Weird Tales/Volume 36/Issue 1/The Eyrie

"The Eyrie" banner title, showing a bird of prey landing at a nest beside the title lettering with mountains in the background

Fantasy Versus Philosophy

Recently Mr. Howard Brenton MacDonald, M.A., of Yonkers, N.Y., wrote us a very interesting letter about Reincarnation and its rather involved by-paths, pointing out that Robert Bloch—in his story Beauty's Beast (May issue)—had, in his opinion, got his philosophy rather mixed up; so we sent his letter on for Mr. Bloch's answer. First, here is the philosopher's side of things:

In Beauty's Beast Robert Bloch has his Hindu philosophy a trifle mixed. He is confusing Transmigration with Reincarnation when he says that the souls of humans go into animals. The pure Doctrine of Reincarnation, which is one of the oldest and greatest of all human teachings, says that the human soul passes through a series of human bodies, in a sort of spiritual evolution until, having learned all there is to know, it merge in with God at the end of its Cycle of Necessity. Transmigration is a degraded perversion of this in that it says that human souls may be born again in animal bodies. This, however, is not accepted by any serious-minded Hindu authority, or student, although it is held by many uneducated people in India. But even granting the idea of Transmigration, Mr. Bloch is at fault in saying that means that a human soul can pass directly into the body of a living animal, us is the case in his story; because no doctrine of the Orient that I know of teaches such. If it goes into an animal at all (and only Transmigration teaches this) the soul does so into the body of a newly born creature, not a living one such a the snake or monkey in his yarn.

Reincarnation likewise is concerned only with the journey of the human soul through the earthly human bodies, and not through the lower kingdoms. In the lower forms of life there is no such thing as an individual, or individualized personality. Cats, dogs, plants, and minerals all have one large soul apiece; but no animal, plant, or mineral has a separate individual soul such as a human being has.

This is a very complicated question, but a most fascinating one. I have enjoyed all of Mr. Bloch's stories in the past, and am now delighted to see that he has become interested in the Hindu philosophies. If Mr. Bloch will continue his studies of Hinduism, Yoga, and Oriental cultism, he will find enough material for a thousand weird tales. So can all writers.

And now, here is—

The Author's Viewpoint

It was with considerable interest that I noted the remarks of Mr. Howard B. MacDonald regarding Beauty's Beast. I am in total accord with his findings, except for the first sentence, in which he declares I have my Hindu philosophy "a trifle mixed."

I choose to resent that. My Hindu philosophy was not a trifle mixed, but completely mixed. More than a mere confusion of Transmigration with Reincarnation, but an almost complete hash of both concepts. Reader MacDonald is to be congratulated upon his astuteness in this matter.

However, I plead guilty on counts of willful premeditation. I am aware, as Mr. MacDonald points out, that Transmigration is a sort of degraded perversion of the doctrine of Reincarnation—and for the sake of the yarn I perverted it further. The tale dealt, you may remember, with a priest of Yama—the equivalent of an Occidental devil-worshipper. Devil-worship certainly is a religious perversion. Its doctrines are definitely at odds with recognized Christian theology. Yet in a weird tale, we accept the tenets of the devil-worshippers for the sake of the story, and do not demand that their beliefs accord with established religion. So my Hindu devil-worshipper has his own concept of the Reincarnation-Transmigration principle, and carries out his rites accordingly.

As an author I took the liberty to construct my own supernatural background to serve the plot—but I certainly don't disagree with Mr. MacDonald's lucid exposition of the actual facts.

Similarly, in this month's story, A Sorcerer Runs for Sheriff, I've again played fast and loose with medieval goety. The methods employed by the puppet-maker are enough to make any orthodox witch blush in horror—and I know, because several orthodox witches of my acquaintance did. "You can't kill a man that way," they protested. "It's sacrilege!"

"Oh, can't I?" I sneered "As long as there's paper in this typewriter, I'll kill people any way I please."

