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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 03:15 pm:   

I think I've finally found a viable solution to 'The Empathy Problem', a problem that has bothered me for years...

Briefly stated, the empathy problem is the fact that readers can feel empathy for fictional characters. Clearly it's impossible to feel empathy for people who don't exist (do you feel empathy right now for Gaston Niggleburp? Of course not: I made him up just now) and fictional characters don't exist, so it logically follows that we can't feel empathy for them.

And yet we do.

The fact that we do can be termed 'The Kate Objection'.

* X uses logic to prove that we can't feel empathy for fictional characters because it's impossible.
* Y responds with 'the Kate objection', namely that even if it's impossible to do so, Y feels empathy nonetheless.

I don't have time to outline my solution right now, but I'll try to do so tomorrow. And believe me, it comes as a great relief to me! I can be normal at last and enjoy empathising with characters without looking over my shoulder at the frowning face of disapproving logic that has always been lurking behind me...
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.137.168.78
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 03:25 pm:   

Looking at far-fetched human beings and the universe they live in with mind and body, everything seems impossible, not only "empathy with fictional characters against or via the fire-wall of logic". But equally, by dint of everything being impossible, everything is possible, too. Each is a far-fetched empathy that makes other empathies feasible by comparison. Extending ladders of emapthy - towards God?
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 03:30 pm:   

Des: I think one of the problems with the world is that there are two different kinds of truth, analytical and synthetic, and one is more "true" than the other. Getting them mixed up causes problems sometimes.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.137.168.78
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 03:46 pm:   

Not the 'Synchronised Shards of Random Truth & Fiction' then - but the 'Synchronised Shards of Random Synthetic Truth & Analytical Truth'? This is a huge subject - empathy and truth. Do they provide ever-extending threads available in this e-universe of RCMB, Gary?
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John Llewellyn Probert (John_l_probert)
Username: John_l_probert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.138
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 05:08 pm:   

Does my Lady P know she's has given name to a Rhys Manoeuvre?
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.66.23.11
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 06:13 pm:   

"Clearly it's impossible to feel empathy for people who don't exist (do you feel empathy right now for Gaston Niggleburp? Of course not: I made him up just now) and fictional characters don't exist, so it logically follows that we can't feel empathy for them. "

Not true at all. tell us more about him and his childhood and whatever problems are besetting him. If you do it effectively the reader will feel empathy for him. Just from a name, we can't, although with a name as silly as that it's possible to say we would certainly feel sorry for a real person with that name. Be persuasive enough in your writing and your characters become real while we have the book in our hands.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.137.168.78
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 06:19 pm:   

Agree with Weber - again. :-)
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.31.209.20
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 06:32 pm:   

>>>>Briefly stated, the empathy problem is the fact that readers can feel empathy for fictional characters. Clearly it's impossible to feel empathy for people who don't exist (do you feel empathy right now for Gaston Niggleburp? Of course not: I made him up just now) and fictional characters don't exist, so it logically follows that we can't feel empathy for them.

Then bollocks to logic.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.31.209.20
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 06:36 pm:   

>>>Clearly it's impossible to feel empathy for people who don't exist

What about the empathy we feel, say, for people reported on in the media - eg, starving children in Africa? We know even less about them than we do about fictional characters, but that doesn't stop us from reaching into our pockets and donating millions each year?

We empathise with the human condition, and why should it matter whether allusions to it are real or invented? It exists; that is all; and we're all part of that.
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John Llewellyn Probert (John_l_probert)
Username: John_l_probert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.131.51.242
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 07:36 pm:   

GF - that's a very good point!
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.158.61.161
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 08:06 pm:   

Gaston Niggleburp does exist. He sleeps in the gutter in the scummiest part of manchester. He can'r get on any housing lists, he can't get on any self help programmes. Any time he gives his name people laugh at him and tell him that unless he gives his real name, he'll be thrown out for timewasting. When he insists that this is his real name... he's thrown out. Sometimes violently.

He could use a false name but he has too much pride for that. His Father, Dauphin Louie Niggleburp instilled a pride in the family name that was second to none.

"if you can't get along in life using your own name son, " he would say, " then you're not the man I've raised you to be. I'd rather you starved like I did for years than you give up claim to your true name and identity."

And so Gaston lies in the gutter in the deepest darkest part of Manchester, owning nothing but his name and proud of it he is too.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.31.209.20
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 08:10 pm:   

What a sad wanker.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.137.168.78
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 08:14 pm:   

Gary and Weber, indeed, have very good points, in my view.

For many years now I've had this jingle on my website in various contexts about me... "...seeking a unified morality from among the Synchronised Shards of Random Truth & Fiction: ‘difficult’ extrapolative empathy in the art of fiction writing:"
And Rhys has hit on a nub of today's problem in today's society, imo. A plague of empathy problems that have hit the news, in particular in recent weeks. This thread is headed 'the empathy problem'. Very appropriate and thought-provoking.
Empathy: too much or too little of it, in various mental states that have various medical terms...
Not that I am an expert.
But, instinctively, I strongly believe that 'fiction' can be increasingly a catharsis or outlet for this 'difficult' problem'...
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.31.209.20
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 08:20 pm:   

We empathise with animals, and Lord knows what goes on in their heads. Hell, we empathise with fictional animals in Disney films. We empathise with machines in Cars, toys in Toy Story, fish in A Shark's Tale, etc. Logic has little to do with it. Wherever there's an allusion to lived circumstances and the struggle that is involved in it, we're in there, seeking hedonic relevance, wondering how it is for others, etc. The one thing we all share is that we're alive. Except for Weber.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.31.209.20
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 08:29 pm:   

All this, in my view, confirms Merleau-Ponty's notion that to be co-related to others is to be embodied, to be of the "flesh of the world". Logic is a cognitive act, and therefore a clunky derivation of this fundamental, primordial bond with lived experience and those with whom we share it.

As I said, bollocks to logic (in this particular instance).
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.137.168.78
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 08:31 pm:   

Nothing is controlled by logic other than logic itself.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.31.209.20
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 08:38 pm:   

I may be wrong here, but in my experience, those people who read fiction are, on the whole, more empathic with people than non-readers are. Now, that may be because innate empathy drove them to fiction, but I suspect that it's the other way around: readers of fiction become more empathic with people because they read fiction.

If that's true, how does that fit in with the debate above? How can regularly accessing fictional lives make us more empathic with real people?

(This is all based on anecdotal evidence, so may well be bollocks. [a logical irony, mayhap] :-) )
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Pete_a (Pete_a)
Username: Pete_a

Registered: 07-2011
Posted From: 75.85.10.161
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 09:41 pm:   

Rhys, logic -- however rigorously applied -- can't help when you start from a faulty premise. And, with respect, your initial premise is wrong (or, at least, not fully thought through).

Anne Frank doesn't exist -- at least not now -- and yet it would be hard for anyone not to feel for her.

Bertie Wooster never existed (more's the pity) -- and yet it's hard not to feel affection for the charming idiot.

Why can we feel for these two radically different people? Because, reading about them, we come to know them.

I suggest your initial premise should be changed to "We can't empathise with people we don't know"

The starving child in Africa, cited earlier in the thread, could be said to be someone we don't know. But we know enough. He's a child. He's starving.

Logic isn't much use when it comes to the human heart. It can get us out of a locked room (at least, according to Jacques Futrelle), but it can't make someone you love who doesn't love you change their mind.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.137.168.78
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 10:41 pm:   

Completely with the previous post.

Meanwhile, I've just dug out my blog in 2006 on what I then called 'fictipathy'.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 80.4.12.3
Posted on Monday, August 15, 2011 - 11:45 pm:   

Yes, yes, thanks to everyone for trying to spoil my punchline before it has been delivered...
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Thomasb (Thomasb)
Username: Thomasb

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 75.25.141.120
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 12:00 am:   

To me, this thread brings up ideas about words and language and how they thread through our minds and into our souls. Much too complex and murky for my untrained mind to deal with, but stimulating nonetheless . . . .
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 02:26 am:   

Much of the use of "empathy" in this thread, seems to denote a: personalized sense of sadness, sorrow, pity, etc. But empathy denotes any merging with another, so as to understand intimately the big glob of their singular emotional state. Even if it's rancid, hateful, cold-hearted - empathy should still be possible.

But it is my belief there are certain words or phrases that would describe the subject, that also prevent our mental states from brewing the fantasy/phantasmagoria we call "empathy"; like, "greedy rich corporate CEO" is almost an alligator-filled moat, preventing any crossing to empathizing with the subject... but that's only because "empathy" has become synonymous with sorrow, pity, sadness, etc.

Can one empathize with Hitler? With John Wayne Gacy? With Satan? With Milton's Satan, maybe - with Dante's, maybe not.

Can one empathize with the Biblical Jesus? Difficult there too - a Christian might feel sadness or sorrow for Jesus... but empathy?... probably not, because one is implicitly "elevated" from the subject... and how can one ever be elevated in any way, from the "son of God"?...
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.31.209.20
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 07:15 am:   

>>>Yes, yes, thanks to everyone for trying to spoil my punchline before it has been delivered...

