Sunday, 25 December 2016

Ruinenlust: An Introduction #1

Now published in:

Un Cadeau de Noël for Confusio Linguarum

This year's Christmas presents are spot on Confusio Linguarum gifts!

I also have something special for Confusio Linguarum. As mentioned in my previous post, next up on CL is the theme of Ruinenlust -  the feeling of being irresistibly drawn to crumbling buildings and abandoned places. My worries about the lack of materials for the blog are no longer valid, as I have decided to divide the next article into nine parts, which I will be posting on a weekly basis from now on. In the article (being more of a compilation of quotes, photography, videos related to the subject in question) I'll make a small introduction to Ruinenlust and trace its influence on some works of weird fiction, starting from the early Gothics up to modern masterpieces of the genre.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

December Update

I am still working on the "Eddie" M. Angerhuber bibliography, which already runs for over thirty pages. This bibliography will be comparable in length to the Thomas Ligotti bibliography we have prepared together with Mateusz Kopacz for the Polish edition of Teatro Grottesco, however due to the sheer obscurity of source material, it will take me at least two months before I manage to finish my work.

Based on the amount of posts until now, I estimate that in order to save time to prepare some quality material I will need to shift gears and make Confusio Linguarum "operational" every third week. I think the triweekly mode will serve as a good compromise between my passions and professional aspirations, both of which can be time-consuming.

Before I am ready with the bibliography I will post a comprehensive discussion of a particular sensation infrequently evoked by some works of literature and yet quite recognizable in numerous stories and novels of weird fiction: a feeling of being drawn to crumbling buildings and abandoned places. There is a little known German compound word for this feeling you most probably never heard of. More about it in my next post.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Álvaro de Campos' Tavira

"A few more notes on this subject… I see before me, in the colorless but real space of dreams, the faces and gestures of Caeiro, Ricardo Reis and Álvaro de Campos. I gave them their ages and fashioned their lives. (…) Álvaro de Campos was born in Tavira, on October 15, 1890… Campos, as you know, is a naval engineer (he studied in Glasgow) but is currently living in Lisbon and not working. (…) Álvaro de Campos is tall (5 ft. 9 in., an inch taller than me), slim and a bit prone to stoop. All are clean-shaven; (…) Álvaro de Campos, after a normal high school education, was sent to Scotland to study engineering, first mechanical and then naval. During some holidays he made a voyage to the Orient, which gave rise to his poem “Opiary.” An uncle who was a priest from the Beira region taught him Latin. 
How to I write in the names of these three? (…) Campos, when I feel a sudden impulse to write and don’t know what."

--From a letter by Fernando Pessoa writing to Adolfo Casais Monteiro, 13 January 1935 (in The Book of Disquiet, Penguin Classics, 2002, p. 474.)

(photos with text best viewed in full-screen - left-click the picture and press F11)

After over 80 years since this letter was written, Tavira, a town located on the south coast of Portugal, in the region of Algarve, is still haunted by the imagination of Álvaro de Campos - one of the heteronyms used by Fernando Pessoa, reported by Pessoa to have been born in the town in 1890.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Language and Cognition

Linguistic relativity, also known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis or Whorfianism, is a concept-paradigm in linguistics and cognitive science that holds that the structure of a language affects its speakers' cognition or world view.

It will take time before another director tops the use of linguistic relativity concepts of Denis Villeneuve’s new film Arrival. Weird fiction, visionary literature and horror cinema also have their examples where language, (mis-)communication and cognition play an important role. There is also a recurring theme of language contagion. To all of these, I will be devoting a series of entries on Confusio Linguarum in the future.

EDIT: I hereby expand the scope of this blog to visionary cinema.

Some articles of reference on the film:

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Georg Trakl - the harbinger of a hushed apocalypse

A collection of poems and prose poems by Georg Trakl in Polish, translated by Krzysztof Lipiński

There is no better time than autumn to lose oneself in the poems of the great Austrian poet Georg Trakl whose works are curiously evocative and haunting. Trakl excelled in depicting scenes of serene imagery full of contrasting colours. His blank verse, rich in adjectives, has this enchanting power of suggesting a world beyond our own. It works like a dark, ineffable charm whispered into the reader's ear. Through descriptions that at first seem ambiguous and defying logic and through his magically suggestive lyricism he has managed to grasp the fleeting impressions of a secret quietude just moments before the impending doom.

