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Notes on Writing Weird Fiction

By H. P. Lovecraft

My reason for writing stories is to give myself the satisfaction of visualising more clearly and detailedly and stably the vague, elusive, fragmentary impressions of wonder, beauty, and adventurous expectancy which are conveyed to me by certain sights (scenic, architectural, atmospheric, etc.), ideas, occurrences, and images encountered in art and literature. I choose weird stories because they suit my inclination best—one of my strongest and most persistent wishes being to achieve, momentarily, the illusion of some strange suspension or violation of the galling limitations of time, space, and natural law which for ever imprison us and frustrate our curiosity about the infinite cosmic spaces beyond the radius of our sight and analysis. These stories frequently emphasise the element of horror because fear is our deepest and strongest emotion, and the one which best lends itself to the creation of nature-defying illusions. Horror and the unknown or the strange are always closely connected, so that it is hard to create a convincing picture of shattered natural law or cosmic alienage or “outsideness” without laying stress on the emotion of fear. The reason why time plays a great part in so many of my tales is that this element looms up in my mind as the most profoundly dramatic and grimly terrible thing in the universe. Conflict with time seems to me the most potent and fruitful theme in all human expression.

While my chosen form of story-writing is obviously a special and perhaps a narrow one, it is none the less a persistent and permanent type of expression, as old as literature itself. There will always be a small percentage of persons who feel a burning curiosity about unknown outer space, and a burning desire to escape from the prison-house of the known and the real into those enchanted lands of incredible adventure and infinite possibilities which dreams open up to us, and which things like deep woods, fantastic urban towers, and flaming sunsets momentarily suggest. These persons include great authors as well as insignificant amateurs like myself—Dunsany, Poe, Arthur Machen, M. R. James, Algernon Blackwood, and Walter de la Mare being typical masters in this field.]

As to how I write a story—there is no one way. Each one of my tales has a different history. Once or twice I have literally written out a dream; but usually I start with a mood or idea or image which I wish to express, and revolve it in my mind until I can think of a good way of embodying it in some chain of dramatic occurrences capable of being recorded in concrete terms. I tend to run through a mental list of the basic conditions or situations best adapted to such a mood or idea or image, and then begin to speculate on logical and naturally motivated explanations of the given mood or idea or image in terms of the basic condition or situation chosen.

The actual process of writing is of course as varied as the choice of theme and initial conception; but if the history of all my tales were analysed, it is just possible that the following set of rules might be deduced from the average procedure:

(1) Prepare a synopsis or scenario of events in the order of their absolute occurrence — not the order of their narration. Describe with enough fulness to cover all vital points and motivate all incidents planned. Details, comments, and estimates of consequences are sometimes desirable in this temporary framework.
(2) Prepare a second synopsis or scenario of events — this one in order of narration (not actual occurrence), with ample fulness and detail, and with notes as to changing perspective, stresses, and climax. Change the original synopsis to fit if such a change will increase the dramatic force or general effectiveness of the story. Interpolate or delete incidents at will—never being bound by the original conception even if the ultimate result be a tale wholly different from that first planned. Let additions and alterations be made whenever suggested by anything in the formulating process.

(3) Write out the story—rapidly, fluently, and not too critically — following the second or narrative-order synopsis. Change incidents and plot whenever the developing process seems to suggest such change, never being bound by any previous design. If the development suddenly reveals new opportunities for dramatic effect or vivid storytelling, add whatever is thought advantageous—going back and reconciling the early parts to the new plan. Insert and delete whole sections if necessary or desirable, trying different beginnings and endings until the best arrangement is found. But be sure that all references throughout the story are thoroughly reconciled with the final design. Remove all possible superfluities—words, sentences, paragraphs, or whole episodes or elements—observing the usual precautions about the reconciling of all references.

(4) Revise the entire text, paying attention to vocabulary, syntax, rhythm of prose, proportioning of parts, niceties of tone, grace and convincingness or transitions (scene to scene, slow and detailed action to rapid and sketchy time-covering action and vice versa. . . . etc., etc., etc.), effectiveness of beginning, ending, climaxes, etc., dramatic suspense and interest, plausibility and atmosphere, and various other elements.

(5) Prepare a neatly typed copy—not hesitating to add final revisory touches where they seem in order.

The first of these stages is often purely a mental one—a set of conditions and happenings being worked out in my head, and never set down until I am ready to prepare a detailed synopsis of events in order of narration. Then, too, I sometimes begin even the actual writing before I know how I shall develop the idea—this beginning forming a problem to be motivated and exploited.

There are, I think, four distinct types of weird story; one expressing a mood or feeling, another expressing a pictorial conception, a third expressing a general situation, condition, legend, or intellectual conception, and a fourth explaining a definite tableau or specific dramatic situation or climax. In another way, weird tales may be grouped into two rough categories—those in which the marvel or horror concerns some condition or phenomenon, and those in which it concerns some action of persons in connexion with a bizarre condition or phenomenon.

Each weird story—to speak more particularly of the horror type—seems to involve five definite elements: (a) some basic, underlying horror or abnormality—condition, entity, etc.—, (b) the general effects or bearings of the horror, (c) the mode of manifestation—object embodying the horror and phenomena observed—, (d) the types of fear-reaction pertaining to the horror, and (e) the specific effects of the horror in relation to the given set of conditions.

In writing a weird story I always try very carefully to achieve the right mood and atmosphere, and place the emphasis where it belongs. One cannot, except in immature pulp charlatan–fiction, present an account of impossible, improbable, or inconceivable phenomena as a commonplace narrative of objective acts and conventional emotions. Inconceivable events and conditions have a special handicap to overcome, and this can be accomplished only through the maintenance of a careful realism in every phase of the story except that touching on the one given marvel. This marvel must be treated very impressively and deliberately — with a careful emotional “build-up” — else it will seem flat and unconvincing. Being the principal thing in the story, its mere existence should overshadow the characters and events. But the characters and events must be consistent and natural except where they touch the single marvel. In relation to the central wonder, the characters should shew the same overwhelming emotion which similar characters would shew toward such a wonder in real life. Never have a wonder taken for granted. Even when the characters are supposed to be accustomed to the wonder I try to weave an air of awe and impressiveness corresponding to what the reader should feel. A casual style ruins any serious fantasy.