It's all about timing, Rhys, and I'm afraid eight-and-a-half hours between foreplay and fuck needs a little work.
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Kate (Kathleen)
Username: Kathleen

Registered: 09-2009
Posted From: 86.131.51.242
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 07:47 am:   

Given the far more eloquently worded post at 9.41 pm, shouldn't that be "The Pete Objection"?

{insert pithy Dr McCoy quote re: logic}
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.19.230
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 08:15 am:   

Absolutely, Kate - Pete articulates thoughts I was getting ready to post until I read his.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.137.168.78
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 08:54 am:   

"Both wanted to sit down in the shade at the edge of the woods: neither would suggest it."
from A Game Of Hide and Seek (1951) by Elizabeth Taylor
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Pete_a (Pete_a)
Username: Pete_a

Registered: 07-2011
Posted From: 75.85.10.161
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 09:05 am:   

"shouldn't that be 'the Pete objection'?"

No! Very kind of you, Kate (and Ramsey) -- but you got there first. Happy to be Scott to your Amundsen.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.50.63
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 09:15 am:   

Can one empathize with Hitler? With John Wayne Gacy?

Apart from his little problem Gacy appears to have been quite likeable. Obviously, killing thirty-odd youngsters and burrying them in the crawlspace under your own house is not standard behavior, but I think I understand what did him in, psychologically speaking. A serial killer I feel absolutely no empathy with, is Ted Bundy.
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Kate (Kathleen)
Username: Kathleen

Registered: 09-2009
Posted From: 86.131.51.242
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 10:16 am:   

I recently did jury service and it was a fairly grueling and unpleasant paedo case from 20 years ago. We were all pretty wrecked by the end of it. The victims' testimony (and defence counsel's aggressive cross-examination) was awful to watch, but the worst thing of all (and not just for me) was watching the judge tear into the defendant once we'd found him guilty.

Every "guilty" hit him like a knife and he seemed to get smaller with each repetition. We were watching someone taken to pieces. Someone who *deserved* to be taken to pieces. And yet I still felt his pain and fear. I guess it doesn't matter who you are or what you've done; the empathy just happens, as Joel said of non-cosy horror, "without my consent".
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 10:55 am:   

None of you want to hear the end of my skit then, I take it?

OK, I'll post it on my blog instead and then only those who actually want to read it need do so.

Perish the thought that I should ever attempt to entertain, with an absurdist narrative, people who don't want to be entertained that way!
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 129.11.76.229
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 10:58 am:   

You forgot to use the Absurdist Narrative emoticon.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:07 am:   

Yes, well I tend to forget a lot of things. I tend to forget how it is sometimes possible that people can take seriously something as patently absurd as my first post on this thread (go back to the very top, re-read it and ask yourself: did you really take that seriously?)

I could just keep all this stuff back for use in my stories and make some money from it. I don't have to give it out for free, you know, especially when the people I try to give it to for free don't actually want it.

In fact, that's what I think I'll do.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 129.11.76.229
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:13 am:   

Maybe we were all just being absurdist.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.137.168.78
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:16 am:   

I shall read it wherever Rhys chooses to put it - free on-line (here or elsewhere) or paid-for in print.
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.19.230
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:17 am:   

Rhys, you have an unhappy tendency to try and direct discussions rather than just start them.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:21 am:   

But no, really, thanks to everyone for taking my joke so seriously... I should have learned by now, but I'm still naive, I guess.

If you still have problems understanding my skit, why not try exercising some of that empathy you're all so good at and empathising with me for a change?

Thought experiments. They can be worthwhile, believe it or not... Horror writers don't seem to like them much; maybe that's why the horror genre might be lots of things (psychologically insightful, for example, or emotionally resonant) but it certainly isn't conceptually daring.

To employ a Gary Fry quote, "I'm just saying, like."
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 129.11.76.229
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:25 am:   

Is this rancour for real? Or is it a thought experiment?

I have to confess to being confused.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:30 am:   

> ...Rhys, you have an unhappy tendency to try and direct discussions rather than just start them.

What discussion? I didn't want a discussion. My plan was to amuse the lot of you with a routine.

I get it. You're those people who heckle comedians and try to distract jugglers, aren't you?
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.19.230
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:34 am:   

No, we're a bunch of folk who discuss things on my message board.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 129.11.76.229
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:34 am:   

No, we're just chatting like we always have. If there's been a misunderstanding, well, like, hey, this is the Internet. You weren't around to correct that (as you would be in a face to face conversation), so things went one way when they might have gone another. No big deal.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 129.11.76.229
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:35 am:   

[crossed posts]
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:37 am:   

Well, it's clearly not the place for me. I'll have to ask for my account to be deleted, thanks. I'll just say good luck and farewell and that's it.
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.19.230
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:39 am:   

Rhys, there really isn't any need for you to live up quite so strenuously to your own description of yourself.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 212.219.233.223
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:43 am:   

Ramsey: I apologise for insulting you 10 years ago. I know it has rankled with you ever since. I was in the wrong. I won't offer you any excuses because I don't have any.

Thanks again. And goodbye.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.137.168.78
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:44 am:   

8.14 pm yesterday:
"And Rhys has hit on a nub of today's problem in today's society, imo. A plague of empathy problems that have hit the news, in particular in recent weeks. This thread is headed 'the empathy problem'. Very appropriate and thought-provoking."
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.96.253.77
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 12:37 pm:   

But no, really, thanks to everyone for taking my joke so seriously...

Rhys, you'll be pleased to know that I've never taken anything you've ever said seriously in any way.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 02:03 pm:   

Rhys... chill, compadre... this is not unlike the Bierce anecdote in the Devil's Dictionary regarding the early journal entry discovered after the violent death of a lifelong pirate: "Made a joke about the ex-isle of Erin. Coldly received. War on the whole world!"

As a past master of the wind-up you surely know that it's a dangerous game. To be truly effective a wind-up has to almost work. If it works entirely, people take you so seriously that the joke starves for lack of oxygen. If it doesn't work at all, people just drum their fingers and say "So where's the punchline?" In between, there is that deliciously erotic tease where nobody is quite sure what you are getting at, and that suspended reaction is the open pair of legs between which your discursive hand gently creeps.

Please don't give up on us. Just regard these trials as some useful training with a difficult audience.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 129.11.76.229
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 02:41 pm:   

In other words, stop being a big girl's blouse. :-)
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 05:01 pm:   

Hubert, I note that you're expression of "empathy" again goes straight down that same, familiar path - which is indeed a path of empathy, but is it the only one?

If one expressed the ghastly sentiment, "You know, I kind of get how Gacy would want to do all those things he did to all those kids," that too is a form of empathy... monstrous as it is....

Empathy seems to have become merely another term for "sympathy" - can anyone, going over the many examples in this thread, really discern a palpable difference between the two?
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.137.168.78
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 05:17 pm:   

I think the difference between 'sympathy' and 'empathy' is similar to that between 'implicit' and 'complicit'. It's more difficult to extricate oneself from the latter.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.66.23.11
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 05:24 pm:   

Empathy is feeling the same as another person. Sympathy is feeling sorry for them.
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Huw (Huw)
Username: Huw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 61.216.50.213
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 05:52 pm:   

As Weber says, when you empathise you are able to put yourself in another's shoes, to relate more specifically to what they're feeling rather than merely feeling sorry for them. That's how I've always understood it, anyway.
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Pete_a (Pete_a)
Username: Pete_a

Registered: 07-2011
Posted From: 75.85.10.161
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 09:24 pm:   

Rhys, I'm relatively new to this board and it's sometimes tricky for newbies (who obviously don't know the shared history and relationships of the posters) to contribute without giving inadvertent offense.

You seem to feel you were being ganged-up on here, and if you think I was part of that please let me assure it wasn't my intent. I honestly figured you were simply initiating a discussion, one to which I was just throwing in my two cents' worth.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.145.84.76
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 10:13 pm:   

Rhys, you - like many other people on this board - are not averse to using humour to put a point across. I - and I'm guessing most of us on this thread - just assumed that was what you were doing.

This felt like a continuation of a discussion from another thread.

