Episode Forty Four
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Monstrous Agonies E44S02 Transcript
[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]
Monstrous Agonies: Episode Forty Four.
[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through a voice speaking Irish, a voice saying “-these days-”, unintelligible speech and pop music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]
-born at the witching hour, just before Pointless.
You're listening to the Nightfolk Network. Up next, our weekly advice segment. Once again, listeners, I have received a number of letters from a certain organisation exhorting me to consider the sale of our network to their conglomerate. Or, as they call it, their “family”.
I would ignore them, having given my answer, but upon doing some research I've discovered they are under new management and seem to be aggressively pursuing a number of creature-owned businesses in various industries. I mention this because I want to reassure you. We are going nowhere. We are the voice of liminal Britain and we will not compromise our morals.
I just wish I knew how they were getting their letters through the post. Are they being selected, like the others in the segment? I admit, it-it seems... unlikely. Unless I'm supposed to do... something? I don't...
[sighing] Oh, I don't know. Our first letter tonight is from a listener whose new friend is proving a little over-enthusiastic.
The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)
All my friends are creatures. It wasn't intentional but sometimes it just works out like that. I suppose it's true what they say – fangs and feathers flock together! But recently there's a new girl who's joined our little group.
She's the first sapio friend I've ever had, so I don't really have anything to compare it to. I mean, she seems pretty sound, most of the time. She works really hard at being a good ally. It's, uh... [laughs] Well, it's a bit cringe-y sometimes, she's always really precise about using the right language and never assuming someone's genus which, don't get me wrong, I-I understand. It strikes me as a little redundant when they've got bloody great horns and a 12ft wingspan, but I appreciate the sentiment.
It's just every so often, she'll come out with something that just doesn't sit right. She once told me she wished she'd been born into the community like me. Like, "How cool would that have been?" I mean, sure, I guess? I'm pretty cool. [laughs] But I don't think that's because of my genus.
And, I don't know if it's just that she doesn't talk about like, sapio stuff with us, but it seems like all the TV shows she watches, all the books she reads, all the movies she likes – they're all about people of the night. When we first started hanging out, I asked her for some book recommendations. She sent me this list, and it was just the titles, the author, and which characters were what genus. I mean, I had no idea if they were sci-fi or romance or kitchen sink dramas.
We're celebrating Hallowe'en together, me and my friends, and she's invited. And she was so excited to be asked. She was like, “Oh, I've never been a real Hallowe'en before, it's going to be so amazing!” But like, really banging on about it.
I mean, I'm looking forwards to it too, you know. Best night of the year. And like I said, she means well – she obviously means well! But it, it feels... weird. Am I reading too much into this? Is it just me? I don't want to shame her genuine enthusiasm but I feel like she could probably just... take it down a notch or two, you know?
The Presenter (as themselves)
It's not just you. Enthusiasm is all well and good. There's nothing wrong with being excited to share Hallowe'en with you and your friends, or wanting to engage in media from a cultural perspective that is not her own. But there is a difference between appreciation and fetishisation.
While I don't think your friend is quite as bad as all that, I do think she's showing some unfortunate habits of thought that you would do well to nip in the bud. Fortunately, I agree that her intentions are good, which should hopefully help smooth the conversation.
It will be easier for both of you if you can point to specific examples of her behaviour and explain exactly why you find them difficult. The comment about wishing she was a member of the community is a good example.
The intention is clear. She means this as a compliment. But the idea that people of the night are inherently “cooler” than sapios is just as othering as any other sweeping statement about the entire community. It still serves to strip us of our individuality and condense our diverse cultures and experiences into an easy-to-swallow monolith.
You don't need to belabour the point. Let her know that you appreciate her commitment to supporting our community, and that you'd like to draw her attention to some areas where she could be doing better. This isn't about attacking her. It's about giving her the opportunity to improve – inviting her in, not calling her out.
Be aware that her initial reaction might not be encouraging. It's not easy to find you've been accidentally offending someone you care about. She may get defensive, or try to argue with you. Resist the urge to debate with her. Once you're happy you've said what you needed to say, the rest is up to her.
Hopefully, with a little time, she'll be willing to put the effort in to change her behaviour and challenge the attitudes that underpin it. If not, I recommend concentrating your energy on more fruitful and respectful relationships.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
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[End background music]
Our second letter this evening is from a listener feeling overwhelmed by change.
The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)
I hate November. All year it looms before me, grey and sullen, a blot on the horizon. A flat, brooding month, its dark fingers reaching, grasping like bare branches across the sky. Each year, the cold descends and my heart is left calling, crow-like, into the grey-glazed quiet of the fens. A branch breaking in woods too dense to echo. A cry at night, swallowed by the implacable sea.
