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Posts tagged “#egypt

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: Nyarlathotep/Ex Oblivione

I bring you two more vignettes of Lovecraft in this weeks Blind Read through.  These two stories seem to be divergent from the cannon as it has been presented, but give an interesting new facet to how the horror in his stories is presented.

In “Nyarlathotep”, we see what I have to think of as a Outer God.  He is called the crawling chaos in the first sentence of the story, and that comes to full fruition at the end.  Nyarlathotep is seemingly a man who came from Egypt.  He is large and dark and mysterious and is described as looking like a Pharaoh.  He holds shows to garner followers, and these shows are filled with strange and marvelous things, which bring people from far and wide to find out what he is going to do next.  There is a underlying malevolence in everything Nyarlathotep does, then eventually (when the greenish light of the moon comes about) these people are led to a location where it becomes apparent that they are being led to slaughter.  Their souls are being consumed by a a large miasma of creeping energy, and where Lovecraft doesn’t tell us that this is indeed Nyarlathotep, it is heavily inferred.  He has transcended his corporeal form to his godlike “creeping chaos” form and consumes his followers for strength.

The starting point of Egypt is interesting, because everything I’ve read thus far has surrounded the cold north, with it’s northern lights and frozen tundras.  Now we get to see the far reaching grasp of the Outer Gods (or Old God, not really sure which he is yet).  Could they, in Lovecraft’s world, be part of the creation of the Pyramids?  Could they have given humans portions of their terrible knowledge, and secretly build these structures to their benefit?  It’s a provocative concept.  I recognize Nyarlathotep’s name, so I look forward to reading more about him (It?) in later stories, as I’m pretty sure this is it’s first iteration.

In “Ex Oblivione”, we catch a decidedly different and much more Poe-like side of Lovecraft.  We come across a narrator who is at the end of his life (I’m assuming disease is a factor here, partially because the narrator is cavalier about his Opiate use), and he hears something call to him, so he goes to see what it possibly is.  He takes his opiates (more than likely Opium or Laudanum, as I’m not sure if Heroin was around yet), and goes into a dream world within the horrible twisted, swampy grove he rests in.  In this dream world he finds a city and within the city he finds a papyrus that tells him to take a drug and that will help him transcend his existence to another world.  He takes this drug and happily leave behind the “daemon world”.

There are elements in this story that correlate to others, and even Nyarlathotep, but to me this is about a man who is in terrible pain from a disease and he begins to take Opiates for the pain.  The Opiates do what opiates do, and eventually alter his perception.  He thinks that he is transcending, but in reality he is overdosing, and riding the wave of drug to his imaginary Oblivion.  Though this is a blind read and I haven’t read other than these stories of Lovecraft, nearly every story that involves the horrors of his Mythos, that Green hazy light is present, floating or permeating from the moon.  It is conspicuously absent form this story, ;leading me to believe that this is a horror story about a tortured soul.

I’ll return with a blind read of “The Cats of Ulthar”, one of his supposedly literary fantasy stories (by his own description).