“The craze for Gothic fiction after “The Castle of Otranto” was grounded, I suspect, in deep and religious yearnings for that earlier mythical time which had come to be known as the Age of Miracles. In ways more and less literal, folks in the 18th century believed that once upon a time all kinds of things had been possible which were no longer so. Giants, dragons, spells. The laws of nature had not been so strictly formulated back then. What had once been true working magic had, by the Age of Reason, degenerated into mere machinery. Blake’s dark Satanic mills represented an old magic that, like Satan, had fallen from grace. As religion was being more and more secularized into Deism and nonbelief, the abiding human hunger for evidence of God and afterlife, for salvation – bodily resurrection, if possible – remained. The Methodist movement and the American Great Awakening were only two sectors on a broad front of resistance to the Age of Reason, a front which included Radicalism and Freemasonry as well as Luddites and the Gothic novel. Each in its way expressed the same profound unwillingness to give up elements of faith, however “irrational,” to an emerging technopolitical order that might or might not know what it was doing. “Gothic” became code for “medieval,” and that has remained code for “miraculous,” on through Pre-Raphaelites, turn-of-the-century tarot cards, space opera in the pulps and the comics, down to “Star Wars” and contemporary tales of sword and sorcery.” —“Is it okay to be a Luddite”

The Thomas Pynchon Novel for the Edward Snowden Era

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The Thomas Pynchon Novel for the Edward Snowden Era

Adventures in Etymology: The Spinach Scones at Crudely’s Pub & Breakfast

The bite of the brown recluse spider is upsetting, if not sometimes
fatal to deadly, to some so toxic to such an umteenth and darkly
chimerical degree that this arachnidal prick–even at dosages too tiny
to see with the proverbial or empirical naked eye–oh my, well, it can
blot your anatomical/spiritual sun (and we all know there is no way to
halt any eclipse), an event or bite, yes, that could ruin your whole
day, as THEY say, which perforce reminds me:  
That once and former colleague of mine from the entomology flank of the
Department of Biology at The College of William & Flossy, Dr.
Dabney F. Posthlewaite, describes his experience as a missionary–or was
it mercenary–(oh, whatâs the real difference) in equatorial Africa in
the 50s during a mid-day, total solar eclipse: “It seems–I know not
seems, madam–that as the eclipse began, the natives ran about shouting,
bellowing, and beating upon their drums, rattling rain sticks, pinching
their wives and children (who then wailed, gnashed, and cried out),
generally raising what we blush to call ‘holy hell’ during the entire
astronomical extravaganza.  Post chaos, we explained to them the
phenomenon in simple scientific terms, paraphrasing copiously from a
recent article in Scientific American.  
Such riotous behavior, we told them, was quite uncalled for because the
sun was bound, by natural law and thus God’s law, to reappear.  They
respectfully rejected our analysis and optimism, citing countless
examples from their oral history which showed that every time they beat
their drums and rioted when the sun disappeared as it had, the sun then
slowly reappeared.  Several of my comrades, exasperated at this classic
fallacy of false cause (post hoc, ergo propter hoc)–yet unable to
counter the savages’ primitive illogic–secretly suggested that we just
‘poison all of the bloody, pagan bastards and move on.’  We did not.  
But we did radio for an airplane and some extra Bibles, that we might
leave their aboriginal souls to take a course unfettered, into the arms
of the Lord." 

cont’d

The Straight Dope

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The Straight Dope