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HP Lovecraft and His Work

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  • Originally posted by krakenten View Post
    OK, let's be down and dirty.

    Lovecraft's talent was in dropping enough real details(like actual folklore and real books)and enough carefully invented or cunningly borrowed material to give his work a certain versimilitude-remember, it was a lot harder to check facts back then. Especially obscure ones.

    He used Fort's technique of tossing out 'facts' and never giving enough for them to be checked. For example, Queen Nitocris was real enough(there were two of them), and at least one had a bad reputation as a mass murderer and a suicide.

    Probably total buzunga, but why spoila good story?

    By borrowing from other stories, he made his work seem even more real(if you can accept hybrid offspring of humans and things from deep space).

    Because the true measure of a writer of strange tales is what he/she can get you to swallow before your suspension of disbelief fails. Today, we call that jumping the shark.

    Because this technique worked so well, others adapted it to fiction told as fact-the alien astronuts.

    I've still to see any convincing evidence of a connection between Lovecraft and Daniken et al.

    At any rate A. Merritt employed much the same technique some years before Lovecraft. The Moon Pool is framed as a botanist's narrative whose publication is authorized by some international association of scientists. Many of the chapters have citations and endnotes referencing various scientific papers resulting from the narrator's encounters with advanced Murian technology. The story revolves around some mysterious ruins in Nan Matol.

    Since Lovecraft was relatively obscure during his lifetime (and for some time after) while Merritt was fairly well known why would it be Lovecraft's use of "the technique" that inspired the "astronut" peddlars?


    • More from Mr. Colavito:

      The Theosophical Roots of the Ancient Astronaut Theory

      Though I entirely disagree that the Theosophists were faking their belief. People believe all kinds of things.

      Also culled from Colavito's site, this quote shows that Lovecraft was familiar enough with Theosophy to condemn it -

      "The crap of the theosophists, which falls into the class of conscious fakery, is interesting in spots. It combines some genuine Hindoo and other Oriental myths with a subtle charlatanism obviously drawn from nineteenth century scientific concepts."

      -- H. P . Lovecraft, letter to William Conover

      I think Colavito's assertion that Lovecraft is basically responsible for the Ancient Astronaut 'theory' hinges on whether he was a 'prophet' to the authors of 'Morning of the Magicians' and the readers of their magazine. Throwing around a word like prophet immediately makes me thing he's overstating his case and I find the only evidence he offers unconvincing.
      Last edited by opaloka; 05-04-2015, 04:25 AM.


      • Lovecraft wasn't that obscure-I once found a reference to Cthulhu in the jacket note on an album of German sea songs from the sixties.

        As for the connection of Lovecraft to the ancient astronuts and the chariots of the clods, well, all of those strange fiction authors had a certain influence, but HPL is the last man standing-mostly because he was adopted by the gamers.

        MR James wrote some really scary stuff-'Curse of the Demon/Night of the Demon' is one of the best horror films ever made. Robert Aickman and Roald Dahl produced some petrifying tales.

        Yet, Lovecraft's approach seems to have spawned a confabulation into a new weirdness. If you don't see it, well, your opinion is as good as anyones's-this is fiction, after all.

        There's an up side to this-more time and effort is being invested in examining some old mysteries.

        Nan Midol puzzled science for decades-that's why Lovecraft used it in his tales. The South Pacific in general was a place of mystery. Now it's accepted that Nan Midol was a cemetery and that Easter Island suffered an ecological meltdown from unwise consumption of resources.

        The truth? We'll probably never know. Enter the Little Green Men?

        There are but a few intractable mysteries out there. Who made the Band of Holes? Why was Puma Punku abandoned? Who built Teotehucan, and why did they abandon it?(the local people say it was built by devils, but they always say that.) Was the Antikythera device the only one of its kind? How did the vast underground cities in Turkey come to be made, then abandoned and forgotten?

        There are real, logical answers to these questions, and the ding-dongs don't have them!


        • Everything odd was grist for the Lovecraftian mill.

          Was HPL a prophet? Nah.

          Did he strike a rich vein and mine it? Yes, he did.


          • Originally posted by krakenten View Post
            Lovecraft wasn't that obscure-I once found a reference to Cthulhu in the jacket note on an album of German sea songs from the sixties.
            I'm under the impression relatively obscure during his lifetime is a fairly widely accepted view of Lovecraft. It also comes free with the cult author label that has been so apt for him for so many years.

