Have You Seen The Yellow Sign?

Carcosa - the Queen and the Stranger

October 17th
Tonight we’re going to see a new play, Carcosa – the Queen and the Stranger. It is an amateur show, but have some interesting actor and actresses in it. One of them is aforementioned Mr Reston. Let us hope that he has recuperated from the dreadful experience it must have been to have played the main character in Sodom.
The play had an interesting script, to say the least, and for being an amateur cast, surprisingly passable acting performances. The director, Talbot Estus, was also the writer of the screenplay, as well as playing the role of the enigmatic King in Yellow.
Coming to the opening night, I was surprised to see the number of well known and semi well known individuals were there, including the despicable Mr Carmichael, despite his well deserved reception of his last play, and the main actor of the same play. The Scala theatre was almost sold out, which I would consider a quite an impressive feat for an amateur theatre company.
I don’t feel I can give the play a proper account here, and will confine myself with a few scattered notes:
The play is supposedly based on a story written Robert W. Chambers, The King in Yellow. That story in turn supposedly is a translation of a French story, Le Roi en Jaune (the author might be Thomas de Castaigne, but that is somewhat uncertain at this point). I would assume that it is a slight stretch by Mr Estus, to call his play an adaptation from French. I would rather see it as an adaptation of a translation. And to be honest, with all its surprising, and rather intriguing, qualities, it did lack somewhat in coherency and stringency. But it is not for me to act the reviewer, and I will gladly hand that over to my friend Mr Twain.
During the play, I fear that Leopold fell asleep during one of the more interesting parts, as he clearly dreamed a little too vividly for a few moments, and insisted on someone in the audience screaming during the last scene of the Act I. Of course that didn’t happen at all.
The screaming and shouting actually came after the rather bland and disappointing end of the play. Something happened in the front of the theatre and some fisticuffing commenced.
Feeling the play had some interesting points, which I found lacking in exploration, I managed to find out the aforementioned facts about the background of the play. I have decided to find the French original text, to get a better understanding of the actual message of the story, which I fear got lost in the too numerous translations and adaptations of the story.
The characters The King in Yellow and The Stranger were particularly interesting. From what I gathered, the Stranger is the herald of The King in Yellow, telling about strange tidings where humankind will perish into something more than death. However that is possible. On the whole it was a rather nihilistic theme to the story, but with some original parts, which I will have to investigate further, once I find the original texts.
I also talked to Mr Michael Gillen, who played the Stranger, to find out some more of his insights in the character, but found him sorely lacking in actor dedication. He just seemed to think it was funny to be on stage!

October 18th
Today I managed to procure the following texts:
Der Wanderer durch den See (by A.R.)
Omnibus – A Complete Collection of the Novels (by Talbot Estus)
The King in Yellow (by Robert W. Chambers)
I began reading them immediately to see if I could get some clarifications of the story I saw on stage the night before. I also let my friends know that I had the books, should they be interested in reading them as well.
I also talked to Mr Thurber about a throttle valve for the fuel feeding pipe in my car, to secure the flow of fuel to a reasonable level, when speed isn’t of the essence. And together we started to build that for my car.

October 20th
I’ve read more of the books, and found some common themes in them. Sadly, it seems the French original is peculiarly hard to come by. I’ve asked Mable to contact some experts in London and in Paris to find a copy of the book.
It seems the story is about some sort of entity, or entities, who have inhabited the Earth, but coming from another star system, called the Hyades. And that they will come back, or he, or whatever it is, though apparently it is called the King in Yellow. And when he comes everything will be still and lifeless, and at some sorts of peace. I have a very hard time making heads or tails of this whole story. Parts of it sounds like some strange science fiction, spiritualistic yet nihilistic balderdash. At the same time I can’t shake the feeling that there is something more to it.
I also hear that the play has been cancelled, due to the theatre not wanting any more to do with a play that caused so much scrimmage that the police had to be called to the place after the curtain fall.
Sad, in a way, I think I would have wanted to see the play at least once more.
Today we also talk to Talbot, about the play, and the inspiration for it. He keeps on talking about the King in Yellow, and to me it sounds as if the King will come, and annihilate all, and it will give us all peace and inner harmony for all eternity. Nothing that made anything clearer to me, but actually more interesting. Leopold managed to obtain Mr Talbot’s text The Yellow Sign. A rather intriguing, slightly disturbing, but hopefully very insightful read.

October 29th
Mr Simms have apparently talked to a colleague about a patient. The colleague wanted Herbert’s opinion about a few things regarding the patient, and now we’re all going to the St Agnes Asylum, or something.
It is in Herefordshire, and I have nothing better to do. I might as well come along. After all, last time we were out on the country side, we had a rather peculiar adventure. It would be a shame to find out I miss an adventure, now wouldn’t it.

Comments

The Letter from Dr Highsmith to Dr Simms:

Saint Agnes’ Asylum for the Deranged
Near Weobley
Herefordshire
Friday, 18th October, 1929

Dear Sir,
I apologies for this unsolicited correspondence, but pray that you will do me the favour of reading it through and considering its request. This letter comes to you as the author of the paper “Basic Anxiety and Ontological Insecurity” which, if I may say so, I much admired, particularly your analysis of the work of Dr. Karen Horney. I am a consulting doctor at St. Agnes’ Asylum in Herefordshire and am seeking an expert opinion on how to proceed in the matter of an inmate’s case.
If I may prevail upon you, these are an outline of the facts.

Patient ‘W’ is a young man from a good line who, holding no employ, spent much of his time before his admission in private study. In the autumn of 1926 a terrible incident occurred and W’s father and sister were left murdered. W, much troubled, was committed to this asylum shortly thereafter upon the application of his brother and the diagnosis of the family physician.
W is suffering from extended bouts of Scotophobia that give him temporary but intense anxiety. This has proved treatable with medication and I am of the happy opinion that I may recommend his release when his period of mandatory confinement comes to an end this November. Here the problem arises: W’s brother has been urging me to recommend his continued residence. I am surprised at our playing opposite roles in this not uncommon disagreement, and I find the stance of the family unusually rigid. I am currently at a loss to understand a motive.

I am hopeful that you will consent to an interview with me on this matter. Again, I regret this communication without our previous introduction, but my closest colleagues have not the patience for Psycho-Analytics that I believe to be the way to examine such cases. There are some unusual aspects here and perhaps this might be an interesting study for you.

I shall be visiting London for a few days beginning the 28th October. I shall be staying at the Great Western Hotel.

Please contact me there should you be willing to meet. You are of course very welcome to bring a colleague or assistant should you so wish.

Your obliged and obedient servant,

Charles Highsmith
thomas_sjostrand_77

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