What follows is my visual tribute to Trakl and the autumnal imagery from his poems followed by a photographic journey to the garrison hospital in Cracow where Trakl committed suicide by cocaine overdose. On the wall surrounding the hospital one can find a commemorative plaque with a quote from his poem “Song of a Captured Blackbird” dedicated to Ludwig von Ficker, who was the last person to visit him before his death:

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

House of Leaves and The Vanishing Life and Films of Emmanuel Escobada


“My father was a filmmaker. In the 50s, live television. Later avant-garde. Eventually he got into documentaries. (...) My father will be remembered for a lot of things but by some, TZD--as some of my friends called him--will be forever known for his passionate consideration of the art of cinema." 

"My intention had been to present this piece of writing as a gift to mY father."
Mark Z.Danielewski interviewed by Kasey Carpenter

One of my favourite pieces of fiction from Nemonymous magazine, edited by D. F. Lewis, whom I had the pleasure to interview for Confusio Linguarum last month, is "The Vanishing Life and Films of Emmanuel Escobada", which appeared in the second issue. This phenomenal story centers on a forgotten Brazilian film-maker who mysteriously disappeared while making a film entitled "Nos Olvidamos?" and whose works started falling into complete oblivion, as if they never existed in the first place. The piece is written in the form of a non-fiction article and treats Escobada as a real person. Earlier this week its author confirmed that he would like to remain anonymous forever.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

October Update

I still continue with my rediscovery of the works by "Eddie" M. Angerhuber. I have just managed to obtain another collection of hers: In Asmodis Haus Romantische Spukgeschichten. This book was published in 1997 by Goblin Press in a limited number of 100 copies. After 20 years it has become almost completely unobtainable and the fact that none of its contents (7 stories and an afterword by Angerhuber) were ever (and may never be) reprinted, makes it a valuable collector's item. I am very glad that I was able to secure a copy. I continue reading her stories in German and, once I am ready, I will provide some material about her works on CL. This will include an article about Angerhuber and the reception of her artistic output both in Germany and the English-speaking world and will be followed by an extensive bibliography of her works. Both should be ready for publication on CL in the first quarter of 2017.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

The Vexed Texture of Text - a conversation with the "poet fictioneer" D. F. Lewis

D. F. Lewis is a master storyteller, a unique voice in visionary literature with a distinctive and idiosyncratic prose style. His stories, rich in neologisms, sometimes seem to be written in another language, a language that imbues his writings with qualities that can only please readers with an acquired taste. Author of over 1,500 published stories, he is the winner of the British Fantasy Society Karl Edward Wagner Award. Apart from being a writer, he is also known as the editor of the magazine Nemonymous and as the creator of Gestalt Real-Time Reviews (published online as Des Lewis).
I first came across Lewis' works through Thomas Ligotti Online discussion board, one of the venues where he publishes his flash fiction pieces known as "thingies". From among many of his memorable coinages for words and expressions I am particularly fond of the term "ominous imagination", which I think is very close to "visionary literature" discussed on this blog.
Des has agreed to answer several questions, which I am honoured to publish on Confusio Linguarum. In a short conversation we have covered a number of subjects, some of which are in the scope of this blog's focus.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Hiding in a Mountain

"On the entry for the 8th of March, on his Tumblr feed, Momus reproduces his article about comebacks. He argues there against comebacks – that one should simply never go away. It’s an interesting read, but, for myself, I think ‘going away’, or “hiding in a mountain”, as Momus calls it, is essential. Partly, this is probably, anyway, something that is different between making music or films, and writing books. Books are generally written in solitude and read in solitude – a message in a bottle from one solitude to another.
I also think, however, there is a general value in the whole “hiding in a mountain” thing, and a value that is even perhaps more important now than it has been for some time.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

A Matter of Taste

Thomas Ligotti on Robert Aickman

"I'll have to leave it to admirers of Robert Aickman, which I am not one, to comment on the essays treating his work. C.P.M.'s piece seemed to display the greater critical deftness; but the subject, whom Russell Kirk called "the greatest living writer of ghost stories" when he lived, is not one I warm up to, living or dead. Too many unrewarding hours spent pondering his ineffectual subtleties, too many frustrating revelations when I finally discovered the thematic key to a tale, only to find a crude closet of cliches behind the door. It's probably my innate vulgarity which prevents me from appreciating Aickman's "obscurity" but it is not for lack of effort that I cannot.”
--Nyctalops no. 19, 1991