I think there's been a bit of a breakdown in comic timing here. If it was intended as a joke, the punchline should have come a lot sooner than it did...
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.186.67.114
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:10 pm:   

Here's that context: http://www.knibbworld.com/campbelldiscuss/messages/1/5007.html?1313035600
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.54.69
Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:49 pm:   

Craig: Empathy = I can understand why someone does what he does, knowing what makes him do it, without bringing my own emotions into play. This would of course be impossible if Gacy, say, had killed a good friend of mine or a son.
Sympathy can be a way of saying "I'm sorry" (a secondary or derivative meaning of the term), but to me the primary meaning is "I feel a lot of admiration for you. I like what you do, you set a good and clear example and I think more people should follow it. I think I might. I wish you were my friend, etc."
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 12:31 pm:   

We don't feel empathy for characters or for people, Rhys. We feel empathy for the situations we witness, hear about or read about that people or characters find themselves in. We do this by imagining ourselves in their shoes i.e. by having gone through the known set of circumstances that led them to this situation and imagining how we would have reacted to the same experiences. People who are empathic (like myself) are able to do this without any sense of self-righteousness or judgemental superiority but with a level of honesty about themselves and human nature that brings as much understanding of another's actions as it is possible to envisage without being a conscious mindreader. Empathy gives us a way of understanding how it is possible for an individual to end up committing acts of criminality or apparent irrationality. Read Knut Hamsun's 'Hunger' (1890) or Dostoevsky's 'Crime And Punishment' or Camus' 'The Outsider' to see how great literature can create the empathic experience in even the most cynical of readers.

Sympathy is a reaction to hearing bad news about an individual who apparently didn't deserve it and thanking our lucky stars it didn't happen to us while feeling for the other person's pain and shuddering at the vagaries of an "unjust" universe.

Compassion is what separates the men from the boys because it involves action. We cannot have a compassionate thought because compassion, by its very definition, involves following up the empathic impulse with action. Be it a judge seeing the person beyond the unspeakable crime and giving a just sentence or the rich man living within his means while giving unspoken millions to charity. One can be sympathetic without being empathic and likewise empathic without being compassionate...
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 01:28 pm:   

So sad... a nice little pun was lined up and now we'll be left forever trying to work out what it was. The true lesson of this thread is that forum time is not real time, the RCMB is not a group in the sense of people being physically in the same place at the same time, and not only comic performance but actual conversation is subject to electronic distortion. Feel some sympathy for the pun, starved of the oxygen of gullibility. Feel some sympathy for language, put through a lengthy exercise programme when it had been promised a quick fumble in the stationery cupboard. Which would, as a result, have ceased to be stationery: it would have tottered and maybe even have collapsed.

No, I can't hack it. This is Rhys karaoke. We're sorry, O punmeister. Come back!
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 129.11.76.216
Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 01:36 pm:   

Didn't Shakespeare write a play about this? One of the comedies. Had the word "Ado" in the title.

I mean, come on.
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.156.210.82
Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 01:38 pm:   

This thread is baffling to me.

So, if I've got this right, Rhys has flounced off in a hissy fit because you guys spoiled his joke? Is that correct? The poor wee lamb's still whining about it on Facebook, you big cyberbullies.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 01:55 pm:   

>>So, if I've got this right, Rhys has flounced off in a hissy fit because you guys spoiled his joke? Is that correct?<<

I'm afraid that's the way it looks. I hope he'll reconsider and come back to us. Rhys, we'll miss your wit and wisdom on here - come back, please.

The thing is, even though I haven't participated on this thread (I was going to, until I noticed Rhys had taken offence at it) I, too, thought the idea behind his original post was to spark a discussion on the subject, especially in the light of his previous comments about this topic on another thread. It is a discussion forum after all. So this we did.

We all seem to have misunderstood his intentions and upset him unintentionally as a result.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 01:57 pm:   

In fact, I guess this is an example of us not being able to empathise with Rhys in this particular instance. We didn't know what was in his mind.
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.156.210.82
Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 02:05 pm:   

Wow. This is all so pathetic it's almost tragic.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 02:15 pm:   

As Hannibal Lecter said, wordplay requires a rapid mental scan that runs counter to empathy. So by focusing on the theme of empathy we were rendering ourselves pun-blind.

This reminds me of the experience of a former colleague of mine. She was out drinking with some of her hockey friends (imagine a posh but boisterous group of young women) and the conversation turned to auto-erotic activity. She said "Well, I've got a Rabbit..." – expecting a ripple of scandalised curiosity. Instead, her friends all fired at her comments like "Do you keep it in a cage?... Does it have an exercise wheel?... How do you feed it when you're out all day?... But you live in a high-rise flat, don't you think it's cruel to keep a rabbit cooped up like that?" She was, needless to say, not amused.
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.156.210.82
Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 02:20 pm:   

Maybe her friends were employing sarcasm?
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.66.23.11
Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 02:39 pm:   

No - her friends weren't in the HR department and Mrs Sarcasm worked for another company anyway...
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.156.210.82
Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 02:52 pm:   

That's not sarcasm - it's just crap.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.54.69
Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 07:23 pm:   

All very reminiscent of Mrs. Slocombe's pussy.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.4.19.77
Posted on Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 01:56 am:   

Nothing is impossible, Des.

Everything is not just possible but definite and ultimately unavoidable. Time is the most comforting illusion the universe was able to come up with. Time neither starts nor runs out but the illusion that it does is what makes this existence so special and frankly beautiful. After "life" has run its course we can revisit this "time" infinitely, in any form we wish.

Which is my theory of "ghosts" in a nutshell.
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Nathaniel Tapley (Natt)
Username: Natt

Registered: 11-2009
Posted From: 92.21.81.18
Posted on Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 02:50 am:   

I imagine this entire thread is an hilarious metatextual narrative that Rhys got you all to contribute to, just so that I could enjoy the whole, harrowing story.

It is a masterpiece.

(Oh, and to try and answer Rhys' point - the one that was unimportant enough for him to go off and make on his blog - his premise is faulty. Pete was absolutely right. Rhys creates a paradox and a problem that don't exist by starting from the problem that "We can't feel empathy for characters that don't exist." That is clearly an untrue statement. To claim that it logically has to be true is to misunderstand what logic is. He proposes a false opposition: just because fictional characters aren't real doesn't make them voids. As he well knows. And he spends the next few hundred words trying to explain what everyone knows: that you can feel empathy for fictional characters. Which is what we all would have believed anyway had he not decided to assert the opposite loudly as his starting point. His end point is delightful, but it doesn't justify the consistent and hard-faced abuse of thought that goes on in the rest of the article.)
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 06:45 pm:   

Mmm... I find that statement, "We can't feel empathy for characters that don't exist," too clever by half. It's quibbling with "exist," when clearly what's intended in the conversation is the implied "in reality," tangible people, individuals living or who once lived. It's trying to turn into a joke what does not have to be a joke. It's a clever joke, sure, making one nod one's head at the utterer, smile thinly perhaps, then turn back to the others: "Anyway...."
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.54.69
Posted on Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 07:02 pm:   

Am I the only one here who doesn't get the joke?
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.150.18.179
Posted on Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 07:09 pm:   

no
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.150.18.179
Posted on Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 07:10 pm:   

But to be fair, he only gave us the first part of it, then left it for 9 hours and got upset because we'd replied in the mean time and spoilt his punchline....
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.79.217.51
Posted on Friday, August 19, 2011 - 03:10 pm:   

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZAgPvEy-pw

Although this is actually more like Geoff's disastrous stand-up routine in the third series. But let's have sympahty, as it could be like this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgkVb8XUu28
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Allybird (Allybird)
Username: Allybird

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 49.226.114.47
Posted on Friday, August 19, 2011 - 11:31 pm:   

Come back Rhys. I like to read your posts and mull them over.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.4.19.77
Posted on Saturday, August 20, 2011 - 02:30 pm:   

Yes... come back, Rhys.

We need your oblique way of looking at life and questioning of accepted conventions on here. You & Tony should put your heads together sometime. The results could be truly mind-boggling.

The world needs all the free-thinkers it can get, imo.
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.23.158
Posted on Monday, August 22, 2011 - 08:44 am:   

I'm not on Facebook, but I gather Rhys has used it to describe his experience here. Given how much he values honour I'm sure his account is fair and accurate.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.145.131.198
Posted on Monday, August 22, 2011 - 09:28 am:   

My latest blog is about the mystery of how we feel empathy for fictional characters... When I tried out some of these ideas on an internet forum recently I got a grumpy response, including a patronising lecture by some bloke called Pete who completely missed the point. He reminded me of a student during a lecture on Non-Euclidean geometry who announced, "But the angles of a triangle always add up to 180 degrees..."

That was the first post he made
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.145.131.198
Posted on Monday, August 22, 2011 - 09:32 am:   

Sorry - this was it

Why is the writing world so full of humourless gits?
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.23.158
Posted on Monday, August 22, 2011 - 09:39 am:   

"Some bloke called Pete", eh? I assume Rhys feels threatened by Pete's achievement.
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.23.158
Posted on Monday, August 22, 2011 - 10:22 am:   

"A grumpy response"! I leave people to read the thread. I don't really feel it's wise to crack a joke and then lecture your audience on how they should have been amused - it's rather like having a chap laughing in your face until you're forced to respond.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 147.252.230.148
Posted on Monday, August 22, 2011 - 02:48 pm:   

"Why is the writing world so full of humourless gits?"

