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October 2017

Halloween Through The Druids And The Celts And The Dead

ahalloweencrone

They have learned every celebration has its risks. The Druids have taught them this, and the Druids are correct.

Samhain is a festival of the harvest; the end of summer; the preparation for the winter to come. Samhain is a juncture. As they all know, junctures lead to sundry places. There is both the leaving and the coming. A time of disquiet. A time of danger to those unprepared.

It holds the magic and the power of midnight. Midnight is a powerful time because it is the juncture of two days. Midnight of Samhain thus holds double the power. It can not be avoided. It must be met with all the power that mortal man can muster. It must not be met alone.On the Eve of Samhain, the border between Life and the Otherworld is breached. A door swings invitingly open, but it is not inviting to those who live. It is inviting to those who have died.

The Dead who still miss their lives. The long Dead who still are curious.The distant Dead who get a whiff of fresh air and have their memories stirred. So the Dead approach.The Dead approach. The living must prepare to meet them, just as they prepare for the vicissitudes of winter. The same threatened cold holds sway over both.

The living assemble the treats and threats that will assuage the longings of the Dead. Because the living have a healthy fear of death, they equally wish to avoid the Dead. The Dead can prove to be envious and attempt to relieve the living of their lives.Lanterns from the earth are hollowed out of turnips. Their light will guide the dead to safer places (safer for the living). Candles will shine through carved faces. Some faces are friendly and welcoming; some are ugly and fierce to give aggressive Dead a pause.

There will also be treats to entice the Dead – apples and pastries and savouries and some roasted game fresh from the bonfires. There will be ale and other spirits to keep the Spirits at bay.The living will wear costumes and masks to disguise themselves from those Dead who might wish their company to be more permanent.

They will remove the masks if the Spirits are friendly.

They will dance and sing and raise a right ruckus to entertain the Dead.The boneyard is on the outskirts of town. The revellers approach with noise and caution. The bonfire is set. The moon hangs from the trees. The gated fence stands closed and latched. The living pause and watch. And listen. Is it the wind, or do the hinges scrape the stone?

(image)2.bp,blogspot.com/_fdou0Xa3IfY/TMXLi165MpI/AAAAAAAAGho/LmGe-b98pKs/s1600/a+halloween+crone.jpg

The Dance Of Death / Der Totentanz

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In my novel, “There Has Been A Sighting”, sightings of Satan are tracked and confronted. An antechamber to such an encounter occurs in the crypt of the St. Marien church, in Berlin.

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Excerpt from: “There Has Been A Sighting”

“Mother Ursula certainly expects me to go down into the gloom.” Dorkas is harsh. “Otherwise, why am I here?”

“I don’t deny that’s the way it is now.” Breeze stands beside her, peering into the dark. “I just wonder if it is what we would find tomorrow.”

“I may as well take their kind illumination.”

“Agnes only had a candle.” Breeze gives her the flashlight.

“Agnes could not fear half the terror I feel.” Dorkas shines the light down the stairs. “She expected to come back.”

“I’ll be waiting.”

“If I’m not forever, then I won’t be long.”

As Dorkas descends, the stone walls absorb the light, pockmarking the surface with rough shadows. She pauses before entering the room, perturbed by the dimness. Her light had shone brightly minutes ago, but now its beam seems submerged in water.

“Damn.”

She slaps the flashlight against her open palm.

“I’d do better with – ”

She stumbles on the bottom step, twisting her right foot as she is thrown against the wall.

“Damn.”

The flashlight falls and rolls across the floor. She hears its metal casing scratch over the stones, and watches the beam of light spiral like a demented beacon, until it turns around to shine back into her face.

“I won’t stay if that goes out.”

Dorkas deliberately speaks aloud.

“Whether I’m in Berlin for a night or a year.”

She tests her foot and finds her ankle is slightly injured.   “If I break my leg, what will they do? Leave me down here?”     She bends over to get the flashlight.

“A permanent fixture.”

As she takes the light, she points it away from herself.

“Christ.”

The feet are bare, and dirty, and raising dust as they dance. A cloud of dust rises up their emaciated legs to their knees. Although Dorkas is in a crouched position, she jerks away from the figures, and sprawls on her back.

She starts to cough in the dust, and the ragged, whirling band begins to encircle her. The light gripped in her hand strays across their bodies, and catches the glint of bleached, protruding teeth as they grin down at her.

“A tomb.” Dorkas shouts.

She can not count the number of hands reaching toward her, their flesh mottled from the iridescence of putrefaction. The frayed cuffs of their funeral finery trail strands of unravelling cloth, and she cringes from the touch.

