I have to start this edition of Teeming Links with a very special message:
Vale and R.I.P., Wilum H. Pugmire, 1951-2019
Wilum died this week after several years of troubled health, and the news hit me hard even though it has been quite some time since I spoke with him. If you’re not familiar with him and his work (which he published as W. H. Pugmire), here’s his Wikipedia entry, plus an interview and another interview (by Nicole Cushing), to fill you in.
I first met Wilum in Seattle at the 2001 World Horror Convention, where he constituted a very colorful presence. Then when my first print publication occurred in the 2002 anthology The Children of Cthulhu, Wilum was in there, too. So he has been part of my mental and personal world as a reader and writer of Lovecraftian fiction for quite some time.
A few years ago, his place in my life became much more specific. It was through his unsolicited and generous actions that I was put together with Hippocampus Press for the purpose of producing a new collection of my fiction. When that collection, To Rouse Leviathan, is published just a few months from now, it will owe its existence largely to Wilum’s unpaid facilitation, which he offered spontaneously, out of the blue, just because he was that kind of person. On the book’s acknowledgments page, he’s the first person I name.
Others in the horror community have their own, similar stories about what a lovely human being Wilum was. And that’s not even to say anything his own contributions as an author, which are substantial.
Goodbye, Wilum. You will definitely be missed.
Have you heard of Dr. D. W. Pasulka and her book American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology? You can gain a solid understanding and appreciation of its contents from the article “Belief in Aliens Could Be America’s Next Religion” at The Outline, which tells of Dr. Pasulka’s explorations into “how the once-fringe phenomenon has taken root among the powerful,” with tech billionaires devoting themselves seriously to UFOlogy, recovered alien tech, and the like. Dr. Pasulka is Professor of Religious Studies and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. This makes her work all the more significant.
Issue 37 of EdgeScience is now out. Looks fascinating. It’s free. And it includes the following tantalizingly titled piece by none other than the above-mentioned Dr. Pasulka: “The Reception of Scientific Ideas from Alleged Supernatural Beings and Extraterrestrials: A Chapter in the History of Unorthodox Science.”
There are just too many good books to get to lately. However, one that sounds like we all need to wrap our heads around it is Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, which is all the rage right now (along with the above-described American Cosmic, making for a rather revealing literary syzygy). The idea of “surveillance capitalism,” which is Zuboff’s own original coinage (she’s a scholar of sociology and business at Harvard and the author of 1988’s In the Age of the Smart Machine), holds that the new world of digital tech has overwhelmed our cultural safeguards, which were utterly unprepared even to comprehend this new threat. The result is that now, to quote the official publisher’s description, “vast wealth and power are accumulated in ominous new ‘behavioral futures markets,’ where predictions about our behavior are bought and sold, and the production of goods and services is subordinated to a new ‘means of behavioral modification.'” As Zuboff sees it, this is not just a technological revolution but a completely new and intrinsically dystopian form of capitalism. Read “Capitalism’s New Clothes” at The Baffler and “‘The Goal is to Automate Us’: Welcome to the Age of Surveillance Capitalism” at The Guardian for good primers. Also see this astute critique at Inside Higher Ed, which argues that the problem isn’t so much a totalitarian Big Data coup from above as an uncontrollable Frankenstein that Big Tech has unleashed and that is now beyond even their control, as seen most recently and sickeningly in the unstoppable proliferation of the New Zealand shooter video.
If all of the above strikes you as a downer, this bracing shot of wisdom from Morris Berman for our present troubled moment might help: “Speaking of Liberation.” TLDR: There’s probably no hope for humanity at large, so it’s better to focus on your own personal awakening from history’s nightmare.
From The Daily Grail, here’s a great article for starting your day with your head blown off: Remember The Young Ones? Yeah, me too. I fell in love with it during my undergraduate days. But do you remember the fifth young one who lived in the flat with Vyvyan, Rick, Neil, and Mike? The young girl who mysteriously appeared in various scenes? Yeah, me neither. But apparently she was there.
