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Neddal
Posted on Saturday, March 13, 2004 - 03:49 pm:   

Des was kind enough to link to a blurb I wrote about Weirdmonger where I said that I felt he was writing in a style that I'm going to call the High Weird.

My definition of the High Weird (the short version) follows:
To me, the High Weird, as opposed to the New Weird or any of the other SF/Fantasy/Horror subgenres is writing that while very much in the Lovecraft/Poe mode a) Takes the material seriously, but not to the point of parody; there is room for humour, but it's often subtle and slightly ironic, but not the strain of self-mocking, self-referential postmodern irony that is so prevalent in a lot of genre fiction. b) The style is dense, almost baroque, and reminiscent of writing from the mid-19th to the mid 20th century, but realizes that the language and froms have changed so it doesn't feel aged or stilted. c) A sense of creepiness verses horror or terror. d) More than anything it evokes a dream-like sense of dislocation, a feeling of perpetual twilight. A sense that things aren't quite right, and in fact that certain things may be extremely wrong but that there's really nothing to be done about it.

I'm curious if anyone has any suggestions as to other authors currently writing that might fit this description. Some names mentioned so far, aside from Des: Thomas Ligotti, Jack Vance

Writers who aren't currently writing, at least on this level of existence: Clark Ashton Smith,Elizabeth Bowen, Oliver Onions, William Hope Hodgson, Robert Aickman, MP Shiel

Cheers,
N/A
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des
Posted on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 12:40 am:   

Hi, Neddal, thanks for coining 'High Weird'!

I like the term - though no label should be hidebound - but it is a very useful discussion point and perhaps a way forward for a certain style (hopefully) as an Interstitial 'new area' between previously accepted genre labels.

I think the writers you have listed certainly fit the vision of High Weird as you've *started* defining it. Certainly *early* Vance in particular. Maybe add Lord Dunsany, Cabell, Rhys Hughes, Brendan Connell...

Elizabeth Bowen, Onions, Aickman are my favourite writers of all time (plus HPL)...

This topic has set me thinking. Thanks again.
des
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Rhys
Posted on Friday, March 19, 2004 - 05:09 am:   

But one of the criteria (the first commandment, so to speak!) of the definition of 'High Weird' is:

> a) Takes the material seriously, but not to the point of parody; there is room for humour, but it's often subtle and slightly ironic, but not the strain of self-mocking, self-referential postmodern irony that is so prevalent in a lot of genre fiction.

I'm absolutely dedicated to parody, self-mockery and self-referential postmodern irony, so I can hardly be 'High Weird'.

Meta-Weird... maybe!

:-)
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Rhys
Posted on Friday, March 19, 2004 - 05:15 am:   

How about some more sub-categories?

(1) Sober Weird
(2) Sensible Weird
(3) Safe Weird

All these might be considered sub-categories of 'High Weird' as defined by Neddal. Whereas 'New Weird' might be divided into the following sub-categories:

(1) Ironic Weird
(2) Playful Weird
(3) Smartass Weird
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des
Posted on Friday, March 19, 2004 - 07:43 am:   

OK, Rhys, you've convinced me you're not High Weird, though I was applying the 'gestalt' of Neddal's defintion - and I think you should be in there. Your self-parody is done very seriously.

As mine is.
des
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des
Posted on Saturday, March 20, 2004 - 04:03 am:   

Thinking about it further, what if self-parody or self-mockery are indeed done *seriously* as opposed to self-mocking the self-mockery or self-parodying the self-parody? That intrinsic seriousness does not then conflict with Neddal's notion of High Weird above, imho.
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des
Posted on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 05:43 am:   

'High Fantasy' is a term that has existed for quite some considerable time.

A definition I've found on the Internet:

"High Fantsy is a subgenre of fantasy fiction that is set in invented or parallel worlds. These stories are serious in tone, often epic in scope, dealing with themes of grand struggle against supernatural evil forces. Other typical characteristics of high fantasy include fantastical races (such as elves and dwarves), magic, wizards, invented languages, coming-of-age themes, and multi-volume narratives."

High Weird, by contrast, is one, perhaps, where similar forces work within inner space: the parallel worlds that co-exist within a single mind, thus the grand struggle crushed into a smaller space: fragments: shards; internal selves instead of elves: a diaspora that is in-turning, in-gowing; the coming of no age because no age is quite right to be; self-mockery as a seriously ruthless, paradoxical, finally hopeless, attempt to be single-minded.