            Originally posted by krakenten View Post
            As for the connection of Lovecraft to the ancient astronuts and the chariots of the clods, well, all of those strange fiction authors had a certain influence, but HPL is the last man standing-mostly because he was adopted by the gamers.
            Chariots of the Gods was published in 1968. Lovecraft became the last man standing, if gaming was the lever, some time in the 1980s, maybe later. It seems fairly certain other men were standing in 1968 -- never mind whenever Daniken first took an interest in the stuff. Doesn't seem fair that Lovecraft gets all the credit. Same goes for Fort. Why does Fort's influence fall under that of Lovecraft?

            Originally posted by krakenten View Post
            Yet, Lovecraft's approach seems to have spawned a confabulation into a new weirdness. If you don't see it, well, your opinion is as good as anyones's-this is fiction, after all.
            What I would really appreciate seeing is some evidence, or reasoning that it must exist, that links Lovecraft and Daniken, or that Lovecraft was pervasive in pre-1950s sci-fi.

            Saying that Daniken's gods resemble Lovecraft's whatevers seems a little too close to Daniken pointing at some Incan art and saying it looks like an astronaut. And the idea of Lovecraft being pervasive in sci-fi before the 1950s runs a bit against what I thought I knew of the subject (not saying it's not possible though). Maybe it's a faulty memory but I seem to remember listening to Fritz Leiber talking about "bitter oppositions" between Lovecraftian and sci-fi writers during the 1940s.
            Last edited by Heresiologist; 05-05-2015, 12:13 AM.


            • Originally posted by Heresiologist View Post
              Did Lovecraft visit, or have an abiding interest in, Brazil?
              Not that I am aware of. I know that he has a decent fanbase here and that is all.
              "From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue.(...) Now I am silent; this is my mood." From Sundrun's Garden, Jack Vance.
              "As the Greeks have created the Olympus based upon their own image and resemblance, we have created Gotham City and Metropolis and all these galaxies so similar to the corporate world, manipulative, ruthless and well paid, that conceived them." Braulio Tavares.


              • Originally posted by zlogdan View Post
                Originally posted by Heresiologist View Post
                Did Lovecraft visit, or have an abiding interest in, Brazil?
                Not that I am aware of. I know that he has a decent fanbase here and that is all.
                He never left the USA and barely ever left his home state, even his home town except occasional visits to friends and his dreaded stint in NY with his wife.


                • No single author can claim credit for this stuff-but Lovecraft seems to unite(OK, swipe)many themes.

                  Charles Fort gathered obscure and often questionable news reports. He presented 'facts', and added a bit of commentary. Doubtless, HPL read and was influenced by Fort's work.

                  HPL didn't make much use of Latin America, he did use the South Pacific-read "The Wake of the Red Witch for the wild and wooly flavor of that region before the Second War.

                  Any place that was little known or visited was good for setting strange stories. Brazil didn't get much attention until it became a fairly important military base in WWII.

                  This fiction came from a different time, a strange age. The readers were not well informed(neither were most of the writers). Readers were ready to believe almost anything-witness some of the loony stuff that made it into print, and even into popular culture.

                  Not a scintilla of real evidence, but who could check?

                  If what I present here does not satisfy, remember, the price was right and it's given with good intent and no desire to deceive.

                  I've dug around in this stuff for more than half a century, and found no smoking guns, maybe you'll do better?


                  • OOPS!

                    Forgot to say that the Lovecraft connection to the strange fact literature is something you have to look for. Trouble is, when you look for something, you will find it-like 23.

                    Again, I'm not trumpeting HPL as a great prophet, nor as a great writer. I enjoy his work, and some work done in his style. I can see the influence in the various Chariots, and the spate of such that gushed forth in the 70s.

                    There were previous works, Donelly's "Atlantis" and Churchward's "MU" Atlantis is persuasive, until you read deeper, and MU is just plain crazy.

                    Yet Donelly was a man of some reputation, and Churchward was an inventor-and successful at it. I think they fooled themselves.

                    I can see the connection of Lovecraft to this 'theory', simply enough, if you cannot, well, it's difference of opinion that makes horse races.


                    • I remember discovering the Mythos in the 1960's-via the volume of revisions and ghost written stories. It's still in print.

                      I was genuinely spooked, and for a time, convinced that there was an actual belief system centered on the Great Old Ones.