Atmosphere, not action, is the great desideratum of weird fiction. Indeed, all that a wonder story can ever be is a vivid picture of a certain type of human mood. The moment it tries to be anything else it becomes cheap, puerile, and unconvincing. Prime emphasis should be given to subtle suggestion—imperceptible hints and touches of selective associative detail which express shadings of moods and build up a vague illusion of the strange reality of the unreal. Avoid bald catalogues of incredible happenings which can have no substance or meaning apart from a sustaining cloud of colour and symbolism.

These are the rules or standards which I have followed — consciously or unconsciously — ever since I first attempted the serious writing of fantasy. That my results are successful may well be disputed — but I feel at least sure that, had I ignored the considerations mentioned in the last few paragraphs, they would have been much worse than they are.


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The philosophy of composition

by Edgar Allan Poe

CHARLES DICKENS, in a note now lying before me, alluding to an examination I once made of the mechanism of “Barnaby Rudge,” says — “By the way, are you aware that Godwin wrote his ‘Caleb Williams’ backwards? He first involved his hero in a web of difficulties, forming the second volume, and then, for the first, cast about him for some mode of accounting for what had been done.”

I cannot think this the precise mode of procedure on the part of Godwin — and indeed what he himself acknowledges, is not altogether in accordance with Mr. Dickens’ idea — but the author of “Caleb Williams” was too good an artist not to perceive the advantage derivable from at least a somewhat similar process. Nothing is more clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its dénouement before any thing be attempted with the pen. It is only with the dénouement constantly in view that we can give a plot its indispensable air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents, and especially the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention.
There is a radical error, I think, in the usual mode of constructing a story. Either history affords a thesis — or one is suggested by an incident of the day — or, at best, the author sets himself to work in the combination of striking events to form merely the basis of his narrative — designing, generally, to fill in with description, dialogue, or autorial comment, whatever crevices of fact, or action, may, from page to page, render themselves apparent.

I prefer commencing with the consideration of an effect. Keeping originality always in view — for he is false to himself who ventures to dispense with so obvious and so easily attainable a source of interest — I say to myself, in the first place, “Of the innumerable effects, or impressions, of which the heart, the intellect, or (more generally) the soul is susceptible, what one shall I, on the present occasion, select?” Having chosen a novel, first, and secondly a vivid effect, I consider whether it can best be wrought by incident or tone — whether by ordinary incidents and peculiar tone, or the converse, or by peculiarity both of incident and tone — afterward looking about me (or rather within) for such combinations of event, or tone, as shall best aid me in the construction of the effect.

I have often thought how interesting a magazine paper might be written by any author who would — that is to say, who could — detail, step by step, the processes by which any one of his compositions attained its ultimate point of completion. Why such [column 2:] a paper has never been given to the world, I am much at a loss to say — but, perhaps, the autorial vanity has had more to do with the omission than any one other cause. Most writers — poets in especial — prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy — an ecstatic intuition — and would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes, at the elaborate and vacillating crudities of thought — at the true purposes seized only at the last moment — at the innumerable glimpses of idea that arrived not at the maturity of full view — at the fully matured fancies discarded in despair as unmanageable — at the cautious selections and rejections — at the painful erasures and interpolations — in a word, at the wheels and pinions — the tackle for scene-shifting — the step-ladders and demon-traps — the cock’s feathers, the red paint and the black patches, which, in ninety-nine cases out of the hundred, constitute the properties of the literary histrio.

I am aware, on the other hand, that the case is by no means common, in which an author is at all in condition to retrace the steps by which his conclusions have been attained. In general, suggestions, having arisen pell-mell, are pursued and forgotten in a similar manner.

For my own part, I have neither sympathy with the repugnance alluded to, nor, at any time, the least difficulty in recalling to mind the progressive steps of any of my compositions; and, since the interest of an analysis, or reconstruction, such as I have considered a desideratum, is quite independent of any real or fancied interest in the thing analyzed, it will not be regarded as a breach of decorum on my part to show the modus operandi by which some one of my own works was put together. I select “The Raven,” as most generally known. It is my design to render it manifest that no one point in its composition is referrible either to accident or intuition — that the work proceeded, step by step, to its completion with the precision and rigid consequence of a mathematical problem.
Let us dismiss, as irrelevant to the poem per se, the circumstance — or say the necessity — which, in the first place, gave rise to the intention of composing a poem that should suit at once the popular and the critical taste.
We commence, then, with this intention.

The initial consideration was that of extent. If any literary work is too long to be read at one sitting, we must be content to dispense with the immensely important effect derivable from unity of impression — [page 164:] for, if two sittings be required, the affairs of the world interfere, and every thing like totality is at once destroyed. But since, ceteris paribus, no poet can afford to dispense with any thing that may advance his design, it but remains to be seen whether there is, in extent, any advantage to counterbalance the loss of unity which attends it. Here I say no, at once. What we term a long poem is, in fact, merely a succession of brief ones — that is to say, of brief poetical effects. It is needless to demonstrate that a poem is such, only inasmuch as it intensely excites, by elevating, the soul; and all intense excitements are, through a psychal necessity, brief. For this reason, at least one half of the “Paradise Lost” is essentially prose — a succession of poetical excitements interspersed, inevitably, with corresponding depressions — the whole being deprived, through the extremeness of its length, of the vastly important artistic element, totality, or unity, of effect.

It appears evident, then, that there is a distinct limit, as regards length, to all works of literary art — the limit of a single sitting — and that, although in certain classes of prose composition, such as “Robinson Crusoe,” (demanding no unity,) this limit may be advantageously overpassed, it can never properly be overpassed in a poem. Within this limit, the extent of a poem may be made to bear mathematical relation to its merit — in other words, to the excitement or elevation — again in other words, to the degree of the true poetical effect which it is capable of inducing; for it is clear that the brevity must be in direct ratio of the intensity of the intended effect: — this, with one proviso — that a certain degree of duration is absolutely requisite for the production of any effect at all.