GOODWILL EXPENDED
- INSERT COIN -

(Funny how this begin with a comment about the ability to empathise with someone else's point of view.)
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 166.216.226.53
Posted on Monday, August 22, 2011 - 05:40 pm:   

Wait - I just caught that comment from far up - Horror as a genre "isn't conceptually daring"? Huh?!?!
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.155.216.135
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 03:43 am:   

Ha! It appears that - for posting his comments about us on here - I've now been unfriended on Facebook by one Rhys Hughes.

Rhys - it's clear that you are reading this. You are making yourself look so petty and silly.

You flounced off here in a hissy fit because you mistimed a joke punchline by about 9 hours and gave us all time to discuss it - even friends of yours on FB couldn't see you were joking when you directed them to this thread. and a very similar discussion broke out on one of your status updates. You didn't flounce off facebook and start insulting all your friends there did you?

When you make a post that says "IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO EMPATHISE WITH A FICTIONAL CHARACTER" it's not unreasonable for people to assume that you have trouble doing this yourself.

Being the master wordsmith you proclaim yourself to be, surely you can work that one out for yourself.

If you had said, LOGICALLY IT SHOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE etc, we would have given you benefit of the doubt.

BTW, maybe 50% of people here are from the writing world. The rest of us are readers, from all walks of fiction. So your comments about us all being horror writers are quite wrong in any case. And you just need to look through the What are You Reading Threads to see that most of us are widely read. The way you're talking (or should I say whining humourlessly) about us on face book makes us sound like we live and breathe nothing but horror fiction and nothing else and we exclude everyone.

If that's genuinely how you feel, you really need to re-evaluate things.

Oh and the only person who's ever brought up the fact that you insulted Ramsey 10 years ago is you. Ramsey has only referenced it in passing to clarify comments that you made about him on this board.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 04:14 am:   

What's so odd, is that the "joke" was actually a topic for rich discussion. It provided us with a lot of mental meat upon which to chew. It was hardly exhausted by the time the "joke" was revealed as a joke. And then, Rhys rendered it all suddenly so strange and surreal. As if after a long time, Einstein suddenly jumped out of hiding, saying, "Ha! Idiots! If it's all relative, then why the hell are you making an Einsteinian rule out of it?!"

There were times Rhys's postings was proving as surreal and mind-expanding as what I remember Albie used to put up here... I hope he doesn't remain going down the same road Albie ultimately did....

But it does feel like a bizarre kind of extended family here. People get mad and/or slight others or say things without realizing they're being taken wrong by someone else or take offense at tiny slights or perceived snubs and so on... but most of us return for the same vexing arguments and outrageous opinions and general abuse because... wait, where am I going with this?...
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 08:21 am:   

Marc: I can't trust you. That's why I deleted you. Funnily enough, I'm allowed to delete anyone on my Facebook contact list I choose, whenever I choose. As it happens, I'm currently deleting a lot of horror writers, as it's a scene I don't fit into. I'm tailoring my own contacts list to the activities I'm interested in, as is my right.

To be honest, complaining on a forum about being unfriended on Facebook is a bit... sad really, you know? Gary McMahon hasn't even mentioned the fact I've unfriended him, for example, but maybe that's because he has strength of character, unlike you... I've made a conscious choice to remove myself from the horror scene: I've said this several times but it clearly hasn't sunk in yet.

I'm not a horror writer, I'm not a horror reader, I have no real connection with horror. It's still a free country, OK? Horror isn't compulsory yet, understand? I don't have to know horror writers/readers and there's no law saying I have to have them on my Facebook contact list.

Anyway, I'm not supposed to be on here now, but like Craig says it's hard not to keep returning, and returning, and returning. My forum addiction is something I'm trying to break, as it's using up too much of my working time, but it's not quite so easy... So do me a favour and keep to the truth when insulting me, yes? That way, I won't have to come here to correct you.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.155.216.135
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 09:40 am:   

I've not told any lies... which bit of what I said was not sticking to the truth?

Ah well.
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.18.2
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 10:01 am:   

Forgive me, Rhys, but what has Marc said that's inaccurate?
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.79.6.39
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 10:24 am:   

I'm not a reader, not even of my own words. Just a writer. I don't read any of the other posts, it's just that sometimes what I write co-incides with them. Does this one? I'll never know. Jelly houses.

If none of you get this joke I will tear my aura from my body and stamp it into the turf.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 10:52 am:   

> ...even friends of yours on FB couldn't see you were joking when you directed them to this thread...

That's 100% inaccurate, for starters. It's a blatant lie. I never directed anyone to this thread or even mentioned this thread or this website.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 10:55 am:   

> ...The way you're talking (or should I say whining humourlessly) about us on face book makes us sound like we live and breathe nothing but horror fiction and nothing else and we exclude everyone...

This is also inaccurate. Another lie. I haven't been talking (or writing) about any of the people who use this website on Facebook or anywhere else. I made a general comment, "Why is the writing world so full of humourless gits?"
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 10:59 am:   

Another thing, Ramsey: you claim that I'm "threatened" by Pete's achievements, but I really don't know who he is. That's why I said "Some bloke called Pete." If he's someone famous then maybe I could be threatened by his achievements, but I can hardly be expected to know who he is, or what his achievements are, just from the name "Pete", can I?
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Jonathan (Jonathan)
Username: Jonathan

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.143.178.131
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:09 am:   

For fuck's sake.

That is all.
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.18.2
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:12 am:   

Fair enough. His achievements are considerable, anyway. I'm sorry if you found his comments patronising. I didn't, nor did others here.

If you honestly feel "a grumpy response" is a truthful description of the discussion you provoked, I'm prompted to opine that your response to the discussion was far more so.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:12 am:   

No, it's not all. If someone lies about me, I take that pretty fucking seriously.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:13 am:   

> If you honestly feel "a grumpy response" is a truthful description of the discussion you provoked, I'm prompted to opine that your response to the discussion was far more so...

Yes, I agree. I was in the wrong on that point.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:20 am:   

Ramsey: there's nothing I'd like better than to be on better terms with you, but I really don't see what I can do other than apologise to you again for insulting you. I do know when I'm in the wrong. I wasn't being sarcastic when I apologised above, if that's what you thought?
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.18.2
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:24 am:   

> ...The way you're talking (or should I say whining humourlessly) about us on face book makes us sound like we live and breathe nothing but horror fiction and nothing else and we exclude everyone...

This is also inaccurate. Another lie. I haven't been talking (or writing) about any of the people who use this website on Facebook or anywhere else. I made a general comment, "Why is the writing world so full of humourless gits?"


Forgive me again - in what way is referring to Pete a way of not "talking (or writing) about any of the people who use this website on Facebook or anywhere else"?
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:28 am:   

Because I had no idea who Pete is and only mentioned the name "Pete", and I really don't see how anyone could possibly know who I was referring to -- I don't even know myself who he is.

So I'd say you were stretching a point now.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:30 am:   

And please remember that at no point did I mention this website, link to it, allude to it in any way.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:31 am:   

So it could have been any "Pete" in the world, and that's a lot of Petes, for Pete's sake.

Does that answer your question?
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.18.2
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:36 am:   

I'm suggesting it wasn't a lie on Marc's part, that's all.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:38 am:   

> ...even friends of yours on FB couldn't see you were joking when you directed them to this thread...

I'll repeat this one then. It's a lie. A lie on Marc's part.
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.18.2
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:39 am:   

"And please remember that at no point did I mention this website, link to it, allude to it in any way."

I wish you had. I (and I imagine everyone else here) would have been happy for people to see what had actually been said and make up their own minds.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:41 am:   

Do you want me to do that now? They will see how I've apologised humbly to you twice and your reaction (or lack of reaction) to my apologies.

Sure, I can do that.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:44 am:   

Just give me the word.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:49 am:   

OK, I'll assume that it's what you want me to do. If there are any responses I'll post them here too, provided the people who leave the comments agree.
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.18.2
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:51 am:   

Go ahead! But now I apologise, because your posting at 11.20 today passed me by - it wasn't visible to me when I posted at 11.24, for whatever reason. I did wonder if the first apology was ironic, but I don't now.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:52 am:   

Done. I've posted the link.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 11:55 am:   

Comments might take a while to come through. The time zone lags of Facebook interaction are always a wonder to behold...
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 12:01 pm:   

This is the commentary I included with the link:

"Ramsey Campbell, the horror writer, has expressed a wish that I post a link to this thread on his website, so that people can "make up their own minds" about the subject under discussion... I said I'd repost any comments that anyone cares to make on the forum in question, if anyone does want their comment posted there..."

And then I posted the link and added the comment:

"Don't feel shy about saying I'm in the wrong if you really think I am... I often am wrong, you know..."

I think that's rigorously fair.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 12:11 pm:   

Just had a thought... To make this exercise even more rigorous it'll be necessary to have an "umpire" to confirm that I'm not inventing comments out of the blue.

Some users of this website are still on my Facebook friends list, so maybe one of them would be willing to act as an umpire or monitor? To step in if something underhanded is suspected on my part... Maybe Des or Gary Fry, both of whom are rigorously impartial. (But if they don't care for this role, that's fair enough).

