Nyogtha Volume I Issue XI

Another week begins here at Inside Pulse. Hard to believe we’re a month into 2005, but in fact, we are. Let’s take a look at a letter that continues the discussion from last week, shall we?

Hello Alex,

Thanks for answering my question about Aliester Crowley. I didn’t know you hated him so much. Sorry about that. ( I only read your article about him and a couple other bios. So I had no idea) The way you paint him makes me want to look up different authors to learn more about paganism such as Anton LeVay and Phyllis Curott.

My question is about gothic novels such as their origins. what role did folklore play in this genre and why has it disappeared? Are there any good books apart from stuff by H P Lovecraft, Mary Shelley and Charles Maturin?

Michael C

Heh. Well, I don’t hate Crowley. I merely hate how he turned parapsychology and occult studies into some thing disreputable and lowbrow. Instead of being a topic discussed by high society over tea where spiritualism was akin to philosophy, it’s now something discussed by people too creepy to hang out at the roleplayers table in the high school cafeteria or 30 year olds that live in their mom’s basement.

And LeVay probably wouldn’t call himself Pagan. At least he wouldn’t have when he was alive. But definitely look up people like LeVay and Curott who are better (and more modern) people to study in regards to turning the occult into a profitable sideshow.

Ah, the gothic novel. I had a feel someone would be asking me that question eventually. Especially as yours truly is the ‘sub-cultural icon’ for a niche group of society that takes the word gothic and uses it in a very offskew manner.

I do want to say before we begin this topic, the best book on the subject is “Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil, and Ruin” by Richard Davenport Haynes. If anything I write here piques your interest, you will want to follow up with this book.

Gothic Literature (not to be confused with the original Scandavia turned Germanic Huns that conquered parts of the Roman Empire) began in the 18th Century in the year 1763 with Hugh Walpole’s “The Castle of Otranto.” Hugh’s novel is still one of the best in the genre and tells a tale of the descendants of Alphonse the Good, an Itallian Nobleman. In this tale, Alphonse’s heirs (some good, some bad) go through trials and tribulations within his castle plagued by the ghosts that haunt it. Walpole’s novel is the official beginnings of Gothic Literature.

Gothic Literature has several key aspects that must be within the writing in order for it to be classified as such. The first aspect is that the tale must be the literature of the nightmare, or the sublime. What I mean by this is that Gothic Literature in its purest form explores our inner self. Aspects of ourselves that humanity dare not openly discuss in the day and age this form of literature was born, for fear of impropriety.

Gothic literature dwelled on the emotive, the non-rational, and the intuitive aspects of the human condition. As such it was linked heavily with Romanticism, but tempered that emotional with the darker, shadowy side of man’s psyche. In other worse, a gothic tale must be one that forces the reader to look at and weigh that which society deems evil within human life. It is a morality play.

Gothic novels, due to their birth in the post-Enlightenment period, question the conventional wisdom of that time period’s society. Things like rational thought, orderliness, science, control, and religion. A Gothic author writes a tale that that challenges social and intellectual rigidity and replaces it with chaos, disorder and the bizarre and shows them to be unavoidable aspects of existence. These aspects of darkness were often masked in metaphorical form as supernatural creatures, monsters, or the unknown things waiting in the dark.

The aspects mentioned above appear in three different forms (Credit to GR Thompson who edited the book “Gothic Imagination: Essays in Dark Romanticism” for outlying these points in his 1974 book.) which when combined form DREAD. Dread is the very core of a gothic tale, and without DREAD, the tale does not earn the label for this style of literature.

The three things that make up dread are:

1. Terror: The threat of physical pain, mutilation or death. An overwhelming sense of immediate danger.

2. Horror: The direct confrontation with a repulsive evil force or entity.

3. The Mysterious: The intuitive realization that the world is far larger than the human powers of comprehension can begin to understand.

So as we see from these three aspects, Lovecraft would not be considered a gothic writer. Lovecraft rarely used terror, and instead focused solely on Horror and Mystery in his tales.

To accomplish these three aspects, Gothic Literature developed a series of conventions to make it easier to achieve the above conditions. First off, the tale would usually take place away from the hustle and bustle or urban cities. If the setting were closer to medieval, such as an old castle, so much the better. By placing it in a rural setting or far away from modernization, one could easier be lost in the descriptive narratives involving the supernatural or the unknown, Many of the events of the tale would take place at night or under extreme weather conditions. We have the cliche, “It was a dark and stormy night” for a reason, after all. Another stereotypical aspect would be that there is some sort of disintegration. Perhaps it is of societal norms. Perhaps it is of one’s moral decency or sanity. But in the end, disorder would erupt in a way that would interact with the reader’s own personal sense of disorder. And finally, often times, the tales focus would be on a supernatural creature temporarily overwhelming the defenders of humanity and the innocent until finally defeated in some way, shape or form.

