Special Feature: “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”

On Sunday, March 7, a friend of mine, Tim Stamps, whom I have known since college way back in the dark ages of the 70’s, sent me this link to a truly dark video. I thought it would make an excellent special feature for The Chamber. Here’s what he says about it:

“Hey Phil, check this out —A friend [Samuel Hanon is the name on the video] put this together. Playing the Twilight Zone version of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” with a Pink Floyd concert CD “Live at the Empire Pool, Wembley Park, London” recorded in November, 1974. Nothing is edited out or changed, except color effects added. All the lyrics and everything synchronistically match on queue. Play here: https://www.facebook.com/samuel.hanon.3/posts/545802596336504

As you will learn with Rod Serling’s narration during the intro, this is not a Twilight Zone production per se. This is a French telling of the classic tale “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce. It was the winner of the 1962 Cannes Film Festival and of several other international prizes as well. The original version is truly haunting, but the additional soundtrack and colorization take it to a whole new, nightmarishly surreal level.

What I find interesting about the story is that, when it was written in 1890, feelings about the Civil War were still very intense. After all, the Civil War had erupted only thirty years earlier in 1860. Many soldiers on both sides were still alive. Many African-Americans were still alive who had been slaves. Bierce had served with the Union Army and had seen combat several times including at Shiloh. He sustained a traumatic brain injury at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, whose effects he felt for the rest of his life. Nonetheless, Bierce penned this story about the hanging of a Confederate soldier told from the rebel’s perspective. Bierce did not see his former enemies as inhuman monsters, which I am sure many former Union soldiers did. He recognized the humanity in them and he brings this out in this story, making his readers, many of whom doubtlessly still had strong feelings about the war, feel sympathy for their suffering as well and made them see the former rebels as human.

In our current atmosphere of political turmoil (which cannot hold a candle to the turmoil before, during, and after the Civil War), there is a lesson for us in this classic work of American literature. It shows us that in spite of our feelings about current political and national issues, no matter how intense they are, we must not lose sight of the fact that our political opponents are as human as we are and feel as deeply and as intensely as we all do. We are people with differing opinions, but we are all still people. We must not lose sight of that fact.

I hope you enjoy the video as much as I did.

Follow this link to the original short story on AmericanLiterature.com.

By the way, I will take submissions of links to dark videos or films so long as they meet the stipulations in The Chamber’s submission guidelines and so long as the person submitting owns the copyright. There are a wide range of formats to which I can link, so please query first and I will let you know if I can link to it.

Thoughts on Werewolves and Lycanthropy

As two of my published stories, “Shapeshifter” and “Wolfsheim”, concern werewolves, I thought I would write a post expressing my thoughts on werewolves and lycanthropy. This is not a scholarly article. It is just a summary of the conclusions I have reached over the years having researched the topic to a small degree as the basis for a novel (not yet written) involving a werewolf.

First and most importantly: I do not believe actual werewolves exist nor have they ever existed. It is simply impossible for person to change into an animal or into some sort of human-animal hybrid.

However, to paraphrase Nietzsche, what people believe is more important than fact.

I do believe there are people who believe they can become a wolf or another animal. The scientific name for this is lycanthropy.

Wikipedia, for better or worse, defines lycanthropy thus:

Clinical lycanthropy is defined as a rare psychiatric syndrome that involves a delusion that the affected person can transform into, has transformed into, or is, an animal. Its name is associated with the mythical condition of lycanthropy, a supernatural affliction in which humans are said to physically shapeshift into wolves. It is purported to be a rare disorder.” [“https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinical_lycanthropy” accessed December 15, 2020]

I feel that is a simple and straightforward summary based on everything else I have read. I am not familiar with the source, which Wikipedia states as “Degroot, J.J.M. (2003). Religious System of China. Kessinger Publishing. p. 484.”

An internet search for “clinical lycanthropy” will find many well-researched articles on lycanthropy as a psychiatric disorder.

Undoubtedly, it was the occasional case of clinical lycanthropy that gave rise to werewolf stories throughout history, before the science of psychiatry (or any science for that matter) arose, when people were more likely to take rumor as proverbial gospel and legends and myths as history. That people with this disorder confessed (often under torture) to being a wolf ingrained a belief in shapeshifting into an uneducated populace.

Someone who believes his/herself to be a wolf will act on those beliefs, which could, and I feel certain often did, result in crimes of extreme violence according to what that individual believes a wolf would do. Whether that belief is an accurate portrayal of what a wolf would actually do does not matter. The individual will act in accordance with his/her beliefs, whatever those beliefs are. This would, of course, have been the reason behind at least some of the infamous werewolves who were executed during the infamous werewolf trials of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Another reason is that, for whatever reason, a person wanted to become a werewolf and therefore found a way to chemically induce that hallucination. Quite often in the historical record one will find that several people who wanted to change into a werewolf wore a belt that had a mixture of herbs and fat smeared on it. Some of these herbs, like nightshade, are quite poisonous. I believe that applying some of these poisonous herbs to the skin in a salve would allow a minute portion to soak through the skin and induce hallucinations. If a person wanted to become a wolf, for whatever reason, then he/she could actually induce the hallucination of being a wolf. Two of the most infamous cases of werewolfery involved use of a belt to become a wolf: Peter Stumpp and Gilles Garnier.

It is possible that someone might commit one or more brutal murders and then try to avoid responsibility for his/her actions by claiming to have been a wolf at the time and therefore not in his/her right mind. I sincerely doubt the likelihood of this defense succeeding in past centuries. In 2020, claiming not to be responsible for a murder because you were a wolf at the time would probably get you several years in a mental facility. However, in 1620, you would probably have been burned at the stake.

