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HP Lovecraft and His Work

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  • I think this whole thing's a fluke and we could well be the only self-conscious beings in existence. We invent these imaginary beings to explain it all somehow and then quarrel over which is best or true or whatever. So why not adopt HPL's mythos and carry it into the pseudo-cqliphate.Cthulhu should appeal to them even more than their current loony and perverted Islamesque notions. They'll lap it up. It's a much better fit.

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    • Indeed, we may be the only 'intelligent' life in the Universe-at this time.

      Bear with me-if you do a 'decision tree' that takes a little spot of goo on to civilization, there are an awful lot of places for it all to go wrong. An examination of historical record shows us that even when intelligent life achieves technological civilization, things often go sideways rather seriously, and sometimes, they don't recover. Meso-America is littered with 'lost cities', Mohenjo Daro was totally forgotten(the locals always say these places were built by devils)and there are others in South-East Asia.

      It seems to me that intelligent, technological life may arise, flourish and go extinct time to time. A lot of things can go pear-shaped, and obliterate the existence, and even the traces of advanced life forms.

      Remember that very amusing film, 'Allegro non troppo' where astronauts toss a bottle of soda from the ship just before blast-off? Microbes flourish and evolve, civilization appears, then an accident sets off a nuclear war that obliterates the whole thing?

      Might be what happens in reality. Rome fell apart, and had it not been for the Byzantine portion, might have been forgotten. "What's that big round thing, Papa? That was built by devils, son, to hold a mighty bowl of blood." So much for the Coloseum, eh?

      The odds of two such existing at the same time, and actually contacting each other are very, very long.

      Stephen King said, "Everything's eventual", and this Universe is going to be here for a good long time. Who knows?

      Comment


      • A further thought...the IS is a bad thing, but who can deny that this area is the cradle of religion?

        Islam seems to be subject to these violent spasms, time to time-certainly not all Muslims participate, it's a few that become involved. I doubt not the heat will die down soon, until next time.

        Lovecraft used the Arabian peninsula and the desert of the Middle East to frame some of the Mythos. Probably because it was remote and mysterious, and because in childhood, he'd made up games set in the (imaginary) world of the Arabs.

        Islam arose five or six hundred years after Christianity-how odd that it should experience this violent outbreak now, about six centuries after Christianity's latest furious spasm. Just sayin'.....

        Perhaps it's time for our dominant civilization to fall into chaos(certainly looks possible) and for something new to rise.

        Or time for us to make the great leap into a rational way, one that avoids ruination.

        I say that all will be well, after the storm passes.

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        • Originally posted by krakenten View Post
          A further thought...the IS is a bad thing, but who can deny that this area is the cradle of religion?

          Islam seems to be subject to these violent spasms, time to time-certainly not all Muslims participate, it's a few that become involved. I doubt not the heat will die down soon, until next time.

          Lovecraft used the Arabian peninsula and the desert of the Middle East to frame some of the Mythos. Probably because it was remote and mysterious, and because in childhood, he'd made up games set in the (imaginary) world of the Arabs.

          Islam arose five or six hundred years after Christianity-how odd that it should experience this violent outbreak now, about six centuries after Christianity's latest furious spasm. Just sayin'.....

          Perhaps it's time for our dominant civilization to fall into chaos(certainly looks possible) and for something new to rise.

          Or time for us to make the great leap into a rational way, one that avoids ruination.

          I say that all will be well, after the storm passes.
          Beautiful, Senor Squid. There remains the wee problem of the storm itself, but let's be optimistic!

          Sometimes the storm comes right up and laps away at the feet. Sometimes, being chaotic in nature, the storm just up and turns around and goes away.

          Chaos is cute that way!
          Miqque
          ... just another sailor on the seas of Fate, dogpaddling desperately ...