“You want me with you?” Dorkas struggles to her knees. “To end on your wall?”

Bejewelled rings and bracelets rattle against bony fingers and wrists. The sound fills her ears as the hands, extending to grab her, are jostled by the tempo of the dance. They can not stop their own feet, and they can not stop their partners who hurry them ever on.

“I won’t.” Dorkas holds the light in both hands. “Alive or dead.”

Der Totentanz becomes smaller as the figures tighten the circle around Dorkas. A whiff of their decay permeates the dust, and she turns her head, coughing even more. But she can’t avoid their movement, their grasping hands, their stench. Victory is etched upon their faces.

“Dorkas.”

She barely hears her name as she huddles more closely to the floor. She is afraid to stand in case the frenzied dancers graze against her. She fears that the slightest brush – whether from their knees, their fingers, or even their rotting clothes – will lift her to her feet and make her a part of this final procession.

“Dorkas! I can’t turn on the electric lights.”

“You wouldn’t want to see.” Dorkas tries to shout, but her throat is clamped by hysteria. “This is worse than buried alive. I’d rather be in the dark.”

The dust of the dead is filling her mouth as she switches off the flashlight.

“Dorkas! For God’s sake.”

Breeze comes plunging down the stairs, scraping her hands as she steadies herself against the wall.

“Answer me!”

When she reaches the bottom, she stops in the blackness. Her hesitation is brief, and she starts forward at her usual pace, hands outstretched. She strains to hear the slightest sound.

“Dorkas? Did you drop the flashlight?”

“Are you alive?”

“Dorkas?” Breeze turns abruptly, for the voice is behind her. “Of course I’m alive.”

“Then I guess we both are.”

Dorkas gets to her knees, and slowly stands.

“Berlin proves to be as wonderful as I anticipated.” She brushes dust off her shirt. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Did you lose the flashlight?” Breeze starts to move toward the other woman’s voice.

Dorkas is momentarily puzzled, then realizes it is still gripped fiercely in her hand. She switches it on, casting a beam over Breeze’s legs.

“You’re it.”

“I thought you were it.” Breeze looks down at her legs, then follows the light back to Dorkas. “When you didn’t answer, I thought something had gone wrong.”

“I’m in Berlin.” Dorkas laughs harshly. “Everything goes wrong.”

She approaches the younger woman slowly.

“I don’t know where I would be if you hadn’t come to me.” Dorkas strokes Breeze’s arm. “Your intervention won’t make the others happy.”

“I’ll handle himself if you take care of the old girl.”

“Deal.”

“Let’s take a look.” Breeze reaches for the flashlight.

“A look?”

“At the bloody painting.” Breeze is turning the light toward the wall. “I know it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, but maybe we can figure how its now in a different place.”

“No.” Dorkas swats the flashlight with her hand. “If you accept that there is God and Satan, then you accept there are things beyond your power.”

She stands close to Breeze, the light between them.

“You do not invite what can destroy you – that is dangerous folly.”

“But you came here.”

“Yes.” Dorkas takes back the flashlight. “I came here. And that courage – and you – enables me to walk out of here.”

She looks Breeze in the eyes.

“I have light, and I have a friend, and I’m not going to be buried alive. Not tonight, at any rate.”

She shakes the flashlight.

“Not here, at any rate.”

Dorkas sighs deeply.

“But I’ve done my part.”

“These are distinctions I don’t understand.” Breeze begins to feel uncomfortable. “Here we are – standing right here. Haven’t you won?”

“If you tempt fate?” Dorkas speaks softly. “No – fate will always win. Fate has all the cards.”

“That sounds fatalistic.”

“Life is fatal.”

“Perhaps I’ll come back tomorrow and be a tourist.” Breeze wants to hear her own voice. “Will a bunch of loud Italians and pushy Americans keep the dancers in the painting?”

“It might make it easier for them to mingle.”

“I’m not going to see them step from the wall,” insists Breeze.

“I suggest you look closely at the mustiest Italian, or the most hysterical American.” Dorkas shines the light toward the exit. “And then keep your distance.”

Dorkas is impatient as she watches the young woman walk through the beam of light, and quickly begins to follow.

“Did you say something?”

“No.” Dorkas answers curtly, but she has heard it too.

It is a sound which stays in her ears, until the door is firmly closed and locked behind them.

The sounds of an interrupted dance, where she knows partners are still being sought.

