Julian Jaynes Society Discussion Forum: Exploring Consciousness and the Bicameral Mind Theory since 1997

Robert E. Howard
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Author:  logictweek [ Sat Aug 25, 2012 1:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Robert E. Howard

I've just found an interesting anectote about Robert E. Howard's writing process for the Conan stories, in the very interesting blog post "Teaching Conan: Barbarians, pseudo-Vikings, Wenches, and an Old School “Expanded Universe” by CG Olsen

Robert E. Howard's story seems bicameral. Here is the relevant text:

Authors often talk about characters who “write themselves”– I’ve been advised in writing courses and at writers conferences to develop my characters sufficiently that, while writing the actual story, the characters themselves will surprise me with what they do. There are all sorts of things we could get into here about subjectivity/agency, the divided self, etc, but I don’t have time for that (another time, maybe). In any case, Conan was apparently an unusually virulent case of this phenomenon. The version given in the “Making of” special on the DVD of the Schwarzenegger movie tells us that Howard was writing one night when he felt Conan behind him, telling him to write, or else he would cleave him in two. This occurred night after night, until a whole bunch of stories were written. Well, it’s colorful, at any rate. I don’t know whether it is just a bit of apocryphal creativity, or actually from an account by Howard, but I’ll re-quote one version Howard gives, which I found in the intro to Coming of Conan: “…the man Conan seemed suddenly to grow up in my mind without much labor on my part and immediately a stream of stories flowed off my pen– or rather, off my typewriter– almost without effort on my part. I did not seem to be creating, but rather relating events that had occurred. Episode crowded on episode so fast that I could scarcely keep up with them. For weeks I did nothing but write of the adventures of Conan. The character took complete possession of my mind and crowded out everything else in the way of story-telling.” (pp. xxi-xxii)

Author:  Moderator [ Tue Aug 28, 2012 10:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Robert E. Howard

That is very interesting!

P.S. I read Howard's entire Conan paperback series as a child.

Author:  logictweek [ Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Robert E. Howard

Yes, the original stories are very entertaining reading. The clincher detail for me in the passage above was that Howard felt a presence behind him, similar to the reports of the "third man syndrome."

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