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Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Unnamable

This story gives great perspective on Lovecraft himself, and we get a sneak peek at the illustrious Randolph Carter.

What was so great about this story was getting to see what Lovecraft really felt about the construction of his stories.  Carter, who is apparently a writer as well, has a long conversation with a friend of his about how to tell a story.  His friend persists that there is no scientific was that anything in the scientific world could be unnamable.  Any kind of creature would have to be contained within some sub-classification or genus, but then suddenly, at the end of the story, a creature of some sort comes out of an old house they have been sitting next to and attacks them.  Manton, the friend has a mental break down because what he saw he cannot classify.

What gives the story a bit more depth is that it seems as though the subtext was that Manton stayed at the place where the story unfolds and saw something horrible when he was younger (which is probably the same creature he sees at the end of the story).  The point is that he has spent his life trying to categorize to deny the horrible, un-categorizable thing he saw as a child.

Carter also seems to serve as a duplicate for Lovecraft himself.  There is a theme that streams through Carter’s descriptions, which stream through all of the Lovecraft that I’ve read thus far.

This was a really great story on the essence of horror tales, and about the writing process in general.

What do you think?

Join me next Tuesday for a blind read of “The Outsider”


Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Hound

What a beautifully dark and Gothic tale this was.  Gorgeous in scope and so much more than a Poe tale.  We follow along a couple of grave robbers who search the world for the best loot from their exhumations.  Until they come across a seemingly great score in Holland.  They take a medallion and are chased around the world by the specter of some supernatural hound.

The first thing that hits you with this story is the language.  It is probably the most beautifully told stories I’ve read from Lovecraft yet.  He takes his time and delicately lays the foundations slowly, unveiling the booty the grave robbers have purloined.  Then he describes the need for further exploration.  The desire and greed for more.  Then once the medallion is revealed, we go on a roller coaster of horror, with danger in every step.

Particularly of interest to me was the fact that we get such a glimpse of the Necronomicon.  We get a description of what the book looks like and a bit of it’s terrible contents, and what is more compelling is that these two gallants were using the Necronomicon to search out new items.

That being said, I have to think there is some meaning behind the name St. John, the narrators companion.  He is one of the main drivers of the story as he is the one who actually takes the medallion and is the first in the Hound’s catastrophic path.

Another interesting aspect of this story is the Hound itself.  We find out at the end of the story that when the narrator exhumes the grave again, that the skeleton that was originally buried in, he finds the medallion back around the skeletons neck, but now the skeleton has grown fangs and has a strange phosphorescent glow from its eyes.  There is also hair and skin attached to the bones.  Was this a grave of a priest to some great dog god?

Then we have the Jade connection.  I can only assume that the phosphorescent glow was a green glow, which hearkens back to “The Doom that came to Sarnath”, and the strange green glow that was sent down from the moon.  Did they awaken a moon god?

Then there is the Necronomicon to consider (not to mention it’s supposed immolation.  Could this really be the end of the Necronomicon?  I wonder where in the chronology this story fits in).  This was written by the infamous mad Arab Alhazred, who was purportedly a demonologist.  Could the demons be connected to the Great Old Ones?  Is this a separate deific scale to worry about in the Lovecraftian ethos?

 

What do you think?


Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Moon-Bog

Here is another connecting thread, assuming that Lovecraft meant to have his stories in the same world (which I tend to think he did).

The story follows our nameless narrator as he treads to Ireland to join his friend at his new estate in Kilderry.  Denys Berry wants to drain a bog next to his mansion (dare I say castle?  Our narrator does stay in a tower, and this would feed into a much more gothic scene.), but the locals are worried about something, and they leave when he mentions his plans.  Eventually we have some very strange happenings, and virtually everyone dies, with the exception of our narrator.