From a literary perspective, what fascinates me the most is the use of a werewolf as a symbol of human versus the most primitive animal nature, the superego/ego versus the id. Similar symbolism crops up in mythology, legends, and history repeatedly in one form or another. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is one example in literature. One example from Greek/Roman mythology is the centaur, half human and half horse, educated, intelligent, and refined but susceptible to animalistic drives and impulses.

That’s all the time I have for this today. I have errands calling me. Perhaps I can pick this up at a later date in more detail and with my sources cited.

Thoughts? Comments?

On se protege
Protect yourself.

The Saturday Night Special: “The Hand” by Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant
Guy de Maupassant 1850-1893

All were crowding around M. Bermutier, the judge, who was giving his opinion about the Saint-Cloud mystery. For a month this in explicable crime had been the talk of Paris. Nobody could make head or tail of it.

M. Bermutier, standing with his back to the fireplace, was talking, citing the evidence, discussing the various theories, but arriving at no conclusion.

Some women had risen, in order to get nearer to him, and were standing with their eyes fastened on the clean-shaven face of the judge, who was saying such weighty things. They, were shaking and trembling, moved by fear and curiosity, and by the eager and insatiable desire for the horrible, which haunts the soul of every woman. One of them, paler than the others, said during a pause:

“It’s terrible. It verges on the supernatural. The truth will never be known.”

The judge turned to her:

“True, madame, it is likely that the actual facts will never be discovered. As for the word ‘supernatural’ which you have just used, it has nothing to do with the matter. We are in the presence of a very cleverly conceived and executed crime, so well enshrouded in mystery that we cannot disentangle it from the involved circumstances which surround it. But once I had to take charge of an affair in which the uncanny seemed to play a part. In fact, the case became so confused that it had to be given up.”

Several women exclaimed at once:

“Oh! Tell us about it!”

M. Bermutier smiled in a dignified manner, as a judge should, and went on:

“Do not think, however, that I, for one minute, ascribed anything in the case to supernatural influences. I believe only in normal causes. But if, instead of using the word ‘supernatural’ to express what we do not understand, we were simply to make use of the word ‘inexplicable,’ it would be much better. At any rate, in the affair of which I am about to tell you, it is especially the surrounding, preliminary circumstances which impressed me. Here are the facts:

“I was, at that time, a judge at Ajaccio, a little white city on the edge of a bay which is surrounded by high mountains.

“The majority of the cases which came up before me concerned vendettas. There are some that are superb, dramatic, ferocious, heroic. We find there the most beautiful causes for revenge of which one could dream, enmities hundreds of years old, quieted for a time but never extinguished; abominable stratagems, murders becoming massacres and almost deeds of glory. For two years I heard of nothing but the price of blood, of this terrible Corsican prejudice which compels revenge for insults meted out to the offending person and all his descendants and relatives. I had seen old men, children, cousins murdered; my head was full of these stories.

“One day I learned that an Englishman had just hired a little villa at the end of the bay for several years. He had brought with him a French servant, whom he had engaged on the way at Marseilles.

“Soon this peculiar person, living alone, only going out to hunt and fish, aroused a widespread interest. He never spoke to any one, never went to the town, and every morning he would practice for an hour or so with his revolver and rifle.

“Legends were built up around him. It was said that he was some high personage, fleeing from his fatherland for political reasons; then it was affirmed that he was in hiding after having committed some abominable crime. Some particularly horrible circumstances were even mentioned.

“In my judicial position I thought it necessary to get some information about this man, but it was impossible to learn anything. He called himself Sir John Rowell.

“I therefore had to be satisfied with watching him as closely as I could, but I could see nothing suspicious about his actions.

“However, as rumors about him were growing and becoming more widespread, I decided to try to see this stranger myself, and I began to hunt regularly in the neighborhood of his grounds.

“For a long time I watched without finding an opportunity. At last it came to me in the shape of a partridge which I shot and killed right in front of the Englishman. My dog fetched it for me, but, taking the bird, I went at once to Sir John Rowell and, begging his pardon, asked him to accept it.

“He was a big man, with red hair and beard, very tall, very broad, a kind of calm and polite Hercules. He had nothing of the so-called British stiffness, and in a broad English accent he thanked me warmly for my attention. At the end of a month we had had five or six conversations.

“One night, at last, as I was passing before his door, I saw him in the garden, seated astride a chair, smoking his pipe. I bowed and he invited me to come in and have a glass of beer. I needed no urging.

“He received me with the most punctilious English courtesy, sang the praises of France and of Corsica, and declared that he was quite in love with this country.

“Then, with great caution and under the guise of a vivid interest, I asked him a few questions about his life and his plans. He answered without embarrassment, telling me that he had travelled a great deal in Africa, in the Indies, in America. He added, laughing:

“‘I have had many adventures.’

“Then I turned the conversation on hunting, and he gave me the most curious details on hunting the hippopotamus, the tiger, the elephant and even the gorilla.

“I said:

“‘Are all these animals dangerous?’

“He smiled:

“‘Oh, no! Man is the worst.’

“And he laughed a good broad laugh, the wholesome laugh of a contented Englishman.

“‘I have also frequently been man-hunting.’

“Then he began to talk about weapons, and he invited me to come in and see different makes of guns.

“His parlor was draped in black, black silk embroidered in gold. Big yellow flowers, as brilliant as fire, were worked on the dark material.

“He said:

“‘It is a Japanese material.’

