Finished D. E. Winter's, 'Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic', mostly at work (the last two weeks were incredibly slow due to the heat). Insightful in a respectful way (the author being a close friend of his 'subject') his focus is mainly on Barker's writing and artwork and its interpretations rather than personal gossip. Nothing i found particularly surprising or revealing after having read most of the novels, rather it fits well with the image i had in my mind, nicely filling in some blanks.
What was satisfactory on a personal as well as an intellectual level, was to find out that i'm, after all, not imagining things. With most amazon reviews i kept thinking who are those people and have they been reading the same book as i have, and, if so, how can they miss the very soul of it? - to the point where i was wondering if it wasn't rather me, missing the point entirely and seeing what i wanted to see. Turns out i was not wrong, after all (up to and including my random guess at the 'Orlando' aspects of 'Galilee'), even if my focus in some cases differs from Winter's interpretation. The concern with metaphysics, spirituality, the meaning of things, the quest for self-discovery... it's there.
My advantage was probably that i've been reading from 'Sacrament' backwards rather than starting with the 'Books of Blood', and i've yet to see any movie either by Barker or based on his work. So once i bypassed the (in)famous and over-quoted 'future of horror' comment by Stephen King, which had kept me from picking up his novels for the longest time, because at that point of my life i simply wasn't interested in 'horror' any more, i could approach it with an open mind, without having first to readjust my perceptions. (On a very random sidenote, when i finally picked up the 'Books of Blood' i was surprised to find out that 'Sacrament' hadn't been, after all, my first real exposure to Barker. It appears that at some point, though it utterly escapes me when or where, i must have come across a comic version of some of the stories, i distinctly remember 'In the Hills, the Cities', maybe 'Rawhead Rex'. Funny how things come back to haunt you... i'd forgotten all about that.)
According to Winter, Barker himself isn't too happy with the public horror, goth & gore image he's stuck with, despite his artistic change of direction since. At one point Barker's lover is quoted on how the public only sees the weird persona, rather than sensitive, gentle man he knows. My instant reaction is, how can they not? The underlying warmth in spite of the horror was one of the first things that struck me and drew me to the novels. I'm not interested in an ideal universe of shallow niceties and superficial happy endings, but i can't bear a world that is devoid of thought, meaning and kindness. Imo King (at least in his early work, i haven't really been keeping track of his more recent stuff) is more effective as a horror writer, because at least in his writing (as opposed to his private persona, that obviously i don't know ) he is much colder.
Browsed through E.Schlosser's 'Fast Food Nation', also at work. Disturbing, even if only half of what he writes is true (and somehow i doubt that). In many respects it's a sick, sad world we're living in, and what i find especially frightening is how neatly we're all made part of this system, upholding it. Even if i rarely, if ever eat at MacDonald's or any of its equivalents, i do shop at h&m and the like, because of a limited budget and a personal vanity that makes me rather unwilling to dress in ecologically & politically correct, but rather sack like, pieces of hemp-clothing.
Makes you wonder how much of the alleged freedom we're supposed to have is real, or rather how little we chose to make of it. How we're being manipulated and to what extent consumerism and economy have replaced religion and fixed social hierarchies as absolute, unquestioned values. If you question the basics rules of this system rather than demanding minor (cosmetic) adjustments, economists and politicians will start screaming blasphemy, in sentiment, if not in so many words. But it's the same unchallenged acceptance of a system that much like religion is after all not something supernatural or a law of nature, but made and upheld by humans. By us. Maybe we should remember that the world hasn't come to an end either with the discovery that the earth rotates around the sun rather than the other way round. Or that social hierarchies and exploitation aren't the will of god, after all. That there even hasn't got to be a god, and still western civilisation doesn't collapse.
:: wanders off to make a greek salad for lunch ::