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Sun Sep 13th, 2015

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04:46 pm - Even the English are fantodded by the English landscape
The Eeriness of the English Countryside from last April in the Guardian.

Macfarlane cites an MR James story I haven't read and am not going to, but for once I might manage it without trauma, because James gives a reason for what happened, a possibly fatal flaw in an eerie tale. Then again, the horror of James for me resides in the atmosphere his writing builds up, and I fancy the journey to the (seemingly) flat-footed explanation is probably exquisitely harrowing.
...his mastery of the eerie: that form of fear that is felt first as unease, then as dread, and which is incited by glimpses and tremors rather than outright attack. Horror specialises in confrontation and aggression; the eerie in intimation and aggregation. Its physical consequences tend to be gradual and compound: swarming in the stomach’s pit, the tell-tale prickle of the skin. I find the eerie far more alarming than the horrific: James is one of only two writers (the other being Mark Danielewski) who has caused me to wake myself with my own screaming. Saw sends me to sleep.
Not reading House of Leaves any time soon, though the gimmickry might be distracting.

(I do wish I was one of those people who finds James' ghost stories cozy. After all, I'm one of those people who finds the other James' ghost story simply mystifying.)
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(5 comments | post comment)


[User Picture]
Date:September 14th, 2015 01:25 am (UTC)
After reading that article, I'm now thinking of connecting MR James to the Sapphire and Steel television series. Though S&S wasn't really associated with the countryside, I think it did try to go for dread rather than terror. It didn't always achieve it, but it did try...
[User Picture]
Date:September 14th, 2015 02:57 pm (UTC)
I think I need to see this series some time. Shall go googling around.
[User Picture]
Date:September 14th, 2015 10:31 pm (UTC)
I have very fond memories of the series, though admittedly I first watched it when (checks) 7 or 8 years old, which tends to smooth over possible deficiencies. Even so, it was good. It is good. Minimalistic (partly due to lack of budget) and interesting. I think three of my formative television influences were Sapphire and Steel, Doctor Who, and Blake's Seven. Heh.
[User Picture]
Date:September 14th, 2015 09:33 pm (UTC)
That's a nice explanation. I don't like either. I don't like suspense in combination with either, either.
[User Picture]
Date:September 15th, 2015 12:54 am (UTC)
Just enough eerie is OK by me-- a certain strangeness, maybe a slight menace-- but yes, leave out the horror and the suspense. And the ghosts, por favor.

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