We are in unfamiliar terrain now – surprising, fecund and strange. It is January 1866 and in the smoking room of a hotel in the New Zealand mining settlement of Hokitika, ‘a town not five years built’, a secret gathering of 12 men, ‘bronzed and weathered in the manner of all frontiersmen, their lips chapped white, their carriage expressive of privation and loss’, is interrupted by a 13th – Mr Walter Moody, late of Edinburgh and Cambridge, newly arrived on this side of the world, drawn by the lure of gold. He is not, at first, made welcome, but he gains the confidence of the rest soon enough, upon which they reveal to him the reasons for their shadowy convocation. He, in turn, has a story to tell concerning something he saw on his long voyage, a ‘preternatural horror’, the details of which emerge only gradually, glimpses of a grisly tableau: ‘the bloody cravat, the clutching silver hand, the name, gasped out of the darkness, again and again’.
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Enjoying Susan Owens’s essay on English attitudes to nature in @Lit_Review. Turns out the early moderns were positively repulsed by hills, as described in this poem by Isaak Walton’s fishing chum Charles Cotton.
In this month's Silenced Voices, @lucyjpop shines a light on the tragic case of Shady Habash, a filmmaker who died in an Egyptian prison in May.
One study found that hoarders 'had lesions on the mesial prefrontal cortex of their brains ... Collecting and hoarding, in other words, are the results of brain damage.'
James Delbourgo explores the psychology of minimalists & collectors.