Lovecraft art book by Centipede Press (noted last issue),
there’s The Art Of
H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos (Fantasy Flight Games, 2006),
edited by Pat
Harrigan and Brian Wood. According to an Amazon reviewer, this is
weighed toward the “Call of Cthulhu” game, not
Lovecraft’s Mythos. *** Bruce
Timm—who has done Batman: TAS
and other animated series—has an
of HPL. ***
Artist Stephen Bissette notes that his home address is
“Mountains of Madness,
According to Frank Brinkmann (see under “Criticism”) Der Cthulhu Mythos: Horrorgeschichten (LPL Records, 2002) by H. P. Lovecraft and others was awarded two prizes, Bestes Hörbuch des Jahres 2003 and Deutscher Phantastik Preis 2003. *** Read Joe Goldman’s liner notes about both Roddy McDowall and HPL (sounds like a rhyme) on the back of the album Roddy McDowall Reads the Horror Stories of H.P. Lovecraft. There’s also commentary by August Derleth.
Carl Kolchak (Richard Matheson’s news reporter character that once had his own television series) meets HPL in Kolchak: The Night Stalker–The Lovecraftian Horror (Moonstone, 2007).
There’s been at least two Lovecraft meetings in Second Life, a virtual environment with avatars.
and HPL is the subject of this (so far) two-part
discussion. *** The 2005 “Following the Road
to Madness: The Literary Influence of Edgar Allan Poe on Howard
Lovecraft” by Frank Brinkmann (Universität
Duisburg-Essen) is available for
download, for a price. However, you can read the introduction.
*** “New England Narratives: Space and Place in the
Fiction of H.P.
Lovecraft” by Rebecca Janicker appeared in Extrapolation
p56-72). Part of it concerns regionalism in “The Colour out
of Space.” *** A
2007 master’s thesis produced in the
Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown is a documentary-in-the-making (as of this writing) by Frank Woodward, and is to have interviews with various Lovecrafterati.
In the 1960’s a fanzine by one Ben Solon was called Nyarlathotep.
According to a blogger, “De Profundis: Letters from the Abyss” was an epistolary role-playing game where people wrote letters to one another as if they were characters in a Lovecraft universe.
Able to be downloaded, Os Melhores Contos de Medo, Horror e Morte (Editoria Nova Fronteira, 2005) is a Brazilian anthology of scary and fantastic works including “Os Ratos nas Paredes” (“The Rats in the Walls”).
There’s a review of the new dvd release of Re-Animator at Turner Classic Movies, a great channel. *** And there’s a review of the Italian made Road to L (Il Mistero di Lovecraft) at *** A mysterious trailer announcing a January date has sparked some views that the upcoming movie may be a Lovecraft adaptation. The website has noted the movie concerns a war of gods upon earth, which will bring terror. J.J. Abrams (Lost) is involved. However, true to my character, I am skeptical it will be an adaptation, or even based on HPL.
has an article
about the Tiger Lillies and how one of the group channels HPL
before a song. *** In
Four hour-long lectures on Lovecraft and aspects of the occult by Dr. Justin Woodman can currently be heard from this site. *** Gary Lachman’s Turn Off Your Mind: The Mystic Sixties and the Dark Side of the Age of Aquarius (Disinformation, 2001) has one chapter dedicated to HPL, while another deals chiefly with REH.
A quote from Kant is compared with “The most merciful thing” one.
short film of “The
Tell-Tale Heart” is narrated by James Mason as a
Sometimes pulp magazines appear in the movies. Take The Night of the Hunter (1955), a wonderfully stylized Gothic film (based on a novel by Davis Grubb) that gets better with repeated viewing. For one scene in front of a magazine rack there’s a detective magazine and Fantastic, presumably a real issue. In the case of the 1929 German Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon), a boy shows a magazine with a story by the author of Nick Carter (who Lovecraft read), and among the illustrations to which we are treated is a moon vampire. *** If you like octopi on pulp covers, gander at “Pulpe Pulps”.