Tibet: Robert Aickman?
Ligotti: A writer that many people assume that I like because his "strange stories" are so obscure. They are indeed.
--"Interview with Thomas Ligotti." in AKLO: A Volume of the Fantastic, Tartarus Press, 1998**

Thursday, 8 September 2016

The frozen sea within us

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we're reading doesn't wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.*
- Franz Kafka writing to Oskar Pollak, 27 January 1905

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Learning a language to savour great works of literature

My experience of reading books has always gone hand in hand with learning languages. I have gone through the pain of withholding from reading certain titles for years only with the purpose of reading them, once ready, in their original versions. This painful but rewarding time-killer is something I've done with works in English, Spanish, French and German and as insane as it may sound I have high ambitions of expanding this further to other five languages. Apart from sharing my experience from reading, I would also like to use Confusio Linguarum to document this translingual journey.

Exhumed archive of stories by Angerhuber - printed back in 2005
I set out to learn German over ten years ago so that to read works of Gustav Meyrink, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, Philipp Mainländer and Eddie M. Angerhuber among others. Over this time I have read countless other books in German just to improve my reading skills and to be finally able to savour the works that are high on my list. 

It is high time that I delve into "Eddie" M. Angerhuber's oeuvres - Angerhuber is a writer who  seems to have been on my list almost forever.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

New Welcome Page

I just completely rewrote the welcome page of Confusio Linguarum.

I hope this description brings more cohesion and gives this blog proper orientation.

Monday, 8 August 2016

"Poe, Grabiński, Ray, Lovecraft. Correspondences, Parallels, Comparisons" - international conference held in Poland

Savez-vous ce qu’il y avait derrière? Un mur énorme, noir, massif comme le roc. Il en fut de même d’une autre, puis d’une autre encore : j’étais prisonnier d’une ville toute en façades, sans bruit et sans autre vie que celle des flammes bleues, épouvantablement ardentes et pourtant ne brûlant pas. 
-- Jean Ray, La Choucroute

Two months ago while on vacation in the region of Katowice and Cracow, I've had the privilage of attending the international conference "Poe, Grabiński, Ray, Lovecraft. Correspondences, Parallels, Comparisons" held in Sosnowiec at the Institute of Romance Languages and Translation Studies of the University of Silesia. I first heard about the conference when I was invited by Claudio Salmeri, one of the organizers and conference co-secretaries, to participate as a presenter. Initially, I had high ambitions of preparing some materials on Jean Ray in French and to finally to dive deeper into his works - something I had on my mind for quite some time. I had to decide against getting involved as the first half 2016 continued busy for me with regards to my professional career and my ambitions for reskilling and my presence at the conference was very doubtful. 
Nevertheless, I was eager to engage in helping to spread the news about the event. The conference was held in four languages: Polish, English, French and Italian. The entire programme can be downloaded hereMultilingual international conferences on the subject of horror, gothic, or weird fiction are not very common in Europe, let alone in Poland, therefore, due to its international character, this particular conference deserves to be covered on Confusio Liguarum
I will focus here on those presentations that have particularly drawn my attention and on day 2 only, as it was this day that was fully dedicated to presentations delivered in English, French and Italian. 

Monday, 11 July 2016

Classic Horror Stories - multiligual omnibus collection

I prepared the following 16 (!) volumes back in 2006-07. They collect over 2000 stories and a few novels and novellas -  all of them considered classics of the gothic/horror genre.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Der Orchideengarten

My home-made edition of the complete run of Der Orchideengarten is now decorating my bookshelves. If you have never heard of Der Orchideengarten, then you definitely should check it out. You can read more about this unique magazine here. Translation of some of the stories from the magazine by  Joe Bandel can be found here.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Bibliography and Compilation of Blurbs by Thomas Ligotti

I have just published online my compilation of over 50 blurbs by Thomas Ligotti. This compilation is a small project I started while working on an extensive up-to-date bibliography of Thomas Ligotti’s works as bonus material for the Polish edition of Teatro Grottesco. I was expected to compile a list of English-language publications, whilst the translator Mateusz Kopacz was responsible for the list of publications that appeared in Poland.

