When I began reading Furtherest the first thing I thought was: I don’t like this story – it’s again one of those tales with too short sentences and too many punctuations. Yes, I know this is something about taste, I like the style of long, swaying sentences of the romantic old English literature.
I still don’t think I like the style on sentence level, but the story began to be haunting without knowing exactly why and how. So I really liked the discussion on the episode with Paul Jessup about the dream logic and all. I had to smile when Glenn and Paul kept on trying to grasp the story and kept coming to different conclusions and just more questions.
The talk about night/dream logic was very interesting. I find the best stories those which give you a feeling of there being something wrong; you cannot point to it or explain it exactly but at the same time you feel that your subconsciousness does understand.
Paul Jessup said the best weird is mystery without a solution and with many ambiguity. I second that, but only when the dream logic acts as the cement to give the story coherence. In this story it has something to do with her ‘showing-don’t tell’, which also works on the emotional level of the protagonist, as was said in the discussion. Repeating and connecting the story elements is a thing that is – I think – necessary to give the story coherence when using this kind of showing. The human mind always wants to see meaning and patterns and connections, and it is the job of Warren to ‘help’ the reader with this intuitive night logic and make the story credible on a subconscious level without explaining it.
The distinction Mark Fisher makes in his "The weird and the eerie" is interesting when looking at this story. He defines weird as “the presence of that which does not belong”. The cosmic horror of Lovecraft then is weird, but he also mentions the dreamscape of David Lynch’s Inland Empire and other examples. On the other hand, “the sensation of the eerie occurs either when there is something present where there should be nothing, or when there is nothing present when there should be something.” (Fisher gives examples, like ‘The Birds’ of Daphne du Maurier but also works of M.R. James, Margaret Atwood and even Eno). Weird has to do with the monstrous, the deviant, eerie has to do with things that are normal in itself, but are missing or present when they shouldn’t.
Returning to the story: Why are there jars of goo? Why does the protagonist sees a figure where there should not be one? Why this inscription FTH? Why those mannequins? There even is something wrong with the presence of those strange memorials. Why are people behaving so strangely? There ‘should be’ a clear police report about the dead boys int the story, there ‘should be’ a detective or someone who acts like one in connection with the suicide or suicidal tendencies and the old man. And on a metafictional level there ‘should be’ a narrator who explains or at least question those eerie things.
As Fisher states: “A bird’s cry is eerie if there is a feeling that there is something more in (or behind) the cry than a mere animal reflex or biological mechanism – that there is some kind of intent at work, a form of intent that we do not usually associate with a bird.”
To me this story is an ‘eerie bird’s cry’ – and Warren does a great job in making it so.
Yes! This is a great explanation of what exactly makes this story so unsettling. And this one is still with me, even months after recording that episode. I've developed a real aversion to goo!