Okay, kind of a busy week as I’m doing some stuff for Games behind the scenes, but of course I had to make room for Nyogtha. Even on weeks where I want to slack, I like knowing I’m the only guy who hasn’t missed a Daily Pulse yet. ;p
Let’s do letters first.
Just discovered your column, and find it a very interesting read. There
was something in your most recent column I wanted to comment on.
“As for Lovecraft, he never wrote any white supremist essays or
articles. That’s an amazingly stupid rumour spread about him because god
forbid to a 21st century reader, someone back in the 1890’s used the
word “nigger” to describe an African American. Back then it was
acceptable to use that term, even though today no one but a racist dumb
ass would. This rumour about Lovecraft stems back from his early tale
“The Rats in the Wall” because the main character had a black cat named
“Nigger-Man.” Ignore what you hear about Lovecraft being racist, as by
perusing through his letters and correspondence, you can easily see
that’s not true.”
Well, actually the claims of racism largely stem from a comment he made
in one of his letters in 1915, which stated fairly directly his views on
blacks: “The Negro is fundamentally the biologically inferior of all
White and even Mongolian races.” A bit more oblique, but no less
damning, is this comment he made in a column of his self-published
magazine The Conservative, also in 1915: “Race prejudice is a gift of
nature, intended to preserve in purity the various divisions of mankind
which the ages have evolved.”
How those comments can be reconciled with a non-racist point of view is
See, the problem is enforcing 21st Century morality and ethics on a person who was born in the 19th Century. It can’t be done. Because what is wrong now, wasn’t wrong then. Here was my response to Jer.
Because both quotes are taken out of context. They were in reference to racial interbreeding. Lovecraft was very respectful to the average African American and had friends that were black.
You have to look at it in a cultural context. There are many people who aren’t homophobic or gay bashers who still don’t think homosexuals deserve marriage
rights for whatever reason. By today’s standard those comments do come off
racist, but for his time Lovecraft was surprisingly non racist except in the
grounds of racial intermixing, which again, was against the law at time
anyway. And thankfully was overturned by the Supreme Court as well.
Lovecraft gets quoted out of context. Just like Joseph Campbell has been
labeled an anti semite by a small group of rumour mongers even though the
Jewish Anti-defimimation league never once received a comment about him being
anti-Jewish while alive.
You can’t just take a quote out of context and use it to damn someone. That’s
like when Ventura said Religion is a crutch for weak-minded individuals and the
religious right and republicans tried to make him seem antichristian.
Would Lovecraft be considered a racist today by things he might say? Certainly. Because certain terms and beliefs that the majority held in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s would not be tolerated by our more educated and liberalized society. But in his day, Lovecraft was considered very liberal and tolerant of people different from his own white male society.
And man, is a week going to go by without a Lovecraft question. But this conversation neatly ties into another letter I got this past week.
I’m a longtime reader who always enjoyed Retrograding and is now firmly in love with Nyogtha. I was looking into some of the books you recommended for “Angelo” and came across some disturbing reviews of Mr. Joseph Campbell. In many of the reviews on Amazon, he is referred to as an Anti-Semite, neo fascist, etc, etc. I am much more adapt to go by your endorsement of Mr. Campbell but somewhat confused by the noticeable hatred others have for him. Is he a brilliant scholar who has just pissed off half of the religious community with his analysis of questionable “religious truths”? Or does he really have an axe to grind like so many claim? Keep up the great work, I always look forward to a new Nyogtha on Mondays. Thanks again.
Right on the money Pete. Most of those negative reviews about Campbell are because he wasn’t Christian and dared to point out Christianity is for him, just another religion that will die and be replaced like all the others. And all those reviews are by Judeo-Christians unable to accept someone doesn’t share their faith and casts suspicion on Christianity’s validity. It’s like where uber Republicans write terrible reviews for Michael Moore or super Liberals writer damning testimonies about Anne Collier when they haven’t read her. Just another example of people opening their mouths and acting like idiots.
As for the anti-Semite claims, totally unfounded and just another rumour. The Jewish Anti-Defamation league denies Campbell has ever said or done anything anti-Semitic, and if they’re backing Campbell over these claims, you know they’re pretty unfounded. As well, even Aryan groups and White Nationalists have no idea where the belief Campbell is prejudiced against Jews came from.
Information about the falsity of these claims against Campbell can be found here:
And on and on and on.
It’s ironic than the man who studied myths his whole life became the subject of a modern one after his death. But to make a long story short, no, Campbell wasn’t against Jews. Some people are just stupid.
just thought I should let you know, on the off chance that you haven’t found out already, that Dark Horse is translating and publishing the original Vampire Hnter D novels in America.