Holding in view these considerations, as well as that degree of excitement which I deemed not above the popular, while not below the critical, taste, I reached at once what I conceived the proper length for my intended poem — a length of about one hundred lines. It is, in fact, a hundred and eight.

My next thought concerned the choice of an impression, or effect, to be conveyed: and here I may as well observe that, throughout the construction, I kept steadily in view the design of rendering the work universally appreciable. I should be carried too far out of my immediate topic were I to demonstrate a point upon which I have repeatedly insisted, and which, with the poetical, stands not in the slightest need of demonstration — the point, I mean, that Beauty is the sole legitimate province of the poem.

A few words, however, in elucidation of my real meaning, which some of my friends have evinced a disposition to misrepresent. That pleasure which is at once the most intense, the most elevating, and the most pure, is, I believe, found in the contemplation of the beautiful. When, indeed, men speak of Beauty, they mean, precisely, not a quality, as is supposed, but an effect — they refer, in short, just to that intense and pure elevation of soul — not of intellect, or of heart — upon which I have commented, and which is experienced in consequence of contemplating “the beautiful.” Now I designate [column 2:] Beauty as the province of the poem, merely because it is an obvious rule of Art that effects should be made to spring from direct causes — that objects should be attained through means best adapted for their attainment — no one as yet having been weak enough to deny that the peculiar elevation alluded to, is most readily attained in the poem. Now the object, Truth, or the satisfaction of the intellect, and the object Passion, or the excitement of the heart, are, although attainable, to a certain extent, in poetry, far more readily attainable in prose. Truth, in fact, demands a precision, and Passion, a homeliness (the truly passionate will comprehend me) which are absolutely antagonistic to that Beauty which, I maintain, is the excitement, or pleasurable elevation, of the soul. It by no means follows from any thing here said, that passion, or even truth, may not be introduced, and even profitably introduced, into a poem — for they may serve in elucidation, or aid the general effect, as do discords in music, by contrast — but the true artist will always contrive, first, to tone them into proper subservience to the predominant aim, and, secondly, to enveil them, as far as possible, in that Beauty which is the atmosphere and the essence of the poem.

Regarding, then, Beauty as my province, my next question referred to the tone of its highest manifestation — and all experience has shown that this tone is one of sadness. Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears. Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all the poetical tones.
The length, the province, and the tone, being thus determined, I betook myself to ordinary induction, with the view of obtaining some artistic piquancy which might serve me as a key-note in the construction of the poem — some pivot upon which the whole structure might turn.

In carefully thinking over all the usual artistic effects — or more properly points, in the theatrical sense — I did not fail to perceive immediately that no one had been so universally employed as that of the refrain. The universality of its employment sufficed to assure me of its intrinsic value, and spared me the necessity of submitting it to analysis. I considered it, however, with regard to its susceptibility of improvement, and soon saw it to be in a primitive condition. As commonly used, the refrain, or burden, not only is limited to lyric verse, but depends for its impression upon the force of monotone — both in sound and thought. The pleasure is deduced solely from the sense of identity — of repetition. I resolved to diversify, and so vastly heighten, the effect, by adhering, in general, to the monotone of sound, while I continually varied that of thought: that is to say, I determined to produce continuously novel effects, by the variation of the application of the refrain — the refrain itself remaining, for the most part, unvaried.

These points being settled, I next bethought me of the nature of my refrain. Since its application was to be repeatedly varied, it was clear that the refrain itself must be brief, for there would have been an insurmountable difficulty in frequent variations of [page 165:] application in any sentence of length. In proportion to the brevity of the sentence, would, of course, be the facility of the variation. This led me at once to a single word as the best refrain.

The question now arose as to the character of the word. Having made up my mind to a refrain, the division of the poem into stanzas was, of course, a corollary: the refrain forming the close to each stanza. That such a close, to have force, must be sonorous and susceptible of protracted emphasis, admitted no doubt: and these considerations inevitably led me to the long o as the most sonorous vowel, in connection with r as the most producible consonant.
The sound of the refrain being thus determined, it became necessary to select a word embodying this sound, and at the same time in the fullest possible keeping with that melancholy which I had predetermined as the tone of the poem. In such a search it would have been absolutely impossible to overlook the word “Nevermore.” In fact, it was the very first which presented itself.

The next desideratum was a pretext for the continuous use of the one word “nevermore.” In observing the difficulty which I at once found in inventing a sufficiently plausible reason for its continuous repetition, I did not fail to perceive that this difficulty arose solely from the pre-assumption that the word was to be so continuously or monotonously spoken by a human being — I did not fail to perceive, in short, that the difficulty lay in the reconciliation of this monotony with the exercise of reason on the part of the creature repeating the word. Here, then, immediately arose the idea of a non -reasoning creature capable of speech; and, very naturally, a parrot, in the first instance, suggested itself, but was superseded forthwith by a Raven, as equally capable of speech, and infinitely more in keeping with the intended tone.

I had now gone so far as the conception of a Raven — the bird of ill omen — monotonously repeating the one word, “Nevermore,” at the conclusion of each stanza, in a poem of melancholy tone, and in length about one hundred lines. Now, never losing sight of the object supremeness, or perfection, at all points, I asked myself — “Of all melancholy topics, what, according to the universal understanding of mankind, is the most melancholy?” Death — was the obvious reply. “And when,” I said, “is this most melancholy of topics most poetical?” From what I have already explained at some length, the answer, here also, is obvious — “When it most closely allies itself to Beauty: the death, then, of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world — and equally is it beyond doubt that the lips best suited for such topic are those of a bereaved lover.”

I had now to combine the two ideas, of a lover lamenting his deceased mistress and a Raven continuously repeating the word “Nevermore” — I had to combine these, bearing in mind my design of varying, at every turn, the application of the word repeated; but the only intelligible mode of such combination is that of imagining the Raven employing the word in [column 2:] answer to the queries of the lover.