Whatever the outcome of this exercise, when it's over I really will have to retire from this forum and from other forums too -- properly this time. Messageboard use is eating into my time far too much. I'm supposed to be leaving the country seven weeks from now and still I haven't done any preparation for that at all!
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 129.11.77.197
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 12:22 pm:   

I'm sure nobody here would suspect you of inventing comments, Rhys, but I will make one point: it's a well-documented fact that in order to acquire other perspectives on a point of view, we often make a plea to people whom we (subconsciously or otherwise) know will be supportive to the way we would prefer it. All I'm saying - in, I hope, an impartial way - is that your Facebook friends are your Facebooks friends.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 12:23 pm:   

That's true, Gary, but it wasn't my idea.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 12:31 pm:   

And there are plenty of people on my Facebook friends list who (quite rightly) are never timid about opposing my views: Stephen Volk, Conrad Williams, Simon Bestwick, etc.

These guys and others like them rarely agree with anything I say.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 12:51 pm:   

First comment just in (I feel like a radio presenter saying stuff like this). And this one is from Stephen Theaker. Stephen says:

"You have kind of gone Wharfe on one. Or is this the wrong thread for river-based puns....?"

So just a light-hearted joke really, but chalk it up as one run to you, as the "Wharfe on one" implies that I was guilty of ranting.

I quite like this. It's a bit like cricket.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 12:57 pm:   

Second comment just in:

This one is from Jason E. Rolfe:

"The empathy felt is as artificial as the character being artificially empathized with. The character and the emotion aren't real, but are merely reflections of the reader's own life experience. It's a 'reader-based' interpretation of the text, but the feeling is no more real than the character, or the events in the story. I'm struggling to see the other side of this debate without losing a little rationality."

With luck, we may indeed get some authentic opinions on the subject of empathy from a broad range of people. Or we might not.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 01:02 pm:   

Mindful of Gary's comments above, I just added this comment:

"Great stuff! Keep them coming! Nothing will be censored when I repost the comments. Just say what you believe to be true."

All in all, this exercise isn't a bad way for me to take my final messageboard bow!
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 01:07 pm:   

I have to vanish for a few hours now. Hopefully there will be some more comments to post when I return later. I'll be sure to bring some lemons and a pot of tea with me.

I'm on a sticky wicket, my friends!
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 02:21 pm:   

It seems I have no tears left. They should have fallen –
Their ghosts, if tears have ghosts, did fall – that day...


– Edward Thomas
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 80.4.12.3
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 07:14 pm:   

Are you auditioning for something, Joel?
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.155.221.238
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 07:20 pm:   

>>> ...even friends of yours on FB couldn't see you were joking when you directed them to this thread...

>>>I'll repeat this one then. It's a lie. A lie on Marc's part.


Further posts from the thread that apparently makes no allusions to this site and in no way directs people to look here. I would have posted it earlier but I can no longer access FB from work.

Sara Crowe - Who have you upset now?!!
16 August at 11:44 · Like · 1 person

Rhys Hughes - LOL! Just a bunch of horror writers.
16 August at 11:44 · Like · 1 person

Sara Crowe - Heheh, a roomful of upset horror writers ... comedy gold!
16 August at 11:45 · Like · 1 person

Rhys Hughes - Ramsey Campbell still hasn't forgiven me for the time I insulted him 10 years ago. There are plenty of others, but he's the most significant one.
16 August at 11:46 · Like

Conrad Williams - Just a bunch of horror writers? I missed that. What did you say?
16 August at 11:47 · Like

Rhys Hughes - What didn't I say, is the real question! It was more a case of everyone reacting very seriously and pompously to a skit I started, rather than a trading of insults.
16 August at 11:48 · Like

Richard Tyndall - We are not all humourless gits. Some of us are just gits :-)
16 August at 11:49 · Like · 1 person

David A. Riley - Hear hear!
16 August at 11:49 · Like

Conrad Williams - Oh dear. Maybe it just wasn't funny?
16 August at 11:50 · Like

David A. Riley - I'm going to take a peep at the RC Message Board where I sometimes lurk, just to see what's been going on. I'm morbid like that.



Those are exactly as seen on FB in sequence with no breaks.

But apparently I'm a liar for saying that Rhys directed people toward this site... Note he directed people here by once more stating that the Landlord bears some kind of grudge against him.

An interesting post from further down the thread

Thana Niveau - Rhys, you know I have an excellent sense of humour (my partner should be evidence of that), but *I* didn't realise you were joking either. :-( I posted something very personal on a thread I thought was trying to initiate stimulating debate about a real topic. I know you're not always serious and while I didn't take your *tone* to be serious, I did think you were honest about the kernel of the idea. Now I feel foolish, as though I've fallen for something. :-(

But he hasn't thrown a hissy fit there and called her a humourless git. That's just us guys I suppose.

My final thing on this is the message I received when I logged in..

"So not only do you lie about me but you deny that you're a liar?
You'd better apologise pronto, buddy."



Rhys If I owed you an apology I would apologise.

You've called me a liar a number of times now Rhys - and I think it's fair to say that I've proved I wasn't lying on any of the points I made above.

Maybe you need to apologise to me now.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 08:31 pm:   

Marc: never in a million years am I ever going to apologise to you. Let me repeat the message I wrote earlier:

> ...even friends of yours on FB couldn't see you were joking when you directed them to this thread...

That's 100% inaccurate, for starters. It's a blatant lie. I never directed anyone to this thread or even mentioned this thread or this website.


OK? Can you read that? How the hell does mentioning Ramsey Campbell direct people to this thread or even to this website? Most people on my Facebook friends list don't even know who he is. I guess you imagine they are going to type his name into Google, end up here and search for it? You're dreaming, pal.

If someone else did mention this website (and in fact David A. Riley did), that's hardly my fault, is it... I have to take responsibility for everybody else as well as myself now, do I?

So you're still a liar, buddy. How many times is that now, Marc? Can you count?

Anyway, it's all academic now. Ramsey wants people on my Facebook friends list to see this thread. So I've linked to it directly. See above.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 08:32 pm:   

Also, of course I'm not going to have a go at a woman. That goes without saying. What the hell do you expect?
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 09:00 pm:   

>>Also, of course I'm not going to have a go at a woman. That goes without saying.<<

In that case, I really wish I'd chipped in sooner too, in the hope of helping to stop this nonsense, but I'll chip in now.

Rhys, this is ridiculous, sad and very, very silly. Can you not see that we ALL, repeat ALL, thought you were initiating a discussion with your first post? This is a discussion forum after all - we discuss things!

But, for some strange reason which I just can't fathom, you took it as some kind of personal insult. No-one here has insulted you. Well, you and Marc are getting a bit narky with each other now, but that's only to be expected when things are escalating rather stupidly like this.

Simple facts: you started a thread which everyone else thought was a discussion. Everyone else chipped in with their thoughts on that discussion point. No insults intended. And I've no idea what went on between you and Ramsey 10 years ago, and I don't want to know either.

Now, I don't go near Facebook but if you'd like to ask your Facebook friends to read this post of mine, I'd be most grateful. Then, they can perhaps make up their own minds what's been going on here. Misunderstandings, pure and simple.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.57.32
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 09:07 pm:   

Yes, for Pete's sake
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 09:11 pm:   

We're in the worst part of the Mercury Retrograde, which ends on Friday - that explains this entire thread, imho.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 09:11 pm:   

@Hubert - LOL, as the young folk say!
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 09:12 pm:   

Sorry, Craig, I wasn't ignoring your comment - we were just posting at the same time. Yours is good too!
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Jonathan (Jonathan)
Username: Jonathan

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.25.236.82
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 10:13 pm:   

Rhys you've acted like a child and been called on it. Acccept that, behave like an adult for pity's sake and then rise above it, you're better than this. Life's too short for petty internet point scoring.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.155.221.238
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 12:20 am:   

I'm bored now anyway.

Why don't you just start chanting "Liar liar pants on fire at me Rhys". It's about the maturity level you've shown over the past couple of days.

>>How the hell does mentioning Ramsey Campbell direct people to this thread or even to this website?

As a master wordsmith of your standing, it should be pretty obvious that the thread I pasted above, starting with "Who have you upset now" and your almost immediate reply (there was the "roomful of horror writers" line in between) being "Ramsey Campbell" is directing people to look at this site.

You are well aware that several people on your friends list are more than slightly familiar with Ramsey. I recognise several names from the Shocklines site for a start, not to mention all the people who hang round here, and people like Chris Barker who has a long standing grudge against Ramsey - (I noticed before you whacked your FB privacy levels right up that CB had started stirring the pot).

You're an intelligent guy Rhys. You know you directed the conversation to this site by mentioning Ramsey - if you genuinely can't see that, maybe you just don't understand how words and sentences link to create ideas... But I know that's not true.

You told people you upset Ramsey Campbell and a roomful of horror writers. People who know who Ramsey is, of which there are several in your friends list, will look over here to see what's going on. Therefore you directed people to this site. QED.