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          • Originally posted by Ningauble View Post
            Originally posted by Miqque View Post
            We cannot know what substances HPL was exposed to, what might have been in his food, the air, or what he may have ingested on purpose.
            Sugar. And ONE time, on a visit to his oculist to remove some crap from his eye, a tiny smidge of cocaine.
            I don't think it's possible to overstate how common cocaine and cannabis use was in the 1920–30s. Watch any film of that era and you'll see what I mean, e.g. the Pre-Code Hollywood films; I watched Fritz Lang's Dr Mabuse der Speiler the other day and it is quite explicit there.

            How could people like HPL and Freud have 25+ hours conversations without some kind of stimulant?

            It's also fairly evident from the text. The story I mentioned previousy, The Unnamable, is about two friends sitting in the cemetary all day having a long conversation on "deep", "heavy" topics and then once the sun has set there is a cosmic visitation and the narrator passes out.

            I don't think we can discount the influence of psychiatric ideas on his work either. Many of his stories have the structure and imageryof dream diaries (esp. my current favourite The Evil Clergyman) and the interpretation of dreams is important to both Freud and Jung.

            I enjoy applying my half-baked psychological analyses to the Weird Tales stories. Where HPL would have a visionary climax to his stories they would be of a horrible, "abhorrent" character. Clark Ashton Smith's would often be more of a purely "cosmic" but fatal style. C. L. Moore's would be similar but with an erotic charge and Robert E Howard's would have more macho, romanticism.

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            • Originally posted by krakenten View Post
              Last night, after I drifted off to sleep while watching '12 Monkeys'-a good show, but I was exhausted-I woke up again, and had a thought.

              Intelligent design. Lovecraft thought of Intelligent Design-an idea that has bankrupted a school district near my old home town. From my recent researches(strictly amateur and not to be trusted), HPL's ideas have lurked in the culture, then come forth in surprising forms.

              Of course, it might be the other way around, HPL was exposed to the Intelligent Design theory and folded it into his Mythos, I have no idea how old the theory is.
              I went looking and found this on Wikipedia:
              "The argument from design, the teleological argument or "argument from intelligent design," has been advanced in theology for centuries.[20] It can be summarised briefly as "Wherever complex design exists, there must have been a designer; nature is complex; therefore nature must have had an intelligent designer."[n 3] Thomas Aquinas presented it in his fifth proof of God's existence as a syllogism. In 1802, William Paley's Natural Theology presented examples of intricate purpose in organisms. His version of the watchmaker analogy argued that, in the same way that a watch has evidently been designed by a craftsman, complexity and adaptation seen in nature must have been designed, and the perfection and diversity of these designs shows the designer to be omnipotent, the Christian God."

              The modern ID brigade, since the 1980s, have been denying that their "designer" is Jahweh the Volcano God but many people have a sneaking suspicion that's who they have in mind. Apparently.
              :o)

              Comment


              • And there we have it, a possible font of the Mythos.

                HPL found many of his ideas in his vivid dreams/nightmares. Nyerlathotep, Cthulhu, the night-gaunts, they all sprang from his dreams, or so he maintained.

                And before anyone starts thinking that I'm Lovecraft obsessed, I well recognize the flaws in his work. He was a one-trick pony, but he had that trick down pretty good.

                What he did was make a coherent framework for a more rational system for the irrational. As such, it works fairly well. did Milton do better?

                All fantasy is equal. It's all crazy, only the tastes of the reader make it preferable. You like fluffy pink unicorns? Enjoy.

                For me, it's Cthulhu and the gang. I really like the Stross update that brings the Mythos into the world of espionage and covert action, Lovecraft's world is stuck in the early XX Century. Just after Steampunk and just before Rocks and Rockets(the Golden Age). The grotty old tombs, moldering tomes and lurking dangers thrill me to the marrow.

                To me, the hardest part of such fiction is keeping it small and marginal, a claustrophobic vision. Let it go big, and all the flaws are on display. The Mythos is as complex as the Classical Worlds cycle of otherworldly beings, just as inconsistent and just as compelling.

                To me, the essence of Lovecraft is like the song-'Is That All There Is?'. We suspect that there is more to the world than we see, another layer under our reality.

