I first became aware of Matt Cardin when looking up information on Michael Ruppert. Ruppert has spent much of his life trying to draw attention to the clandestine drug money in the “straight” economy and the approach of peak oil. While Ruppert is an interesting guy, his role in this post is merely as an absurd gateway to Matt Cardin’s work.
It was a search for Ruppert that led me to Cardin’s blog, The Teeming Brain, the first time. As I combed the archives, it became clear that the intellect and reason with which he wrote was far above the other places where Ruppert’s name turns up. It also became clear that his passion for supernatural literature, creative thinking, religion and a host of other intriguing topics would make it a place I’d return often.
I have yet to read Matt’s first book Divinations Of The Deep, released on Ash-Tree Press in 2002, but when Dark Awakenings was released by Mythos Books this year I snatched it up. 2/3rd’s of the book is short fiction, while the final third consists of three essays.
Cardin’s work is often mentioned along side such pillars as Lovecraft and Ligotti. It is said, that he (among a select few others) is the progeny of the dread those authors have sown. It is a fair assessment, however I don’t feel comfortable directly comparing them. Those writers leave you with a distinct feeling, a feeling that is an abundance of their appeal. Cardin does this as well, but it is unique to that of the above mentioned, to anyone I have read really.
This is intellectual, introspective, shamanistic horror. The black things crawl through the psychic ditches of our world but in Cardin’s writing they are tethered more concretely to a sense of humanity. This is, in part, due to the scholarly inclusion of religion that he weaves through his tales. Let me be clear, these are not religious stories in any sense that would lead readers of this site to be apprehensive. The stories here incorporate undiscussed elements of religion that illustrate both a connection to something bigger and a reminder of the dark things hidden in the heavy language of gods.
While I quite enjoyed the entire collection, if forced to pick a single stand out it would be “The God Of Foulness” (of which you can read a small excerpt here.) The tale explores a growing cult of those who cherish disease, shun treatment and accept their withering as a form of body sacrifice to their God. I’m not going to pore over the details of this or the other stories now though.
The three essays that close the tome deal with the history of angels and demons, the curious spiritual resonance of George Romero’s Living Dead films, and the reading of The Book Of Isaiah as a work of horror. Each of these was interesting, academic but not cumbersome, and a welcome inclusion.
Dark Awakenings is a very strong collection of work, and I hope it won’t be another eight years before he makes another collection available. I would also encourage you to check out Demon Muse his other blog focusing on “the nature and role of the unconscious mind as symbolized by the ancient Greeks and Romans in the form of the daimon, muse, and personal genius.” Oh yeah, he does music too.