I said nothing untrue in the post where you decided I was telling such terrible lies about you.

Stop being a child and grow up.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.4.19.77
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:02 am:   

Rhys, chill man.

I like you and admire your obstinate thought processes but you're doing yourself no favours at the minute by this indiscriminate and poorly thought out lashing out at everyone.

If you're under personal stress or, worse, have recently split from a loved one or, even worse, have lost a loved one you need to come to terms with that first and fuck the rest of the world.

I can think of no other reason for this uncharacteristic, and deeply worrying, loss of reasoned unreason... and that's not me being postmodern or clever, it's me being concerned for someone whose opinion I respect.

Take a deep breath. Stop this self-defeating nonsense. Admit you're fallible and have been acting rather irrationally. Examine why this situation has developed. Take some time out... and, if you feel the need to reply, do so as my friend on Facebook - I'm Stephen Walsh, the bloke sat outside with a pint, on the Northern Ireland network.

Of course if you want to tell me to fuck off for being a patronising bastard that also is your prerogative. I sincerely hope you don't though...
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.24.38.152
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:17 am:   

Rhys, sorry to hear you're leaving the country though I hope the move brings you many good things. It would be nice to think that you would quit the world of online fandom on good terms with people who like and admire you. Sadly it's a bit late for that. Have a nice life.
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Simon Bestwick (Simon_b)
Username: Simon_b

Registered: 10-2008
Posted From: 86.24.209.217
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:33 am:   

Stevie has possibly said it better than anyone.

I normally avoid these online flame wars like the plague- I restrained myself with great effort from commenting on the NEVER AGAIN thread last year, when one of my closest friends was being savaged by a coward and a liar. Feeding trolls is never a good idea.

But you're not a troll, Rhys. I've met you in 'real life', spoken to you on the phone. You're better than that- better than this. This isn't you. Unless I've completely misunderstood you for the last fourteen or so years.

I have no idea how this thread has spun so horribly out of control over what is, in essence, a misunderstanding. If you need to cut down on your messageboard activity, fine. But this whole business is downright painful to witness.

Like Stevie, you can always find me on Facebook if you want to chat. Although we haven't caught up properly in years, I still consider you a friend, if you still want that. Hell, come up and visit before you go abroad.

But, please- this is just picking fights with people who weren't looking for one. On the whole, the people here are a decent crowd- some bloody good friends of mine are among them, and a lot of writers I greatly respect. And yes, that includes you.

Whatever happens, be well and take care.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.165.37.175
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 10:54 am:   

I have known Rhys since the very beginning of the last century's last decade. We wrote letters to each other in those earlier days. He travelled far to attend my surprise 50th birthday in 1998. I trust whatever he says or does on the internet (whether it be on the spur of the moment or after long thought) that he will always consider me his friend, as I always will vice versa.

It is pointless to go into the rights and wrongs of this thread and its accoutrements, but it is certainly apt, if ironic, that it is entitled the Empathy Problem. I feel this has increasingly become a problem into today's world, whether individually (there are medicals terms for it) or in groups (big and small).

Today and tomorrow, the Red Arrows were due to make their annual visit over the skies of Clacton. Sadly, I somehow feel that they won't be coming this year.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 11:11 am:   

The issue is simple. I admitted that I was in the wrong, I apologised not once but twice, I even retired from this thread, but then I still got hassle. That's what really riled me up. The kick-him-when-he's-not-here ethic.

I really do want to retire from here. I asked Gary Fry to delete my account last week, but maybe he was too busy. I shouldn't even be here now. All I'm asking is for you not to stab me in the back when I'm gone. That's all I wanted last time too. My own fault for looking, I guess.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 11:26 am:   

I didn't delete your account, Rhys, because I was hoping this could all pass over and that you'd continue posting here. Like others, I've enjoyed a lot of the contributions you've made to the board, sparking off very different discussions from what has been traditionally the case. I'd hoped you'd stay.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 11:27 am:   

I still do.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 11:30 am:   

Well no, I can't stay, but thanks for having me here in the first place.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 11:45 am:   

You need to develop a thicker skin, Rhys, and not give a damn what others are saying about you. Trying to monitor and refute every online comment is impossible and self-defeating. That way lies madness.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 11:48 am:   

It's probably bad taste to depart with a dramatic message, but there are a couple of things I'd like to leave you with:

Empathy. I'm pretty sure that when we feel empathy for fictional characters it's not real empathy, but some sort of pseudo-empathy or quasi-empathy. If true, this does raise the issue of how exactly it differs from real empathy... Also empathy does seem inherently egotistic as it implies you can only empathise with people who are like you; and the more closely they are like you, the more you can empathise with them. It's almost as if the entire empathy process is trying to achieve an identity-merge on some level.

Surely that's profoundly egotistical? The most egocentric of all mental processes? If not, why not?

As I said elsewhere, I think I prefer the mechanics of compassion: respect for all living beings whether you can empathise with them or not. The principle of ahimsa. I feel that "empathy" has become a sort of catchword, a fashionable tool sometimes used as a weapon (That person has no empathy = that person is a sociopath = I am superior to him.) Maybe it's just me, but I do see it used that way.

Another point I've always wanted to raise (but was wary of doing so because of the potential reaction) is this:

The props of traditional horror -- ghosts, vampires, werewolves, demons, basically anything supernatural -- are silly. They are inherently silly because supernatural things don't exist and can't exist, so why don't we react to them (in fictional representations) as if they are silly?

A vampire is just as silly as a talking chair. Both violate the laws of biology and physics. But when we encounter a vampire in a book or film our first thought isn't "silly". Why not? I still can't get my head around that.

This is the third time I've retired from this forum. I'm turning into Frank Sinatra!
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 11:52 am:   

Stevie: yes, absolutely! And that's true for all other hotheads. Hotheads have a hard time in modern society: not only do we have to deal with all the usual obstacles of life, but we aren't allowed to live our emotional life properly, at least not without exposing ourselves to insults and people who take tactical advantage of our weakness... A swordblade through the ribs is no longer an acceptable response to an insult, alas.

See what you've done? I'm back already; and I haven't even gone yet!
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 11:54 am:   

Delete my account, Gary Fry, for the sake of Cthulhu's bumcrack!
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.165.37.175
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 11:59 am:   

Just noticed that, last June, I referred to 'fictionatronic empathy' in my real-time review of LINK ARMS WITH TOADS! :-)

I also referred, in that review, to a "substantial, highly honed and stylistic horror story" by you, Rhys. Meanwhile, I do empathise with your need to break from what you see as the Horror genre.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 12:07 pm:   

If I could start all over again, Des, I'd do things differently, that's for sure!

I would never have got involved with internet forums in the first place, for one thing. Much better if I had done a "Thomas Ligotti" or "Mark Valentine" and remain removed from the scene.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:01 pm:   

The props of traditional horror -- ghosts, vampires, werewolves, demons, basically anything supernatural -- are silly. They are inherently silly because supernatural things don't exist and can't exist, so why don't we react to them (in fictional representations) as if they are silly?

A vampire is just as silly as a talking chair. Both violate the laws of biology and physics. But when we encounter a vampire in a book or film our first thought isn't "silly". Why not? I still can't get my head around that.


Rhys, there's a great Guy de Maupassant story, called 'Who Knows?', that highlights this point and still manages to be a deeply disturbing horror tale.

It even opens with the lines:


"My God! My God! I am going to write down at last what has happened to me. But how can I? How dare I? The thing is so bizarre, so inexplicable, so incomprehensible, so silly!

If I were not perfectly sure of what I have seen, sure that there was not in my reasoning any defect, any error in my declarations, any lacuna in the inflexible sequence of my observations, I should believe myself to be the dupe of a simple hallucination, the sport of a singular vision. After all, who knows?"
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:09 pm:   

It's because it's "silly" - I prefer the term "unreal" - that it's valuable. The Western mindset is incredibly arrogant in its sureness about a lot of things. The best horror sneaks or bulldozes past this self-serving, tenuous knowingness and shows us that we're just children groping in the dark.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:13 pm:   

>>>A vampire is just as silly as a talking chair. Both violate the laws of biology and physics. But when we encounter a vampire in a book or film our first thought isn't "silly".

Actually, a lot of the time, that's exactly what I do think when these things lumber onscreen or across the page. Unless they're done extremely well. Maybe it's in the execution, in making viewers/readers believe they exist in that moment of willing belief. It's a fine trick and only the good ones can do it well.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:13 pm:   

Thanks Stevie!

Maupassant. Yes, a fine writer.

I guess one of the main reasons I need to remove myself completely from the horror scene is that (unlike other readers) I just can't read supernatural horror without being overwhelmed by the silliness of those props and the conceits around them. This inherent silliness, for me, cancels everything else out; and the reaction seems to be getting more forceful as I get older.