They put a curse on me and went away, grumbling. But I stuck to my guns—maintaining that in the disputed field of fantasy any variation on a known legend, myth-pattern, or psychological concept is permissible, provided that it does not strain the reader's credulity. Nothing in any yarn should be at all fantastic or unbelievable. Everything must be factal. Realism, that's what it is. Plain, unvarnished truth. Never tell any whoppers.

I'm sure the readers of my yarns know what I mean. I'm content to write plain, simple, homey, every-day little stories. About things that could happen to you, to anybody. Nothing wild—heaven forbid!

In that spirit, A Sorcerer Runs for Sheriff is offered. If any reader disbelieves the tenets therein, I ask him merely to go out, buy himself a pound of wax, and start modelling. If his enemy doesn't die in three days he might just a well demand his money back. Me, I've killed hundreds that way. Literally hundreds. I intend to kill hundreds more, if my typewriter paper holds out. And the patience of the readers.

Vote of Thanks From Down Under

David R. Evans writes from New South Wales, Australia:

Will you please grant me the privilege of using the Eyrie to thank Seabury Quinn for so many enjoyable hours spent with him per medium of WEIRD TALES?

If I can encroach on your leniency further I would consisder it a personal favor if you allowed me to convey similar appreciation to Robert Bloch. Will you consider me presumptuous if I begged further space to thank all your artists for their excellent illustrations of the stories I have enjoyed reading in WEIRD TALES?

Irrespective of the ban here on American magazines, I find that I able to procure copies of WEIRD TALES through the combined kindness of Australian and American fans; the contents whose mail is sometimes confiscated by the authorities here. However, our love for WEIRD TALES does find a way.

In closing, I would also like to offer you my most sincere thanks for your keen sense of editorship as evidenced by recent issues of WEIRD TALES.

Thank you.

On Borrowed Time

From Decatur, Alabama, R. Cornelius Jones writes:

I am pausing long enough my reading of Lovecraft's novel, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward to tell you that it is absolutely the most enthralling weird novel I have seen in some time and that I can guarantee to anyone, weird fan or not, that they would enjoy it to the fullest.

And now back to my reading.

"Madam Zombi"

Annetta Richardson writes from Gary, Indiana:

May I tell you about my Inner Sanctum musing:

Ghastly figures danced across the wall, long eerie shadows, headlss forms that wound themselves around mysterious pinnacles of thin air like coiled snakes, things that whirled and leaped—all shadows from the paling light that was flickering out.

I felt fiendishly happy and lit another tall candle, picked up my copy of WEIRD TALES from the mirror-top table beside me and began another story adventure.

Ever since that night I've been involved in this devilish delight at the solemn stroke of 11—on Thursday nights—demons and devils come groping boldly out of the pages of the book and live in my agile imagination for an hour or two.

{{right|"MADAM ZOMBI"

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A couple of issues back we posted a little announcement. Naturally we were happy to receive our cards, the two of us fans. Mighty happy indeed were we to find a couple of interested fans in this locale. However, who would have anticipated a club with twenty members in the short space of two months!

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Announcement by Los Angeles Fantasy Society

As secretary of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society I am writing this letter to announce that the L. A. S. F. S. wishes to affiliate with the WEIRD TALES CLUB and would appreciate your acknowledgment.

Due to our notice several issues ago in your magazine we have been in receipt of three inquiries and six visitors. In view of this it was deemed advisable to affiliate with the WEIRD TALES CLUB.

Our Society, known to followers of this department as "The Insiders," has among its prominent members Forrest J. Ackerman, Walter J. Daugherty, Arthur Joquel, Morojo, and Paul Freehafer, who are already members of your club.

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World Science Fiction Convention

And as we go to press, word comes in from the Colorado Fantasy Society that the World's Science Fiction Convention—sponsored by them—is being held in Denver, Colorado, on July 4th, 5th and 6th. We would like to extend, on behalf of all the members of the WEIRD TALES CLUB, our best wishes for the convention's success.

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Please enroll me on the club roster. I am twenty-one years of age, live on a farm and raise hogs—but I am no "hick." My pet hobby is book-collecting, especially books of weird and occult character and am sincerely interested in the beliefs and opinions of other addicts.

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