Yes. All must buy. Kikuchi is an amazing writer and I hope the translations preserve his talent. But I doubt they will.
And for you Retrograding fans…
I bought Ribbit King at Best Buy for $9.99…that’s right, 10 bucks, after reading your raves for it. THANK YOU! This game rules!
EVERYONE needs to own Ribbit King. That is all.
Okay, I admit that due to me being blah this week I’m going to cheat a bit and use an old essay none of you have read anyway, so it’s new to you. And it’s one of my favorites. See, this is the good thing about having a few hundred of these in print. ;-)
Consecrated in 1839, a mere four days before Queen Victoria’s 20th birthday, Highgate cemetery became one of the first public cemeteries in England. Eventually it became one of its most beautiful…and infamous.
Highgate actually started out in the late 1600’s as part on an estate owned by Sir William Ashhurst. The small hillside community it was part of bore the name now synonymous with the eventual graveyard, although in truth, Highgate’s official name is ‘The Cemetery of St. James.’ Eventually, the Mansion of Sir Ashhurst was torn down in the 1836 and a church was erected in its stead. Three years later the surrounding grounds joined the church as holy land.
With a rapidly growing city, and less and less room to bury the dead, public cemeteries became the only option truly available, especially after outbreaks of Cholera. A private group, The London Cemetery Company established Highgate as a pay-for-internment cemetery, and hired an architect by the name of Stephen Geary to make the cemetery as appealing as possible.
For many years, Highgate was both a fashionable and popular place as one’s final resting spot. Geary had outdone himself by making Highgate a Victorian masterpiece of landscaping and motor that celebrated death in the manner of Gothic Revival, which was all the rage at the time. When Geary first started work on the cemetery, he planned it to be 17 acres and hold 30,000 corpses.
The two areas of the cemetery that were as famous then as they are today are The ‘Egyptian Avenue’ and the ‘Circle of Lebanon.’ The Egyptian Avenue is lined with intimidating looming over tombs gated by iron; each with the insignia of the inverted extinguished torch: a symbol of death. It was excavated on the steepest part of Highgate cemetery and one walks through massive arches to reach it.
The Circle of Lebanon is made up of both an inner and outer ring of catacombs that mixes both Egyptian and Classical styles of architecture. The Circle of Lebanon is sunk thirty feet into the earth around a majestic and ancient cedar tree, gaining its life from those that dies so many years ago.
There is also a two-acre section of the cemetery left unhallowed for those not of the Anglican faith.
At the opening of the cemetery, an average grave cost a two Pounds, ten Shillings, while being rewarded with burial in the circle of Lebanon cost 210 Pounds, which even a hundred years ago was an extravagant amount of money. In 1854, the company purchased another 17 acres, and Geary himself was buried on the west side when he died that same year.
But beauty alone doth not a success make. Public Cemeteries were a new and risky venture, and the owners of Highgate, steadily lost money. United Cemeteries Unlimited purchased the LCC. Corners and jobs and to be cut, and eventually the magnificent graves and marble monuments were enveloped by the undergrowth. Families too stop maintaining the look of their graves, and fewer and fewer people purchased plots Highgate as a whole fell into a state of disrepair.
It was this image of Highgate as a desolated and ruined cemetery that Bram Stoker used in his masterpiece, “Dracula.” Angels crumbling into dust, Gargoyles leering out from behind rampantly growing weeds and graves and tombs that no longer bore the name of who dwelt within them, thank to the harsh elements and lack of care. When Holmwood, Van Helsing and Seward encounter the newly risen Lucy Westenra, one cannot help but she her emerging from one of the many tombs that litter the grounds of Highgate.
Even into the 20th century, Highgate still resembled something out of a Radcliff novel. Trees grew out of graves, draining their moisture from the bodies beneath the surface. Foliage continued to cover and disinter headstones, making the cemetery appear as a mysterious city of the dead. Pathways were lost to the bramble and darkness created by the overgrown plant life. Animals began to take back the cemetery as their own. Sunken and opened graves seemed to beckon the few visitors that entered Highgate with fears that perhaps their residents wandered the cemetery freely as well. It is no wonder then, with its gloomy atmosphere and ominous appearance that people began to tell stories of ghosts, ghouls and other creatures that were unable to sleep eternally.
There are many stories about Haunting in Highgate, but thanks to a series of events in the later 1960’s to the early 1980’s, Highgate Cemetery’s most common undead affliction was vampires.