The Last Balcony by D. F. Lewis

Highly sophisticated and wonderfully nightmarish imagination, an expertly controlled and sardonic vision that reminds me as much of avant-gardists like William Burroughs as it does the best traditions of horror literature.
-- Thomas Ligotti on D. F. Lewis in DAGON DFL SPECIAL 

In 2011, together with S. D. Tullis I was invited by the award-winning avant-garde author D. F. Lewis to help him choose stories for his collection The Last Balcony.
This was a very difficult choice as Des' oeuvres span over 2000 stories, most of which have been posted online in the so-called Weirdmonger Wheel - a web of websites, blogs and discussion forum posts where the stories are scattered.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

"Dialogue on the Greater Harmonies" by Tommaso Landolfi

Two quotes from "Dialogue on the Greater Harmonies" by Tommaso Landolfi, a story relevant to this blog:

“A language reconstructed on the basis of meager inscriptions does not acquire substance until one proves that, on the basis of those inscriptions, that language and only that language could be reconstructed. But in our case, on the basis of so fragile a collection of data, it might be possible to construct or reconstruct not one but a hundred languages. Thus one would be confronted by the amusing case of a piece of poetry which could have been written in any one of a hundred languages, each dissimilar from the others and from the first…”

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Thomas Ligotti's works in Poland - better late than never

In 2012-2014 I was invited to participate in the endeavor of introducing the works of Thomas Ligotti to the readers in Poland. I initially teamed up with Mateusz Kopacz, the Polish translator of many titles related to weird fiction, including S. T. Joshi’s H. P. Lovecraft: A Life, Koszmary i fantazje. Listy i eseje (a collection of letters and essays by H.P. Lovecraft) and Cthulhu-Mythos-themed collection by Robert E. Howard, Królestwo cieni i inne opowiadania z mitologii Cthulhu.
After having two of Ligotti's stories successfully translated and published, Mateusz joined forces with 3 other Ligottians, including Wojciech Gunia, Filip Skutela, Aleksander Więckowski, who have been working on the translations of Teatro Grottesco for some time. This collaboration resulted in the Polish edition of the author’s major collection published by Okultura.

Here is a short description of the contents of the book in English. Apart from the introduction by Wojciech Gunia and me, the book contains a new foreword by the author, so far only published in Polish, cover art by Serhiy Krykun and interior illustrations by Radosław Włodarski.

The Collected Fiction of D. F. Lewis

I am pasting this from elsewhere, to have all of  the "self-publications" in one place:

I hereby present a series of books I created (for personal use) back in 2008-09 collecting the stories by D. F. Lewis that formed, at the time, 99% of the impenetrable Weirdmoger Wheel. Being an obsessive collector, I gave the series the title "The Collected Fiction of D. F. Lewis," which obviously doesn't mean "complete". And indeed, it is obvious, it will never be possible to publish a complete collection of fiction by the author. Even my series from 2008-09 spans 10 volumes out of the planned 13. I still hope to find time one day to complete the three missing ones. Regardless of when this will happen (if ever), I thought it's about time I posted pictures of this collection on the thread that started it all.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Piotr Jabłoński

Some haunting illustrations for the omnibus collection of Stefan Grabiński's stories to be published by Centipede Press:

The Frenzied Farmhouse – Szalona zagroda by Piotr Jabłoński

More of these ilustrations can be seen here


Meta-bibliomania - excessive fondness for acquiring and possessing books about bibliomania.

This is what I came up with while reading "Des bibliothèques pleines de fantômes" by Jacques Bonnet. I was certain I would be the first to coin this term, if it weren't for this essay by Jennie Hann:
Hann provides an extensive list of titles about book collecting.To this list I would add the following classic on bibliomania:

Bibliomania; or Book Madness was first published in 1809 by the Reverend Thomas Frognall Dibdin (1776 – 18 November 1847) who was an Anglican clergyman and founder of the Roxburghe Club. Written in the form of fictional dialogues from bibliophiles, it purports to outline a malady called bibliomania.