And here it was that I saw at once the opportunity afforded for the effect on which I had been depending — that is to say, the effect of the variation of application. I saw that I could make the first query propounded by the lover — the first query to which the Raven should reply “Nevermore” — that I could make this first query a commonplace one — the second less so — the third still less, and so on — until at length the lover, startled from his original nonchalance by the melancholy character of the word itself — by its frequent repetition — and by a consideration of the ominous reputation of the fowl that uttered it — is at length excited to superstition, and wildly propounds queries of a far different character — queries whose solution he has passionately at heart — propounds them half in superstition and half in that species of despair which delights in self-torture — propounds them not altogether because he believes in the prophetic or demoniac character of the bird (which, reason assures him, is merely repeating a lesson learned by rote) but because he experiences a phrenzied pleasure in so modeling his questions as to receive from the expected “Nevermore” the most delicious because the most intolerable of sorrow.

Perceiving the opportunity thus afforded me — or, more strictly, thus forced upon me in the progress of the construction — I first established in mind the climax, or concluding query — that to which “Nevermore” should be in the last place an answer — that in reply to which this word “Nevermore” should involve the utmost conceivable amount of sorrow and despair.

Here then the poem may be said to have its beginning — at the end, where all works of art should begin — for it was here, at this point of my preconsiderations, that I first put pen to paper in the composition of the stanza:
“Prophet,” said I, “thing of evil! prophet still if bird or devil!
By that heaven that bends above us — by that God we both adore,
Tell this soul with sorrow laden, if within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore —
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the raven — “Nevermore.”

I composed this stanza, at this point, first that, by establishing the climax, I might the better vary and graduate, as regards seriousness and importance, the preceding queries of the lover — and, secondly, that I might definitely settle the rhythm, the metre, and the length and general arrangement of the stanza — as well as graduate the stanzas which were to precede, so that none of them might surpass this in rhythmical effect. Had I been able, in the subsequent composition, to construct more vigorous stanzas, I should, without scruple, have purposely enfeebled them, so as not to interfere with the climacteric effect.

And here I may as well say a few words of the versification. My first object (as usual) was originality. The extent to which this has been neglected, in versification, is one of the most unaccountable things in the world. Admitting that there is little [page 166:] possibility of variety in mere rhythm, it is still clear that the possible varieties of metre and stanza are absolutely infinite — and yet, for centuries, no man, in verse, has ever done, or ever seemed to think of doing, an original thing. The fact is, originality (unless in minds of very unusual force) is by no means a matter, as some suppose, of impulse or intuition. In general, to be found, it must be elaborately sought, and although a positive merit of the highest class, demands in its attainment less of invention than negation.

Of course, I pretend to no originality in either the rhythm or metre of the “Raven.” The former is trochaic — the latter is octametre acatalectic, alternating with heptameter catalectic repeated in the refrain of the fifth verse, and terminating with tetrameter catalectic. Less pedantically — the feet employed throughout (trochees) consist of a long syllable followed by a short: the first line of the stanza consists of eight of these feet — the second of seven and a half (in effect two-thirds) — the third of eight — the fourth of seven and a half — the fifth the same — the sixth three and a half. Now, each of these lines, taken individually, has been employed before, and what originality the “Raven” has, is in their combination into stanza; nothing even remotely approaching this combination has ever been attempted. The effect of this originality of combination is aided by other unusual, and some altogether novel effects, arising from an extension of the application of the principles of rhyme and alliteration.

The next point to be considered was the mode of bringing together the lover and the Raven — and the first branch of this consideration was the locale. For this the most natural suggestion might seem to be a forest, or the fields — but it has always appeared to me that a close circumscription of space is absolutely necessary to the effect of insulated incident: — it has the force of a frame to a picture. It has an indisputable moral power in keeping concentrated the attention, and, of course, must not be confounded with mere unity of place.
I determined, then, to place the lover in his chamber — in a chamber rendered sacred to him by memories of her who had frequented it. The room is represented as richly furnished — this in mere pursuance of the ideas I have already explained on the subject of Beauty, as the sole true poetical thesis.

The locale being thus determined, I had now to introduce the bird — and the thought of introducing him through the window, was inevitable. The idea of making the lover suppose, in the first instance, that the flapping of the wings of the bird against the shutter, is a “tapping” at the door, originated in a wish to increase, by prolonging, the reader’s curiosity, and in a desire to admit the incidental effect arising from the lover’s throwing open the door, finding all dark, and thence adopting the half-fancy that it was the spirit of his mistress that knocked.
I made the night tempestuous, first, to account for the Raven’s seeking admission, and secondly, for the effect of contrast with the (physical) serenity within the chamber.

I made the bird alight on the bust of Pallas, also for [column 2:] the effect of contrast between the marble and the plumage — it being understood that the bust was absolutely suggested by the bird — the bust of Pallas being chosen, first, as most in keeping with the scholarship of the lover, and, secondly, for the sonorousness of the word, Pallas, itself.

About the middle of the poem, also, I have availed myself of the force of contrast, with a view of deepening the ultimate impression. For example, an air of the fantastic — approaching as nearly to the ludicrous as was admissible — is given to the Raven’s entrance. He comes in “with many a flirt and flutter.
Not the least obeisance made he — not a moment stopped or stayed he,
But with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door.
In the two stanzas which follow, the design is more obviously carried out: —
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the nightly shore —
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning — little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door —
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”
The effect of the dénouement being thus provided for, I immediately drop the fantastic for a tone of the most profound seriousness: — this tone commencing in the stanza directly following the one last quoted, with the line,
But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only, etc.

From this epoch the lover no longer jests — no longer sees any thing even of the fantastic in the Raven’s demeanor. He speaks of him as a “grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore,” and feels the “fiery eyes” burning into his “bosom’s core.” This revolution of thought, or fancy, on the lover’s part, is intended to induce a similar one on the part of the reader — to bring the mind into a proper frame for the dénouement — which is now brought about as rapidly and as directly as possible.

With the dénouement proper — with the Raven’s reply, “Nevermore,” to the lover’s final demand if he shall meet his mistress in another world — the poem, in its obvious phase, that of a simple narrative, may be said to have its completion. So far, every thing is within the limits of the accountable — of the real.