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Brendan
Posted on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 12:26 pm:   

1) Post-Weird
2) Symboweird
3) Fractured Weird
4) Monger Weird
5) Weary Weird
6) Very Weary Weird
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Neddal
Posted on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 03:08 pm:   

Hi Rhys, Des...

Rhys - I've only read two of your stories (in the AZ #1 anthology) but I get the feeling that your irony/mockery is playful and self-deprecating vs. condescending.


Des -
When I was thinking High Weird I was definitely thinking of High Fantasy and also the High Church.

Perhaps, the definition above was misleading. I'm thinking of modern writing; like Des's and Ligotti's that is similar in style to old-school weird writing, but that brings it forward. What would be a parallel??? Ok, to continue w/the High Fantasy comparison, if Lovecraft is the equivalent of Tolkein, then Des would be George R.R. Martin. Or something like that.

-N
p.s. Rhys - you forgot -wyrd...
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Rhys
Posted on Monday, March 22, 2004 - 02:43 am:   

Fated wyrd?
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Rhys
Posted on Monday, March 22, 2004 - 02:46 am:   

"Self-deprecating vs Condescending"

That sounds like a good dance night!
:-)
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des
Posted on Monday, March 22, 2004 - 10:36 am:   

Weird Weird?

or rather...

Unweird Weird.

Because Weird Weird is tantamount to Unweird (in that two negatives make a positive).
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des
Posted on Monday, March 22, 2004 - 10:39 am:   

Having said that in self-mockery of self-mockery (to see if it were possible), I must state that the concept of 'High Weird' should be taken seriously and I return to my comparison above (now repeated below):

High Fantasy (as defined elsewhere) is a subgenre of fantasy fiction that is set in invented or parallel worlds. These stories are serious in tone, often epic in scope, dealing with themes of grand struggle against supernatural evil forces. Other typical characteristics of high fantasy include fantastical races (such as elves and dwarves), magic, wizards, invented languages, coming-of-age themes, and multi-volume narratives.

High Weird, by contrast, is one where similar forces work within inner space: the parallel worlds that co-exist within a single mind, thus the grand struggle crushed into a smaller space: fragments: shards; internal selves instead of elves: a diaspora that is in-turning, in-growing; the coming of no age because no age is quite right to be; self-mockery as a seriously ruthless, paradoxical, finally hopeless, attempt to be single-minded.

des



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Brendan
Posted on Monday, March 22, 2004 - 12:03 pm:   

I too am into fragments.

The Proto-Fragmentists.

Full English Wierd (light on the beans).
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Rhys
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - 04:40 am:   

> two negatives make a positive...

Only if they have purely numerical value and are multiplied...

For instance, I am sitting at my desk in my office at this very moment. I don't have a tangerine for lunch and I don't have a grapefruit.

This does not mean that I do have an ugli fruit...

let:
tangerine = t
grapefruit = g
ugli fruit = tg

-t.-g ¹ tg
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des
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - 07:30 am:   

Yes, but Weird Weird means it's not Weird.
des
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des
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - 07:54 am:   

...which is either two negatives making a positive or two positives making a negative, dependent on your point of view (or indeed making nothing, one cancelling the other out -- which I suppose connects High Weird with Nemonymous?).
des
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Rhys
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - 08:35 am:   

I still didn't have an ugli fruit for lunch...

I had two flapjacks.
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Jamie
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - 03:38 pm:   

I would say that not having a grapefruit is, in itself, positive. But then, I don't care for them.

I'm intrigued, personally, with the concept of "Low Weird." I seem to recall reading somewhere that "low fantasy" was fantasy dealing with 'lesser' or baser concerns than "high fantasy", and I find myself often drawn to the sort of weirdness that would correspond to that.

For instance, "high weird" may deal with the incursion of inhuman, unknowable forces into our world, and the fragmentation of the self in confrontation with those forces. "Low weird" may, for instance, deal with a man's growing obsession with a (perhaps supernatural) shoe that he sees in unexpected places.[1] I would venture to say that "low weird" would encompass some works by Kobo Abe, Donald Barthelme, and Italo Calvino[2][3], amongst others.[4]

[1] I draw this example from my own "The Solitary Loafer", which appeared last year in The Fortean Bureau.

[2] Certainly not all of their works; but I can think of a few from each of them.

[3] Completely inadvertantly, I seem to have hit on the ABCs of "low weird".