There are a few interesting connectors in this story.  The narrator makes mention of Grecian architecture buried in the bog.  Again we have this marbleized Greek architecture which has now shown up in many tales.  Does this have a connection?  Were the Greeks and Romans influenced by the Great Old Ones?  Were in fact (in the Lovecraft world) the Greek and Roman gods the Cthulhu pantheon?  Was that how they had so much power and stretched their influence all the way up to the Germanic tribes of the British Isles?

The second connector is the moon.  I haven’t seen the moon referenced for a while yet, however it is present here and is a determining factor (it’s even in the title!).  In past stories the moon was a location for some kind of deity that sent creatures down to earth (Think The Doom that came to Sarnath).  Could it be that the titular bog is actually a placeholder for the moon?  The action all happens under the moon light, and is gone in the light of day.  The only think we’re missing is the mysterious green light, that floats down from the moon, but that could be because of the Grecian influence.  The only time the green light flows down was in the North Americas which were beyond the Grecian influence.  Hopefully we’ll get some light (see what I did there?) shown on this in future stories.

What do you think?

Join me next Tuesday for a Blind Read of “The Hound”


Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Temple

Sorry for being late with this installment of the Blind Reads.  I’m back on schedule so you can expect another one coming tomorrow!

This story, at first glance, seems like a fairly innocuous and straight forward horror story (for as much as Lovecraft has straightforward stories, that is).  In fact there is a Twilight Zone episode (aired in 1963, this was, for me, the scariest of the Twilight Zone episodes.  Check it out here:  http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5rouxl

The basic premise is that a German u-boat takes down a British ship, then submerge.  When they come back up, they find that (supposedly) one of the crewmen is dead and clenched onto the submarine.  When they extricate him from the metal railing, they find that he has a marble statue, which they take.  Then while they are throwing the body over the edge, a few of the sailors swear that the dead body opens his eyes.  Then, another sailor swears that he swam away instead of just sinking.

The crew goes on and they all start to see and hear things that makes them go a little crazy.  The submarine eventually has problems and sinks, seemingly surrounded by dolphins.  Those dolphins follow them down to depths not known for dolphins, and as they sink the crew starts a mutiny.  Eventually it is just the narrator and one other, and the other holds onto the marble statue and eventually goes crazy.  He tells our narrator that he wants them to join him.  The last of the crew leaves the submarine, far too low beneath the waters to live and kills himself.  We think.  Then as the submarine slides deeper into the waters, there is an Atlantean civilization there, complete with a temple that has the same face as the marble statue.

This is obviously a massive abridgment, but I wanted to get a few ideas out.  The first is that of the marble statue.  I have now read about marble and it’s use as channeling some otherworldly being in a few of these stories.  It does not seem coincidental that the statue that corresponds to this buried temple is made of marble.  The second is the city itself.  We have a possible Atlantis in the world of Lovecraft, and because of the marble connection, this ties into the story, “The Tree”.  Atlantis is an ancient city buried under the water, which would go along with the idea of the Great Old Ones being buried in the earth.  This was probably a civilization that worshiped the Great Old Ones, and for some reason it was buried.  Probably the same time that Cthulhu was put to rest in the earth.

Lastly we have these strange dolphins.  I normally would have thought this just a strange story addition, but because of just reading “Arthur Jermyn” I think there may be more to this.  Could these strange dolphins who don’t seem bothered by the intense pressure of being that deep in the ocean, actually be the denizens of this Atlantis?  It seems to be so, because they seem to follow, during the story, but I would purport that they actually led U-29 to the city.

There is one more things that I cant quite figure, however.  At the beginning of the story, there is a script that says that this manuscript was found on the coast of the Yucatan.  There has to be meaning to this, because in every other story I’ve read Lovecraft just jumps into the story.  There is no explanation for the reason behind the story.  I have to think there is some significance to the Yucatan.  Does anyone have any insight?

Join me tomorrow for a Blind read of The Moon-Bog!

 


Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft Arthur Jermyn

This was a sad and tragic tale of the Jermyn lineage.  We start the story with the knowledge that the titular Arthur commits suicide.  This fact weighs on the reader and becomes the driving force behind the mystery of the story.