                This may come from childhood, when there are family secrets one is not privy to. There are hints. Sometimes they erupt into real jackpots.

                We grow up, people die, and these secrets become more and more obscure. With luck, we forget. In small towns, or city neighborhoods with static populations, these secrets buzz around like insects, for generations.

                Lovecraft made them into a flea circus.

                We still fear the past-even though, as I have said before, it's the future that kills you

                Go figure.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by krakenten View Post
                  We still fear the past-even though, as I have said before, it's the future that kills you
                  I think this is probably your most flawed statement. You keep saying it as though it's true or logical, but it's neither. We will all die in the future but not at the hands of the future. It's an abstract concept, like "the hand of the marketplace", which has no agency at all. But perhaps this is a topic for another thread...

                  Comment


                  • Picky, picky! 'tis but a figure of speech. Of course, I know that the future doesn't knock you on the head.

                    However, the future holds death for us all, and the past is harmless.

                    Comment


                    • And this brings me to religions based on Lovecraft.

                      Since we all well know how L.Ron Hubbard and Ayn Rand inspired so many followers, let us consider HPL's other impact(besides pretty much founding modern weirdness).

                      There is a Cthulhu Cult in Russia-check with the HPL Histortical Society's merchandise section, they sell a silver amulet emblazoned with ol' calimari face that's made in Russia. Guess who for?

                      There have also been Starry Wisdom cults over the years.

                      Crowley's Thelema church remains active , so why not the Cthulhu cults?

                      Just don't give me any offering envelopes, OK?

                      What glimpses we get of the cults in HPL portray them as grubby and marginalized sorts, a lot like hoo-doo, only worse.

                      Yes, HPL's work is folding itself into the dark soup of superstition-taking root, as 'twere. Bringing along someof the work of Machen, Bierce(I've seen a Bierce story cited as a factual case on the Fortean message board) and Chambers.(an aside, I think Chamber's 'The Maker of Moons' is one of the strangest stories ever written)

                      "The King in Yellow" gets mentioned in a number of detective yarns.

                      So, props for HPL, what say, and keep a firm grasp on the reality of Lovecraft's work being fictional,otherwise you don't sleep too well at night?

                      Comment


                      • Before anybody lights into me, I well know that Chambers wrote 'The King in Yellow".

                        Chambers, a prolific author of romance stories(and enough to give you diabetes,too) can make you feel like you ate ten pounds of cotton candy at one sitting, but his 'Mr. Keene, Tracer of Lost Persons' went on, and on, a radio show of the classic days.

                        'Have You Seen the Yellow Sign' is a masterpiece, but that was it, no more spooky from him. Just as Dashiell Hammett was ruined by the success of "The Maltese Falcon'' Chambers simply ran out of steam.

                        Lovecraft cited the King in Yellow from time to time in his tales. That little trick added to the air of authenticity in the Mythos, along with the many works, real and imaginary mentioned in passing.

                        Can anyone deny that the Necronomicon is sheer genius? Kept vague, it could be anything, as needed, and supply plot devices out the wazoo! Brian Keene has tried a similar device with the 'Daemonlatrie' of Regimus, sadly, the book is real and Regimus was a witch-judge of distressing reality, a man named Remy, pile up the firewood, Ethel!

                        HPL was not the greatest writer who ever lived(but I think he beats the tar out of Melville!)

                        Release your rants!

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by krakenten View Post
                          Before anybody lights into me, I well know that Chambers wrote 'The King in Yellow".

                          Chambers, a prolific author of romance stories(and enough to give you diabetes,too) can make you feel like you ate ten pounds of cotton candy at one sitting, but his 'Mr. Keene, Tracer of Lost Persons' went on, and on, a radio show of the classic days.

                          'Have You Seen the Yellow Sign' is a masterpiece, but that was it, no more spooky from him. Just as Dashiell Hammett was ruined by the success of "The Maltese Falcon'' Chambers simply ran out of steam.