“But in the middle of the widest panel a strange thing attracted my attention. A black object stood out against a square of red velvet. I went up to it; it was a hand, a human hand. Not the clean white hand of a skeleton, but a dried black hand, with yellow nails, the muscles exposed and traces of old blood on the bones, which were cut off as clean as though it had been chopped off with an axe, near the middle of the forearm.

“Around the wrist, an enormous iron chain, riveted and soldered to this unclean member, fastened it to the wall by a ring, strong enough to hold an elephant in leash.

“I asked:

“‘What is that?’

“The Englishman answered quietly:

“‘That is my best enemy. It comes from America, too. The bones were severed by a sword and the skin cut off with a sharp stone and dried in the sun for a week.’

“I touched these human remains, which must have belonged to a giant. The uncommonly long fingers were attached by enormous tendons which still had pieces of skin hanging to them in places. This hand was terrible to see; it made one think of some savage vengeance.

“I said:

“‘This man must have been very strong.’

“The Englishman answered quietly:

“‘Yes, but I was stronger than he. I put on this chain to hold him.’

“I thought that he was joking. I said:

“‘This chain is useless now, the hand won’t run away.’

“Sir John Rowell answered seriously:

“‘It always wants to go away. This chain is needed.’

“I glanced at him quickly, questioning his face, and I asked myself:

“‘Is he an insane man or a practical joker?’

“But his face remained inscrutable, calm and friendly. I turned to other subjects, and admired his rifles.

“However, I noticed that he kept three loaded revolvers in the room, as though constantly in fear of some attack.

“I paid him several calls. Then I did not go any more. People had become used to his presence; everybody had lost interest in him.

“A whole year rolled by. One morning, toward the end of November, my servant awoke me and announced that Sir John Rowell had been murdered during the night.

“Half an hour later I entered the Englishman’s house, together with the police commissioner and the captain of the gendarmes. The servant, bewildered and in despair, was crying before the door. At first I suspected this man, but he was innocent.

“The guilty party could never be found.

“On entering Sir John’s parlor, I noticed the body, stretched out on its back, in the middle of the room.

“His vest was torn, the sleeve of his jacket had been pulled off, everything pointed to, a violent struggle.

“The Englishman had been strangled! His face was black, swollen and frightful, and seemed to express a terrible fear. He held something between his teeth, and his neck, pierced by five or six holes which looked as though they had been made by some iron instrument, was covered with blood.

“A physician joined us. He examined the finger marks on the neck for a long time and then made this strange announcement:

“‘It looks as though he had been strangled by a skeleton.’

“A cold chill seemed to run down my back, and I looked over to where I had formerly seen the terrible hand. It was no longer there. The chain was hanging down, broken.

“I bent over the dead man and, in his contracted mouth, I found one of the fingers of this vanished hand, cut–or rather sawed off by the teeth down to the second knuckle.

“Then the investigation began. Nothing could be discovered. No door, window or piece of furniture had been forced. The two watch dogs had not been aroused from their sleep.

“Here, in a few words, is the testimony of the servant:

“For a month his master had seemed excited. He had received many letters, which he would immediately burn.

“Often, in a fit of passion which approached madness, he had taken a switch and struck wildly at this dried hand riveted to the wall, and which had disappeared, no one knows how, at the very hour of the crime.

“He would go to bed very late and carefully lock himself in. He always kept weapons within reach. Often at night he would talk loudly, as though he were quarrelling with some one.

“That night, somehow, he had made no noise, and it was only on going to open the windows that the servant had found Sir John murdered. He suspected no one.

“I communicated what I knew of the dead man to the judges and public officials. Throughout the whole island a minute investigation was carried on. Nothing could be found out.

“One night, about three months after the crime, I had a terrible nightmare. I seemed to see the horrible hand running over my curtains and walls like an immense scorpion or spider. Three times I awoke, three times I went to sleep again; three times I saw the hideous object galloping round my room and moving its fingers like legs.

“The following day the hand was brought me, found in the cemetery, on the grave of Sir John Rowell, who had been buried there because we had been unable to find his family. The first finger was missing.

“Ladies, there is my story. I know nothing more.”

The women, deeply stirred, were pale and trembling. One of them exclaimed:

“But that is neither a climax nor an explanation! We will be unable to sleep unless you give us your opinion of what had occurred.”

The judge smiled severely:

“Oh! Ladies, I shall certainly spoil your terrible dreams. I simply believe that the legitimate owner of the hand was not dead, that he came to get it with his remaining one. But I don’t know how. It was a kind of vendetta.”

One of the women murmured:

“No, it can’t be that.”

And the judge, still smiling, said:

“Didn’t I tell you that my explanation would not satisfy you?”

On se protege
(Protect yourself.)

The Saturday Night Special: “The Hand” by Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant
Guy de Maupassant 1850-1893

All were crowding around M. Bermutier, the judge, who was giving his opinion about the Saint-Cloud mystery. For a month this in explicable crime had been the talk of Paris. Nobody could make head or tail of it.

M. Bermutier, standing with his back to the fireplace, was talking, citing the evidence, discussing the various theories, but arriving at no conclusion.

Some women had risen, in order to get nearer to him, and were standing with their eyes fastened on the clean-shaven face of the judge, who was saying such weighty things. They, were shaking and trembling, moved by fear and curiosity, and by the eager and insatiable desire for the horrible, which haunts the soul of every woman. One of them, paler than the others, said during a pause:

“It’s terrible. It verges on the supernatural. The truth will never be known.”

