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The Power of Imagination

In a time of such division.  A time where people across the world are scared of terrorists.  A time where people don’t trust and fear their leaders.  A time when we seem to be moving apart from one another instead of moving closer to each other.  A time where fear is perceived to be more prevalent than love.

There is hope.

We as a people go through waves and there are always troughs as much as there are peaks.  You can see it in the way the cultural perspective has shifted.

The popular things now are reality TV, minimalistic music based around repetitive beats and repetitive lyrics, poorly written books meant to shock or entice.

We have weaved ourselves into a trough of apathy and complacency, where we let others tell us what to do or think and our entertainment is not there to entertain, but to anesthetize.

But out of the malaise comes art of quality.

Small at first.  A book here.  A movie there.  A song.  A painting.  A TV show.

Something that comes along that makes us think again.  That makes us wonder.  That makes us hope.

They come from the strangest places.  Disney’s Wall-E.  Bad Robot’s Star Trek.  Netflix’s Stranger Things.

You might be thinking what does this have to do with where the country is?  What does this have do with us as a people?

It’s about the power of Imagination (with a big I).  We as a species have separate processing systems in our brain.  One processes logic and the other processes creativity.  The creative part of your brain controls your emotions.  It follows that when you feel fear or hopelessness you have an absence of creativity.

The more imagination we develop, the more we will be able to process, the less we’ll fear; the more we will hope and dream.

Art leads the world.  Star Trek had one of the first interracial couples (and many of the first inter species couples). Star Wars ended the gritty anti hero hate that was brewed during the Cold War.

We went through such a boon in the 90’s that we couldn’t help but slip back.  The Cold War came to and end, Apartheid ended, the global economy was growing more than ever in history.

So we relaxed.  We let our imaginations grow cobwebs.  But the more you see unique new shows.  The more unique new art you see.  The more intricate the lyrics of the music you listen too.  The better the writing of the books you read…

Know that the more and more good or great art you see and intake, the more and more the culture is shifting.  Our hope comes from our imagination, so lets be more childlike.  Lets go on adventures.  Lets fight more dragons.  Lets have more tea parties.  Lets Imagine.


Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Statement of Randolph Carter

Ignorance is the foundation for Evil.  Ignorance, not in derogatory terms, but in it’s definition; a lack of knowledge, is the cause of the greatest of all issues.

Welcome back to another Blind Read!  Today we’re tackling an introduction to Randolph Carter, in the short vignette, and we’re covering the nature of evil, and how in Lovecraft, it always seems as though a willed ignorance is the cause of much of the horror.

The Statement of Randolph Carter has our titular character telling officials of what happened to his friend Harley Warren.

It seems as though Mr. Warren delved into strange occult books.  He was fascinated with something, and kept digging deeper and deeper.  He searched the world for the book that would tell him what he was looking for, and eventually he found it.  Carter says that many of the books he is looking at are in Arabic, proving that he is looking for some ancient knowledge, but that the book that holds the secrets are in a language that Carter doesn’t understand.

Carter helps Warren carry equipment to a site, but when the open the tomb Warren turns to Carter, with confidence, and tells him that he is to stay there.  That Carter’s sensibilities are too soft to experience what is down in the catacombs of the tomb.

Warren heads down and clicks on a phone, so that he can communicate with Carter.  Warren eventually finds what he’s looking for, but realizes that he’s made a mistake.  Whatever it is that he was looking for is far worse, far more powerful, far more demented, than what he anticipated.  He screams and screams for Carter to run, that it’s too late for Warren to save himself, but Carter could get out.

Carter promises to save Warren, but cant bring himself to go down into the tomb.  Eventually he hears a voice that tells carter “You fool.  Warren is dead!”

I’ll get to the idea of ignorance, but first there is something that has been happening in quite a few Lovecraft stories which had been bothering me; in many of the stories, the narrator of the story passes out from fear before they get a glimpse of the true horror that is coming for them.  Why is it that these Elder creatures and beasts are letting these people live?  They come upon them, helpless, but they always let them go to tell their story.  This is useful for Lovecraft to tell his tales, but is there a thematic reason for this benevolence?

I think there may be more to it.  How else could all these old books like The Necronomicon be written?  The knowledge had to have been obtained for the first time somehow.  Could it be that the Elder Gods allowed some man to write down this knowledge?  Or could it be that they want the knowledge to get out?

There is another possibility…do they have a moral code?  I have always assumed that the Elder Gods have a chaotic nature, but do they not attack people that don’t wish to delve into their secrets?  Do they stop their rampage when they find something helpless?  Are they like the Predator?  An alien creature who is a hunter, who never kills when the prey is helpless?  There seems to be some credence to this theory.