                          Lovecraft cited the King in Yellow from time to time in his tales. That little trick added to the air of authenticity in the Mythos, along with the many works, real and imaginary mentioned in passing.

                          Can anyone deny that the Necronomicon is sheer genius? Kept vague, it could be anything, as needed, and supply plot devices out the wazoo! Brian Keene has tried a similar device with the 'Daemonlatrie' of Regimus, sadly, the book is real and Regimus was a witch-judge of distressing reality, a man named Remy, pile up the firewood, Ethel!

                          HPL was not the greatest writer who ever lived(but I think he beats the tar out of Melville!)

                          Release your rants!
                          The Necronomicon would be genius if it wasn't just The King In Yellow with a slightly different idea behind it (a grimoire instead of a play).

                          Comment


                          • I'll beg leave to differ.

                            The King in Yellow has to be read to cause the harm it causes. Necronomicon can hurt you from across the room(in some versions) and is useful to a wizard, because it contains spells and formulae.

                            Both, however partake of the legend of the Bad Books, works that ruin the reader.

                            Cjhambers experimented with a few strange tales, then went back to romances. Lovecraft's output was larger

                            But if you favor Chambers, feel free.

                            Neither of them can hold a candle to Stephen King. His 'IT' out Lovecraft's Lovecraft. The Dark Tower Cycle is an accomplishment, complex and epic.

                            Yes, King is derivitive, but he really derives very well. King acknowledges a debt to HPL. Charles Stross uses the Mythos to produce charming tales of black magic and the Civil Service.

                            And it's not done yet!

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by krakenten View Post
                              Neither of them can hold a candle to Stephen King. His 'IT' out Lovecraft's Lovecraft. The Dark Tower Cycle is an accomplishment, complex and epic.

                              Yes, King is derivitive, but he really derives very well. King acknowledges a debt to HPL.

                              King is, indeed, derivative (not talking about The Dark Tower that I haven't read, and which in terms of sheer volume must be his biggest work). Haunted houses and cars, vampires, children etc. Most of it not derivative of any specific work (that I've noticed) but of the the common goods of a genre. I guess you may be able to trace down the first haunted hotel in literature, the first rabid dog, and the first psychic dealing with the question of whether to kill an upcoming pocket-Hitler, but these and many other motifs have become a melting-pot from which to draw material up for grabs for anybody. Stating it feels banal, like saying that Poirot and Hastings owe something to Holmes and Watson. Yeah, duh!

                              Exactly the same thing can be said of Lovecraft, though. I certainly wouldn't agree with anybody arguing that he invented from scratch the whole idea of evil ancient supernatural creatures. They were around a long time before him. It's true that he has become an iconic reference for that motif, but it doesn't mean he invented it, and therefore it's wrong to try to patent the idea for him, as much as it's wrong to try to patent wizards and elves for Tolkien.

                              What I think I've seen King do, is competently treating not extremely original ideas in a way that can appeal the lowest common denominator without coming on as unprofessional or trite. He does so in a readily "edible" prose primarily characterized by its transparencyr. The same way as cameras and boom sticks are meant to be transparent in most movies -- that is, not noticed once the game is rolling.

                              In contrast to this, Lovecraft's prose is quirky, to put it politely. It's well known that he was a great admirer of Poe, and that does show in his prose, I think. His way of using unusual vocabulary and dated grammar is obviously striving for the level of his master. Only, Lovecraft is unable to do it in the effortless, stylish way of Poe. His prose always comes on as forced and contrived. In stark contrast to King's talkative prose, too.

                              All about King really boils down to The Commonplace, and all about Lovecraft boils down to The Nutty.

                              For The Extraordinary (in terms of literary technique), both of them send you looking for other stuff. For conventional but ingeniously used and even well-written common-stock, you could look to such works as Lisa Tuttle's "Familiar Spirit" or "Gabriel". For postmodern and daring material for example Clive Barker's "Books of Blood" or Kathe Koja's "Strange Angels".
                              "If the environment were a bank, we would already have saved it." -Graffitti.

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                              • It's a fair cop.

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