“Appointment in Tomorrow” by Fritz Leiber has been dramatized as a science fiction radio play, among others. *** The HP Lovecraft Historical Society–who did the best Lovecraft adaptation ever with The Call of Cthulhu–have made a radio play of At the Mountains of Madness.
The fossils of “giant ancient penguins” have been discovered. They stood around five feet. (Think of the penguins in At the Mountains of Madness, “huge, unknown species larger than the greatest of the known king penguins.”) *** Along similar lines, Australian paleontologist John Long, who wrote Mountains of Madness, has been featured on a PBS documentary (“Bone Diggers”) about the discovery of mammal fossils. There was no mention of HPL. (See Criticaster 31 (2001) for a little more on Long’s book.)
Should you be interested in watching Lovecraft videos online, search for “lovecraft” at blinkx.com . When I did it I found on the first page alone the opportunity to enjoy “The Picture in the House,” part two of “The Whisperer in Darkness, a podcast of Justin Woodman lecturing on the work of Jason Colavito, and Horror Hotel.
is a list of dead telephone numbers, and is found in the Discworld
World Fantasy Award nominee Theodora Gross finds
that Lovecraft makes her
Ghouls, changelings, and
audio of Robert
E. Howard’s “Red Shadows” is available as
MP3 files. *** The Journal of
Popular Culture (vol. 40, no. 3, 2007) carries
“‘Do You Love Mother,
Norman?’: Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for
Emily’ and Metalious’s
Lovecraft and Chemistry
On his blog for May, Chris Perridas posts scans of census and other data about Lovecraft. For example, here is a copy of his draft registration, which is unreadable unless one is willing to tempt heroic eye strain.
interesting document is the census form for 1910. Under a column for
profession or particular kind of work Lovecraft, age 19, is
listed—and this is
blurry—as a student; while the next column
(“general nature of industry,
business, or establishment in which the person works”) has
the word “chemist.”
(Apparently, by this time astronomy had been replaced by chemistry as
he wished to identify himself with.)
There are three columns for education. The first two ask about the person’s ability to read and write, and the answer to both is “yes.” But there is also a “yes” to the query “Attended school any time since Sept. 1, 1909.” Does this mean that Lovecraft was working on his high school credits— it wouldn’t have been college—during the fall or spring? Or perhaps we glimpse, in these answers about occupation and education, how Mrs. Lovecraft wanted to present her son, if she were the respondent to the questions.
This was my reasoning thus far. Then I consulted Joshi’s H.P. Lovecraft, and that clarified matters. During the time of the census Lovecraft was taking a correspondence course in chemistry. Going by this situation, Lovecraft could fairly call himself a student.
Astronomy has received much more publicity than chemistry in the life of HPL. It is more obvious, as in his writing those newspaper astronomy columns and in its connection through many of his famous stories, with things coming from the stars and the overarching concept of cosmic horror. Yet you don’t have to peer too hard to find the science of chemistry in several tales, from the early (1908) “The Alchemist” to “Herbert West, Reanimator,” The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, and “The Colour out of Space.” More could be named.
136 and Counting
Wilum: A pedantic observation: in the epigraph to “A Phantom of Beguilement” (The Fungal Stain and Other Dreams) the line by Shakespeare should not be “Like a phantasm or a hideous dream” but “Like a phantasma, ...”
Ben: I wish your essay on Lovecraft and King, like “Lovecraft’s Ladies,” had been longer and deeper. On both subjects much remains to be thought out.
Fred: To maintain “that everything pertinent, interesting, or critically valuable” has been said about HPL is like saying the same about Shakespeare, Melville, Faulkner, et al. Yet the critical works and their readers keep coming, and will continue to do so. Art is not finite, but infinite. *** You mention that you were formerly an expert with an M-1 Garand and could kill with your bare hands. Remind me never to get in an argument with you. *** HPL devotes about a sentence-worth to Graeco-Roman horror in his landmark essay. *** You’ll note that Lovecraft does weave witchcraft into his story “The Dreams in the Witch House.”
may appreciate his work better by reading the same books that he did,
perspective might be more scholarly than readerly. If you like to dig
sources and influences of his stories, this is a good way. Whether you
the effort is compensated by what you find is your call. *** Allow Dark
the Moon to elude you no more, if you want to buy it on, for
for one-hundred smackers. In reflecting on the collection’s
title, I wonder if
it was taking advantage of the buzz created by the Howard Richardson
William Berney play with the same title that came out a few years
publication. *** Even in two parts that is an evocative sonnet you
though I am unsure of the subject of “lest we should
fail.” On the other hand,
of what little I’ve read of Clark Ashton Smith’s
poetry I find uninteresting.
