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Dark Faith: InvocationsMATT CARDIN is a writer and college teacher living in Central Texas. He has a master’s degree in religion and a lifetime of involvement in the study of world religion and philosophy. Since the 1990s he has focused his research and writing on the intersection of religion and spirituality with supernatural horror. He is the author of Divinations of the Deep (print edition 2002; ebook 2011), which launched the New Century Macabre fiction imprint for Ash-Tree Press; Dark Awakenings (2010), praised by Publishers Weekly as a “thinking-man’s book of the macabre” with “unusual philosophic depth”; and To Rouse Leviathan, forthcoming in 2013 from Hippocampus Press. He also wrote the ebook A Course in Demonic Creativity: A Writer’s Guide to the Inner Genius, available for free download at Demon Muse. He has appeared as a panel expert at The World Fantasy Convention, The World Horror Convention, MythosCon, and ArmadilloCon, and has been a guest on Expanding Mind, Darkness Radio, the Mancow Muller Show, and other podcasts and radio shows to talk about his experiences with sleep paralysis and nocturnal assault, and to discuss their implications for our collective understanding of creativity, psychology, and reality. In 2008 he was a guest of honor at MoCon III: The Intersection of Art, Spirituality, and Gender. He is also a long-time pianist, keyboardist, and composer. Former careers include high school teacher, piano salesman, corporate communications specialist, media producer for a large state university, and video director for country music legend Glen Campbell. His author site is www.MattCardin.com.

Matt is the author of “Prometheus Possessed”.

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Who are you?

That’s a question I’ve been asking myself since I first became consciously aware of my own consciousness and subjectively aware of my own subjectivity. See my accompanying bio for the third-person statement of various external facts, none of which names or expresses the infinitely-more that each of us is beyond all of those descriptors.

Tell us about your story.

“Prometheus Possessed” is equal parts dystopian science fiction and supernatural horror. It considers the fate of the soul in an awesomely high-tech, post-apocalyptic society where perfect “happiness” and “sanity” of a profoundly shallow sort are maintained by a quasi-priestly caste of mental health practitioners working in the employ of a “benevolent” totalitarian government. What if the rigorously conceived and deployed principles of “psychic sanitation” employed by these workers to cast out all irrationality and unhappiness actually served to exorcise the soul itself? And what if this resulted in an inexorable invasion of madness and supernatural disruption spilling in from the literal and psychological corners and interstices of this sleek, sparkling society? What if the soul, when discounted, rejected, and treated as a kind of demon, returns in that very form as a virulent spiritual disease? These were the ideas and questions that were churning in my subconscious as I wrote this story, although I didn’t articulate them clearly until just now.

There’s also a distinctly Frankensteinian theme running through the whole thing, hence the title. But the story’s invocation of this theme pings on the deep aspects of Ms. Shelley’s novel that go ignored and unnoticed by most readers, the themes dealing not with the creation of life as such but with the status of Victor’s unhappy creation not as a mechanical monster but as a repository for his own repressed and rejected visionary unconscious, which becomes monstrous because that’s its nature when it is not honored, embraced, and given a proper place by its Promethean/Apollonian counterpart. This vastly dark and intricate knot of psychological, philosophical, religious, scientific, and esoteric conflict and insight lying at the heart of the Frankenstein myth was very much on my mind as I wrote “Prometheus Possessed.”

How does your story tie into the concept of faith?

I guess my answer to the previous question answers this one as well.

Every year, Maurice Broaddus throws a convention in honor of himself (Mo*Con). How do you feel about this fact?

Given that he invited me to the convention’s 2008 installment as one of the guests of honor, I’ll forgive him this colossal vanity. All Hail Mo, I say.

Excerpt from “Prometheus Possessed”:

Patient #231-7 sits unmoving on the far side of the table and appears, upon first glance, to be an alarmingly deformed-looking man. He is positioned with his back to the door, facing one of the corners. This places him directly in the dark glow of a new phenomenon that Brother Frank has observed in recent weeks: the black shadow no longer presses in from the exterior walls alone, but from each angular intersection throughout the ministry’s layered subworld of Cells, Wards, and Treatment Rooms. The gloom of it is starkly evident in the room’s far corner, and thus the Patient’s face is plunged into total darkness. Even when Brother Frank approaches the table and leans sideways to peer around the man’s head, he can see nothing. Only the back of him is visible. The Patient’s stringy hair is oil-black and greasy, and his head is grossly misshapen. His shoulders are massive and somehow misaligned, and his clothing, instead of the usual pale blue Patient garb, is a shapeless, ratty, charcoal-colored cloak with an oddly textured weave.

Reestablishing his mask of apathy with some effort, Brother Frank notes down his initial subjective impressions. “Patient sits facing the corner upon my arrival,” he taps into the palmscreen. “Face not visible. Odd deformation of skull shape, neck, and shoulder structure, as if. . .” He pauses and struggles to find the right words. “. . . as if not fully formed. Patient is wearing non-standard, non-Ministry-issue clothing.” His eyes narrow as another fact becomes evident. He inhales through his nostrils, then types, “Odd scent pervades the Treatment Room. Unpleasant. Sour. Acrid. Stench of decay.”

A word for the collective impression created by these facts in toto steps forward from the back of his mind and announces itself, autonomously and unanswerably, as the appropriate name for them. It nearly makes its way through his fingers and onto the palmscreen, and thus into the Network’s permanent database, before he realizes its madness and stops it in time. He jerks his hand away from the screen as if it were a hot rock, his fingers curved into claws. Clearing his head, he saves his notes to the Network, shoves the word to the back of his thoughts, and searches for the Patient’s personal name below the listed PsychID.

Buy Dark Faith: Invocations from one of our retailers.

Next week, our discussions of the stories in Dark Faith: Invocations continue on the Apex Goodreads group and Richard Wright and Jennifer Pelland share the inspiration behind their stories.

Check out past devotionals:

Lavie Tidhar

Nick Mamatas

Jay Lake

Katerina Stoykova-Klemer

 

 

 

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