This is why I found it amusing (in a sour kind of way) when a publisher of traditional horror fiction once told me that my own work was "silly." My first impulse was to respond, "Yes indeed, like the stuff you already produce!" but I suspect I would have been misunderstood, so I said nothing.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:14 pm:   

Crossed posts there, Gary!
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:18 pm:   

"Willing belief"... Yes, maybe that's the key to the problem. I don't really have much willing belief. I want an author to really earn it; I used to give it away for nothing, or at least lay it out on the table first. Now I seem to want to demand something from the author first, a sort of "show me you deserve to lead me by the nose and then I might let you have my willing belief but don't bank on it."
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:22 pm:   

Yes, that's it. The best authors work magic on us, make us belief the unbelievable, if only temporarily.

This is key to it as well, I think. Time. Give us a break from this "willing belief" and the illusion fades. Maybe that's why horror short stories and films sometimes work more effectively than novels: they're disgested in one 'sitting'. The spell is broken when we are forced to set the material aside.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:24 pm:   

>>>I don't really have much willing belief. I want an author to really earn it; I used to give it away for nothing, or at least lay it out on the table first.

I think we all get this way after repeated exposure to material. As kids, anything draws us in. As adults, we're more difficult to please, having seen it all and knowing the tricks. We demand good magicians.

Did you scare easily as a child, Rhys?
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:27 pm:   

Good to have you back, Rhys, even if this is 'breakup sex'.

Machen's 'The White People' argues that the logically impossible but real is more frightening than the plausible but dangerous – the most threatening horror is "When the roses sing".

I share your frustration with genre writers and readers who not only take certain arbitrary conventions for granted but enforce them as 'rules'. I keep wanting to say "Haven't you noticed that these things are not real?"

Or to put it another way, weird fiction should deal with the unknown – that means the unknown, not the familiar and not the imagined-but-neatly-ordered-by-storytelling-rules. Many readers of horror fiction feel cheated by the unknown. They want a plot, not a wilderness.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:27 pm:   

Question 2: isn't magic realism about dramatising/elucidating phenomena which do fit in so easily to the realist novel, with its staid conventions?

Couldn't horror (the good stuff) be described as serving the same purpose, only with a focus on the darker of these ineffable elements?

And couldn't horror have a bad image because although morons write horror, very few morons bother with magic realism?

I speculate.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:31 pm:   

If you read a lot of metafiction, then it does something to your reading brain, and when you read a normal piece of fiction you find yourself still trying to read it in terms of an "exposed" author-reader relationship. I guess that's what happened to me.

Willing belief is more fragile in such a circumstance. These days I often find myself reading a book and thinking, "OK, pal, what are you trying to engineer with this passage? What's the emotion you want me to feel? Sadness, is it? Well maybe I won't give you sadness. Maybe I'll give you something else, something that I choose. Prove to me that you deserve to hold the bargaining chips in your hand."

That's overstating the case, of course, but an overstated case still has a case beneath it.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.165.37.175
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:32 pm:   

I think appreciation of Horror genre entities is indeed germane to the Empathy Problem, too. Perhaps an Empathy with one of one's own (Proustian) selves? And Guy de Maupassant (again! and another French author) seems to express something at least tangential to this in 'The Horla':

"Ever since man has thought, since he has been able to express and write down his thoughts, he has felt himself close to a mystery which is impenetrable to his coarse and imperfect senses, and he endeavors to supplement the feeble penetration of his organs by the efforts of his intellect. As long as that intellect remained in its elementary stage, this intercourse with invisible spirits assumed forms which were commonplace though terrifying. Thence sprang the popular belief in the supernatural, the legends of wandering spirits, of fairies, of gnomes, of ghosts, I might even say the conception of God, for our ideas of the Workman-Creator, from whatever religion they may have come down to us, are certainly the most mediocre, the stupidest, and the most unacceptable inventions that ever sprang from the frightened brain of any human creature. Nothing is truer than what Voltaire says: 'If God made man in His own image, man has certainly paid Him back again.'"
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:32 pm:   

As the man said, I wish I could just kiss her without thinking about what her mother looks like and wondering whether she's going to turn into her.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:36 pm:   

That quotation from GdM doesn't describe horror for me. It's not about the possible existence of ghosts and demons for me (I'm tempted to say that's silly). It's about what ghosts and demons represent in a realist world and what realist fiction cannot address with its staid conventions.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:45 pm:   

Conversely I can get emotionally moved by fictions with no discernible emotional aesthetic (I mean there are no characters to empathise with, no situations of tension, no narrator "growth", etc)... I'm currently re-reading Invisible Cities, so abstract it shouldn't be emotionally engaging at all, and yet it's working emotionally on me. Who knows why? Perhaps because the author doesn't demand or expect it from me.

Magic Realism... For me, the main thing about Magic Realism is that it depicts the world not as it really is, but as it sometimes feels. So you have lots and lots of characters with intense subjective experiences that have become concrete; and these subjective experiences often interact, so you get a sort of inter-subjective reality, which is what Jean-Paul Sarte once claimed existentialism was all about (in Existentialism and Humanism.)

I wrote a guest blog on the subject of Magic Realism recently, and because I'm often criticised for pontificating (I admit this is true) I tried to write it with a more modest tone than I usually do. I'm not saying that modest tones are right, but the Nietzschean approach tends to make people disagree even if they agree with the substance of what's being said (I call this the "Nietzschjerk Reaction!) Here's that guest blog:
http://anneejohnson.blogspot.com/2011/08/guest-blogger-fantasy-writer-rhys.html
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:47 pm:   

>>>the main thing about Magic Realism is that it depicts the world not as it really is, but as it sometimes feels. So you have lots and lots of characters with intense subjective experiences that have become concrete

Do you not think horror fiction (at its best) does something similar?

It's certainly what I'm alluding to above, how I see the genre working.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.165.37.175
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:47 pm:   

Empathy with the book's 'God' and paying him back with realised monsters (whether you are that book's reader or creator). Casts a detached two-way empathy within the self of a God-Author and an even Godder-reader, if you are a reader, or vice versa, if you're the author.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:49 pm:   

Que?
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:51 pm:   

We should all club together and buy Rhys a copy of The Grin of the Dark and tie him to a chair and force him to read it while sitting on the opposite side of the room and eating crisps.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 01:54 pm:   

> Do you not think horror fiction (at its best) does something similar?

Honestly, no it doesn't.

Normally I would leave it there, but in the present mood of heightened caution I'll add that I can only speak for myself. I won't try to deny this effect, or any other effect, on other readers. I'm not saying that I'm right on this issue, but I am saying what's right for me.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:01 pm:   

Which horror writers do you base your opinions of the genre on, Rhys?
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.165.37.175
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:01 pm:   

Author is often seen as God of that book, but there are narrative levels sometimes even that 'god' is unaware of out of his control. The reader's empathy takes the form of 'realising' the entities (characters, places, monsters etc) and turning them against the author as a mixed emotion of hate or need for vengeance (not being fully empowered to believe in the entities from the mere conveyance of them by the text), love or envy (you are not the author and then you resist believing him because you feel you are a better author as a reader with a reader's creativity of turning his words into realities), and thus that love/hate/envy empathy seems to make those entities actually real and you set them loose back on the author (now as truly dangerous entities rather than mere words on a page) for having created them without first making sure they were real and forcing you to do the job for him.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:01 pm:   

I mean, which have you properly read?
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:09 pm:   

> Did you scare easily as a child, Rhys?

Absolutely not. No. I made the woods my nighttime playground; anywhere in the vicinity with a reputation for being haunted, there I'd go; I looked for ghosts everywhere. Only on one occasion did I scare myself silly by doing this: I was eleven years old and on the night of Halloween I read the first forty or so pages of Dracula and then went to a wood different in character from the (mostly scyamore) woods where I usually roamed. This other wood was hawthorn, tangled and dark, with narrow tunnels through the dense growth... However, I still didn't see any ghosts.

I did have an encounter with a ghost once. Not then, though; much later. And I was (and am) a sceptic.

I've done a lot of wild camping since then, and have bivouacked in forests all over Europe, and you do get used to them, and they do lose their menacing aspects with time. It was an ambition of mine to hike through Transylvania and I did that in 1993 and in Romania it's perfectly acceptable to camp wild. Transylvania was friendly and colourful rather than eerie. I guess that forests at night are very unnerving to the first time sleeper, but soon enough you get blase about them.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:10 pm:   

> Which horror writers do you base your opinions of the genre on, Rhys?

You really want me to answer that question? Do I have protection from comeback?
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.116.57.32
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:11 pm:   

Frank Belknap Long in Dreamer on the Nightside:

Q: Why so compulsive a need to create tomb-dwelling characters when you don't run into them at all in everyday life?

A: Because its is the obligation of art to investigate everything that takes place in the dark of the human mind. And if you have a literary bent for supernatural horror or fantasy in general, the writing of such work makes you very happy. There's an inner joy to it, a sense of wonder and adventurous expectancy - to borrow one of Lovecraft's most frequently used terms.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:16 pm:   

Sorry, I've just read my last message and I'm wondering what I've become. A sissy. That's not me.