The judge turned to her:

“True, madame, it is likely that the actual facts will never be discovered. As for the word ‘supernatural’ which you have just used, it has nothing to do with the matter. We are in the presence of a very cleverly conceived and executed crime, so well enshrouded in mystery that we cannot disentangle it from the involved circumstances which surround it. But once I had to take charge of an affair in which the uncanny seemed to play a part. In fact, the case became so confused that it had to be given up.”

Several women exclaimed at once:

“Oh! Tell us about it!”

M. Bermutier smiled in a dignified manner, as a judge should, and went on:

“Do not think, however, that I, for one minute, ascribed anything in the case to supernatural influences. I believe only in normal causes. But if, instead of using the word ‘supernatural’ to express what we do not understand, we were simply to make use of the word ‘inexplicable,’ it would be much better. At any rate, in the affair of which I am about to tell you, it is especially the surrounding, preliminary circumstances which impressed me. Here are the facts:

“I was, at that time, a judge at Ajaccio, a little white city on the edge of a bay which is surrounded by high mountains.

“The majority of the cases which came up before me concerned vendettas. There are some that are superb, dramatic, ferocious, heroic. We find there the most beautiful causes for revenge of which one could dream, enmities hundreds of years old, quieted for a time but never extinguished; abominable stratagems, murders becoming massacres and almost deeds of glory. For two years I heard of nothing but the price of blood, of this terrible Corsican prejudice which compels revenge for insults meted out to the offending person and all his descendants and relatives. I had seen old men, children, cousins murdered; my head was full of these stories.

“One day I learned that an Englishman had just hired a little villa at the end of the bay for several years. He had brought with him a French servant, whom he had engaged on the way at Marseilles.

“Soon this peculiar person, living alone, only going out to hunt and fish, aroused a widespread interest. He never spoke to any one, never went to the town, and every morning he would practice for an hour or so with his revolver and rifle.

“Legends were built up around him. It was said that he was some high personage, fleeing from his fatherland for political reasons; then it was affirmed that he was in hiding after having committed some abominable crime. Some particularly horrible circumstances were even mentioned.

“In my judicial position I thought it necessary to get some information about this man, but it was impossible to learn anything. He called himself Sir John Rowell.

“I therefore had to be satisfied with watching him as closely as I could, but I could see nothing suspicious about his actions.

“However, as rumors about him were growing and becoming more widespread, I decided to try to see this stranger myself, and I began to hunt regularly in the neighborhood of his grounds.

“For a long time I watched without finding an opportunity. At last it came to me in the shape of a partridge which I shot and killed right in front of the Englishman. My dog fetched it for me, but, taking the bird, I went at once to Sir John Rowell and, begging his pardon, asked him to accept it.

“He was a big man, with red hair and beard, very tall, very broad, a kind of calm and polite Hercules. He had nothing of the so-called British stiffness, and in a broad English accent he thanked me warmly for my attention. At the end of a month we had had five or six conversations.

“One night, at last, as I was passing before his door, I saw him in the garden, seated astride a chair, smoking his pipe. I bowed and he invited me to come in and have a glass of beer. I needed no urging.

“He received me with the most punctilious English courtesy, sang the praises of France and of Corsica, and declared that he was quite in love with this country.

“Then, with great caution and under the guise of a vivid interest, I asked him a few questions about his life and his plans. He answered without embarrassment, telling me that he had travelled a great deal in Africa, in the Indies, in America. He added, laughing:

“‘I have had many adventures.’

“Then I turned the conversation on hunting, and he gave me the most curious details on hunting the hippopotamus, the tiger, the elephant and even the gorilla.

“I said:

“‘Are all these animals dangerous?’

“He smiled:

“‘Oh, no! Man is the worst.’

“And he laughed a good broad laugh, the wholesome laugh of a contented Englishman.

“‘I have also frequently been man-hunting.’

“Then he began to talk about weapons, and he invited me to come in and see different makes of guns.

“His parlor was draped in black, black silk embroidered in gold. Big yellow flowers, as brilliant as fire, were worked on the dark material.

“He said:

“‘It is a Japanese material.’

“But in the middle of the widest panel a strange thing attracted my attention. A black object stood out against a square of red velvet. I went up to it; it was a hand, a human hand. Not the clean white hand of a skeleton, but a dried black hand, with yellow nails, the muscles exposed and traces of old blood on the bones, which were cut off as clean as though it had been chopped off with an axe, near the middle of the forearm.

“Around the wrist, an enormous iron chain, riveted and soldered to this unclean member, fastened it to the wall by a ring, strong enough to hold an elephant in leash.

“I asked:

“‘What is that?’

“The Englishman answered quietly:

“‘That is my best enemy. It comes from America, too. The bones were severed by a sword and the skin cut off with a sharp stone and dried in the sun for a week.’

“I touched these human remains, which must have belonged to a giant. The uncommonly long fingers were attached by enormous tendons which still had pieces of skin hanging to them in places. This hand was terrible to see; it made one think of some savage vengeance.

“I said:

“‘This man must have been very strong.’

“The Englishman answered quietly:

“‘Yes, but I was stronger than he. I put on this chain to hold him.’

“I thought that he was joking. I said:

“‘This chain is useless now, the hand won’t run away.’

“Sir John Rowell answered seriously:

“‘It always wants to go away. This chain is needed.’

“I glanced at him quickly, questioning his face, and I asked myself:

“‘Is he an insane man or a practical joker?’

“But his face remained inscrutable, calm and friendly. I turned to other subjects, and admired his rifles.

“However, I noticed that he kept three loaded revolvers in the room, as though constantly in fear of some attack.