 

Dracula Takes Another Bite

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures has acquired screen rights to Dracul, the first prequel authorized by the estate of Bram Stoker. The film will be developed as potential directing vehicle down the line for Andy Muschietti, reteamed with It producers Barbara Muschietti and Roy Lee. Written by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker, the tale is set in 1868, where a 21-year old Bram Stoker meets with an ungodly evil that he traps in an ancient tower all the while scribbling the events…

via Paramount Bites Into ‘Dracul’: ‘It’ Director Andy Muschietti In Mix — Deadline

A True Ghost Story For Halloween

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A true story for All Hallows’ Eve, although it did not happen on Halloween.

I was visiting the Bay of Fundy island of Grand Manan. I had booked a room in a bed and breakfast and arrived mid-evening. I went elsewhere for a meal, but did meet the owners, and noted there were a couple of others staying there. I returned around eleven, chatted to the owners and one guest, then went up to bed.

 

The room was top of the stairs and across a landing. Comfortably rustic with a radio. The bed was fine and I was not long getting to sleep. In the dead of the dark (no streetlights here) I was awakened by the touch of hands on me. I was sleeping on my left side. One hand was over my groin and the other on my chest. There was also the weight of a body next to me and the pressure of an arm across my side. I was initially surprised and confused but not frightened.

 

Time probably stretched but it seems to me I lay like this for ten or fifteen seconds. Then, the very first coherent thought which came to me was that someone laying behind me could not have both arms over my body. There could not be two hands placed on the front of my body. I got out of bed very quickly and did indeed experience fear. I turned on the overhead light but saw nothing. I heard nothing. The temperature was not unusual. I was frightened and certainly uncomfortable, but I can’t say that that aura was present.

 

I went to the bathroom across the landing. The house was silent. I returned to the bedroom, thinking both of leaving the light on and turning on the radio. But then I thought that that was just giving into fear, and might encourage the fear instead of ease it, so I did neither. I did not seem to take very long to get to sleep.

 

The next morning I went downstairs for breakfast. I heard the owner talking to two other guests as I approached the kitchen. Just as I entered she interrupted her conversation and turned to me. She said: “Let’s ask him. He’s the one sleeping in the haunted room.”

 

I don’t know if they had been talking about ghosts or if something else had happened in the night. I relayed my experience and the owner then told the story of the house. As with many buildings on the island it had been a farm house, with the owners also fishing. It was a century or more old and left to a daughter. When she herself got old and could not look after it, her family forced her to leave, something she fought against. The present owners then bought the building and started taking in guests. However, whenever they attempted renovations, they were discouraged by having paint cans overturned, new wallpaper peeled from the wall, ladders moved, hammers and such hidden.

 

The new owners’ daughter lived next door, and looked after the house when her parents went away (trips to Florida in the winter). She inevitably had to come over to the house and close doors, turn off lights, put furniture back in place. The old woman who was forced to leave had the reputation of being a mean and unpleasant person.

I don’t know if she was taking a liking to me or not.

DE

Ghosts

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There are ghosts behind the ghosts.

There are legions of the dead,

Lined up to peer

Over my shoulder.

They breathe with satisfaction,

Upon the hand

That writes the word

Ghosts.

The millions of departed,

Disturb the air enough,

To stir the hair,

On my moving wrist.

They keep a place in line,

Patiently waiting,

For me to join them.

 

DE

(image)http://www.themorgan.org/sites/default/files/images/shop/notecard_YoungMan_WritingDesk.jpg

The Crow Tree Comes Alive With A Murder Of Crows

big2bcrow1I began my days with crows, and ended my day with a crow in a birdbath. Here is how my morning unfolded through my tweets about the crows.

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The crows are in The Crow Tree. They have not been there for months. Sitting at the top above the red and orange foliage.

There are 50 and more crows in The Crow Tree. Making a mighty ruckus as if in strenuous debate. They are greatly agitated.

Crows leave The Crow Tree in droves, circle and return. They are clustered on the top branches with constant noise. More arrive.

Stark contrast on The Crow Tree. A ridge of black crows on top of the red and orange leaves against the blue sky. They keep circling.

It is a picket fence of crows on The Crow Tree. When they perch they cast large shadows. They seem less agitated.

The crow discourse on The Crow Tree seems to be over. Most have moved on and the few remaining are silent. I wonder what they decided.

At The Crow Tree, the rest is silence.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

An hour ago my walk took me to a small park/garden across from a church. There are three benches, and I sit there often. Part way through my contemplations, a crow settled into the birdbath. A large crow and a birdbath that would not comfortably accommodate two crows. There had been  a big rainstorm the day before and the birdbath was full.