I hate it. The gathering dark. The settling cold, settling, sinking into the bones of the earth. That cold, dead earth, that tomb, that unwatched grave. Un-cared-for. Unremembered.
My brother started stirring in September, underneath deceptive skies. The bright bold blue of lingering summer, but I felt it. The little sap of strength. Each day, the sunlight wavers. I weaken. He grows. He'll be hungry when he wakes. Slim and straight as a holly branch, with eyes the placid black of frozen lakes.
I don't hate him. He's my brother. If he could rise in one great rush, smother the land in snow and silence, a single ringing strike of steel and the world is his? [laughing] Let him have it! Walk proud and strong. Let him take and eat his fill, let him sink his frozen teeth into the flesh of the earth and tear himself a meal. I have no quarrel with December, when I sleep! But this waning. Weakening. This marrow-draining ache.
Or if I could forget. If I forgot the summer. Hide my crown, let me not see its leaves flare and fade. Hide my hands, so I might forget the beauty they could once pull forth from the world. Stop my ears and let me dream I've never heard the nightingale.
I know it's selfish. I know he must have his turn. I know he hates the snowdrop as I hate the starling's clouds. I know he feels my warmth as a fever creeping on him. I know I'll wake again, and spend the summer laughing. But now I am weak and growing weaker. My touch is sterile, my strength is gone, I am no use and sick at heart.
I hate November.
The Presenter (as themselves)
My dear, you're raging against the tide. We must have winter. And we cannot get there all at once. I know you hate to fade like this. But all things have their season – as you, of all people, must know.
The turn of the year is gradual by necessity. We cannot lurch from midsummer to midwinter and back again. The shortening days, the growing cold, the wreath of woodsmoke in the air – all of these are necessary signs that we must prepare ourselves for the long, dark months ahead, just as the sight of cuckoo flowers and wood anemones heralds your own homecoming.
I hear your anger at the contrast of your powers now and at the height of summer. But you can't maintain that level of energy indefinitely. Your body is slowing down. You're tired. It's right that you're tired. It's right that you must rest.
You talk about the world in winter as "dead", "a tomb", "a grave". This is a rather self-interested perspective, I'm afraid. The world doesn't die without you. You aren't abandoning it when you sleep. You are one of many forces that keep the balance of the world. When you sleep, your brother wakes, and takes up the mantle. Trust him to do right by us. To do right by you.
And in spring, the leaves of your crown will grow again. You will stir in your sleep, and your waking sigh will leave a froth of blackthorn blossom in its wake. Spring will come, summer will rise and you will walk proud and strong while your brother lies sleeping.
For now, listener, let yourself rest. There will be time again for power and creation. Now is a time for dreaming. For lying fallow. Replenish yourself, and we will see you again in good time.
That's all for this week's advice segment. Now, we all know the importance of Hallowe'en to the liminal community. But how does the modern festival relate to its historical predecessor? We talk to...
[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through Irish trad music, a voice saying “-a businessman-” and pop music before fading out.
Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]
Episode Forty Four of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.
Tonight's first letter was from a submission by Scott and this week's advert came from Orbworb. Thanks, friends! See the show-notes for how you can submit your own letters, suggestions and ads.
If you're enjoying the programme, please consider supporting it on Patreon at patreon.com/monstrousagonies, or making a one-off donation at ko-fi.com/hrowen. You can also help us grow the show by sharing with your friends and familiars, and by following us on Tumblr, @MonstrousAgonies, and on Twitter, @Monstrous_Pod.
This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.
Thanks for listening, and remember – the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.
[Fade to silence. A pause. Then;]
So you think you know mythology? Come visit Residents of Proserpina Park today and find out!
My name is Sam, who are you?
My name is Alina, I’m a student reporter investigating a current online rumour about this park. I want us to be friends. No offence, I feel like you need more of those.
This park… isn’t exactly that safe. Mythology was created to warn people of the past what not to do.
So how bad could the rest of the park be?
I am a Kappa.
What’s a Kappa?
[growls] Hold still!
Hey, stay away from us you freak. Don’t think I won’t hurt you, I got a bat!
Enough! Just give me your shirikodama!
THE JERSEY DEVIL
What is this? Another human? Here in this park?
The Jersey Devil? That’s a real thing? So we’re currently talking to a murderer right now.
THE JERSEY DEVIL
I’m a devil.
[gasp] O-oh my god, dragon!
[A dragon’s roar.]
Alina, you’re too close to those things, get over here!
Let’s go Alina, now!
Sam, what are you doing here?
You promised, never to bring people here.
Sam, what’s going on? You’re scaring me.
I should have never allowed you to come here.
Listen to Residents of Proserpina Park on all your favorite podcasting platforms today! We hope you visit soon.