“I paid him several calls. Then I did not go any more. People had become used to his presence; everybody had lost interest in him.

“A whole year rolled by. One morning, toward the end of November, my servant awoke me and announced that Sir John Rowell had been murdered during the night.

“Half an hour later I entered the Englishman’s house, together with the police commissioner and the captain of the gendarmes. The servant, bewildered and in despair, was crying before the door. At first I suspected this man, but he was innocent.

“The guilty party could never be found.

“On entering Sir John’s parlor, I noticed the body, stretched out on its back, in the middle of the room.

“His vest was torn, the sleeve of his jacket had been pulled off, everything pointed to, a violent struggle.

“The Englishman had been strangled! His face was black, swollen and frightful, and seemed to express a terrible fear. He held something between his teeth, and his neck, pierced by five or six holes which looked as though they had been made by some iron instrument, was covered with blood.

“A physician joined us. He examined the finger marks on the neck for a long time and then made this strange announcement:

“‘It looks as though he had been strangled by a skeleton.’

“A cold chill seemed to run down my back, and I looked over to where I had formerly seen the terrible hand. It was no longer there. The chain was hanging down, broken.

“I bent over the dead man and, in his contracted mouth, I found one of the fingers of this vanished hand, cut–or rather sawed off by the teeth down to the second knuckle.

“Then the investigation began. Nothing could be discovered. No door, window or piece of furniture had been forced. The two watch dogs had not been aroused from their sleep.

“Here, in a few words, is the testimony of the servant:

“For a month his master had seemed excited. He had received many letters, which he would immediately burn.

“Often, in a fit of passion which approached madness, he had taken a switch and struck wildly at this dried hand riveted to the wall, and which had disappeared, no one knows how, at the very hour of the crime.

“He would go to bed very late and carefully lock himself in. He always kept weapons within reach. Often at night he would talk loudly, as though he were quarrelling with some one.

“That night, somehow, he had made no noise, and it was only on going to open the windows that the servant had found Sir John murdered. He suspected no one.

“I communicated what I knew of the dead man to the judges and public officials. Throughout the whole island a minute investigation was carried on. Nothing could be found out.

“One night, about three months after the crime, I had a terrible nightmare. I seemed to see the horrible hand running over my curtains and walls like an immense scorpion or spider. Three times I awoke, three times I went to sleep again; three times I saw the hideous object galloping round my room and moving its fingers like legs.

“The following day the hand was brought me, found in the cemetery, on the grave of Sir John Rowell, who had been buried there because we had been unable to find his family. The first finger was missing.

“Ladies, there is my story. I know nothing more.”

The women, deeply stirred, were pale and trembling. One of them exclaimed:

“But that is neither a climax nor an explanation! We will be unable to sleep unless you give us your opinion of what had occurred.”

The judge smiled severely:

“Oh! Ladies, I shall certainly spoil your terrible dreams. I simply believe that the legitimate owner of the hand was not dead, that he came to get it with his remaining one. But I don’t know how. It was a kind of vendetta.”

One of the women murmured:

“No, it can’t be that.”

And the judge, still smiling, said:

“Didn’t I tell you that my explanation would not satisfy you?”

On se protege
(Protect yourself.)

Book Review by Better than Food: 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade

the Marquis de Sade

Donatien Alphonse Francois, Marquis de Sade in 1760, age 19.

This is another video review of one of de Sade‘s works that I ran across while researching the author. Since today is de Sade’s birthday, and I have already posted a review of one of de Sade’s two most infamous works, I thought I would post a review of his other most infamous work.

The review is by Clifford Sergeant, who does excellent reviews of modern and classic works of literature on his Better than Food Youtube channel. I have seen several of his videos and I think they are terrific. However, reading and reviewing 120 Days of Sodom seems to have shaken him somewhat in this video.

As I mentioned in my previous post, last week, for some unknown reason, I had a burning curiosity about de Sade’s life. I watched a few YouTube videos on it, and, suffice it to say, my curiosity for his works has been sated, but I would love to learn more about de Sade’s life. He seems to be a fascinating character, though severely flawed to say the least.

From what I can gather about 120 Days of Sodom, de Sade wrote it while in prison (I believe in the Bastille). He wrote it to keep himself entertained and never intended to have it published. However, after he escaped prison, the manuscript was found in his cell and by some strange strokes of luck, was eventually published.

I hope you enjoy the video. It is a fascinating glimpse into one of literature’s most infamous works.

My Poetry Collection “Nocturne” is Free October 20 in Commemoration of Arthur Rimbaud’s Birthday

Today, I am giving away copies of the e-version of my only poetry collection Nocturne: Poems of Love, Distance, and the Night, a callous and disinterested lover in commemoration of the birthday of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, author of A Season in Hell (Une Saison en Enfer)

Nocturne is a collection of my poetry written from the mid-80’s to mid-90s, a turbulent, fluid time in my life in many ways, but especially romantically. I have taken many of the poems written during those years and compiled them into a dark narrative capturing the emotional turmoil of a narrator who descends from romantic love for a woman into a lonely world of alcohol and night clubs, where his only love is the night that envelopes him psychologically, emotionally, and physically.  It is about 110 print pages in length and lavishly illustrated with photos I found in the public domain (no, those are not photos of me or my former paramours).

You can find it and my other works at my Amazon author’s page:  Amazon.com/author/philslattery.

I have tried to make this a wonderful experience for the reader, exploring the bliss of love to the depths of despair and then to resignation to one’s fate in an existential crisis.

Don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads!