It was also in college that I first became acquainted with the Church of the SubGenius. For a while I took to posting images of “Bob” Dobbs around Columbia, Missouri. Now comes this:
In the video below, Dr. Andreas Sommer, who really knows his stuff, explains 1) why your knowledge of science and magic is almost certainly based on demonstrable falsehoods, and 2) why the intertwined history of these subjects is far more significant than you may think.
A recent interview with Christian Wiman for The New Criterion shows the poet emitting a profusion of lucid, insightful, and beautiful thoughts the way a bonfire sends up sparks “I don’t think that art is something that’s going to save you or that it’s the single most important thing in life,” he says. “I find the writing of poetry a kind of torment ultimately, though it’s also a great elation. I just don’t think it’s going to save me. . . . [A]rt can’t save you. It can give you glimpses of something beautiful, maybe even something redemptive, but there’s nothing there to hold onto. Art is a means, not an end. “
Finally, Vastarien volume 2, issue 1 is now available. The TOC is wonderful, with fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and artwork from the likes of Gemma Files, Forrest Aguirre, Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, Rhys Hughes, and Matthew M. Bartlett. I’m proud to have been centrally involved in the journal’s inception and the development of the first two issues. Now Jon Padgett continues to take it from strength to strength. (And if all goes well, I may return for an editorial stint in the foreseeable future.)
“The Next Big Thing” is a meme that asks authors to answer ten questions about their next project, after which they tag five additional authors to do the same a week later. Last week I was tagged in this regard by my friends, fellow authors, and fellow Teeming Brain writers Stuart Young and T. E. Grau, whose own contributions to the fray involved Stu’s description of his forthcoming horror collection Reflections in the Mind’s Eyeand Ted’s description of his forthcoming horror collection (co-written with his spousal other half, Ives Hovanessian) I Am Death, Cried the Vulture.
So here, right on schedule, is my perpetuation of the Next Big Thing meme.
The Teeming Brain explores news, trends, and developments in religion, horror, science fiction, fantasy, the paranormal, creativity, consciousness, and culture. It also tracks apocalyptic and dystopian trends in science, technology, politics, ecology, economics, the media, the arts, education, and society at large. Its founder and primary author is Matt Cardin.
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"[Dark Awakenings is] a thinking-man's book of the macabre...Cardin's tales are rich with references to Lovecraft, Nietzsche, and other writers whose work gives them unusual philosophic depth." – Publishers Weekly
“Matt Cardin ranks among the foremost authors of contemporary American horror.” – Laird Barron
“It’s a bold writer who, in this day and age, tries to make modern horror fiction out of theology, but Cardin pulls it off.” – Darrell Schweitzer
“In the tradition of Poe and Lovecraft, Cardin's accomplishments as a writer are paralleled by his expertise as a literary critic and theorist.” – Thomas Ligotti
“Matt Cardin is one of those rare horror authors who is also a true scholar and intellectual.” – Jack Haringa
FOR RICHARD GAVIN:
"Literate horror fans who have yet to encounter Canadian author Richard Gavin are in for a treat. The lyrical prose is often at a higher level than usual presentations of otherworldly demons and malevolent forces." – Publishers Weekly
"Richard Gavin is one of the bright new stars in contemporary weird fiction. His richly textured style, deft character portrayal, and powerful horrific conceptions make every one of his tales a pleasure to read." – S. T. Joshi
"Gavin's storytelling can be masterly. As with Machen and Blackwood at their best, an epiphany or illumination is achieved, though Gavin's mysticism is darker and distinctly his own." – Wormwood
FOR STUART YOUNG:
"No one can accuse Stuart Young of avoiding the big issues -- with insight and verve, he tackles head-on the existence of God, the mystery of human consciousness and the transformative effects of psychedelic drugs." – Mark Chadbourne
"Wow, what an impressive story ... [The Mask Behind the Face is] ambitious, in fact downright audacious." – T.E.D. Klein