Throughout these blind reads, I have come to understand that there is a deep mystery in every one of Lovecraft’s stories.  Something terrible, otherworldly, or macabre lies at the heart of every story and through it’s telling the reader strives to understand this mystery.

This story is fairly straight forward, in that, we are reading to see what would make someone immolate themselves.

In the end, Arthur finds evidence that his great-great-great-grandfather traveled to the Congo and took a humanoid white ape as a concubine and Arthur is the descendant of this ape.

At the beginning of the story, our narrator tells us that everyone should do what Arthur did to himself if they found the same.  Where bestiality is repugnant, there seems to be something more going on here.

The civilization where Wade Jermyn (the ancestor) goes speaks of the White God and the ape-princess, which is obviously Wade and his concubine, but the great civilization was told (to Arthur by Mwanu) to house “hybrid-creatures”.

Could this be a sect of Outer God worshipers?  Or is this a culture built on interbreeding with apes, and Wade got caught up in the fervor of their culture?

My predilection is to think of the prior, because as horrible as it is that Arthur finds that he is descended from an ape, he is not a young man, and must know about his own soul.  I would think that even if it would lead to suicide (if for no other reason than to end the lineage), it might take a little longer.

The housekeepers heard a horrible scream once Arthur opened the box.  We assume as the reader that it must just be the mummified corpse of his great-great-great-grandapema, but at the beginning of the story the narrator tells us that there is an object.  It is possible that Lovecraft is being coy and skirting around that it was a mummy, but there is also the peculiar golden locket which I believe holds the key.

When Arthur opens the box, it takes him a while to scream.  It is readily apparent by the appearance of the mummy that it is his ancestor, but it takes him a while to scream.  I think there must have been something leading to a cosmic horror discovery in the locket.  Maybe that there is something far more sinister that just the white ape in his lineage?

What do you think?

Join me on Halloween for a Blind Read of “The Temple”


Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The White Ship

Welcome back to another Blind Read.  This story is an interesting departure from the normal cannon.  I have read a little about Lovecraft’s religious leanings and understand him to basically be an Atheist, so that’s what makes this story so fascinating to me.

The story follows our nameless narrator who watches a lighthouse.  He sees a mysterious White Ship that sails in over the seas and seems to sail calmly, no matter the state of the ocean.  The narrator eventually walks out over the waters and joins the White Ship.  They sail past the horrible land of Xura “The Land of Pleasures un-attained”, and they continue to follow the “bird of heaven” which takes them to the wonderful Sona-Nyl.  This is a land where everything is beautiful and wonderful and everyone is happy.

The narrator driven by curiosity and tells the crew that he want’s to visit a land he heard of in Sona-Nyl.  The Land of Cathuria.  He convinces them to take him there, and as they sail out of Sona-Nyl, they run into a horrible storm and the ship crashes.  The narrator finds himself back at the lighthouse and finds a mysterious dead bird on the shore and for the rest of his time, he never sees the White Ship again.

This story is obviously about humanity and the afterlife.  We have our narrator who has died, and walks upon the waters to join the crew of the White Ship.  They sail past Hell, because that is not where he belongs, but follow the “bird of heaven” to the actual Heaven.  A place where everyone is content and happy and there is no strife.

But there is a curiosity in Human Nature that drives us for understanding.  I think this hits home more in Lovecraft than many people and I think that’s why he wrote the type of stories that he wrote.

The narrator wants to see this other land, so he coerces the crew to take him, and though they know what will happen, they agree.  They sail away from Sona-Nyl and reject it and he is returned to the real world never to see Sona-Nyl again.

Could this be Lovecraft’s veiled attempt at telling his story of the rejection of religion?  you can gather a glimpse of heaven, but it is sallow and thin.  There is more mystery in the world and to ignore it is to live in ignorance.  So Lovecraft is rejecting heaven to gain a darker understanding of our terrestrial world.

What do you think?