Arthur Rimbaud
age 17

While there, you might want to check out my other work on relationships: The Scent and Other Stories.  In this collection of short stories, I explore the dark, sometimes violent, sometimes twisted, sometimes touching side of love, the side kept not only from public view, but sometimes from our mates. Set in the modern era, these stories range from regretting losing a lover to forbidden interracial love in the hills of 1970’s Kentucky to a mother’s deathbed confession in present-day New Mexico to debating pursuing a hateful man’s wife to the callous manipulation of a lover in Texas.

Check back frequently for updates.

Nocturne… is available on Amazon.fr

July 29, 2019

My poetry collection Nocturne: Poems of Love, Distance, and the Night, a callous and disinterested lover is available in several Amazon markets worldwide including Amazon.fr (France). Here is a synopsis of the books details from Amazon.fr for September 30, 2019 (unfortunately, the book is still in English, unless someone wants to translate it into French-my French isn’t that good):

Détails sur le produit

My Poetry Collection “Nocturne” is Free September 30 in Commemoration of W.S. Merwin’s Birthday

Today, I am giving away copies of the e-version of my only poetry collection Nocturne: Poems of Love, Distance, and the Night, a callous and disinterested lover in commemoration of the birthday of the poet W.S. Merwin.

Nocturne is a collection of my poetry written from the mid-80’s to mid-90s, a turbulent, fluid time in my life in many ways, but especially romantically. I have taken many of the poems written during those years and compiled them into a dark narrative capturing the emotional turmoil of a narrator who descends from romantic love for a woman into a lonely world of alcohol and night clubs, where his only love is the night that envelopes him psychologically, emotionally, and physically.  It is about 110 print pages in length and lavishly illustrated with photos I found in the public domain (no, those are not photos of me or my former paramours).

You can find it and my other works at my Amazon author’s page:  Amazon.com/author/philslattery.

I have tried to make this a wonderful experience for the reader, exploring the bliss of love to the depths of despair and then to resignation to one’s fate in an existential crisis.

Don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads!

WS Merwin

While there, you might want to check out my other work on relationships: The Scent and Other Stories.  In this collection of short stories, I explore the dark, sometimes violent, sometimes twisted, sometimes touching side of love, the side kept not only from public view, but sometimes from our mates. Set in the modern era, these stories range from regretting losing a lover to forbidden interracial love in the hills of 1970’s Kentucky to a mother’s deathbed confession in present-day New Mexico to debating pursuing a hateful man’s wife to the callous manipulation of a lover in Texas.

Check back frequently for updates.

Update: My Short Story “Bye-Bye” will be Published Today at Fiction on the Web

April 15, 2017

My short story “Bye-Bye” has been accepted for publication at Fiction on the Web and will appear there, today, July 26. If you are interested in finding out more about them, follow this link to an Authors Publish review of their site.  In their first paragraph, Authors Publish says this about Fiction on the Web:

“Fiction on the Web (FotW), was founded in 1996, which makes it one of the oldest online literary journals. In fact it is the oldest online journal that focuses solely on publishing short fiction. They have had hundreds of thousands of readers over the years…” 

“Bye-bye” is a mainstream love story, which I feel is very poignant and says something about the better side of human nature. It is based on an actual event I witnessed, when I was in the Navy and our ship, the USS Enterprise, made a portcall in Toulon, France, in 1986.  I never spoke with any of the characters involved and most of the story is fiction, but it has a kernel of truth at its core.

The story is unusual for a work of short fiction, because it uses footnotes to explain some of the Navy jargon. I felt I had to keep the jargon to keep the story realistic, though I tried to keep the footnotes to an absolute minimum, so as to interrupt the narrative flow as little as possible.

Please visit Fiction on the Web on July 26 and let me know what you think of the story.  One excellent advantage of publishing on Fiction on the Web is that their stories normally receive a lot of good, constructive criticism from their readers.  I find that very helpful in developing my art.

 

 

 

 

Update: My Short Story “Bye-Bye” Will Be Published on July 26

April 15, 2017

My short story “Bye-Bye” has been accepted for publication at Fiction on the Web and will appear there on July 26. If you are interested in finding out more about them, follow this link to an Authors Publish review of their site.  In their first paragraph, Authors Publish says this about Fiction on the Web:

“Fiction on the Web (FotW), was founded in 1996, which makes it one of the oldest online literary journals. In fact it is the oldest online journal that focuses solely on publishing short fiction. They have had hundreds of thousands of readers over the years…” 

“Bye-bye” is a mainstream love story, which I feel is very poignant and says something about the better side of human nature. It is based on an actual event I witnessed, when I was in the Navy and our ship, the USS Enterprise, made a portcall in Toulon, France, in 1986.  I never spoke with any of the characters involved and most of the story is fiction, but it has a kernel of truth at its core.

The story is unusual for a work of short fiction, because it uses footnotes to explain some of the Navy jargon. I felt I had to keep the jargon to keep the story realistic, though I tried to keep the footnotes to an absolute minimum, so as to interrupt the narrative flow as little as possible.

Please visit Fiction on the Web on July 26 and let me know what you think of the story.  One excellent advantage of publishing on Fiction on the Web is that their stories normally receive a lot of good, constructive criticism from their readers.  I find that very helpful in developing my art.