Enthusiasm for him passeth my sensibility. *** A
“hedge-poet” I imagine would
be somebody like Robert W. Service or the jingle-ists of Madison
You’ve incorrectly given the G. Rachel Levy title, which
should be Religious
Conceptions of the Stone Age: And Their Influence upon European Thought;
though I grant that yours is sexier. *** Some of Lovecraft’s
think his stories were escapist but the real deal, a concept that
(and me) rejects out of hand, and with prejudice.
Your reference to Professor Lauric Guillaud led me to discover he has a book titled L’Aventure Mystérieuse de Poe à Merritt ou les Orphelins de Gilgamesh, which has a brief chapter on Smith. *** You end your issue with this statement: “I suspect that while Lovecraft believed that the universe could not contemplate Man, Smith believed that it could.” I position this next to a famous poem by Stephen Crane, which runs: “A man said to the universe:/ ‘Sir I exist!’/ ‘However,’ replied the universe,/ ‘The fact has not created in me/ A sense of obligation.’”
Are you sure that the carol you sang to remind people of “The Music of Erich Zann” wasn’t really titled “IT Came upon a Midnight Fear”?
Linda: I recommend that you put your name on a prominent place in the front or back of the issue; otherwise, to the casual reader Squiddy’s Ink appears anonymous. *** Coincidentally, a few days before I read your article about HPL and fountain pens I was discussing fountain pens with a co-worker, who likes them. I used one over forty years gone, and as a result associated them with dripping, running dry, and splotchiness on the paper, so have not cared for them. Yet the conversation at work led me to wonder about HPL and his Waterman–a point that your piece fortuitously addresses. The view that Lovecraft’s script was legible was not necessarily shared by all his correspondents, who might struggle to distinguish one letter or word from another.
Scott: Re your essay on the ghoul–it appears to be a monster in search of an identity. Is it or isn’t it a cannibal demon? Yet it’s like the vampire in that it depends on humans for its livelihood. Your mention of Ray Russell’s “Sardonicus” reminds me of the movie–Mr. Sardonicus–based on the story; produced by William Castle, it naturally had a gimmick, a small picture of a thumb given you with the price of admission. At movie’s end Castle asked if Sardonicus should or should not be punished, and the audience held up their cards with thumbs up or down and Castle seemingly counted them, after which the rest of the movie played out according to the verdict.
Re Continuity: For me Spenser’s Faerie Queene is one of those works that may be more important as a mine for later poets, such as Keats. *** I chuckled over S.T.’s disproportionate comparison of the Modernist movement’s destruction of poetry with “the Gothic barbarians” destruction of Roman civilization. There is an echo of this in what another critic said of a new poet: “Upon this mother tongue, upon this English language has [this poet] trampled as with the hoofs of a buffalo. With its syntax, with its prosody, with its idiom, he has played such fantastic tricks as could only enter the heart of a barbarian, and for which only the anarchy of Chaos could furnish a forgiving audience.” This is not HPL discussing T.S. Eliot, but Thomas de Quincey on his contemporary, the aforementioned John Keats (and remember that Clark Ashton Smith was called “the new Keats”). When there is a transition it so often seems that the uncouth or iconoclasts win.
David D.: You mention The Haunt of Horror. I have at least two copies. I remember the title because it published a story by Harlan Ellison, written in the new wave or experimental way. In the following or later issue the story was reprinted, the explanation and apology given that in its original appearance the last two pages had been transposed, and Ellison objected. The humor of this was that I hadn’t recognized there was a mistake–I thought that was how it was supposed to end. It was after all, as I said, experimental. *** I have a “best of” C.M. Kornbluth anthology. It’s been awhile since I’ve read his stories, but out of perversity I suggest he has been spoken of with too darn much awe by you and other writers.