Join me Tomorrow for a Blind Read of “Arthur Jermyn”


Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; Dagon

Back for another Blind Read.  I am trying to keep honest to the Blind Reads and not do research on the side to gather connections, but if my memory serves me correct, Dagon is one of the lesser gods in the Lovecraft pantheon.  That makes this story very interesting to me because this story could have wide ranging implications for the building of the Mythos (or apparently as Lovecraft called it, Yog-Sothothery.  It was actually August Derleth that coined the phrase Cthulhu Mythos).

The story follows our narrator during WWI, as his ship was taken by a German sea-raider ship.  He escaped them and found his way to a strange, unknown of island in his dinghy.  As he explores the island, he finds a strange monolith with images carved that are humanoid, but fish-like.  They have webbed hands and feet, they have large eyes and large lips, and they are huge, nearly the size of a whale.

As he stands there one of these creatures comes out of the sea and hugs the monolith, then prays to it.

The narrator immediately thinks of Dagon, who is an ancient fish god.

What is provocative about this story is that there have been small connections in the past with figures like Nyarlathotep, which make a connection with our actual world.  The difference, however is that in every previous story I’ve read the characters in the stories are fictional, in a real setting.  This is an actual god that people have worshiped in the past, and here Lovecraft uses the same name and adopts it as his own.  Thus bringing his pantheon into our cultural reality.

There are two different ways to look at the story.  One is that the creature that comes out of the sea is a disciple of Dagon, and the monolith is what it prays to in supplication to Dagon.  This event keeps Dagon as a god, and now we have a race of cthonic creatures, whom live under the sea and live under Dagon’s rule.

The other way to read it (and this is what i believe Lovecraft intended) is that the creature that comes out of the sea IS Dagon.  This is a much more horrific idea.  This means that this creature, which made the narrators mind break (“I think I went mad then”) at the mere sight of it, is actually supplicating to something more than itself.  So this creature which in our real life mythology is considered a god, has a being so much more powerful than it (Cthulhu himself?) that it prays through the form of the monolith.

What do YOU think?

Join me next Tuesday for another blind read of “The White Ship”.


Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Lurking Fear

Here, we jump into a story that at first glace seems to be traditional horror fare from Lovecraft.  We have our monster hunter/ ghost hunter narrator (who is made to be unreliable because of his ambiguous motives.  He is surrounded by death, and every person he recruits to help him dies, or mysteriously dispersal, but yet he soldiers on, for reasons unknown) who is seeking out his “Lurking Fear” whom he thinks is using an the old Martense Mansion as it’s diabolical abode.

He hires some muscle, whom he has been with before on different cases.  And they go to the Mansion.  While sleeping there, they disappear.  Then he hires another man, and while they look out into the forest, the helper stands at the window and is unresponsive.  When our narrator shakes him, thinking him asleep, he discovers that something ate his face off whilst he looked out the window.

Then our narrator is convinced that the perpetrator is the ghost of one of the previous residents of the Mansion, Jan Martense, whom supposedly died by lightning strike.  Our narrator finds nothing during his exhumation except for ashes.  But he does find a passageway, some deep tunnel that he sees a horrible paw of some unknown creature.

During this time there is another storm and a shack is burned to the ground.  The squatters who lived there tell our narrator that a creature burned up in the shack and it had one victim.  Searching the ashes, our narrator finds the squatter victim, and what looks like a human skull.  Curious.

He goes back to the Mansion, and during another Thunder storm, he finds a tunnel, at the base of the chimney, and while he is standing there, hundreds and thousands of these creatures come out, some with tentacles, or just what look like tentacles.  He shoots one as they exit and finds that they have the same genetic mis-colored eyes of the Martense’s.

Seems like a normal monster story, but then when we dig deeper we find that it is indeed a cosmic horror story.

The first an most obvious connection is the tentacles.  This is a Lovecraftican trope, and though I haven’t seen it too much in his stories, the image of Cthulhu is enough.

