The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

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Sly Boots
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Sly Boots » Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:54 pm

Spoiler
:lol: yes, I'd forgotten that Dutch reference out of nowhere, another one that elicited a chuckle while reading it.

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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Snowy » Tue Aug 27, 2019 6:06 pm

Stormbringer wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 7:20 am
HE: ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK
HE: IS CALLED SNAKE PLISSKEN!

And yep, sorry am being mighty crap. I am also going to be at the mercy of Moroccan wifi (think Dutch, then add cheap instruments of music and a jauntily cocked tarbrush - I think you will feel my horror). My attendance could be even spottier than presently.

My humble apologies in advance. I will read this as soon as I am able!
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Sly Boots » Tue Aug 27, 2019 6:20 pm

Don't worry mate, was just being a bit of an eager beaver/teacher's pet :lol:

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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Stormbringer » Tue Aug 27, 2019 10:12 pm

Be careful out there. Moroccans have been known to play eerily on cheap instruments of music on street corners...



They must be, I feel inwardly, the heirs of some shocking and primordial tradition; the sharers of debased and broken scraps from cults and ceremonies older than mankind. ¬_¬
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Snowy » Thu Aug 29, 2019 8:13 am

Assuming that I manage a safe return I shall report back on the instruments played and whether I find the "old brick slums and seas of dark, subtle faces a thing of nightmare and eldritch portent"!

:)

Will also read the story on the plane and report back on that too ASAP.
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Stormbringer » Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:41 am

Hmm. I do hope Snowy's all right, and hasn't succumbed to a howling tumult of ice-cold wind with all the stenches of the bottomless pit, whence reached a sucking force not of earth or heaven, which, coiling sentiently about him, has dragged him through an aperture and down unmeasured spaces filled with whispers and wails, and gusts of mocking laughter.... :-k
Last edited by Stormbringer on Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Sly Boots » Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:42 am

Stormbringer wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:41 am
Hmm. I do hope Snowy's all right, and hasn't succumbed to a howling tumult of ice-cold wind with all the stenches of the bottomless pit, whence reached a sucking force not of earth or heaven, which, coiling sentiently him, has dragged him through an aperture and down unmeasured spaces filled with whispers and wails, and gusts of mocking laughter.... :-k
Or, to give it its proper name, EasyJet.

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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Stormbringer » Thu Sep 05, 2019 1:10 pm

Well, while we wait for his hopeful return, I dug up a series of FUN FACTS relating to a line from The Horror at Red Hook which recently caught my attention.

Lovecraft writes:
Age-old horror is a hydra with a thousand heads, and the cults of darkness are rooted in blasphemies deeper than the well of Democritus.

Democritus was an ancient Greek philosopher (circa 400 BC) who first came up with the idea of Atomic Theory, which turned out to be right!

He is known to have said: "ἐτεῇ δὲ οὐδὲν ἴδμεν: ἐν βυθῷ γὰρ ἡ ἀλήθεια" which, translated literally, reads, "in reality we know nothing; for the truth is in an abyss". This has popularly been rendered as: "Of truth we know nothing, for truth is in a well." The proverbial well, he thought, was bottomless, and therefore absolute truth was not possible to quantify.

Did Lovecraft use this phrase because he was familiar with the writings of Democritus? Possibly. But, more likely, he quoted it from his primary literary inspiration, Edgar Allan Poe.

In Poe's 1841 short story A Descent into the Maelström, he begins the tale with a quote from a chap called Joseph Glanvill, a 17th Century English philosopher and clergyman.

The quote goes:
The ways of God in Nature, as in Providence, are not as our ways; nor are the models that we frame any way commensurate to the vastness, profundity, and unsearchableness of His works, which have a depth in them greater than the well of Democritus.

I'm going to suggest that Lovecraft borrowed this quote from Glanvill/Poe, but twisted its sentiment for Red Hook.



While we're on this topic, here are a couple more fun facts for the record:

  • Joseph Glanvill, the author of the "well of Democritus" quote, wrote in the year 1661:
    The time will come...when by making use of magnetic waves that permeate the ether that surrounds our world, we shall communicate with the Antipodes*
    * people on the opposite side of the planet


    Apparently, like Democritus, Glanvill's scientific theories were centuries ahead of his time!


  • Democritus' catchphrase "truth is in a well" seemed to be popular among 19th century authors and artists. One such example is the 1896 painting La Vérité sortant du puits armée de son martinet pour châtier l'humanité (Truth coming from the well armed with her whip to chastise mankind) by the French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme:

    Spoiler
    Image
    (NSFW)

    I find her expression particularly horrifying. I wonder if Lovecraft was familiar with this painting, and if it played a part in the inspiration of the Lilith character from Red Hook? It is interesting that the mysterious golden pedestal which seems to be instrumental in Lilith's summoning in the story is pushed into "undreamable gulfs of lower Tartarus" and is suggested to have fallen into a deep well...
    Lovecraft wrote:The carved golden pedestal or throne so often mentioned by Malone as of primary occult importance was never brought to light, though at one place under the Suydam house the canal was observed to sink into a well too deep for dredging. It was choked up at the mouth and cemented over when the cellars of the new houses were made, but Malone often speculates on what lies beneath.

