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Books Published, Interviews Given, Projects Started and Finished: What I Did in 2022
A brief career retrospective
Welcome to The Living Dark. I’m Matt Cardin, and this is my blog/newsletter on waking up at the intersection of creativity, writing, religion, horror, nonduality, apocalypse, dystopia, consciousness, and culture. You can subscribe by clicking this button:
A few days ago, with the end of the year closing in rapidly, I found myself motivated to compile a brief round-up of events and developments in my career — or rather, careers — from the past 12 months. This turned itself into a tweet that I sent out over the weekend. Then it occurred to me that, in the spirit of writing and living into the dark (that is, without a plan), why not go ahead and share it here, too, in slightly expanded form, free from Twitter’s length restrictions.
The following six items form the dots in the connect-the-dots picture that I see when I scan back over my work in 2022.
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1. What the Daemon Said
I published two decades of collected essays, introductions, and interviews in What the Daemon Said, with blurbs from John Shirley, Laird Barron, Nathan Ballingrud, Jon Padgett, Philip Fracassi, Brian Keene, John Langan, Erik Davis, Simon Strantzas, Richard Gavin, T. E. Grau, and J. F. Martel. The book is available from the publisher, at Amazon, and elsewhere.
2. Journals, Volume 1: 1993-2001
I published the first volume (of two) containing selections from my private journal, which I have kept for 30 years. Volume 1 contains about 130,000 words. Volume 2, encompassing the years 2002 to 2022 and running to similar length, will be published next year. As expected, the term “niche” might overstate the broadness of this book’s appeal, judging from sales so far. But several of those who have read it have contacted me to speak of it in glowing terms, telling me that its vivid record of my spiritual, religious, philosophical, literary, and personal journey — including the birth of my identity as a horror writer out of the combined crucible of religious passion and anguish, a tortured dream life (including sleep paralysis attacks), and a voracious reading life that led to a kind of philosophical schizophrenia of shifting worldviews — has connected with them at a deep level. So go figure. For a preview, you can read the book’s full introduction and view its index here.
For more than two decades, Matt Cardin has been one of the most dynamic writers of contemporary weird fiction. In addition, he has been a perspicacious commentator on weird literature, horror films, and related subjects. Now he presents the first of two volumes of his journals, which he began keeping years before he contemplated a career as a writer. In these journals Cardin wrestles with profound philosophical and religious issues, absorbing the work of thinkers ranging from Plato to Nietzsche to Alan Watts; at the same time, he speaks of his fascination with such writers as H. P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, and Thomas Ligotti, whom he has made a special subject of study. Throughout these compelling journal entries, Cardin reveals his own shifting philosophical and psychological state, presents early drafts or synopses of his weird tales—including many partial drafts and plot germs for stories that he never went on to complete—and speaks with affecting candor of his personal relationships. Cumulatively, this journal reveals Matt Cardin to be one of the most intellectually challenging authors associated with horror literature.
3. Living into the Dark
I launched the very newsletter that you are reading right now, devoted to creativity, religion, horror, nonduality, apocalypse, dystopia, consciousness, and culture. (I also closed The Teeming Brain, my blog since 2006, to make way for this new project.) I’m not sure that I have actually hit on each of those topics in the entries published to date, but they will all come into focus sooner or later. To be honest, I have been somewhat surprised at the strong level of reader interest, in terms of both subscriber growth and total traffic. To all of you who have subscribed at whatever level, thank you. For anyone who missed the start of this endeavor or would like a reminder of what the whole thing is about, I direct you to the following two entries, which started it all:
4. Interview for Weird Studies
I gave my second interview to Weird Studies, the flatly superlative podcast from co-hosts J. F. Martel and Phil Ford. They first interviewed me back in 2019, and it was a distinct pleasure to be invited back for another deep conversation:
Weird Studies, Episode 126: The Daemon Speaks. Returning guest Matt Cardin is a writer of fiction and nonfiction whose focus on numinous horror places him in the literary lineage of Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood. His new book, What the Daemon Said, collects two decades’ worth of meditations on literature, cinema, mysticism, philosophy, and the weird. He joins Phil and JF to talk about a range of topics including dark enlightenment, the idea that fear and trembling are the only sensible reactions to direct exposure to cosmic truth.
5. Interview for Therapy for Guys
I gave an interview for the newly launched Therapy for Guys podcast, created and hosted by licensed therapist Quique Autrey:
Beyond Theology: Christianity, Nonduality, and the Play of Existence. In this episode, I have a conversation with Matt Cardin. We discuss Alan Watts’s book Beyond Theology: The Art of Godmanship. We explore various themes including: the Creator/creature distinction, the philosophy of nonduality, “scientism,” and spiritual disciplines that help us become more “accident prone” to receiving divine grace.
6. Academic administration position
I finished my first full year as Vice President of Academic Affairs at North Arkansas College. This included leading to completion — that is, writing a great deal of, serving as managing editor of, and copy editing and formatting all of — a major college-wide report (35,000 words) for our institutional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission. This project was pretty much my charge from the moment I was hired in the fall of 2021, and the stakes were high. The fact that, as described above, I conceived, prepped, and launched this newsletter, and created and submitted the manuscript for Volume 1 of my journal, and corrected the proofs for both it and What the Daemon Said, at the same time that I was guiding that HLC report to its October deadline, just goes to show how heedless of external circumstances, practical time constraints, and your personal fund of energy the daemon muse can be when it sovereignly decides it is time for you to pursue some creative project.
All in all, I close out 2022 with a nice sense of accomplishment. But the real story behind all of the external facts above is the continued unfolding and amplification of an abiding nondual awareness/awakeness right here in the infinite pocket of the real, from which and in which place all of this writing, editing, working, thinking, talking, and interacting, along with the recurrent bouts of pleasure, discouragement, motivation, demotivation, and all the rest, just happened on its own, as a flux of phenomena arising and subsiding, and as a matter for which I-as-Matt can take neither credit nor blame. I’ll see you here in this same timeless time and placeless place in 2023 (i.e., a week from now). Until then, be well.