 

 

 

 

Update: My Short Story “Bye-Bye” Will be Published on July 26

April 15, 2017

My short story “Bye-Bye” has been accepted for publication at Fiction on the Web and will appear there on July 26. If you are interested in finding out more about them, follow this link to an Authors Publish review of their site.  In their first paragraph, Authors Publish says this about Fiction on the Web:

“Fiction on the Web (FotW), was founded in 1996, which makes it one of the oldest online literary journals. In fact it is the oldest online journal that focuses solely on publishing short fiction. They have had hundreds of thousands of readers over the years…” 

“Bye-bye” is a mainstream love story, which I feel is very poignant and says something about the better side of human nature. It is based on an actual event I witnessed, when I was in the Navy and our ship, the USS Enterprise, made a portcall in Toulon, France, in 1986.  I never spoke with any of the characters involved and most of the story is fiction, but it has a kernel of truth at its core.

The story is unusual for a work of short fiction, because it uses footnotes to explain some of the Navy jargon. I felt I had to keep the jargon to keep the story realistic, though I tried to keep the footnotes to an absolute minimum, so as to interrupt the narrative flow as little as possible.

Please visit Fiction on the Web on July 26 and let me know what you think of the story.  One excellent advantage of publishing on Fiction on the Web is that their stories normally receive a lot of good, constructive criticism from their readers.  I find that very helpful in developing my art.

 

 

 

 

Update: My Short Story “Bye-Bye” Will be Published on July 26

April 15, 2017

My short story “Bye-Bye” has been accepted for publication at Fiction on the Web and will appear there on July 26. If you are interested in finding out more about them, follow this link to an Authors Publish review of their site.  In their first paragraph, Authors Publish says this about Fiction on the Web:

“Fiction on the Web (FotW), was founded in 1996, which makes it one of the oldest online literary journals. In fact it is the oldest online journal that focuses solely on publishing short fiction. They have had hundreds of thousands of readers over the years…” 

“Bye-bye” is a mainstream love story, which I feel is very poignant and says something about the better side of human nature. It is based on an actual event I witnessed, when I was in the Navy and our ship, the USS Enterprise, made a portcall in Toulon, France, in 1986.  I never spoke with any of the characters involved and most of the story is fiction, but it has a kernel of truth at its core.

The story is unusual for a work of short fiction, because it uses footnotes to explain some of the Navy jargon. I felt I had to keep the jargon to keep the story realistic, though I tried to keep the footnotes to an absolute minimum, so as to interrupt the narrative flow as little as possible.

Please visit Fiction on the Web on July 26 and let me know what you think of the story.  One excellent advantage of publishing on Fiction on the Web is that their stories normally receive a lot of good, constructive criticism from their readers.  I find that very helpful in developing my art.

 

 

 

 

Update: My Short Story “Bye-Bye” Will be Published on July 26

April 15, 2017

My short story “Bye-Bye” has been accepted for publication at Fiction on the Web and will appear there on July 26. If you are interested in finding out more about them, follow this link to an Authors Publish review of their site.  In their first paragraph, Authors Publish says this about Fiction on the Web:

“Fiction on the Web (FotW), was founded in 1996, which makes it one of the oldest online literary journals. In fact it is the oldest online journal that focuses solely on publishing short fiction. They have had hundreds of thousands of readers over the years…” 

“Bye-bye” is a mainstream love story, which I feel is very poignant and says something about the better side of human nature. It is based on an actual event I witnessed, when I was in the Navy and our ship, the USS Enterprise, made a portcall in Toulon, France, in 1986.  I never spoke with any of the characters involved and most of the story is fiction, but it has a kernel of truth at its core.

The story is unusual for a work of short fiction, because it uses footnotes to explain some of the Navy jargon. I felt I had to keep the jargon to keep the story realistic, though I tried to keep the footnotes to an absolute minimum, so as to interrupt the narrative flow as little as possible.

Please visit Fiction on the Web on July 26 and let me know what you think of the story.  One excellent advantage of publishing on Fiction on the Web is that their stories normally receive a lot of good, constructive criticism from their readers.  I find that very helpful in developing my art.

 

 

 

 

Marketing Test

Phil Slattery, 2015

For at least the next few weeks, I will be testing advertising my works at various times to see how that will affect book sales.  For example, you probably saw the same announcements for Diabolical and Alien Embrace at least four times (every six hours) each on a few days, sometimes in sequence, to see if that not only affects sales in the US, but around the globe as well. My followers in other countries occasionally purchase a work, but I have to ask myself if this is because of the difference in time zones and because I have been making announcements only once per day. For example, if I announce a book is available at 8:00 eastern standard time (EST) in the US, which is an optimal time to advertise in the US, that announcement reaches people in India around 5:30 pm, which may or may not be a time when the announcement will reach the most viewers.

What gave me this ideas is noticing that since I have started advertising my works once per day at 8:00 EST, my readership in India has picked up. Therefore, I am experimenting to determine the optimal times to reach a worldwide audience.

Unfortunately, this will clutter this website with the same repeated ads, so I will run these multiple ads only sporadically.  I will not be doing this every day.

You will also start seeing the occasional article in another language as part of the effort to reach a global audience.  This articles will be most likely be in German, French, or Spanish, all of which I can speak or read to some degree.  A translation may or may not be provided.

Marketing Test

Phil Slattery, 2015

For at least the next few weeks, I will be testing advertising my works at various times to see how that will affect book sales.  For example, you probably saw the same announcements for Diabolical and Alien Embrace at least four times (every six hours) each on a few days, sometimes in sequence, to see if that not only affects sales in the US, but around the globe as well. My followers in other countries occasionally purchase a work, but I have to ask myself if this is because of the difference in time zones and because I have been making announcements only once per day. For example, if I announce a book is available at 8:00 eastern standard time (EST) in the US, which is an optimal time to advertise in the US, that announcement reaches people in India around 5:30 pm, which may or may not be a time when the announcement will reach the most viewers.