A raven, having learned by rote the single word “Nevermore,” and having escaped from the custody of its owner, is driven, at midnight, through the violence of a storm, to seek admission at a window from which a light still gleams — the chamber-window of a student, occupied half in poring over a volume, half in dreaming of a beloved mistress deceased. [page 167:]

The casement being thrown open at the fluttering of the bird’s wings, the bird itself perches on the most convenient seat out of the immediate reach of the student, who, amused by the incident and the oddity of the visiter’s demeanor, demands of it, in jest and without looking for a reply, its name. The raven addressed, answers with its customary word, “Nevermore” — a word which finds immediate echo in the melancholy heart of the student, who, giving utterance aloud to certain thoughts suggested by the occasion, is again startled by the fowl’s repetition of “Nevermore.” The student now guesses the state of the case, but is impelled, as I have before explained, by the human thirst for self-torture, and in part by superstition, to propound such queries to the bird as will bring him, the lover, the most of the luxury of sorrow, through the anticipated answer “Nevermore.”

With the indulgence, to the utmost extreme, of this self-torture, the narration, in what I have termed its first or obvious phase, has a natural termination, and so far there has been no overstepping of the limits of the real.
But in subjects so handled, however skilfully, or with however vivid an array of incident, there is always a certain hardness or nakedness, which repels the artistical eye. Two things are invariably required — first, some amount of complexity, or more properly, adaptation; and, secondly, some amount of suggestiveness — some under[[-]]current, however indefinite of meaning. It is this latter, in especial, which imparts to a work of art so much of that richness (to [column 2:] borrow from colloquy a forcible term) which we are too fond of confounding with the ideal.It is the excess of the suggested meaning — it is the rendering this the upper instead of the under[[-]]current of the theme — which turns into prose (and that of the very flattest kind) the so called poetry of the so called transcendentalists.

Holding these opinions, I added the two concluding stanzas of the poem — their suggestiveness being thus made to pervade all the narrative which has preceded them. The under-current of meaning is rendered first apparent in the lines —
“Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore!”

It will be observed that the words, “from out my heart,” involve the first metaphorical expression in the poem. They, with the answer, “Nevermore,” dispose the mind to seek a moral in all that has been previously narrated. The reader begins now to regard the Raven as emblematical — but it is not until the very last line of the very last stanza, that the intention of making him emblematical of Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance is permitted distinctly to be seen:

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting,
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted — nevermore.

The quotations from “The Raven” are centered here for the convenience of the reader. As the columns are rather narrow, these quotations are not centered, or even indented, in the original, but presumably would have been had space allowed.


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Chutney de abacaxi

Continuando com as experiências de chutney…hoje eu quis fazer um de abacaxi, e encontrei duas receitas bem interessantes na internet:

RECEITA 1 (veio daqui)

•1 abacaxi maduro, descascado e picado (sem a parte dura)
•1 cebola grande bem picada
•1 pimenta vermelha, sem sementes, picada
•1 raiz de gengibre descascada e bem picada
•1 copo de vinagre
•1 xícara de açúcar refinado
•1 xícara de açúcar mascavo
•Uvas passas a gosto

Levar tudo ao fogo e cozinhar até apurar. Guardar em vidros bem tampados e usar como acompanhamento de carnes assadas.

RECEITA 2 (veio daqui)


1 colher (sopa) de manteiga
1/2 cebola roxa
1 dente de alho
1/2 colher (chá) de pimenta-dedo-de-moça
1 colher (chá) de gengibre fresco ralado
1/2 colher (chá) de curry em pó
1 suco de 1 limão
1/2 pimentão vermelho
1/2 pimentão verde
2 maçãs do tipo fuji
1 abacaxi
3/4 xícara (chá) de açúcar mascavo
1/2 xícara (chá) de uvas-passas
1 pitada de sal

Modo de Preparo

1. Numa tábua, pique a cebola, o dente de alho e a pimenta dedo-de-moça. Descasque as maçãs e o abacaxi e corte-os em cubinhos. Corte os pimentões ao meio, retire as sementes e pique-os em cubinhos.

2. Numa panela, coloque a manteiga e leve ao fogo médio. Quando derreter, acrescente a cebola, o alho, a pimenta e o gengibre. Mexa bem por 3 minutos.

3. Acrescente o curry, o suco de limão, os pimentões, as maçãs, o abacaxi e o açúcar mascavo. Tampe a panela e deixe cozinhar por mais 5 minutos em fogo baixo.

4. Adicione as uvas-passas e o sal. Deixe cozinhar, mexendo de vez em quando, até que todo o líquido tenha evaporado. Retire do fogo e sirva a seguir. Pode ser servido à temperatura ambiente.


E o que eu fiz? Bem, adaptei ambas as receitas e dei meus toques (por falta de ingredientes e-ou para saber como vai ficar!)

RECEITA 3 (minha!)

Coloquei numa panela:
– um abacaxi não-maduro, com a parte dura e tudo, bem picadinho (demorei SÉCULOS para descascar e cortar, sou lerda…)
– 1 maçã e 1 pera descascadas e picadinhas (estavam perdendo, então eu tinha que aproveitar na receita!)
– 1 copo e meio (250 ml) de vinagre
– suco de 4 laranjas
– suco de 1 limão
– 1 pimenta picadinha, sem sementes
– 1 pitada de pimenta em flocos
– curry a gosto (coloquei mais do que meia colher de chá…acho que deu uma)
– sal a gosto
– gengibre a gosto (tentei não colocar muito, porque é forte demais!)
– não tinha pimentões nem uvas-passas, então pulei essa parte 😛
– não tinha açúcar mascavo, então usei do normal mesmo (uns 300 g)
– não tinha cebola roxa, piquei uma cebola inteira normal mesmo
– 2 dentes de alho bem picadinhos
– um pouquinho de hidromel (eu sei, totalmente aleatório…eu quis testar!)