Besides Walpole, other authors heavily associated with gothic literature include Mary Shelly, the creator of Frankenstein, Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, John Polidori, who wrote the Vampyre, Lord Byron, who wrote a lot of thing, the anonymous author of the Varney the Vampire penny dreadfuls, Sheridan LeFanu (my personal favorite of the gothic authors) who wrote Green Tea and Carmilla, and Ann Radcliffe who wrote the very popular Myssteries of Adolpho.

And yes, you will notice the vampire as a major common character in gothic tales. From “The Mysterious Stranger” on down, it’s the most common monster in the genre. Charles Nodier, a dramatist is credited with really making the vampire a large focus of the gothic genre. Nodier read Polidori’s, “The Vampyre” in New Monthly magazine where it was erroneously credited to his friend and traveling companion Lord Byron, and he fell in love with the monster instantly. His friend, Cyprien Berard wrote a two volume sequel to this short story called, Lord Ruthven ou Les Vampiresa in which Nodier wrote the introduction. Nodier also wrote a play called, “Le Vampire” which tells yet another story of Polidori’s vampire and it became a huge financial success. Alexandre Dumas, writer of the Count of Monte Crisco and the three Musketeers novels saw the play many times and from these repeated visitations, and even devoted three chapters of his autobiography to this play and how it affected him. England created the Western Vampire, France popularized it, and England took the ball back once it was “cool” again.

Since Mike asked, a few other authors that can be classified as gothic writers include Robert Chambers, Samuel Taylor Coldbridge, Edger Allen Poe, Brian Lumley, Clive Barker (although he focuses far more on just horror in a lot of his tales), Richard Matheson, and Peter Straub.

I’m not going to go into the Modern Gothic movement that began in the late 1970’s, as it is requires a separate discussion altogether. Again, I strongly place emphasis on Davenport-Hines exhaustive collection on the subject, as it is over 400 pages on Gothic Literature, far more room than I have to discuss the topic.

Another question that was asked of me was by Zundian, a fellow Inside Pulse staff member, who wanted to know who the Wandering Jew was.

The Wandering Jew comes from a Medieval story that has grown into a cult tale for authors to play with. The Wandering Jew’s most common names are Malchus, Cartaphilus and Ahasuerus, but the oldest text I could find (beating the others by quite some time 1228, compared to the 1500’s for the other texts) refers to him as Traversebach, so I guess that would be the best one to use, if only due to the age of said text.

The Wandering Jew is the original Ancient Mariner. The stories vary between him having offended Jesus Christ on the way to the crucifixion, to being chosen by Christ to do his work until the Second Coming. Regardless of the why, the consistency of the story has the Wandering Jew traveling the earth as an immortal, immune to death, awaiting the end of all that is.

In truth the origin of Wandering Jew is most likely found with the tale of Malchus. Malchus, in John 18: 4-10, lost his ear to the sword of Simon Peter. Malchus was the slave to a high priest. Malchus later strikes Jesus in John 18: 20-23 and receives a curse from Jesus akin to what the wandering Jew received. This curse is also found in Mathew 16:28 and has parallels to the mark of Caine. “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”

Another possibility is that the Wandering Jew is Sameri, the man cursed by Moses to wander eternally for creating the golden calf. It is possibly any and all of these stories helped to be the foundation of the Wandering Jew. Regardless the eventual legend that came about was that the Wandering Jew mocked Christ for noting hastening to his demise and Christ cursed him saying that although he would be in Heaven soon, the Wandering Jew would be damned to live until the last day of existence itself.

The Wandering Jew has turned up in literature from time to time, mainly by gothic writers, and lately comics books. In Sandman, a immortal friend of Dream is mistaken for the Wandering Jew, while Alan Moore attempted to retcon the origins of the Phantom Stranger into the Wandering Jew, ignoring the fact previous stories show him alive before the time of Christ and that he is actually the angel who sided with neither Michael nor Lucifer in the War of the Angels’ Fall. In Classical Literature such writers as Chaucer (in the Pardoner’s Tale no less), Percy Shelly, Henry Neele, Nathaniel Hawthorne, George MacDonald, Rudyard Kipling, O’ Henry, Eugene Field and more all wrote about the Wandering Jew. He also appears in that HORRIBLE movie, the Seventh Sign with Demi Moore. Ugh.

There is also a plant called the Wandering Jew.