                      Lovecraft was skilled at making the impossible plausible-like a Road Runner cartoon. He could produce darkness you could almost touch-he said his stories came from his dreams, yep, that ol' boy was tetched!

                      He was also pretty deft at retooling classics to suit himself-'Out of the Aeons' is the film version of 'The Mummy', modified enough to dodge copyright, Herbert West is a modernized Victor Frankenstein and 'The Dunwich Horror' smacks of werewolves and such.

                      His reason was that he wanted to make such horrors scientific, not supernatural. He came pretty close.

                      Of course, all such fiction is derivitive-we need a base of knowledge to proceed from. Unless you write long ones, the short cut provided by the superstition and folklore saves verbiage-Steven King is really good at that.

                      Please never forget, this is fiction, it is meant to amuse(sometimes being scared is fun) and nothing more. Lovecraft was a deeply flawed human being, and a montebank, but he struck the right notes at the right time.

                      Let us enjoy his works, forgive his flaws(he's dead, what more do you want?) and see what may be built upon the foundation he wrought.

                      Ian Tregillis and Charles Stross have done pretty good at that. Tregillis is particularly good at invoking the feeling of hidden evil(even with no Cthulhu) and doom. Stross is a master of mixing humor with the horror(well, he invokes the evil that is the Civil Service, and that's funny and frightening, all at once)

                      So there!.


                      • Oh,Hell!

                        I mentioned those liner note to point out that Lovecraft was well enough known to be referenced in such a context.

                        Another point, Leiber was pointing out the cleft between the ''hard'' scifi writers and the dreamy, mythological types.

                        I'm sorry, I often fail to answer points raised.


                        • Originally posted by Michael Moorcock View Post
                          I'm a Failed Fan!
                          Don't fret. We fans are failed creative people. Your position must surely be nicer.
                          "If the environment were a bank, we would already have saved it." -Graffitti.


                          • The Ancient Astronuts were out in force last night(on TV).

                            The one thing that troubles me is the jumble of deserted ruins in improbable places. The complex stonework of Machu Picchu Nan Midol and Puma Punku, the vast underground cities of Asia Minor....I'm not satisfied with current explanations-but I'm not going to punk out and say, "Little Green Men" either.

                            Even fairly modern constructions, from WWII, have been quickly forgotten. You can credit German booby traps for some of that, there are places that are still very hazardous to enter and explore-like the flooded tunnels of Dora.

                            Anyone see the Flytrap? It's been touted as part of the legendary "Bell" which lunkheads maintain was a time machine. Really, it was a water tank/cooling tower for a coal mine, there's a nearly identical structure nearby that retains its wooden slats.

                            Lovecraft and the rest of the strange fiction crew found such things irresistible.

                            In Whittier, AK, there is a hulking structure called the Buckner Building, built to house the workers at the port. With 800 apartments, a movie theater, post office and even a jail it was called 'the city under one roof'.

                            Sadly the mechanization of ports(Whittier is a precious, ice free port, to this day) reduced the need for workers greatly, and it cost a lot to heat and maintain the place. It was closed in 1960, replaced by a similar but smaller structure, then badly damaged in the big 63 Quake.

                            There being no way to dispose of the debris, abandonment is preferable to demolition.

                            The point?(I saw you making that shoot-myself sign!), simple enough-we build big, and never think of the time when the project is obsolete, and has to go away.

                            So, we just walk away and let it fall down. Someday.

                            This may explain these big ruins.

                            And what will we do when the Empire State Building is done for?


                            • I liked what I heard about the idea of giants and such on the youtubes.
                              Makes these lost-monuments make more sense if it is masonry work done from the perspective of a larger physical being.
                              How'd they move all these big-ass stones? How are they cut with such precision? Well, maybe it's easier if you're kinda bigger than most.
                              I don't know, just jazzing.

                              That said, I think the allure of Lovecraftian-lore is only viable with a materialistic viewpoint.
                              It's no fun/frightening if you have more answers than Lovecraft has shadowy-questions.


                              • But, riddle me this krakenten! is the legend/idea of a flying island only an allegory created by Swift or is there any good-olde fashioned viable myth surrounding it?
                                After my exhaustive 10-seconds of googling I turned up exactly Swift.
                                But ever since I was a kid I thought this a real-myth.
                                Something about it seems wholesomely mythic and I'll be damned if I let its inventor take that away from me!
                                Then-again, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox appealed to me in the same vein.
                                I suppose an authored-myth ain't all bad.