Misturei tudo na panela e deixei em fogo baixo por vários minutos. Uns 20 ou 30. Mas ainda tem bastante caldinha…eu gosto de caldinha, tomara que quando esfriar não fique muito seco…se bem que chutney *É* pra ser mais sequinho e concentrado mesmo. Ficou parecendo mais apimentado do que eu gostaria, mas, como ainda está quente, não sei. O cheiro ficou delicioso, mas ainda tenho que esperar esfriar pra ver se faço correções, se levo ao fogo novamente para sumir mais a calda ou o quê…

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Final de semestre, teatro e outro livro

Alternando entre últimas aulas, revisões, provas e correção de provas. Fim inclusive do curso de R2 da São José – agora tem que entregar o relatório de estágio e das atividades complementares.

Falando nisso, ontem fomos (eu, o gato e a sogra) ver nosso amigo no teatro Ágora, na peça Tchekhovianas I (o bom é que vai ter uma II e uma III, êêêê!!!!). Por conta do doutorado e da minha mudança, foi a primeira peça que vi em anos (também quero ver a da Cia. do Latão! e a outra que está em cartaz no Ágora, O Grande Inquisidor), estava com muita saudade do teatro!

Chegamos lá (fica na Rua Rui Barbosa, 672) bem antes do início – mais ou menos 40 minutos -, pois não sabíamos com quanta antecedência deveríamos comprar os ingressos…aí ficamos admirando o jardinzinho interno que tem ali ao lado do saguão onde todos esperam o início dos espetáculos. Tinha 2 cachorros super simpáticos nos fazendo companhia, mas não descobrimos o nome deles *rs* Muito fofos!

Deu o horário, e nos chamaram para entrar. Sala pequena, escura, e um ator no mini-palco (nosso amigo, justamente). Já estava frio, mas a narração e a sonoplastia ampliaram consideravelmente nossa sensação térmica! *rs* Acabada esta primeira narração (como já devem ter percebido pelo nome, a peça tem por base contos do russo A. Tchekov 😉 ), a parede ao fundo se abre e revela outra cena – outros personagens, outra história, mesmo frio *rs*. Ao final dela, os espectadores são convidados a se mover para outra sala, e depois para outra ainda. Muito interessante! Todos os atores maravilhosos. Todos os contos idem (quem leu, sabe! Quem não leu, vá ao teatro! Quem não puder ir ao teatro, leia!).

E, claro, por trás de tudo tem o trabalho do diretor – no caso, um dos fundadores do Agora, Celso Frateschi (se nunca ouviram falar dele, ouçam :P). A peça fica em cartaz até 03 de julho. Corram!!!! Meros R$ 30 o ingresso inteiro (15 a meia-entrada! Mais barato que uma porcaria de refeição no McDonald’s!). Abaixo o texto oficial acerca da peça:

Em cartaz até 03 de julho.

O Núcleo de Pesquisa de Interpretação do Ágora teatro apresenta um projeto que busca investigar formas contemporâneas de se construir a cena e o trabalho do ator, partindo do estudo e criação de artistas interessados em pesquisar o teatro de característica narrativa. Neste primeiro momento, foram selecionados para o aprofundamento de pesquisa alguns contos de Anton Tchekhov que se relacionam em muitos aspectos da dramaturgia contemporânea.

Com direção de Celso Frateschi, o espetáculo “Tchekhovianas I” é a primeira edição de três apresentações diferentes que depois culminarão num espetáculo único, e apresenta quatro contos encenados isoladamente em diferentes espaços do teatro Ágora, onde o público será guiado em uma espécie de espetáculo itinerante. O conto “Uma Noite Terrível” se passa em uma sessão de espiritismo onde um homem recebe uma revelação assustadora. Em “Aniuta”, uma moça presta serviços aos estudantes em troca de moradia em uma pensão modesta. O conto “Do Diário de um Auxiliar de Guarda-Livros” revela registros do diário pessoal de um aspirante a Guarda Livros. E em “A Corista”, uma cantora recebe em sua casa a visita de uma mulher distinta e misteriosa.

Os quatro contos são o ponto de partida da primeira edição desse processo de caráter continuado.

Ficha técnica
Direção: Celso Frateschi
Cenários e Figurinos: Sylvia Moreira
Trilha Sonora: Daniel Maia
Desenho de Luz: Osvaldo Gazotti
Assistente de Cenários e Figurinos: Sofia Fidalgo
Assessoria de Imprensa: Daiane Nicoletti
Fotos: Gisela Schlögel

Atores do Núcleo de Pesquisa de Interpretação do Ágora:
Fernanda Cunha | Inês Soares Martins | Maria Cristina Vilaça | Olival Nóboa Leme | Rodrigo Melgaço | Roger Marinho Martin | Scylla Miziara

Espetáculo: Tchekhovianas I
Quando: De 11 de junho a 3 de julho
Sessões: sábados e domingos, às 17h
Classificação: 12 anos
Duração: 60 minutos
Quanto: R$30,00 (inteira) R$15,00 (meia)
Pontos de venda: Na bilheteria do teatro 01 hora antes do espetáculo
Capacidade: 20 pessoas por sessão
Onde: Ágora Teatro – Rua Rui Barbosa, 672 – Bela Vista
(11) 3284 0290 | |


Aí voltamos pra casa e comecei a ler Exorcismo, de Thomas B. Allen. Terminei hoje. É a história real por trás do filme O exorcista (aquele com a Linda Blair, da menina vomitando verde e girando a cabeça 360 graus), que causou pesadelo em muitas crianças *rs* Claro que não tem o apelo nem o sensacionalismo do filme, nem do livro do Blatty, mas é muito mais legal, justamente por relatar testemunhos de quem estava lá. Não se tratava de uma menina, e sim um menino (cujo nome real não é revelado, mas tratado pelo nome fictício Robert Mannheim), e o fato aconteceu em 1949. Tem inclusive, ao final do livro, as páginas do diário de um dos padres. Infelizmente, a tradução não foi das melhores, dá pra perceber erros básicos, mas mesmo assim é uma leitura bem interessante – tanto para quem acredita nesse tipo de fenômeno, como para quem se interessa por psicologia.