In 1969, certifiably neurotic poet, Dante Gabriel Rossetti had his wife’s corpse in Highgate Cemetery dug up because after seven years of internment, he decided he wanted back the book of unpublished poems he had buried with her. When Lizzie Siddal was dug up, her corpse was found to be astonishingly preserved, as if she had died recently instead of nearly a decade ago. Although this was a store of amusement in its day, the hushed whispers were pointed more towards Mr. Rossetti’s sanity instead of the possibility that his wife was planning to feast upon the necks of the living.
It is a story that began two years earlier that received the most attention from the media and those interested in things of an occult nature.
In Early 1967, two sixteen-year-old girls from La Sainte Union Convent walked home late one night past the northern gate of the cemetery on Swans Lane. As they looked through the bars of the gate, both girls beheld graves opening and the dead rising from within them. As soon as the girls spoke to each other, everything appeared normal again, as if it was some type of hallucination.
Both girls made a fuss about what has transpired, and were eventually interviewed by various English newspapers (read: Tabloids), thus fueling pup talk and making both girls quasi-celebrities. Soon one of them, Elizabeth Wojdyla, reported she was suffering from horrifying nightmares. In those dreams, Elizabeth witnessed a gaunt face personifying evil attempting to enter her bedroom. This added even more fuel to the fire.
Weeks later another report at the North Gate was filed to the press. This time, a young man and his girlfriend were walking down Swans Lane when the girlfriend let loose a blood-curdling scream. The man looked, and standing a few feet away from them, on the other side of the gate was a figure with a horrifying face. As the girl scream the creature seemed to be enveloped by the darkness and disappeared before their eyes.
One may have considered this second event to be merely a delusion or fabrication brought on by knowledge of the story recently hyped by the local media, but a young man named Sean Manchester seemed to think otherwise.
When Manchester began put both events together, he began snooping around the western side of Highgate cemetery, as it was the most run down section. But only during the daylight hours. According to Manchester, he spoke again with the man from the second incident. He and a friend had supposedly climbed over the wall of the north gate at night and crept into the heart of the cemetery. There they encountered a hollow and slow booming noise that sounded as if it was coming closer and closer towards them. Then a dark shape moved onto the path directly in front of them, and they fled, scared out of their wits.
For two and a half years nothing else ‘newsworthy’ occurred. But in 1969 Sean Manchester finally met Elizabeth Wojdyla who revealed to him that her nightmares had become worse. Now the creature in her dreams was able to enter her room and its face was like that of an animal, with long fangs and shadowy gray features. Elizabeth had also grown thin, pale and weak. Her doctor said it was merely acute anemia, but her boyfriend showed Manchester two small marks on his neck. Both men believed Elizabeth was actually plagued by a vampire and began to set up the usual defenses: a small cross around her neck, bulbs of garlic draped along the windows, and holy water sprinkled on the floor. Surprisingly, Elizabeth began to feel better.
At the same time, reports of ghostly sightings in Highgate started anew. Manchester and his colleagues started many of these as they tried to investigate possible paranormal activity within the cemetery grounds. The media, always looking for a new story, picked up on these investigations and snowballed them.
At this point, there were still no reports of vampires or vampiric activity. All reports commented on ghostly figures lurking inside the cemetery or of a tall figure with the face of a wild animal. But when dead animals such as foxes and rodents, the kind of animal known to live in Highgate, began to turn up on the grounds of the cemetery and the nearby Waterlow Park drained of blood with necks eviscerated, Manchester’s opinions began to gain merit.
Let it be known that these animal killings were more like the work of quasi-Satanists or cultists as symbols such as the sigil of Baphomet were found by some of the animals and drawn in the dirt. But Manchester was publicly adamant about his beliefs that a vampire was behind these killings and hauntings, and even called the press, identifying himself as a vampire expert and president of the ‘British Occult Society.’ With the quotable word of a would-be expert, along with potential headliners for months to come, Manchester caused a media frenzy, with himself at the epicenter of it all.
On the British Television Manchester claimed to have been in contact with another women with symptoms similar to those Elizabeth’s and that he followed her sleepwalking form into Highgate, where she stopped at a cluster if burial vaults. Here Manchester too heard the booming noise mentioned to him previously and left with the woman, named Lusia, in tow. He stated an actual vampire lived within that conflagration of tombs and he intended to destroy it. Sean even went so far as to give an exact date of March 13, 1970, something that again was a bonafide present to the press. They couldn’t have asked for a better ringleader to this circus of the undead.
That night, after an interview on the TV show, ‘Today,’ Manchester led a brigade of member of the media, occult enthusiasts and assorted oddballs to the place he claimed the undead rested. The police even became involved, providing searchlights for this excursion.