[4] Ray Vukcevich comes to mind as another example.
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Rhys
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 02:45 am:   

If not having a grapefruit is a "positive" then my equation above can be amended as follows:

tangerine = t
no grapefruit = g
ugli fruit = tg

-t.g = -tg

A negative multiplied by a positive is a negative... So I still don't have an ugli fruit... And I'm getting hungry, you cad!
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des
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 10:32 am:   

Jamie, I think High Weird may also connote Low Weird (as I think exemplified by the writers mentioned above in this conversation).
My dictionary also gives alternative definitions of 'high' as:
under the influence of drug or drink
over-excited
tainted or decomposed (as in smelling high)
difficult, abstruse.


Re the shoes, there is a character in Weirdmonger obsessed with 'men's shoes'.
des
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des
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 10:41 am:   

Just to extrapolate from above, as weird weird does not make it weirder but less weird, because weirdness that is not weird is weird weird ... so high weird increases the weirdness making it taller *as* weirdness - so paradoxically lower where weirdness belongs.

Feel the weirdth...
des
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Jamie
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 12:40 pm:   

I suppose I should clarify on the distinction I was making re: "low weird." If you take the initial definition of "high weird" (as given at the top of this thread), "low weird" would diverge in primarily categories 'b' and 'c' -- the style is often more straightforward, and there is often no innate sense of creepiness to the narrative (although such a sense may be elicited in the reader as a result of the narrative.) It is weirdness treated in more of a matter-of-fact manner, often a much more mundane form of weirdness (I would cite, for instance, "The Man Who Shouted Teresa" by Calvino) than that of the "high weird."

That being said, I didn't even have a concept of this "low weird" until the day I made my initial post, so take all of these musings with a shaker or two of salt.
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des
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 12:54 pm:   

I see what you mean, Jamie, and Calvino is a good example - Mark Samuels being another (see his book The White Hands).
But 'Low Weird' has a derogatory tone. How about Sheer Weird?
des
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des
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - 01:11 pm:   

Or Low Denier Weird?
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des
Posted on Thursday, March 25, 2004 - 09:59 am:   

I've always found it strange that low denier means sheer and high denier means coarse.

BTW, I hope some of the above necessary brainstorming on this often coarse thread (as a homing in towards high definition) does not counteract the considered seriousness of the topic that was originally launched.
Self-mockery of self-mockery ends up, perhaps, with no mockery at all..
des
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Rhys
Posted on Friday, March 26, 2004 - 02:27 am:   

And no ugli fruits!
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des
Posted on Friday, March 26, 2004 - 08:50 am:   

'Ugli' (pronounced 'oogli') is the High Weird version of 'Outré', deepening/making more pungent and rarifying it and creating more redolent productivity (both in the fruit semantics and the phonetic connotations and the sculptural appearance of the word).
des
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des
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 08:47 am:   

Finnegans Wake by James Joyce is High Weird taken to its optimal extreme.
Discuss.
des
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Brendan
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 11:11 am:   

Literary movements:

Blasphemists
Piantists
Isochronalists
Dream Tranters
Remissive Balzacists
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AliceB
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 04:02 pm:   

Ooooh... "Remissive Balzacists" -- love the way it sounds.

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des
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 09:40 pm:   

"Did Thomas Hardy believe he once stayed at the Pension Vauquer?"

Discuss with special reference to (a) the temporal interstice between truth and fiction (whether the interstice divides or binds) and (b) the literary movement about literary movements called Genrefurcationists.
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des
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 07:33 am:   

Actually, Genreforks is an infrequent alternative term for the latter. One I prefer, but most people know the movement as Genrefurcators or Genrefurcationists.
des
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des
Posted on Saturday, April 17, 2004 - 08:58 am:   

From THE PEPPERED MOTH by Margaret Drabble:-

“Fiona had given up the Fine Arts ... and had taken up Bakelite. Did Chrissie know anything about Bakelite? It was fascinating stuff, fascinating. Did Chrissie know that in 1938 someone had invented and designed the Bakelite coffin? Bizarre, what?”
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des
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 08:30 am:   

I'm still trying desperately to perfect my amateurish website:
http://www.weirdmonger.com
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des
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 05:04 am:   

I am pleased (?) that if you google 'Weirdmonger', then in the top right hand corner it shows that the major UK superstore Tesco are selling the book as a cut-price offer!

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AliceB
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 05:08 pm:   

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005. Rest in peace, man.



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