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Leiam aqui!

Categorias: Books/Livros, Health and wellness, News and politics, Notícias e política, People, Saúde e bem-estar | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Deixe um comentário

Síndrome de burnout

Leonardo Aguiar , Médico e consultor Jolivi – CRM-SC: 9847

Atenção, caro leitor: perda de entusiasmo no trabalho pode ser um primeiro sinal de que você está no alvo de um transtorno sério, cada vez mais comum e que já invadiu os lares de todo o mundo.

Calma que eu explico. Com as novas relações trabalhistas em que o emprego é praticamente o seu sobrenome, em um mundo onde o crachá virou uma identidade e o seu valor é dado de acordo com as horas extras que você pratica, não é de se estranhar que, anualmente, milhares de pessoas adoecem por uma doença chamada “TRABALHO”.

Sim, leitor, quando os psiquiatras resolveram estudar um conjunto de sintomas que aparece em vários grupos profissionais, foi detectada a existência de uma síndrome chamada “Burnout”.

E o que é Síndrome de Burnout e o que ela difere da depressão?

Burnout ocorre quando o emprego em si é o maior risco ocupacional, sendo “o” responsável por um adoecimento caracterizado por sintomas variados (taquicardia, apatia, revolta, pânico, emagrecimento, ganho de peso, dores e a própria depressão).

Nestes casos, o posto de trabalho ocupa o papel de gatilho destes problemas físicos e emocionais, da mesma forma que o cigarro, o álcool e o sedentarismo fazem com a gente.

Bom, em janeiro deste ano, eu recebi um relatório americano dizendo que a Síndrome de Burnout chegou a níveis críticos nos EUA, e que nós, médicos, estamos no alvo deste problema.

Minhas pesquisas mostraram que o risco de suicídio entre os profissionais da medicina é iminente, e que são entre 300 e 400 médicos norte-americanos que tiram a vida todos os anos.

Mas fiquei pensando: este esgotamento que faz o trabalho ser o causador da doença dos médicos terá o mesmo impacto entre os professores, os advogados, os dentistas e os engenheiros?

Não estarão adoecendo pelo trabalho os lixeiros, os mecânicos, os operadores de telemarketing e os jornalistas?

Penso que chegamos em um momento de revisitação do conceito de trabalho e acho um ótimo tema para abordarmos depois deste 1º de maio, não?

A síndrome de Burnout é considerada um problema de saúde pública pela Organização Mundial de Saúde (OMS) desde 1998.

Na revisão de literatura sobre o assunto realizada pelo Instituto de Psiquiatria da Universidade de São Paulo (USP), há a seguinte explicação para o batismo:

“O termo burnout é definido, segundo um jargão inglês, como aquilo que deixou de funcionar por absoluta falta de energia. Metaforicamente é aquilo, ou aquele, que chegou ao seu limite, com grande prejuízo em seu desempenho físico ou mental.”

Essa sensação de que “acabou a luz” realmente é muito comum de aparecer nos pacientes que frequentam o meu consultório, e confesso que, quando estava em um contexto de maior ansiedade e virei paciente, também sentia que meus órgãos e vontades estavam desligados.

7 casos por dia

O fato é que a coisa é tão séria que o nosso Ministério da Previdência, anualmente, registra pedidos de licenças trabalhistas de pessoas que adoeceram principalmente por causa de suas profissões, por meio de comprovações da perícia.

Vasculhei no banco de dados do INSS (Instituto Nacional do Seguro Social) e detectei que, apenas no ano passado, o estresse foi a CAUSA de 2.697 licenças trabalhistas maiores do que 15 dias, sendo considerado um acidente de trabalho.

Isso significa que, todo dia, 7 pessoas deixam seus postos de trabalho por causa da estafa adquirida na profissão.

Não só isso. Atrás da dor nas costas, a depressão é a principal doença ocupacional que, mensalmente, vitima entre 12 mil a 14 mil profissionais brasileiros.

Com tudo isso em mente, você pode pensar:

Mas Dr. Léo, me ajuda?

Se o cigarro me faz mal, a recomendação óbvia é parar de fumar, certo?

Se o mal é o álcool, eu tenho que parar de beber.

O açúcar me intoxica, então, eu mudo a alimentação.

Porém, nestes casos, quando o vilão é o trabalho, o que fazer?

Parar de trabalhar?

Recomendações e reconhecimento

Obviamente, “parar de trabalhar” não é uma recomendação que pode ser dada, em larga escala, para o resto da vida de uma pessoa que adoece por causa do trabalho.

(Adendo. Se você substituir nesta frase o “parar de trabalhar” por “tomar remédio” o sentido permanece o mesmo).

Claro que em algumas situações de descontrole absoluto, o afastamento momentâneo é uma necessidade.

Imagino, porém, que ninguém deseja que esta recomendação seja vitalícia, não é?

Entre criar uma legião de aposentados precoces por invalidez resultante do estresse ou promover uma reflexão e um ambiente de construção de uma nova relação com o trabalho, tenho muita convicção de que a opção 2 é melhor.

E para isso, primeiro, é preciso fazer um reconhecimento se o seu trabalho é tóxico e pode até te matar na segunda-feira.

Os sinais desta exaustão emocional trabalhista abrangem, conforme as pesquisas – sentimentos de desesperança, solidão, depressão, raiva, impaciência, irritabilidade, tensão, sensação de baixa energia, fraqueza, preocupação dilacerante.

Fisicamente, há aumento de dores de cabeça, náuseas, tensão muscular, dor lombar ou cervical, além dos distúrbios do sono (Cherniss, 1980a; World Health Organization, 1998).

Caso tenha rolado uma identificação com o conjunto de sintomas acima, então é a mensagem que fica é que é preciso mudar.

E não só mudar de emprego (até porque o mercado não anda para peixe), mas mudar, principalmente, a sua relação com trabalho.

E você pode fazer isso começando pela marmita e pela organização do seu tempo livre.

Mudança em ciclo

Digo isso porque foi o que funcionou para mim. E, nessa minha busca de uma relação de paz com o meu trabalho, entendi que os impactos são diretos nos meus pacientes.