Gavin: In contrast to your–and the majority–opinions on Stuart Gordon’s Dreams in the Witch House, mine is that the story has been eviscerated. The concept of hyperspace is reduced drastically, while the baby sacrifice replaces it as a main situation. The nudity is a cliché, and it distorts the character of the crone Keziah Mason. To my taste the make-up for Brown Jenkin was amateurish, unconvincing, and Addams Familyish. However, the discovery of all those baby skulls was effectively disturbing, almost distasteful. Even though everyone else I’ve read really praised the story, I cannot.
John N.: I probably read Alfred Hitchcock’s Ghostly Gallery and Bar the Doors around the same time as you, and I still have ‘em. I read the stories in Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural in sequential order–I almost always do with an anthology–so the two Lovecraft ones were a suitable climax, out-performing every previous work. *** Thanks for the contribution of Lovecraft’s Weird Mysteries.
have been a flurry of adopters for “Lovecraft’s
Pillow.” Now you’ve pitched in.
*** Hasn’t Ralph McInnerney’s idea of a
Lovecraftian Guide to
Sean: You write that HPL’s “description of drinking as ‘sinful’ is significant in a lifelong atheist.” I’m not sure that I follow your train of logic. Atheism refers to a disbelief in a deity, which is not the same as disbelief in morality. The word “sinful” can be used in a lay sense, though in his essay Lovecraft appears to be speaking of those who “preach” about it and is not in his own voice using this word.
Wilum: My opinion about the term “Lovecraftian” fiction is the reverse of yours. To me it means that such writing is in imitation of HPL, but definitely not by him. *** As for your wish to have approval rights on letters by you before they are published–ethically I sympathize with you, and legally you may be the copyright holder, so your letters could not be legitimately published without your consent. *** You are right about the difference twixt e-mail and letters, and the superiority of the latter. But I’ve got old-fashioned tastes. *** There’s inevitably a trade-off of lifestyle with group approval, and you make the choice which is most important to you, keeping mind that there are always consequences. At different degrees that is true of everybody. *** Your discovery of finding something objectionable in a King or Lovecraft adaptation and then finding it originates with its source is the same experience I’ve had. I’m not sure that crosses were used by Lovecraft as a defense, other than having characters believe in them as such.
wonder how many Austrians it took for you to conclude that they were
friendly people”? (The beginning of this sentence makes it
sound like a
lightbulb joke, viz “How many Austrians does it take to
change a lightbulb?
None, because they're still discussing it over coffee and
cake.”) Though I’ve
not given it any reflection, I’ve got no reason to agree with
you, based on my
experiences (e.g., in
noted in my last issue–which you had not seen when writing
your book list–that
there is another version (
David S.: The idea of a searchable Lovecraft (since it is on a cd-rom) gladdens me immensely. That will be a boon to researchers, more so than readers, since reading online must be one of the minor punishments of hell.
(Quotes) from the Mainstream
priest said, “at night I think I hear the claws of evil
things scratching on
the shutters. This was the last place in
of the Science Fiction Magazine Mike Ashley calls Hugo
acquisition of “The Colour out of Space”(Amazing
Stories, September 1927)
“one momentous scoop.” At least superficial
evidence does not show that
Gernsback felt so. The issue’s cover
shows a hapless explorer, rifle and pith
helmet falling in mid-flight, being hoisted into an interested flower
mind of its own. Prominent names on the cover are H.G. Wells, Otis
Kline, and Miles J. Breuer; in smaller letters are “Hugo
Lovecraft was not important enough to blurb.