At first I thought the crow was just drinking from the water. But, within a couple of minutes, he was splashing and cavorting and dousing himself in water from his active dance. Head to tip of tail and all feathers in between. A right good soaking.

Then, with a great shake and some flying sprays of water, he flew away.

DE

(image)https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Fv_e7_GJCKY/V5FpgZmsIuI/AAAAAAAAJgg/yySX1mwgj2E3McW9t3vIaYCWM9_URzquwCLcB/s1600/big%2Bcrow.jpg

Kafka Disputed And Discussed In Present Day Court Of Law Trial

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Well – wow!

This is something to cite when its time to promote my novel, Kafka In The Castle.

Come to think about it – it is worthy of a blog.

I side with the judge’s statement. Perhaps Kafka would have not pointed at this situation and said “I told you so”. But, he would have smiled in recognition.

However, if one sticks to the Urban Dictionary definition of “Kafkaesque”, then The Trial would not fit.

DE


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Fredericton hospital employee gets job back — again

Justice Hugh McLellan agrees with adjudicator’s take on Kafka in ruling

By Robert Jones, Posted: Sep 15, 2017 7:30 AM ATLast Updated: Sep 15, 2017 7:47 AM AT

Paul Lynch has been sterilizing the lab and medical equipment at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton for 12 years.

Paul Lynch has been sterilizing the lab and medical equipment at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton for 12 years. (Alan White/CBC)

Related Stories

In a sometimes bizarre court hearing that eventually boiled down to an interpretation of the century-old writings of novelist Franz Kafka, a Fredericton hospital employee who disappeared from work without notice for several weeks has once again won the right to keep his job.

Paul Lynch, an environmental services worker or cleaner at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital initially won reinstatement to that position last winter after a labour adjudicator ruled his absence and firing had been the result of a “Kafka-like” situation he had fallen into.

That triggered an appeal from the local health authority, in part questioning the adjudicator’s understanding of Kafka, the Prague-born author whose works include The Castle, The Trial and The Metamorphosis, a literary dispute then taken up by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Hugh McLellan.

“I am not persuaded that the adjudicator’s expression ‘Kafka-like’ indicates error in his perspective or unreasonableness in his decision,” McLellan concluded.

Lynch had worked for the hospital for 12 years but failed to show up for his regular shift  on November 13, 2015. He was eventually fired after five weeks of unexplained absences.

It was later learned Lynch had been in jail the whole time and was unable to call the hospital.

Guilty plea, then custody

Three hours before his shift was to start he had attended court to face an impaired driving charge. He entered a guilty plea and although he expected to return later for sentencing, it was his seventh conviction and he was instead taken into custody on the spot.

Stanley Corngold

Internationally renowned Kafka expert Stanley Corngold says he would advise against anyone using references to Kafka in a court ruling. (Submitted)

Inmates are not permitted personal calls and Lynch was unable to make direct contact with the hospital during his 97 day stay in jail.

That, according to adjudicator John McAvoy, was right out of a Franz Kafka novel.

“No one who is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for a limited term in New Brunswick should face the Kafka-like situation faced by Lynch in respect of his inability to contact his employer,” wrote McAvoy in ordering the hospital to reinstate Lynch.

“Here, citizens taken into custody by police and Corrections staff do not seemingly ‘disappear’ as did Lynch.”

Hospital lawyer disagrees

In appealing that decision to the courts, hospital lawyer Andrea Folster said McAvoy’s decision lacked “intelligibility” and especially panned his reference to Kafka.

“These extreme comments reflect the lens through which the Arbitrator deliberated this grievance and the overall unreasonableness of the Decision,” she argued.

“It’s an almost one to one correlation. They don’t know what they’re talking about.” – Stanley Corngold

A “Kafkaesque”  situation more accurately describes something nightmarish … strongly surreal … with an ethereal, evil, omnipotent power floating just beyond the senses … marked by surreal distortion and often a sense of impending danger,” Folster said citing the Urban Dictionary’s definition of the term.

But Justice McLellan had his own view of the literature.

“Kafka characters struggle against rules and forces that cannot be understood,” he said and ruled he saw enough oddities in Lynch’s situation to conclude the Kafka reference was not unreasonable.

“The result falls in the range of possible outcomes,” he said of Lynch’s reinstatement by the adjudicator.

Expert weighs in

Princeton scholar and internationally renowned Kafka expert Stanley Corngold says he’s not surprised  to hear the novelist became an issue in a New Brunswick court case — it happens frequently in the US — but advises against relying on any courthouse critiques of the writer.