    Is the golden pedestal's sinking symbolic of a horrible truth being dropped back into the proverbial well of Democritus, better left unknown and unexplored?
Ride the rainbow
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Time to die
Got to keep running
Stormbringer coming
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Stormbringer » Mon Sep 09, 2019 12:52 pm

Well, I thought that was interesting. ¬_¬


I am starting to worry about Snowy, though. I hope he didn't meet a strange man at 2 am in the morning who offered to show him the hidden backstreets of Marrakech...
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Stormbringer coming
Time to die
Got to keep running
Stormbringer coming
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Snowy » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:07 pm

Late to the party as always - not read any spoilered content yet but will soon remedy that.

A fine return to form, made all the better by a nefarious Dutchman once again being at the heart of all the malfeasance! I also had several fits of the giggles at points in the tale's telling - the narrator being brought low by the heebie-jeebies as a result of seeing oriental people in future-NY was just genius.

Also a rare outing for one of my favourite Mythos monsters the Shoggoth if I am not much mistaken. I did wonder if He might not be Nyarlathotep, but came to the eventual conclusion that he was no less than the squire who had murdered the Indians with 'bad rum'.

Whilst I am safely returned from Marrakech, with nary a saucily cocked tarbrush in sight (although I did see some local dancing involving spinning a long tassel on top of a hat...), I can vouch for the ill-effects that can be caused by bad rum! I often find when visiting mostly dry cultures that what they think passes for spirits would struggle to pass for turps over here :)
RCHD wrote:Snowy is my favourite. He's a metal God.
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Stormbringer » Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:16 pm

Snowy wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:07 pm
although I did see some local dancing involving spinning a long tassel on top of a hat...
Utterly terrifying, Snowy, but who are we to combat poisons older than history and mankind? Apes danced in Asia to those horrors, and the cancer lurks secure and spreading where furtiveness hides in rows of decaying brick!

You're right that "He" is the squire of old, not Nyarlathotep. This isn't really a "mythos" tale. Like Red Hook, it's just a "I hate New York" tale. ¬_¬

Likewise, what you describe as a "Shoggoth" is not really a Shoggoth, but is perhaps its literary prototype. I believe this is an earlier story, before the mythos was fully formed. But in the context of the story, the black mass with its multitude of eyes is really a conglomoration of the restless spirits of the Indians who the squire killed a century before.

Let me know when you've read the spoilers and feel free to add further comment on them.
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Snowy » Thu Sep 12, 2019 8:24 am



Witness the unholy twirling of the tassels - here only one fella is indulging his unearthly appetites, whereas in Marrakech we were subject to no less than 4 of them. I barely made it away with my sanity intact, indeed if the entertainment that followed had not been a nubile belly-dancer I don't know what would have become of me.

I am now fully spoilered up, and glad we all found the same things funny. After the blatant hate in Red Hook this story seems almost light relief, but I share Sly's curiosity as to precisely what the endgame was for the necromancer.

I did some reading around online and found a couple of interesting tidbits too:

- The story "He" was written after an all-night tour of the remnants of Old New York; by 7 a.m. the next morning, Lovecraft had reached Elizabeth, New Jersey, by ferry, where he bought a dime composition book and wrote the story in Elizabeth's Scott Park.

- Lovecraft had moved to New York City in March 1924 for his short-lived marriage to Sonia Greene. He moved back to Providence, Rhode Island in April 1926, having developed a thorough aversion to New York. The opening paragraphs of "He" are believed to be largely autobiographical, expressing Lovecraft's own feelings about the city: "My coming to New York had been a mistake; for whereas I had looked for poignant wonder and inspiration in the teeming labyrinths of ancient streets that twist endlessly from forgotten courts and squares and waterfronts to courts and squares and waterfronts equally forgotten, and in the Cyclopean modern towers and pinnacles that rise blackly Babylonian under waning moons, I had found instead only a sense of horror and oppression which threatened to master, paralyze, and annihilate me."

- The court off Greenwich Village's Perry Street actually exists; Lovecraft learned of its existence in a New York Evening Post article of August 29, 1924. The stranger's house is apparently based on a mansion on the block bounded by Perry, Bleecker, Charles and West 4th streets, built as early as 1744 and demolished in 1865.

- A suggested literary model for "He" is Lord Dunsany's The Chronicles of Rodriguez, in which a wizard displays visions of past and future wars in successive windows.

So - where do we venture next?
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Stormbringer » Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:07 am

That hat dance. The world and Nature are helpless against such assaults from unsealed wells of night, nor can any sign or prayer check that Walpurgis-riot of horror!

Okay, I think I've milked the Red Hook jokes long enough. ¬_¬


Thanks for dredging up those fun facts, Snowy. I was dimly aware of some of them, I think.

As for where we are going next, I was originally intending for this story to be our segue to leave the New York tales and return to Providence to begin our deeper journeys into the mythos, just as the narrator does at the end of this tale. However, I want to milk the New York phobia for all its worth, so we're not done with the Big Apple yet.


The next tale is called COOL AIR, where we learn about another of Lovecraft's many, varied neuroses...

http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/tex ... on/ca.aspx
Ride the rainbow
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Stormbringer coming
Time to die
Got to keep running
Stormbringer coming
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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Snowy » Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:58 pm

Right, gonna start on it now, claw back some kudos within this thread!
RCHD wrote:Snowy is my favourite. He's a metal God.
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10501 :-({|=

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Re: The H.P. Lovecraft Reading Club

Post by Stormbringer » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:00 pm

You get kudos just for participating in this thread at all these days. ¬_¬
Ride the rainbow
Crack the sky
Stormbringer coming
Time to die
Got to keep running
Stormbringer coming
He's got nothing you need
He's gonna make you bleed

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