alogos on ‘The Hawler’ reading
Here is an extract from a public post by ‘alogos’ on a Thomas Ligotti Online thread HERE:
<<All that said I am currently listening to the D. F. Lewis’ the Hawler, and have some thoughts on it already that I have been sitting on till I finished the story proper, and had hope to post my impressions in something like an informal review on the post in which I found out about it.
I for one, applaud Mr. Lewis’ readings, especially on the Hawler. To be quite frank I have something of a prejudice for dead authors over living ones, so until I started reading and listening to his stories on this webs site I did not have the pleasure of familiarity with his work, so on that most practical of points, I thank him for making his stories available because otherwise I would not have read him. That said based on the works I have read/listened to I feel it is fair that D. F. Lewis’ work is closer to poetry than to prose. There is love of words, not just of plot or clever ideas but of the words themselves, the way they sound themselves or together in a conjunction with carefully chosen complimentary phonemes and the meanings they hold, or the meanings that can’t hold them.
I remember taking a roman epistelography class in college, and reading a contemporary of St. Augustine, remark at how shocked he was watching Augustine of hippo, walk around reading a book, but reading it silently. It struck me then in a way that I’ve never forgotten that classical poetry was meant to be read aloud, not silently, not to yourself as you sit quietly and comfortably in an overstuffed chair in some smoky study, which is I’m afraid, how most of us readers that are left choose (or hope) to read. I remember so much time wasted with a lexicon, and paper, translating word by word in an uninspired way the works of antiquity, but then finding a teacher who focused us on hearing the meter and not just working out the scansion, that the poetry of the ancients is in the ear and not on the page. Though I am still very much a neophyte in classical language, read it aloud to me, especially in meter and I can follow along.
The meaning emerges from the sound of the words and not just from the words themselves. Read the Iliad in Greek and in meter and you will hear the hoof beats of horses, the trembling bass of a quaking ground under the marching of armies, and the clang of sword on shields, and spear on teeth. Even if you don’t understand the all of words the story emerges.
Something like an auditory “magic eye” or a Chuck Close painting, focus too much or too narrowly on the details you miss the larger picture. The words become the sounds of the world being created, and those sounds then become that world for those lucky enough to be listening. This is what good poetry does, it is hypnotic and powerful.
Quite frankly, the Hawler is difficult book to “read” as the author himself notes in a deviation of the “audiobook version” from the text, when he notes that Hawler’s are a confused bunch – much like the readers of this book. The story is not linear, per-se. From what I’ve listen to so far the best way to describe the story is to use the image that the author himself chooses to open the book with – it is a carpet. But in deference to my appreciation of the man’s work let call this carpet a tapestry or if it is a carpet is one of those Moorish textiles. But it is living and dynamic carpet and we as the reader are mites stuck on a single thread wisped along by it weaving in and out of the main the narrative. There is a plot, discernable through the myriad and minutiae of thoughts and sketches, ideas and wordplay that are woven into the text. If you were to exclude these things from the story there is a story it is a little tedious, but easy enough to follow, at least so far, by why on earth would you want to do that? Why deny your self the best part of the story.
The story is something of a null cipher, a story hidden within the story. It is a story of words as well as of people. Words like Weirdmonger, nemonymous, Hawler, brainwright, are thrown around, and the meaning of these words especially what a Hawler is, or more precisely which definitions fail to capture the essence of a hawler – is another story being told.
On top of that there is another story being told in absentia, that is to say that there is great secret something beneath and behind every word and every action it is something terrible about the world, about the Hawlers, perhaps about nothing at all but it seethes in every observation and behind every thought, but it never spoken, it hides in the spaces between the words, and is made manifest by its absence.
And in true form to the author’s nemonymous beliefs it really is all in the text, its just that its not really what you would call apparent or manifest, or easily dramatized.
It is a very fascinating experience and very enjoyable so far from what I’ve read, I cannot say, without knowing how it ends whether or not it a satisfying one. But I am hooked, and am trusting myself fully to this author, including his vocal reading of the thing.
An actor can infuse a line with emotion, but a poet can draw it out of the words themselves. The actor animates like a puppet, but the poet creates life from the words. I think this is the difference. I think this is why a novelist (and I don’t at all mean to use the term in a derogatory manner) can benefit from an actor’s interpretation, but a poet, a poet has composed something like a piece of sheet music, that when read properly has a life of his own but which is something that only the poet himself or another with at least somewhat a poetic soul can read. I can imagine an actor reading the Hawler and trying to make it dramatic and emoting and, creating characters with different tics, but ignoring the real magic of the work.
There is workman like efficiency to what Julian Karswell suggests, but it something that lacks the charm and the magic of the poet in his own voice, conveying his words in a way only he can.
And I stress Mr. D. F. Lewis is definitely in this latter category, writing something closer to poetry than prose. I am sure that he himself does not fully appreciate the import of his writing, I’m sure a lot of it is a mystery to himself, but his words are pregnant with a magic, and I for one can think of no one else who would make a better wet nurse to bring them out an into fruition. >>
My philosophy however subsists with regard to the written word. That is why printed books are better than being read aloud to? That very question is the one posed by this thread.
With a book, you are given the leasehold by the freehold author, and you can re-decorate the ‘flat’ and furnish it to your taste.
With reading aloud by the author, he or she’s there next to your ear, during the ‘day and night’ of you inhabiting the sounds of his or her voice weaving the story with their ‘meaning’ around you.