Semana passada, partilhei (relembre aqui no Café com Saúde) como a ansiedade (uma das principais sequelas do Burnout) estava em várias áreas da minha vida, incluindo a profissão.

Esta situação comprometia não só a minha performance como médico, também interferia na mensagem de autocuidado que eu passava aos meus pacientes.

Por definição, ansiedade é um sentimento vago e desagradável de medo, apreensão, caracterizado por tensão ou desconforto derivado de antecipação de perigo, de algo desconhecido ou estranho.

E um médico ansioso, de alguma forma, repassa esse olhar ansioso para seus pacientes o que, para dizer o mínimo, pode comprometer a participação deles como protagonistas de seus tratamentos e de suas atitudes preventivas.

Talvez, por isso, os melhores futuristas da medicina já identificaram que, para melhorar a experiência do paciente, a saúde das populações e reduzir as despesas de saúde é preciso, invariavelmente, cuidar da saúde do médico.

O artigo “ From Triple to Quadruple Aim: Care of the Patient Requires Care of the Provider” – em tradução literal, algo como “De tripla para quádrupla preocupação: o cuidado do paciente requer cuidado com o provedor” –, de autoria dos médicos Christine Sinsky e Thomas Bodenheimer, aborda esta temática.

Então, toda vez que eu penso que domei a minha ansiedade e escapei das estatísticas da Síndrome de Burnout, eu lembro que isso me ajudou a cuidar melhor das pessoas.

O que funcionou para mim:

1) Pilates tão importante como o trabalho

Eu não falto em compromissos profissionais. Nunca. Então não falto no Pilates também. Dado que as minhas costas são minhas partes de choque da ansiedade – o que significa que as dores são os primeiros sinais de que estou muito ansioso – invisto em um exercício que me ajuda a gerenciar a respiração, o músculo e escoam o estresse.

A tensão muscular causada pelo estresse e ansiedade reduz a circulação de sangue nos tecidos e faz com que diminua a quantidade de oxigênio e nutrientes. Este processo leva ao cansaço e dor.

O Pilates, por sua vez, promove um caminho inverso, pois fortalece musculatura, melhora a oxigenação dos tecidos e faz com que os receptores das células fiquem mais aguçados para a ação dos nutrientes.

É literalmente um antídoto para a ansiedade, sem contar que exige a utilização do diafragma e da respiração, o que energiza e devolve a normalidade dos batimentos cardíacos.

2) Automassagens

As massagens já aliviam as tensões instantaneamente, e os alongamentos ajudam a prevenir e preparar o corpo para suportar essa carga trazida pelo estresse trabalhista.

Para quem ainda não começou no mundo dos exercícios, sugiro o bom e velho “espreguiçar”.

Reserve 5 minutos após acordar para esticar bastante os braços, alongar a coluna, vértebra por vértebra, alongar as pernas e o pescoço. Você desperta com mais disposição.

Além disso, invista na automassagem na hora de escovar os dentes. Com as pontas dos dedos indicador e médio, faça círculos nas bochechas, perto da região da boca, na ponta do nariz e na testa. Respire fundo durante este processo. Com calma e mentalizando as coisas boas que deseja para o dia.

Duvida que funciona? Testa e depois me conta no

3) Dopamina na marmita

Por fim, não poderia deixar de sugerir como primeiro passo a revisão da alimentação. A dopamina, também conhecida como molécula da disposição, é um ingrediente que precisa estar na marmita das pessoas que estão em situação de estafa, cansaço absoluto com o trabalho.

Este neurotransmissor nos empurra para a vontade de alcançar objetivos.

Grão de bico, vegetais verde-escuro (eu sou fã de couve), maçã, carnes magras e as frutas tipo berry são excelentes exemplos de indutores de dopamina.

O projeto Food and Mood (Comida e Humor, em tradução literal), desenvolvido na Inglaterra, mostrou que 26% das pessoas conseguem melhorar a sua sensação de disposição com alterações simples alimentares, diminuindo o açúcar, café e massas por frutas, chás naturais e peixes.

Um chocolate por uma maçã.
Um suco de caixinha por um natural de maracujá.

Me despeço hoje dizendo que óbvio que a Síndrome de Burnout tem causas múltiplas, impactos diversos e exige uma reversão gradual de posicionamento.

Mas os três primeiros passos descritos acima podem cumprir, exatamente, esta função. De serem os primeiros passos de uma mudança.

(este texto me foi enviado por email, mas pelo que consta, há páginas do autor nas redes sociais:
Instagram Jolivi
twitter jolivi )

Categorias: Health and wellness, Saúde e bem-estar | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Deixe um comentário

Mais dicas de casamento

Outro dia postei uma lista de fornecedores que considerei excelentes. Hoje posto um exemplo de cronograma para facilitar a vida de quem estiver planejando (claro que cada casamento é diferente, alguns noivos gostam de prolongar certas partes, outros incluem etapas adicionais, como a retrospectiva, que neste casamento não teve; em alguns locais a duração da festa é menor ou maior, enfim…), só para terem uma ideia de como funciona, e que devem passar isso para quem está coordenando tudo:

Cronograma da festa de Fulano e Ciclana

18 às 19h – cerimônia na igreja
19 às 20h – fotos externas noivos e coquetel dos convidados no salão
20h – refeição dos noivos (sala à parte)
20:30 – entrada dos noivos no salão – música: Xis; brinde e corte simbólico do bolo música: ; fotos com pais e padrinhos
20:40/21h – início do jantar
22h – dança dos noivos, pais e padrinhos – música: Blabla

22h – dança lenta para os convidados em geral
22h -A noiva quer dedicar duas músicas para o noivo: Tal e Tal

22h – abertura da pista de dança
22:15 – passar gravata
22:30/23h–jogar buquê – música: Lala

Entre 22:30 e 23: buffet serve o bolo

(leia aqui as dicas do Procon para não ser engambelad@ na hora de contratar serviços para seu casamento)


Categorias: Entertainment, Food and drink, Health and wellness | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comentários


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