So if the Elder Gods are indeed this way, then why would anyone strive to find their secrets?  Is it just curiosity?  Power?  Which brings me to my next point.  It seems like the cause of much of the issues that begin in Lovecraft, happens when ignorance takes over.

These brash adventurers, who with to go after this forbidden knowledge, are in fact ignorant of what the knowledge they seek really means.  In every story these men find these books and seek their knowledge.  What we infer is that these men see that there is hidden power or knowledge and that’s where they stop.  It is their ignorance of what is actually going on that causes their deaths.

So are the Elder Gods actually evil?  Or are they only trying to stop the ignorant from accessing knowledge (like strange angles that will enable you to travel to another dimension), that they are not ready for?

What do you think?


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 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 Crawling Chaos

This was a fairly early iteration of Lovecraft’s work, and a clear indication of the direction that he intended to go in the Dream-Cycle.  This is a collaboration, so it is a bit of a stretch from Lovecraft’s other work, and frankly, not nearly as precise and put together.  The language is pulled together with cheap word positioning (“the doomed shack”.  The only reason doomed is used here is to give the story a creepier effect, when in reality, it shouldn’t have been written as a creepy story, but as a cosmic horror story because the whole planet is doomed) and a rambling tone, when on close inspection of Lovecraft’s other works, he tends to have loose meaning and trite verbiage, but it is precise.  Where it isn’t in this story.

Basically we follow the narrator into a cosmic horror dream.  The use of Opium is prevalent, though the narrator says that this experience is neither an Opium dream, nor a fever dream.  He goes on a cosmic journey, meeting gods and leaving the earth, only to find that there is a cosmic event that has destroyed the world.

The plot line is a Lovecraftian story, but what is absent is all the beautiful references, and subtleties.  From the preface of the story Lovecraft thought highly of Winifred Jackson who this story is based on, but I fear that his collaboration with Elizabeth Berkeley sapped the story of it’s needed umph.

Join me tomorrow for a Blind Read through of “The Walls of Eryx”, another collaboration.


Blind read through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Nameless City

This one is a pure horror story.  This reminds me of the times my friends and I sat around and played the table top game.

The story follows a narrator through Egypt to explore and he comes across the nameless city.  A city whose inhabitants seemed to be some prehistoric creatures that were part man and part reptile.  Our narrator finds a tunnel and happens upon some kind of deeper creature sleeping within the earth.

The absolute best part of horror, is the fear of the unknown.  There are things in the world which we can even fathom and what makes Lovecraft so amazing is that he tunes into this with his Chthonic Deities and their followers.

Best line in the story?  “To convey any idea of these monstrosities is impossible.”

And even though he gives a semblance of a description right after this, it still hits the fear meter.

We are also reintroduced to the Mad Arab who wrote the Necronomicon off the horrible experiences he had in places similar to this.

We are left with the wonderful, famous, Lovecraft line from the Necronomicon:

That is not dead which can eternal lie,

And with strange aeons even death may die.

Lovecraft is also a precursor to all the modern day Urban fantasy, with his first person narrators who are describing these strange happenings, with their own voice.  If you notice every Lovecraft narrator is invariably, Lovecraft.  His discernible prose streams through each narrator’s tome, and what makes it work is the absolute weirdness and uniqueness of the tales.

Join me tomorrow for a blind read through of “The Quest of Iranon”


Blind Read Through; H.P. Lovecraft, The Doom That Came to Sarnath

This was the first story from the “Dunsany” period and probably the first iteration of his eventual shift into the Cosmic Horror genre.  Published in 1919 (full of mis-spellings and embellishments), this story tells of the city of Sarnath in the land of Mnar.  Sarnath was built next to a river, near the Ancient City of Ib.  The city of Ib, as we find out from the extremely old and archaic writings on brick walls of another ancient city and parchments, is housed by strange beings, who are green and have a green halo, and bulging eyes and flabby lips.  These beings are mute and supposedly descended through this green mist (which occasionally also surrounds the moon) from the moon to create the city of Ib next to the still green lake.

The primitive warriors of Sarnath decide that they hate the minions of Ib because they are disturbing looking and worship Bokrug, a water lizard.  They kill all the creatures of Ib and push them into the lake.  They destroy the city of Ib, and keep only the green statue of Bokrug.  Soon the high priest of Sarnath (Taran-Ish) dies, with an expression of great horror and writes on the sea-green stone idol of Bokrug the word…DOOM.