Truthfully the Wandering Jew is tales that can be found in any religion and culture from time immemorial in which immortality is shown to be a curse, not a blessing. It’s been shaped and evolved into many forms throughout the years. The version of the Wandering Jew is simply one of the more popular.
And now to move into the cooking section for this week
Richard Mimms writes,
Hey man, hate to bother you but I have a few cooking related questions and was hoping you could help me out.
I’m really interested in making your duck pomengranete recipe but was wondering about substituting chicken or turkey breasts. Also, do you have any side dish suggestions for that particular recipe. Finally, do you have any good stuffed chicken breast recipes? I was thinking of doing an orange/cornbread/basil thing.

Thanks man

Richard is referring to an older recipe I would link to, except InsidePulse is down due to Royal Rumble overload. And I am quite honestly not willing to wait for the page to go back up and dig through my archives for the exact URL. If you want to, go for it.

Yes you can use chicken or turkey breast for the recipe, but cook them a little longer. Duck should be rare, while other poultry needs to bee cooked longer.

As for stuffed chicken, I usually advise against it. When you stuff a chicken, you risk contaminating the stuffing with any diseases like salmonella that the chicken might have. And if you don’t cook it properly, it can still be living in the stuffing mixture you used. It’s not likely, but it’s still worth remembering. However, as Richard requested I will do a stuffed chicken breast recipe for this week. Sorry though Rick, cornbread isn’t really my thing so I can’t help you there. Hopefully this one one will be just as good for you.

Prosciutto and Sage-stuffed Chicken Rolls

I made this a lot in college and enjoyed it. It’s actually quite inexpensive to make. It’s a recipe from Tuscany and the only problem you might have is getting the pine nuts. Proscuitto is a ham for those that might not know what it is.


8 ounces spinach fettuccine, linguine, or spaghetti, cooked as the package directs, and drained
one third cup fine dry bread crumbs
One third cup finely shredded carrots
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or one half teaspoon dried sage leaves.
4 large, boned skinless chicken breast halves (about 1.5 lbs), rinsed
4 thin slices prosciutto
1 tablespoon olive oil (always try to buy extra virgin. It’s the first press)
26 ounces of a blended pasta sauce. By blended I mean the kind that is red and alfredo mixed. I know Classico and Newman’s own makes varieties of this, and it’s good to use if you’ve never mixed the sauces before.

1. To make the stuffing, combine bread crumbs, carrot, water, pine nuts and sage. Set aside.

2. Place each chicken breast half, boned side up, between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. With flat side of mallet, and working from center to edges, pound lightly to form one-eighth inch thick rectangles. Remove plastic wrap.

3. For each chicken roll, lay a prociutto slice on top of a chicken breast. Top with about two rounded tablespoons filling. Roll up from short side of breast. Secure with wooden toothpicks or tie with 100% cotton string. In large skillet, over medium-high heat, cook chicken rolls in the olive oil until browned on all sides. Pour off the fat.

4. Add pasta sauce to skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Cover, simmer about 15 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Remove toothpicks/string.

5. Serve chicken rolls and sauce over hot pasta.

Sounds good, right?

13 Plugs

Yeager finally got his Resident Evil review done while Williamsshows that unlike Microsoft and Sony, the Cube’s actually been making money hardware ways. Yes, sorry Sony fans, read their report for this quarter. Sony has been LOSING MONEY on the Playstation 2.

Fernandez and Gloomchen write new columns about bands I don’t listen to!

Laflin is still writing about sports but has long since stopped talking games. Sad.

The only non back issue comics I am reading right now are New Thunderbolts and Flash (and Gi Joe when it comes in TPB form) but thanks to the Nexus Roundtable I know that now there will be a Marvel Knights Ghost Rider series. And I will be picking that up.

Flash #218 is one of the best comics I have read in years, but Mathan gives it too high a rating. The problem is Heat Wave was long established as friends with Captain Cold as they teamed up against JLI’s Fire and Ice and then complained how they weren’t Barry. Although due to the amazing storytelling, I will forgo this obvious f*ck up by Geoff Johns, who honestly, gets far more credit than he deserves as he pays attention to some continuity, but then misses huge chunks of it at the same time. Like is say, GREEN LANTERN REBIRTH? But hey, he’s still better than Brian “Please kill me” Bendis.

PK and Batesman talk figures.

Batista won.

Eric S. is covering TNA along with Smackdown again.

Brendan, I agree with you. Alone in the Dark makes Catwoman, Elektra, Blade 3 and Van helsing look great by comparison.

Frasier Season Four finally comes out Tuesday. But other than that, I don’t Watch TV


As always, if you want to see what is going on with me during the other six days of the week, it’s best to check out my blog. Until next week.




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