Archive for the psychogeography Category

Commence Project Guiltpile and 31/31 "A Wicked Voice" by Vernon Lee (Violet Paget)

Posted in books, ghost stories, Halloween, lifehacking, literature, old time radio, psychogeography, Queer life with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2009 by katekanno

bookHere lies the monstrous list of books that distraction be damned I’m going to try to finish before leaving.

The tickets have been purchased. I have exactly two months.

20 books. It’s not all, but I’d better break my goal down into chunks. At the end of this tunnel is a long stay in Portland and several trips to among other places, Powell’s. We’ll start with this, but not necessarily go in order. I’m capricious when it comes to reading, which is partially how I got into this mess. This also doesn’t mean that I’ll not read other books while I’m at it. However, I will not buy anymore. Library’s okay.

1.The Magic Mountain

2.The Futurological Congress

3.The Untouchable

4.Let us Now Praise Famous Men

5.Titus Groan

6.The Trouble with Lichen



9.Great Expectations

10.Henderson the Rain King

11.Infinite Jest (I wouldn’t include this monster, except I’m 200 pages in already)

12.The Thirteenth Tale

13.Skeletons at the Feast



16.The Windup Girl

17.The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

18.Interviews with Fritz Lang

19. White Sands, Red Menace

20. Psychogeography

I’ve tried to take an eclectic sample to circumvent distraction, and will cross them off as I go. Here’s to absurd goals and the transitions that allow us to get a lead on them.

Let’s get back to ghosts.


Today’s story is another one with strong queer connections. Written by Vernon Lee a.k.a. Violet Paget, it tells the tale of an androgynously beautiful young vocalist who can seduce and kill with his voice. Lee was a strong proponent of women’s rights and could beat Vita Sackville West when it came to wearing men’s attire. Her supernatural fiction was regarded highly during its time along with her a book on eighteenth century Italian music. A recent volume of her stories was published in 1990 under the title

Hauntings and Other Fantastic Tales.

What struck me instantly about “A Wicked Voice” was its energy. Not a hint of the stuffy about it.

In addition, here is an OTR story called “Weekend Vacation” that includes creepy motel, old woman, and her Lennie like son: “Monroe likes girlies! Pretty hair.” It’s pretty darned disturbed, but has a nice twist.

31/31 Day 11 "The Mezzotint" by M.R. James

Posted in books, eco anxiety, ghost stories, Halloween, literature, psychogeography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 12, 2009 by katekanno

colghostThis is a favorite by a favorite, M.R. James, whose stories I discovered in the English section of the bookstore beneath the Louvre. It was the genre and the price, at the time 14 francs, that helped make the decision, but it’s one of the better chance encounters in my life. James has a way of creating images that burn themselves onto your eyelids, and stay with you when you’re trying to sleep. His use of architectural detail and historical background provide just the right amount of realism to suspend disbelief.

James’ stories play on psychogeography, the impact of emotion and event unable to extricated from a place regardless of time or effort. This is the big difference between the “traditional” English ghost story and J-horror phenomenon. With J-horror there are no ancient ruins, the average lifespan of a Japanese house being estimated at under three decades, ghosts must record themselves into technology, an exception being Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Eureka with its monstrous tree. James’ ghosts are definitely those that must be reached through the actual traversal of historical space whose psychic shocks remain present, recorded in stone and wood. In this way these stories are reassuring, patting down our eco anxiety while they provide that “pleasing terror” James set as a foremost demand of a workable tale.

The Mezzotint by M.R. James, brought care of The Literary Gothic where you can find more information on the writer and his ghostly Christmas tradition.