Manchester and two friends were lowered twenty-five feet into the depths of Highgate’s catacombs. The empty coffins were found inside the vault, and they were then sprinkled with holy water, filled with garlic and had a silver crucifix place inside. They did an exorcism and then left. Manchester and his associates stayed watch all night and reported a booming sound at 2am. The same booming sound they had heard before. The next morning, the coffins were still empty.
After the exorcism, things actually took a turn for the worst. The media still continued to give accounts of ghostly happenings at the cemetery, and inspired by the publicity, more would-be vampire hunters turned out, attempting to make a name for themselves similar to how Manchester had made his.
In August 1970, a beheaded corpse was found in the cemetery. Someone had broken into a vault, mutilated a corpse and then tried to set it on fire. This act finally turned citizen amusement into outrage and action finally began to be taken. Two would be hunters were arrested and public opinion of ‘hunters’ began to sour.
During this time Manchester claimed to have found ANOTHER vampire, but instead of mutilating it and getting arrested (Mutilation of a body is a crime) he preformed another exorcism and sealed the vault shut with cement that had garlic mixed into it. No, I can’t make shit like that up. Garlic cement.
After Manchester public decree that he had successfully exorcised the second vampire, media fervor died down. The story had run its course. But one David Farrant, who also used first name aliases of Allan and Robert, refused to believe that and, claiming to be a vampire hunter and was arrested for walking around Highgate with a stake and hammer. This is only of note for amusement’s sake as Farrant was arrested in 1971 for being with a naked woman in Highgate performing necromantic ceremonies and taking photos of the act. When caught, he claimed to be the high priest of an occult order founded by Sean Manchester. Manchester of course denied any association. This would begin a long bizarre feud between the two hunters where Farrant would make increasingly bizarre claims, including staging the entire Highgate Vampire as a media hoax, which again Manchester denied. In fact their relationship was mostly Farrant ravings and Manchester calling Farrant a liar or ‘misinformed.’
Manchester, in the meantime, continues hunting vampires. In 1973, he claimed one of the vampires he had defeated in Highgate had escaped and was living in a nearby mansion, presumed to be haunted. There, Manchester, along with comrades, dispatched the beast in a more traditional manner of using a stake through the heart and fire. Soon after this, the mansion of the vampire was torn down and a flat of apartments was erected in its place.
Yet the occasional mishap still occurred at Highgate. In 1974, a man found a headless corpse slumped over in the driver’s seat of his car. That same month, Farrant was arrested for repeating the act of naked arcane rituals in a cemetery. He was convicted of Petty theft, despoiling a grave (actually a tomb), and illegal possession of a handgun, which was found on him by the police when he was arrested. Farrant went to jail for four years and eight months and when released made the aforementioned claim to hoaxing the entire 4 year Vampire scare.
From then on, little was heard about vampires in Highgate. Occasionally an animal corpse would be found, or a ghost was sighted, but nothing to the extreme levels that propagated in the early 1970’s. Manchester went on to find other vampires and fiendish thingies and has published five books and even audiotapes for interested vampire hunters of fans of his ‘work.’
Highgate however has a happy ending. In 1975, the ‘Friends of Highgate Cemetery was formed,’ to restore the old cemetery and fix damage caused by would-be hunters and neglect. For six years, the Friends were merely a volunteer group attempting to restore the cemetery to its former glory. In 1981 however, two of them formed Pinemarsh limited and bought the entirety of Highgate for only 50 pounds! In 1988, ownership was transferred to The Highgate Cemetery Charity who in turn transferred control to The Official Custodian of Charities.
Many aspects of the cemetery were restored, even though the Cemetery is officially managed as a woodland. Items that have been repaired include: The terrace catacombs, two chapels that are now used as offices and exhibition areas, and a war grave memorial. Most impressively is that the sunken Lebanon Circle was fully restored, along with the Egyptian Avenue and Colonnade.
It is again possible to be buried in Highgate, and currently 167,000 bodies are interred there. Costs of maintaining and running the cemetery now are provided mainly through grants subsidies and donations.
Entrance to the cemetery is free to FOHC member and their families, and costs one pound for others. The infamous western half of the cemetery, where all the vampire hunting and media blitzing went on, is off limits to the general public and is only accessible through guided tours at 3 pounds a piece.
Further details, including Cemetery opening times can be obtained from:
Telephone: (+44) (0)20 8340 1834
Farrant, David. Beyond the Highgate Vampire. London: British Psychic and Occult
Society, 1991. 35pp
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. Vampires Among Us. New York: Pocket Books, 1991.
Manchester, Sean. The Highgate Vampire. London: British Occult Society, 1985. 172 pp,
Rev ed., London: Gothic Press, 1991, 190 pp.