“I wrote a paper not long ago in which I said ‘it’s a 100 per cent guarantee that anyone who uses the word Kafkaesque has not read Kafka,'” said Corngold.

“It’s an almost one to one correlation. They don’t know what they’re talking about.”

(source)http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/nb-fredericton-hospital-employee-job-back-again-1.4290771

(image)holybooks.lichtenbergpress.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/Franz-Kafka-The-Trial-Free-PDF-Ebook.jpg

What I Learned From The Movies About Sweet Sugar

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Last night I watched Brief Encounter, a 1940s movie based on a play by Noel Coward (he was a producer) and directed by David Lean. It starred Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson  (she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress). It is well worth watching.

It was while watching the movie that I learned a life lesson. A small life lesson, but one that has escaped me for decades. Yes, in some things I am a slow learner.

In the movie there is more than a brief encounter in a railway station lunch bar. Tea is ordered, and the comment is made that there is no sugar provided. The waitress responds: “Yes, there is. The sugar is in the spoon.”

A minor – though rather sweet – bit of business. However, it solved a problem I have had for years.

There always seems to be that small amount of sugar left in the sugar bowl just before it is to be filled again. It is always too much to add to the last cup of coffee (about the only place I use sugar). Yet, I don’t want to discard it, or leave it as some sugar that has been in the bowl for months.

Now I have a solution. I put it in the spoon and await the next cup of coffee.

Movies are more than just entertainment.

DE

(image)photo.foter.com/photos/pi/275/antique-sugar-bowl-with-spoons.jpg

A Meal With Kafka And His Family

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[Ottla ~ Kafka’s little sister]

I have filled in the missing diaries of Franz Kafka in my novel Kafka In The Castle. Speculation on my part, of course, but based on actual incidents.

~~~~~

15 April 1917

I’ve just come from the train station. Seeing Ottla off to Zurau. She didn’t take much with her – I had little to carry. Very little help to give. She had not planned to go for another couple of weeks, but father took her to task at today’s dinner. He was vile even by his standards. I like to think he was really trying to stop her. You can stop someone by destroying them. Perhaps that is always his strategy.

She didn’t get to finish her meal – although, I suppose, throwing it across the table is one way of finishing it. A plate of soup which splattered against his chest, turning the shirt dark. “There you see it.”  He bellowed as he stood up from the table.  “Yes, yes. There it is.”  His voice growled, and spittle was on his lips. The rest of us were immobile. Even mother did not bustle forward to try to clean the mess, or make her usual noises to calm him down. His face flushed red, and his hands trembled in front of him, but for once he made no reference to his heart, or the other ailments he claims. Ottla did not look in his direction, but glanced at her sisters. and then at me.

I had the greatest desire to continue eating my soup. I wished some words of reason could come out of my mouth; that things could be made right, and we would go on to the next course of this ghastly meal. I wished these things all the while I looked up to father – and smiled.  “There! There!”  This time he did step back from the table. “There is the Herr Son. At last the true villain bares his teeth. The old cur teaching the bitch her new tricks. This educated misfit who knows nothing of children and families. Who never even knew how to be a proper child.”

I am sure the only reason father did not throw his food at me was because he did not think of it.  “The Herr Doktor who does not have a wife – who can not please a woman enough to make her stay. This has turned my family against me. I should rip him apart like a fish.” He made tearing motions with his hands. “The head just so – snapping it back to carry out the spine.”  And then he smiled at me – a mocking grin.  “If there is a spine in this particular minnow.”

He made motions as if to wipe his fingers on his shirt, and looked down with genuine surprise when they brushed against the dampness of the soup. Mother was standing by this time, and father looked at her with his mouth open. His hands fell to his side, and he finally looked at Ottla. “You disgrace your parents. The whores of Russia act better than you.”  “Then it is a shame I can’t get to Russia.”  Ottla stood carefully, though she shoved her chair back with enough deliberation to hit the wall. “I would truly be rid of you.”

She looked right at him, her face without expression.  “But I can go to Zurau. That I can do this evening. I’ll not have to stay another night under this roof. Within the reach of your contamination.” She walked from the room without looking back.  “You’ll think differently, after a few days on the farm. When your hands are blistered, and your body aching. Then you will be glad to return here, to the comforts of your home.”  I rose to follow Ottla, to be with her, and to help if I could.  “If you leave this table to go to her, then you are no son of mine.”  I looked father in the face as I passed, and smiled again. “How I pray you could accomplish that.”

(image)img2.ct24.cz/cache/900×700/article/11/1097/109616.jpg

 

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