than 16 and
one-half years after my last trip to
It was an
overcast, chilly 3 April morning when I arrived at
left about 8:30
and was surprised to arrive so soon, around 9. Disboarded, I asked a
worker the direction of
had a specific
object in going to the library. About 2000 I was re-reading
“The Shadow out of
Time,” and as I mentioned in my Criticaster 36
(2001), when I came
across the line “I reflected that the excitant folklore was
universal in the past than in the present” I was more than
the word was wrong. I had written the library about this, but not
of a response; so I would find out from the source, HPL’s
Into the library I went with trepidation of forbidden things. Shoot, even though I was a librarian, I was not a Brownie, but an outsider, a commoner, who was confronting an Ivy League giant. What were my rights? I found out the rules, and made my request. I went into the library’s large reference room where the librarian was going through a cart of new books, some on a table, perhaps numbering sixty, all dealing with Lovecraft. I asked about browsing the books, but was told that it was better that I ask for them by name, and not to disorder what was in order. That was a bummer. I yearned to turn through the books at random, making one discovery after another.
The librarian told me to wait while she fetched the notebook, suggesting that when it arrived it would be better not to handle it. In the interval I looked at the new Lovecraft books’ spines, or occasionally covers. Here I will skip ahead some minutes, and state that after finishing with looking at the notebook (a matter of seconds), I returned to the works and perceived that they were arranged by language. There were some in French, others in Turkish, a stack in Cyrillic, and more. I can see why anyone compiling a Lovecraft bibliography would be in hog heaven here, and that efforts such as my Critic’, with its random interjection of titles, are a collection of pebbles from a beach, though inclusion serves as a timely stop-gap.
Back to the non-linear narrative. The librarian brought the notebook, but embarrassedly I had forgotten the exact section that the sentence lay in, so what happened was that she got me a commercial volume–the Penguin?–to use as an index, and after a few minutes I located its position in the text. I recall that she didn’t wear gloves while handling this brown-covered notebook, and wondered about the oils from the skin that must affect the paper. I was a bit aghast at my audacity in asking to see something whose handling could only weaken it, shorten its life for more significant Lovecraft scholars. I was a bit keyed up, and as she went through the pages, searching for the text I wanted to examine, I felt as if I was watching a bomb expert tinkering with a mechanism that might just blow up. bang, Bang, BANG! Except it didn’t. And if it did, I wouldn’t be able to see the section of HPL manuscript. Which I did.
His penmanship was clear enough. The word was indeed “excitant.” I am better informed, but no wiser, for my question remains, What is “excitant folklore”?
The librarian put away the notebook, and I browsed the reference collection, there being a few works dedicated to the Gothic and fantastic. I also conceived the idea of photographing the uncataloged collection of new Lovecraft books, but by this time the books had either been moved or were arranged in such a way that the photograph couldn’t show the variety. I could kick myself for the belatedness of my notion.
I finally parted from the room, first asking about a couple of previous special collection (Lovecraft) librarians. At the circulation desk is a large catalog between hard paper covers of Hay’s Lovecraft holdings that days before the 1990 conference had been completed by John Stanley, the librarian at the time. I’m afraid it hasn’t been updated since. In it is a list of Lovecraft correspondence, both that which he sent and that which he received, arranged by correspondent. The greatest revelation was the prolificity of E. Hoffman Price, who seems at times to have written to HPL daily.
I left the Hay never to return (well, until a possible next time). I am the most qualified librarian who could professionally deal with the Lovecraft collection, but there are at least three major obstacles to that–Brown wouldn’t hire me, it couldn’t afford me, and I won’t move there.
to wander Lovecraft’s
on the ground
floor I asked a librarian about the whereabouts and distance of
grave, for I had been to the Poe grave in Baltimore, and a visit would
a Gothic and historic symmetry. She told me about the bus route.