Manchester, Sean. “The Highgate Vampire.” In Peter Underwood, ed, The Vampire’s
Bedside Companion: The Amazing World of Vampires in Fact and Fiction.
London: Leslie Frewin, 1975, 81-121.
Melton, Gordon J. The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead. Detroit: Visible
Ink, 1994, 297-300.
Page, Carol. Blood Lust. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.
Thompson, Paul B. “The Highgate Vampire.” Pursuit 16, 3. Reprint, Fate (May 1985);
Been a while since I’ve done any of these, so here we go.
Liquidcross is insane. But so are die hard anime fanboys who HAVE to have their cartoons in the native language. Some animes are better in English (Slayers, Tenchi, Cowboy Bebop, Pokemon, and Vampire Hunter D.) Accept and be happy.
I bought Alex Williams a Virtual Boy.
Baker gets plugged as long as he keeps bashing Bendis and has good distinct reasons why this Hawkeye killing mother f*cker should BURN.
James Hatton reviews what is obviously the stupidest idea Marvel has had in a while, besides y’know, letting Bendis write Avengers.
I appear a lot in Laflin’s column.
Gloomchen mentions Goth.
Fernandez may have ended the Juke Box, but he’s still going on strong.
Am I the only one thinking Batman Begins looks like crap?
Figures Year End Awards
El Muerto sounds like one of the stupidest movies of the year.
Coogan reviews the Howard Hughes film. It’s too bad they didn’t get Monty Burns to play Hughes. Freemasons run the country!
Talks Royal Rumble 1992: The year Ric Flair proved why he was the sixty minute man. Whoooo.
Eric S. enjoyed Smackdown. That crazy mother f*cker.
Ah veal. Delicious as it is adorable. Very few foods bring up a morality debate like veal (and my beloved Fois gras). But you know what? I say, who cares? I like to eat. As long as the baby cow is raised humanly and not kept in one of those disgusting boxes, let’s eat it! Feed me some tender flavourful moo cow. Yum yum in my tummy tum tum.
Veal can be served in so many ways, but is most often breaded to seal in the flavour and add some texture to it. What’s great about veal, is the taste is so great, just about anything compliments it. Capers, pasta, a gazillion breads. Damn near everything. This week I’m doing a veal with a lovely cream based fettuccine. I will warn you this is an expensive meal, but if you make it, people will compliment you for weeks. That is unless you’re serving this to members of PETA
Paneed Veal Chops with Fettuccine
5 tablespoons sweet paprika
one-fourth cup salt
one-fourth cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried thyme
(Blend these together and keep them in a spice container. It’s a great all purpose seasoning mix.)
4 double cut veal chops, butterflied (14 ounces each)
2 cups bleached all purpose flour
2 large eggs lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons milk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
salt and ground pepper to taste
6 cups salted water
1/2 pound fresh fettuccine
1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano cheese, plus extra for garnish
1. Preheat the Oven to 400 degrees F
2. Wrap each veal chop in plastic wrap and pound on them with a meat mallet until very thin, then season with the spice mixture above to taste. DO NOT USE ALL OF THE SPICE MIXTURE. IT IS DESIGNED SO YOU WILL HAVE A LOT LEFT OVER. Put the flour in a large shallow bowl and season with the spice mixture. Put the egg mixture in another shallow bowl and use the seasoning mixture on that as well.
3. Dredge the chops in the flour, coating each side evenly, and then tap against the bowl to remove any excess. Dip them next in the egg mixture, again letting the excess drip off. Then Drudge one more time in the flour, yes, you guessed it, getting rid of the excess.
4. Heat one-fourth cup of the oil in a medium sized saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 of the veal chops and fry until golden brown, which should be about 3 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Season with spice mixture to taste. Repeat with the remaining oil and cops. Put the cooked chops on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 4-5 minutes.
5. Put the heavy cream and garlic in a large saute pan over medium heat and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the cream is bubbly and thick, which should be about 4 minutes.
6. Heat the water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes (fresh, remember?). Drain and add the pasta to the reduced cream. Add the cheese and season again with salt and pepper.
7. To serve, remove the pasta from the saute pan with tongs and make several nets with it in the center of the plates. Spoon any sauce remaining in the pan over the pasta. Place the veal on top of each pasta nest and sprinkle with cheese.
That my friends, is a gourmet meal.
That is it for another week. In the meantime, you may check out my blog. Now that the 24 hour Livejournal scare has ended at least. DAMN YOU SIX APART!
And so, as we close yet another volume of forgotten lore, make sure that the doors are locked and your windows are shut tight, for there is far worse out there lurking in the night besides a bitter wind and freezing temperatures.
Goodnight out there, whatever you are