The city moves on and goes through decades of prosperity, mining out precious stones and living richly, until one day, during a ceremony commemorating the destruction of Ib, a mist floats down from the moon to the still lake, and green creatures come forth and destroy Sarnath.

Lovecraft is obviously describing Inuit’s when he talks about Sarnath and it’s peoples.  The land of Mnar, has some Norse inclinations as well.  The reason I say this is because the green haze must indicate the Northern Lights, which seem to emanate from the heavens and descend upon earth.  Then at the end of the story Aryan men go to view the ruins of Sarnath (showing Lovecraft’s prejudices, since they were the only people on earth with enough courage to view the ruins), indicating that it is a different location than Europe.

The story attempts to pull its horror from the fear of religion and the bible once again, and I’ll be curious to see if that is indicative of all the Dunsany stories, or if it’s a theme throughout.  The Ultimate story is a combination of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Babel themes, mixed in with a little Old Testament, good old, God fearing idol worship.  The people of Sarnath are being punished for their worship of a false god and their love and lust of the material, and then the Ancient Ones come back for retribution with their strange descendants, the creatures of Ib.

Because this is a blind read through and I haven’t read any Lovecraft before I dont know if Bokrug is part of the mythos cycle of Gods, but I would probably argue that it should be at least a lesser god.

For purposes of categorization, Bokrug will be a lesser god, based in Greenland area.  We’ll see if that has any bearing on the future stories.


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

I finished this story and my first response was…What was that?  This story is from his Dunsanian period, which I assumed to mean part of a otherworldly mien.  This extremely innocuous, and seemingly disparate narrative focuses on two artists who are commissioned to create a marble sculpture of Tyche, the Grecian Goddess who governed prosperity and fortune of a city.  One of the sculptors, Kalos, dies and asks to be buried with two olive branches by his head.  The other sculptor, Musides, is his best friend and complies.  Musides continues working on the sculpture, and eventually finishes as a tree grows from the grave site of Kalos.  The tree looks like a man. When the Grecians come to get the sculpture and give accolades to Musides, they find the house destroyed, the tree’s roots grown into the house and no sign of the sculpture or Musides.  The narrator tells us that in the boughs of the olive grove one can still hear whispers that say “I know, I know.”

That’s the story.  In it’s entirety.  It took me about an hour of rumination to come up with what it truly means.

In the first paragraph the narrator tells us that the grove is thought of as belonging to Pan, the Greek god of mischief.  Which would make sense since strange happenings go on there.  Then at the end of the paragraph, he tells us that he hears a different story.  This is where the Dunsany influence comes in, and why the story is truly Lovecraftian.

Kalos is said to speak to the creatures of the forest, in his Olive grove, and when he dies he asks for two olive branches to be put by his head.  Lovecraft was atheistic, but religion seeped into his writings because he thought that was the ultimate horror.  So the two olive branches indicate knowledge of the Gods and creation of a church. The creation of the Church was the tree that looked like a man, and the olive branches next to his head meant that Kalos was given the knowledge of the Gods as the branches grew through his head.  However it was thought that the god of the grove was Pan, but we are told that was not correct.  Kalos was given sight of the Great Old Ones.

Musides goes to finish his creation there, but in reality he comes to the realization of Kalos, because of the whispering of the tree.  The Great Old Ones are upset with his creation of a “graven image of another deity” in Tyche, so they destroy the house.

The whispering of “I know, I know” is not a comfort of one spirit of a friend to another, as I originally thought (I mean come on, this is Lovecraft, after all), but of knowledge.  Kalos is whispering to the world of the horrible knowledge of the Elder Gods he gained by communion in the olive grove.  The tree is Kalos ascended with that knowledge and he whispers in torment in his jail that is a tree in the shape of a man.

“I know, I know”


The Drifter

Today in honor of finishing one of my books which is based upon poetry, I’m submitting some poetry of my own.  I wrote this one a few years ago, but I never published it here. Enjoy!

Driftwood finds it’s way to sand, how is it that it’s so hard for me to find land?

and this state of constant wonder, leads me divided; torn asunder

in this horrid devil’s playground in my head…

My fingers tell the story, of the broken trumped up glory

when my mind refused to listen, drowned out by broken pistons

the silence beating louder than my heart…

 

The darkened frozen night glows, and the turgid sky just bellows

of my time examining seams, on the boulevard of broken dreams

as words flow down as kindling for my hearth…

 

But those wounds of empty pages, who speak louder than the ages

as the clock runs down to zero, I’m not a battered, broken hero,

just a man who wont give up until he wins…