You asked a question, Gary. It's only right I answer it:

Dennis Etchison
Joe R. Lansdale
Nicholas Royle
Mark Morris
Christopher Kenworthy
Tim Lebbon

Those are five names. There are others. I used to do a lot of reviewing.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:19 pm:   

You found nothing of worth in Etchison's short stories? Or Nicholas Royle's?
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:19 pm:   

(Not a loaded question. Just curious.)
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:21 pm:   

No, I didn't.

It's a question of taste, of course.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:25 pm:   

Bloody hell, I can't count! I said five names but I gave six.

I've turned into an innumerate sissy. Is this a common problem of middle age?
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:34 pm:   

I wonder how long it'll be before I'm informed that those writers are better than I am, and that I'm childish, etc?

Or have I pre-empted that with this?
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:41 pm:   

Why not ask me what horror writers I do like?
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:45 pm:   

>>>I wonder how long it'll be before I'm informed that those writers are better than I am, and that I'm childish, etc?

Oh, stop being a twat. :-)

What horror writers do you like?
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:46 pm:   

Thomas Ligotti.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:58 pm:   

I can hear the tumbleweed rolling...
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 03:00 pm:   

Why?
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 03:01 pm:   

The answer as to why I like Ligotti is twofold, but the two answers are in opposition. I can't help that. The first answer is: (a) several reasons but they are too involved to explain here (or anywhere) even though they are clear in my mind, (b) I don't know.

Weird, no?
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 03:02 pm:   

No, why tumbleweed.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 03:03 pm:   

I have to go out now. As it's my last day, I'll try to come back to say goodbye (again) properly later.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 03:03 pm:   

Because it's a plant.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.165.37.175
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 03:34 pm:   

Background reading to Rhys's comments on Thomas Ligotti above: i.e. his fascinating interview on Thomas Ligotti Online (where I also spend much of my time):
http://www.ligotti.net/showthread.php?t=3606
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.165.37.175
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 03:35 pm:   

And the 5 pages of comments attached to it.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.165.37.175
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 03:43 pm:   

That's an interview with Rhys, not with, TL, that is! (I wish I could improve my communication skills!) :-)
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 04:35 pm:   

To my shame I must admit I still have yet to read a single word by Thomas Ligotti but I'm working my way up to him. All those wonderful little intros in the 'Best New Horror' volumes have fairly whetted my appetite.

Time I got back to my short story anthos! Next up was 'The 22nd Pan Book Of Horror Stories' I believe.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 05:08 pm:   

These days I often find myself reading a book and thinking, "OK, pal, what are you trying to engineer with this passage? What's the emotion you want me to feel? Sadness, is it? Well maybe I won't give you sadness. Maybe I'll give you something else, something that I choose. Prove to me that you deserve to hold the bargaining chips in your hand."

But how exactly are they to prove this, Rhys? You've established from the first part of this thinking that the illusion's not working - the lover's advances aren't taking - that the mechanics are all you're focused upon. At that point, is it the cleverness of the word choices? The mere rhythm of the phrases? And then whatever it is that's needed as "proof," if/when it finally does arrive... if it's say pity that's aimed for, do you suddenly swoon like a grand capitulation, fall back into the couch with exaggerated "Take me, you brute!"s, and allow the pity-rutting to commence?...
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.107.130.149
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 05:17 pm:   

Pervert.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 05:47 pm:   

Hey, I'm not a pervert. I'm just trying to establish that maybe Rhys, you know... secretly craves diction....
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 08:08 pm:   

Craig: the answer to your excellent question is that the work has to be unpedictable, I have to be outwitted. And I have to be outwitted properly, not with a "deus ex machina" but with a perfectly engineered creation. If an author outwits me that way I tend to fall in love with that author. So it's the ideas or the concepts or more properly speaking the 'conceits' that win me over.

Gary Fry asked above:

> isn't magic realism about dramatising/elucidating phenomena which do fit in so easily to the realist novel, with its staid conventions? Couldn't horror (the good stuff) be described as serving the same purpose, only with a focus on the darker of these ineffable elements? And couldn't horror have a bad image because although morons write horror, very few morons bother with magic realism?

I can't agree with this. Or rather I can only agree in part. If horror does attempt to do this, it certainly does it in a different way to magic realism. Magic realism is colourful, vibrant, excessive, optimistic, tropical... Horror, even the best modern work (especially the best modern work), is understated, dark, closed in, brooding...

I like the former set of flavours and don't much care for the latter. It's a question of taste, nothing more.
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Rhysaurus (Rhysaurus)
Username: Rhysaurus

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 86.16.195.174
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 08:28 pm:   

One last thing... Gary also said:

> The Western mindset is incredibly arrogant in its sureness about a lot of things. The best horror sneaks or bulldozes past this self-serving, tenuous knowingness and shows us that we're just children groping in the dark.

If that's what the best horror truly does, if that's the aim of the genre, then it's not for me. In fact I think that Gary has truly put his finger on it here... But I don't want to be a child groping in the dark among a lot of other children groping in the dark. I want to be believe that we can grow up, that we have grown up, that we will continue to grow up until eventually we reach the Omega Point (if you're unfamiliar with this concept, just Google the words). When I say "we" I mean all life, the life essence itself, of course.

The arrogant Western mindset is contigent to knowledge, not an inevitable outcome of it. The greatest inquiring minds weren't arrogant. I don't think Einstein, Heisenberg, Dirac, Fermi, Bohr, Bohm, Von Neumann, Godel, etc, were arrogant. Modern celebrities and corporate businessmen are arrogant, but they aren't the true envoys of Western culture.

So now I'm off. I'm relying on Gary Fry to delete my account. If I physically can't respond to anything, I can't get into these spats in the first place.

I would prefer it if I'm not kicked after I've gone, but I can't stop you. If that happens, it will say more about you than me, even if it's presented in terms of pleasant advice.

I'm a bloody awful one for wanting to make speeches, but I'll resist this time. As this is my last message on this forum I'll leave instead by recommending my three favourite books ever. You may already know them. Here they are:

http://rhysaurus.blogspot.com/2011/08/holy-book-trinity.html

Ciao!
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 08:59 pm:   

If an author outwits me that way I tend to fall in love with that author. So it's the ideas or the concepts or more properly speaking the 'conceits' that win me over.

... Oh, but you can't leave now, Rhys, because I'm wondering who these authors are. I could list some of my own (Stevie is probably already listing some of his own): probably the greatest of "conceit-smiths" I've come across dwells outside (mostly, but not in his most famous work) fiction, namely Nietzsche. Recently coming to Graham Greene (mostly thanks to Stevie's insistence - thanks Stevie!), I'm dazzled by his many-faceted way of turning over religious/spiritual concepts and ideas; in his hands, such things are like a cube he turns to face you, so that you think it's the only way possible of looking at that cube... then he tilts it to the next side, and you think that again. These two come immediately to mind, though how do you leave out Shakespeare? The prime "out-witter"? So who are the luminaries here? And why are they luminaries? Surely you're not going to leave me here in the dark on this, are you?...
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.155.221.238
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 10:04 pm:   

Chris Barker thinks I'm a deeply unpleasant peron...

why do I not give a shit?
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.24.19.113
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 10:30 pm:   

No, that was Eva.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.24.19.113
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 10:38 pm:   

Though to be fair, if every half-hearted reformist were judged so harshly there'd be no space in our conceptual Inferno for the likes of General Pinochet.

No bueno. Rhys karaoke.
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Mark_lynch (Mark_lynch)
Username: Mark_lynch

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 94.197.127.103
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 10:45 pm:   

Cos you don't know what a 'peron' is? :-)
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.19.240
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 10:50 pm:   

At Rhys's request, let's close this thread.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Saturday, August 27, 2011 - 03:49 pm:   

Agreed Ramsey, but can I just say one more thing? I've been away for a few days and didn't know Rhys was going (or even that he'd been back).

I just want to wish you well, Rhys - here's hoping you do take a peek back at this thread and see my message. Good luck to you in everything you do - and I think "Link Arms With Toads" is awesome!
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.190.206.179
Posted on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - 01:59 pm:   

But Caroline, Rhys was horrible.
What a terrible thread to reread. A narcissist in action.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 89.100.87.82
Posted on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - 06:33 pm:   

I didn't read his stuff, to be honest. And complete silence from Caroline on this issue, I see. I think you won.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.190.206.179
Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 - 01:24 am:   

I'm not sure I did anything but watch. He has been incredibly nasty to me on Fb though. He eventually broke friendship with Caroline, too. Des is still on very Neville Chamberlain-like good terms with him, though.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 147.252.230.86
Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 - 03:31 pm:   

Ah, but I'm kinda joking about the 7 year gap between messages! I don't know why Rhys is, not even a little bit.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.190.206.179
Posted on Thursday, April 25, 2019 - 09:57 am:   

I know 'why Rhys is' was a typo but it kind of fits more!
But yes, I miss humour....literal autism. :/

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