What gave me this ideas is noticing that since I have started advertising my works once per day at 8:00 EST, my readership in India has picked up. Therefore, I am experimenting to determine the optimal times to reach a worldwide audience.

Unfortunately, this will clutter this website with the same repeated ads, so I will run these multiple ads only sporadically.  I will not be doing this every day.

You will also start seeing the occasional article in another language as part of the effort to reach a global audience.  This articles will be most likely be in German, French, or Spanish, all of which I can speak or read to some degree.  A translation may or may not be provided.

Marketing Test

Phil Slattery, 2015

For at least the next few weeks, I will be testing advertising my works at various times to see how that will affect book sales.  For example, you probably saw the same announcements for Diabolical and Alien Embrace at least four times (every six hours) each on a few days, sometimes in sequence, to see if that not only affects sales in the US, but around the globe as well. My followers in other countries occasionally purchase a work, but I have to ask myself if this is because of the difference in time zones and because I have been making announcements only once per day. For example, if I announce a book is available at 8:00 eastern standard time (EST) in the US, which is an optimal time to advertise in the US, that announcement reaches people in India around 5:30 pm, which may or may not be a time when the announcement will reach the most viewers.

What gave me this ideas is noticing that since I have started advertising my works once per day at 8:00 EST, my readership in India has picked up. Therefore, I am experimenting to determine the optimal times to reach a worldwide audience.

Unfortunately, this will clutter this website with the same repeated ads, so I will run these multiple ads only sporadically.  I will not be doing this every day.

You will also start seeing the occasional article in another language as part of the effort to reach a global audience.  This articles will be most likely be in German, French, or Spanish, all of which I can speak or read to some degree.  A translation may or may not be provided.

Update: My Short Story “Bye-Bye” has been Accepted for Publication

April 15, 2017

My short story “Bye-Bye” has been accepted for publication at Fiction on the Web and will appear there on July 26. If you are interested in finding out more about them, follow this link to an Authors Publish review of their site.  In their first paragraph, Authors Publish says this about Fiction on the Web:

“Fiction on the Web (FotW), was founded in 1996, which makes it one of the oldest online literary journals. In fact it is the oldest online journal that focuses solely on publishing short fiction. They have had hundreds of thousands of readers over the years…” 

“Bye-bye” is a mainstream love story, which I feel is very poignant and says something about the better side of human nature. It is based on an actual event I witnessed, when I was in the Navy and our ship, the USS Enterprise, made a portcall in Toulon, France, in 1986.  I never spoke with any of the characters involved and most of the story is fiction, but it has a kernel of truth at its core.

The story is unusual for a work of short fiction, because it uses footnotes to explain some of the Navy jargon. I felt I had to keep the jargon to keep the story realistic, though I tried to keep the footnotes to an absolute minimum, so as to interrupt the narrative flow as little as possible.

Please visit Fiction on the Web on July 26 and let me know what you think of the story.  One excellent advantage of publishing on Fiction on the Web is that their stories normally receive a lot of good, constructive criticism from their readers.  I find that very helpful in developing my art.

 

 

 

 

Marketing Test

Phil Slattery, 2015

For at least the next few weeks, I will be testing advertising my works at various times to see how that will affect book sales.  For example, you probably saw the same announcements for Diabolical and Alien Embrace at least four times (every six hours) each on a few days, sometimes in sequence, to see if that not only affects sales in the US, but around the globe as well. My followers in other countries occasionally purchase a work, but I have to ask myself if this is because of the difference in time zones and because I have been making announcements only once per day. For example, if I announce a book is available at 8:00 eastern standard time (EST) in the US, which is an optimal time to advertise in the US, that announcement reaches people in India around 5:30 pm, which may or may not be a time when the announcement will reach the most viewers.

What gave me this ideas is noticing that since I have started advertising my works once per day at 8:00 EST, my readership in India has picked up. Therefore, I am experimenting to determine the optimal times to reach a worldwide audience.

Unfortunately, this will clutter this website with the same repeated ads, so I will run these multiple ads only sporadically.  I will not be doing this every day.

You will also start seeing the occasional article in another language as part of the effort to reach a global audience.  This articles will be most likely be in German, French, or Spanish, all of which I can speak or read to some degree.  A translation may or may not be provided.

Marketing Test

Phil Slattery, 2015

For at least the next few weeks, I will be testing advertising my works at various times to see how that will affect book sales.  For example, you probably saw the same announcements for Diabolical and Alien Embrace at least four times (every six hours) each on a few days, sometimes in sequence, to see if that not only affects sales in the US, but around the globe as well. My followers in other countries occasionally purchase a work, but I have to ask myself if this is because of the difference in time zones and because I have been making announcements only once per day. For example, if I announce a book is available at 8:00 eastern standard time (EST) in the US, which is an optimal time to advertise in the US, that announcement reaches people in India around 5:30 pm, which may or may not be a time when the announcement will reach the most viewers.

What gave me this ideas is noticing that since I have started advertising my works once per day at 8:00 EST, my readership in India has picked up. Therefore, I am experimenting to determine the optimal times to reach a worldwide audience.

Unfortunately, this will clutter this website with the same repeated ads, so I will run these multiple ads only sporadically.  I will not be doing this every day.

You will also start seeing the occasional article in another language as part of the effort to reach a global audience.  This articles will be most likely be in German, French, or Spanish, all of which I can speak or read to some degree.  A translation may or may not be provided.