One of my favourite pieces of writing is a short story called The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood. It's dated (published in 1910) and I wouldn't necessarily recommend anything else by the same author. But The Wendigo does one thing exceptionally well. It's set in the "Canadian backwoods", and Blackwood writes so effectively about "the wild solitudes" and the "singular spell which the wilderness lays upon certain lonely natures", that I read it again just to revisit the setting. The lake, and the forest, and the wind (and the scents on the wind), and the wilderness.
The Wendigo itself duly turns up and does its thing, and if I remember rightly, I might have left the light on after reading it for the first time in my early teens. Blackwood was "one of the most prolific writers of ghost stories in the history of the genre", says Wikipedia, and he was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which in completely inappropriate modern-day terms, means he was seriously New Age. I don't suppose The Wendigo is particularly scary by modern standards, no more than (say) one of those black-and-white X-rated movies of the nineteen-fifties, and I'm also taken by the gradual way it builds up its effects.
There are pictures of Algernon Blackwood, but nothing royalty-free at Morguefile, Shutterstock, et cetera. The story itself is easy to find. This picture, which I've used before, was taken outside the Boston Public Library.
What happens here
This site is updated weekly, usually on a Friday although I might change that (again). I write it because (1) I like writing it and (2) I like having a deadline. More often than not, it works out as a commentary on the week just passed*.
There are no ads, no pop-ups and no tricky business with cookies. I don't take money for my own opinions. [Except when they come out in book form.] I write this for myself, without a set agenda, on any subject that catches my attention. If you're interested enough, it's not hard to work out my interests. Not impossible, anyway.
*Although I seem to have gone away from that recently. Normal service may or may not be resumed.
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Where are we now? We're hurtling round the sun, held to the ground by a weak force that we don’t begin to understand, arguing about trade deals between the land masses on a planet mostly covered by water.
The dolphins must think us ridiculous. No wonder they only come to the shallow water to play with us, not to signal their most complex philosophies. More.
Riddle. It takes two to make me, but when I'm made, I'm only a memory. What am I? Scroll down to find out.
Is that a catastrophe I see before me? Could be. There was a clear sky earlier, but now clouds are encroaching from the North. We could be in for a storm. More.
You found me!
Welcome. Thank you for coming. But am I the right
William Essex? Click here
to meet some more.
Read My Shorts?
Here is yet another page of old blog posts and other writings. Sorry, but I need my metaphorical sock drawer for metaphorical socks. The link to the page is right at the end of the paragraph here.
Roads without end
Here is a passage from a review of the book The Road to Somewhere by David Goodhart. I haven't read the book (yet), but the collected reviews would make a worthwhile set of political arguments in their own right. More.
State of the Union
Several commentators today saying that they've lost confidence in the US. Making their point by talking up the glories of the past. After two weeks of this administration, they're not going back.
Were they wrong, and they've seen the light? Or has the US changed? I guess the latter is the intended meaning. But we should at least acknowledge the possibility... More.