The second is the fact that the monsters are Cthonic (meaning dwelling underground.  Funny how that and Cthulhu are so similar, no?).  The Elder Gods are buried in the earth and they await being awakened, so it bears to reason that their followers would dwell under the ground.

The final connection is in the lightning and thunder.  Something that connects the heavens to the earth.  The Outer Gods and the Elder Gods communicating…Or even coming to earth?

What makes all this so interesting is that, in the story, the creatures don’t begin to appear until Jan Martense is supposedly struck down by lightning.  Could this be a ritual that the Martense clan had found?  Did their ritual call down the lightning and thunder and transform their brood?

Provocative and fun stuff.

Join me on Thursday for a Blind Read Through of “Dagon” and let me know what you think!


Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; Imprisoned with the Pharaohs

This was the last story in the Del Rey edition of The Doom That Came to Sarnath, and it was a surprising one.  There is a disclaimer on the first page that this story was written in conjunction with Harry Houdini, and what makes that so intriguing is that now we finally have a face for a narrator.

The story begins innocuously enough, with Houdini and his wife exploring Cairo, but progressively getting more and more bored with the watering down of the Egyptian culture in the tourism culture (this story takes place in 1910…it’s good to know that things don’t change).  They find a new guide, a man named Abdul Reis el Drogman, and immediately his moniker, and thus his plausibility is called into question. “Reis” is apparently a name for someone in power.  “Drogman” is apparently a “clumsy modification” of the name for the leader of the tourist parties “Dragoman”.  He also looks suspiciously like a Pharaoh (This in and of itself is suspicious.  How does one look like a Pharaoh?  This is just Lovecraft’s clumsy, whimsical, and adorable foreshadowing).

They go around town and go on a few adventures, then they make mention that they don’t trust magic.  That that has been cast down as evil.  So a group of Arabs tie Houdini up (presumably to see if he can escape) and throw him down into a tomb.

Thus far this has been the longest of the stories that I’ve gone through the blind read.  Throughout this story, nothing untoward had happened, and even when they throw him down the tomb, there are some strange happenings, but Houdini is in and out of consciousness, so there is a little call to unreliable narrator.  Then Lovecraft comes in full force, and we see more of the creatures that Lovecraft is so known for in the last few pages.  We also see one huge deity, of which we only see one single paw.

This goes along with the whole cannon of Lovecraft, I’m not sure exactly where this deity fits in yet, but it is a Cthonic creature, which follows with the established world.

This story also gives a certain credence to Lovecrafts mythos, because now it is the famous Harry Houdini who is experiencing the cosmic horror, even though the very last line, denies such experiences, by telling the audience that it was only a dream.  Oddly enough this is the one story that I truly believe the narrator experienced it, specifically because he presupposes that it was a dream.

Join me again next Tuesday as I start doing a Blind Read of The Lurking Fear, also by Del Rey.  We’ll jump right into the story “The Lurking Fear”


Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; In the Walls of Eryx

This was such a spectacular escape from the classic Lovecraftian stories.  This is a Science Fiction/Horror story, that deals all together with the concepts of despair, fear and claustrophobia.  This is also the first story in which the narrator actually dies in the story.  There is very little to connect with the cannon in the narrative, but it is totally worth it.  The only possible connection would be the main residents of Venus (where the story takes place), which are reptilian creatures with tentacles.  These could be a form of a descendant of one of the Elder Gods.

The story follows our narrator, Kenton Stanfield, as he is on a quest to find a crystal on the surface of Venus.  He travels through a jungle and eventually gets through it, and in a big open marsh he sees a body with the crystal he is looking for. When he approaches the body he finds an invisible wall.  Eventually he finds his way past the wall and gets the crystal from the body, only to find that it wasn’t a wall at all, but an invisible labyrinth.

The rest of the story is a psychological profile in fear, and a brilliant one at that.  If you have no interest in Lovecraft, this is the story for you to read, and if you love Lovecraft, then you must devour it!