraft. I don’t remember how or why or when I first heard of Lovecraft. I know the first time I actively and purposely decided to sit down and read Lovecraft, was in high school.  It was either At the Mountains of Madness or The Doom that Came to Sarnath that popped my Lovecraft cherry.  I don’t recall.  I do remember frequenting the local Waldenbooks, and waiting for them to get each volume I was missing.  The Ballantine Del-Rey paperbacks with covers by Michael Whelan were my gateway.  I still love this art, even if it didn’t really have much to do with the content of the stories.  This is less a dismissal than a preface to the ultimate point of this post.

The Filmmaker:

David Lynch

David Lynch

David Lynch.  I think the first film of his I saw was The Elephant Man. I heard rumors about some film of his called Eraserhead, and finally managed to track down a copy from the local video rental store (Ricky’s TV and Video, as I recall). Eraserhead was (and is) unlike anything I’d ever seen.  I read Dune by Frank Herbert in high school, and am one of those people who actually like’s Lynch’s film version (I’m also watching the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune at the moment, and aching for that version, as well). Shortly afterwards, I saw Blue Velvet. Let’s just say, that other than Wild at Heart, I’m a huge David Lynch fan.

The Artist:

H.R. Giger

H.R. Giger

I was 9 years old when Alien came out – far too young to see it in the theater. I remember my neighbors saying it was one of the most terrifying films they’d ever seen at that point. The pictures I saw in Starlog magazine made me very very  curious about it. Especially the design of the alien creature, which was unlike anything I’d ever seen.  Was it alive? Was it a machine? Somehow both? Neither? There were ads in the back of Starlog, ads for art books (expensive art books that are still, expensive, alas) by Han Ruedi Giger, with titles like Necronomicon, depicting an awful lot of body parts that had somehow become inseparably joined with mechanical things. It was all horrific, yet oddly fascinating, and even beautiful and serene. Most of it looked like nightmares. Terrible, beautiful nightmares. Again, I was hooked (and now I wonder about the threads – Giger worked on Jodorowsky’s version of Dune, a film later directed by Lynch, and Giger’s art collection Necronomicon, of course, evokes Lovecraft).

All three of these gentlemen are artists whom I hold very dearly.

Which is why I’d like to get rid of adjectives bearing their names:

“Lovecraftian” needs to die. It is becoming too much of a shortcut description for anything Weird. Cthulhu has been de-fanged, and is now a plushie.  I know.  My son has one called “My First Cthulhu.”  Of course he does. It’s cute. I love Lovecraft, and can’t wait to share his stories with my son. But now “Lovecraftian” is used too quickly, too readily to describe too many authors, who frankly (and, if I’m being honest – thankfully) don’t write like Lovecraft. They may bring about a sense of dread, and unease, and might even hint at their own versions of cosmic horror, but this is more a function (in my mind) of Weird Fiction in general. Others (countless others) have played in Lovecraft’s sandbox, adding their own forbidden tomes, Elder Gods, and the like. Some more successfully, than others. “Lovecraftian,” though, they are not. Nobody and nothing is “Lovecraftian” other than Lovecraft. Tentacles do not automatically make something

Randomly, WordPress seemed to get stuck at this word count while I was typing, just now.  Hmmm.

Randomly, WordPress seemed to get stuck at this word count while I was typing, just now. Hmmm.

“Lovecraftian.” Nor does namedropping Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, or what have you. Let’s honor the creativity of the author whose work we are trying to compare to Lovecraft, by not comparing them to Lovecraft. Lovecraft should not be a catch-all reference to describe the Weird. Writers who explore similar themes should be treated on their own merits. Let’s discuss cosmic horror, The Other, existential dread, and cold and uncaring universes!  I’m just saying there might be a better way to do it at this point. When an author dies, it’s natural for his or her fans to wish for more from them. I’m sure at least a few of us would love to hear the news that a stash of forgotten manuscripts by H.P.L. had been found. Until that happens, though, let’s stop looking for “the next Lovecraft.”  There is no “next Lovecraft.”  There doesn’t need to be.

“Lynchian” may not be as actively used as “Lovecraftian,” but I do hear it, and often inappropriately when describing (you guessed it), Weird Films, strange events, TV shows, etc.

“It’s like something out of a David Lynch film!”

God help us all, if it actually were.

I feel like chicken tonight. Chicken tonight.

I feel like chicken tonight. Chicken tonight.

Weird Things happen. I get it. Believe me, I could tell you stories.  But not every weird show or film or event is “like something out of a  David Lynch film.” Again, Weird is being equated with one person and his work. In a way, it’s flattery, I suppose, but again, l think it cheapens the work and creative process of the person being compared to Lynch. Lynch is a master at what he does.  And I guarantee you that the person/film/tv show etc. being compared to his work, is actually nothing like his work. I have yet to see anything genuinely “like something out of a David Lynch film,” other than David Lynch’s films.  And I’m okay with that. Again, I think our desire for “more” (this time, from someone who is thankfully still with us), leads us to seek out more David Lynch-style experiences than actually exist. So, we use a shortcut, in hopes we can convince ourselves that “Lynchian” is far beyond Lynch, when, in fact, it isn’t.  Lynch may be Weird, but not all Weird is Lynch (or Lovecraft, for that matter).

“Giger-esque” is another misnomer, especially considering how many artists have either been inspired by him, paid homage to him, or blatantly ripped him off. Giger’s “biomechanical” style has so saturated our unconsciousness (like a face hugger implanting us with its ovipositor),  that it’s hard to tell inspiration from homage to ripoff. Using “Giger-esque” to describe something, like the examples above, broadens Giger’s reach into realms that just aren’t his. There may be people working in a biomechanical style, and they may even be working with some of the same tools – but they aren’t Giger. They can’t be. 

H.P. Lovecraft, David Lynch, and H.R. Giger are, and were visionaries.  Their work touches us deeply, tickling parts of our psyches that we don’t know we have until they bring them to our awareness. As with any pleasant and enjoyable experience, we want more.

But we either can’t have more, or we must wait for more.  So, in the meantime, we try to convince ourselves that other things are just as good. There are some things that are just as good.  But they’re not the same as.  They should be enjoyed for their own reasons.

It isn’t fair to those being compared, or those being compared to.

I am totally okay with these three adjectives dying.

Not because I hate Lovecraft, Lynch, or Giger.

But because I love them.


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