However, I had
limited time in
library I noticed a stand of books, obviously a leftover display from
turned south on
this new fact
(and there must be an abounding many for he-who-is-on-the-spot) I am
that to do a proper study of HPL it is necessary to live in
I doubled back along a parallel street to Benefit and in early-to-mid afternoon had my first meal of the day, a bagel, at a place that specialized in them. It was a poppy-seed, and as I consumed it the seeds spilled down over a counter. I brushed them up before I left.
went by a grand
house that headquartered the Rhode Island Historical Society, which I
was not open to the public, unlike the John Brown house, which I had
Benefit. My object, such as it was, was to wander to the other side of
Hill, to Lovecraft’s Barnes home. By zigs I got to Thayer,
which goes along the
east edge of Brown, past both eateries preying on student appetites and
University bookstore. I gluttoned at Au Bon Pain on some sweet pastry,
across to the store. I can’t claim a thorough inspection, but
I found no
Lovecraft books. It was as though he had been erased from
I saw a
perhaps well before then, I was struck that HPL was hidden in the
fabric of the city, someone who the average citizen did not think
about, or if
known about, then he was no big deal; and that
It was a relief to turn from busy Thayer back to the Lovecraftian past of Barnes, where existed one of the Old Gent’s homes. But I had a problem. I was not positive of his Barnes address. I had at home a copy of Lovecraft’s Providence, but since I was unsure if I could make it from Boston to Providence–perhaps the day would prove rainy or some episode would intervene–I thought before I left Missouri, well, why encumber myself for all that distance when I was doubtful about the need for the book. Too, that could mean unnecessary wear and tear on my copy.
Barnes” was the
address I had in mind. I got closer, closer, and then I was
street numbers jumped over 66. Had the house been torn
down–but there was no
vacant lot–or been renumbered? If I was wrong about the
number, I couldn’t
recall the right one. I went several blocks down, hoping for a
memory jog concerning the house of my imagination, which I had seen
before on my previous
veered off Barnes
one side of
the street I went, to the north limit where it vanished into a major
thoroughfare, then back, completing the circuit started at the
the way I saw Geoff’s, an eatery mentioned by Ken in one or
more of his
articles. I don’t recall that it had any Lovecraft
significance, though it does
for the stomachs of Brown students. The vague program I had outlined
I was at even more loose ends. I doubled back on a street paralleling
(Prospect), through more of Brown, and wound up at what I reckoned to
once at home verified I was right) HPL’s last residence,
across the street from
that monstrous church. I took a photo of the house. The time being
and 5, I thought I better make my slow way to the train station. (One
did miss, thinking that I would come across it around
Hill, crossed the canal bridge, and realized that I had not seen any of
those of you
masochists who like such things, this is my account of a trip to
part of town
was so-so on my comfort scale, but I wanted to see Poe’s
house and museum,
several blocks west. This was in a black area that was home to the
The next day I visited the Enoch Pratt Library and found in there Poe-associated items on exhibit. I also looked in at the locked H.L. Mencken room, housed in the library. Neither author received any acknowledgment at the library convention, to my simmering indignation.
I moved back in
the direction of Harvard I enjoyed the sight of all the colonial
massive, several with plaques boasting of their heritage. Probably it
assistance of the overcast (autumnal?), but I felt a sense of
nostalgia, as of
the neighborhood when I was a boy. That is peculiar, since the houses
look like those houses, and as I have repeated I have had no connection
the day, from about 1:30, I spent in getting ice cream and visiting
and being a flaneur. The next day I spent in
began Wednesday at 12:30 and ran to Saturday. Each program (consisting
or four speakers) was 90 minutes, and over 40 could be running
If one went consecutively to regularly scheduled programs from the
first day to
the last, one could attend 28 total. I attended 25. My interests and
are wide enough that I could go to a variety without risking outright
Moreover, I could have gone to more horror programs, but I found there
things more interesting than horror, if not Lovecraft. Thus I began
about Stephen Foster, a composer I favor, for I like American popular
to the 1950s. (During the talks I discovered–or
verified–a thematic pattern,
and this was the subject of race, which frequently re-appeared in many
presentations.) Regardless of the topic, during the question and answer
I usually contributed a question or remark. In this case I noted that
character of Stephen Foster was represented in a Gunsmoke
targeted food, one of which subjects was
On Thursday the first group discussed golden-age radio, with two of the four about Orson Welles’ contribution–one about adapting Joseph Conrad and the other about the notorious, “War of the Worlds” broadcast. Ever since Mollie affirmed that Welles had read Lovecraft I had been looking for a connection. Nothing at the talks revealed anything, though I was pleased that the first quote that the presenter used from “Heart of Darkness” was a Lovecraftian one (I think a reference in the text to “unspeakable rites”). The next program dealt with Poe and Hawthorne as they wrote mystery fiction. For some reason, I offered a comment where I identified Arthur Conan Doyle’s worst Sherlock Holmes story as “The Adventure of the Creeping Man.”
it was my turn
to formally participate. During my talk (the second) I felt my voice
for I was struck by a certain poignancy about what I was saying. Three
people also presented, one about the influence of Poe on Walter de la
favorite poets–and a mother and daughter on the
that talk out
of the way I could relax for the rest of the conference. The next
chose concerned the 19th century Gothic. One
talk about Walter Pater
and his novel of Roman decadence Marius the Epicurean
had me stumbling
through my memory. Who was it that did something similar? Ronald
Corvo? (After returning home I discovered I was mis-remembering a work
Corvo, Hadrian the Seventh, that was not a story of
A program tackled dime novels, pulps, and juvenile series books. In a talk on John Bellairs, Lovecraft was noted as a source, while an Australian on Australian science fiction from 1948-1952 referred to “queer” (i.e., weird) stories and stated that if writers were to sell stories to a pulp market they were to follow a certain formula–and somehow HPL got mentioned about this time, though I don’t know as a style of writing to emulate. The evening group considered mythology as it particularly related to catastrophe. One speaker targeted the classical mythology character Erysichthon, who for cutting down a grove was punished by the gods with an insatiable appetite, so that he sold everything, including his daughter, for food, and eventually consumed himself. That, pleaded the speaker (an academic with degrees in several fields), is what we are doing to the earth. His sincerity tore at the heart, and I don’t know how he managed to deliver his message, full of reflection, without breaking down. Afterward there were still an allotment for a few simultaneous programs, but I wanted to eat, so left.
began with the Victorians. This included a look at Peter
In q-and-a I lambasted this work. I had tried to read it, but found it
novelization of a life. No thanks. Instead I recommended what I wound
reading, Edgar Johnson’s standard biography, in my case the
abridgement. For 10 o’clock I heard about popular culture at
the time of Teddy
Roosevelt. One subject concerned the differing views of Roosevelt and
program dealt with the vampire in literature, but I decided to go for a
far as the
conference was concerned I was not done with Lovecraft. He was the
subject to be discussed in the 2:30 program about
Saturday morning Poe was the subject of three talks. As it developed, this was a logical lead-in to (at long last) the 10 a.m.“H.P. Lovecraft and His Eldritch Influence,” the subtitle. I had wondered why I wasn’t placed in this group, and I saw why–the speakers were four college students, all from the same institution. I kept no notes, though two talks curiously tackled a minor work, The King in Yellow, and another looked at “Reanimator,” perhaps just the story rather than the film (don’t recall). One student said that he had read that HPL was this great “humanitarian” –his mis-application of the word–but he couldn’t see it, and spent more time on discreditable elements about HPL. Needless to say, at the end I made several remarks and asked the students questions. After it was over I was surprised by the professor, who was the chaperone of the beginning scholars, thanking me for addressing the students. It was my pleasure.
was the end of
Lovecraft for this conference. At 12:30 I attended something about
culture.” One speaker talked about his collection of
switchblade knives, and
observed that of the dozen or so jd novels he had read, all were junk,
exception. He wordlessly held up an old paperback that on the cover had
by Harlan Ellison. Mentally I recalled Ellison’s
autobiographical story about
selling such knives to customers, men-who-wanted-to-be-cool. He would
the knife, clicking open the blade so that it stopped an inch from the
throat. This guaranteed a sale. Another speaker looked at the crisis
Though there was one more track, I had to leave; probably like the reader, though in his or her case, maybe several pages ago.
Thanks for reading the 53rd issue of The Criticaster (for August 2007, Esoteric Order of Dagon mailing 139) by Steve Walker. Eventually published on the Net as The Limbonaut (no 24).