Lovers come and go

December 4, 2019

I read that, compared to men, women are lousy at math. Who needs math anyway? Women just need each other and that adds up to more than enough. A good relationship doesn’t carry exact change —someone always gets the short end. You can have Brad and I’ll take Angelina. I’m sure she has a wicked tongue to go with those luscious lips. Yeah, to hell with math.

Salinas, California is a shithole. Its only claim to fame is that it’s the birthplace of that misogynist bastard, Steinbeck. He wouldn’t recognize the place now — gang-infested, shitty schools. They call it the Salad Bowl because of all the vegetables grown there. It’s a bowl of something, that’s for sure. Anyway, every fibre in my body wants to live in the Bay area — but I live in Salinas. I manage a women’s clothing store at the mall and that’s where I met Marci. She manages an Orange Julius at the food court.

Before the breakup, Marci and I shared a tiny apartment. Lovers come and go — variety is the spice, yet I have to admit when Marci left, it fucked me up. I brought her out. She was easy to be with, smart, pretty, and she quickly learned all my favourite tricks. Anyway, it’s hard to live an alternative lifestyle in a shithole like Salinas. Dykes hardly ever come out here. You just sort of stay in and hope nobody finds out.

Ty Spencer Vossler
Ruby Tuesday

the Lovecraft Circle

December 4, 2019

Lovecraft’s work was kept alive not just in the stories he told, but in the growing shared universe that was created in his wake. August Derleth, Lin Carter, Donald Wandrei, and many others promoted and reprinted Lovecraft even as they contributed to a flourishing corpus of tales inspired by his writings. Lovecraft’s coalescing legend was foundational in the creation of the publishing company Arkham House, and grew beyond that as more writers discovered his work, its variegated offspring, and the laudatory missives of the Lovecraft Circle. In those early years, not only was Lovecraft’s work being gathered and codified, it was explicitly put forth as a storyworld that could be reworked and imitated, one with greater depths and literary potential than its pulp beginnings could contain.

It is this conceit, this intertwined shift in both reading protocols and in textual refashioning, that elevates the Lovecraftian corpus to a more significant and interpretable level. His stories are no longer “mere” pulp or obscure, tortured prose; they are rich in fantastical possibility and contain themes that are construed as uncomplicated, powerful,  and reproducible, simplified in the Mythos by Derleth and able to be reused as individual creators saw fit. “Cthulhu Mythos” became a shorthand not just for such borrowings but for a discrete subgenre of horror/fantasy fusion literature that expanded over time.

John H. Stevens
The Improbable, Inevitable Domestication of the Great Old Ones: HP Lovecraft’s Iconic Influence on 21st-Century Fantastic Literature and Culture

the occult

December 4, 2019

A major component of cosmic horror in general, and of Lovecraft’s work in particular, is the element of the occult. In many ways, Lovecraft’s occult aspects are true to the origins of the word: much of what various characters in his stories seek is that which remains hidden or concealed from view. By uncovering and practicing secret rituals and speaking ancient words, these characters reveal powerful knowledge and cosmic truths, both awesome and terrifying in their implications and scope. For decades, scholars have explored Lovecraft’s real-life connections to the occult, based on his fiction, his correspondence, and his personal life, in order to unravel whether he had some truly esoteric link to realms beyond ours, or was simply an imaginative dreamer from Providence. He may very well have been a little of both.

Lovecraft’s correspondence with others in his circle of friends suggests that, while he was well-read on the subject, he was not a personal practitioner of magick. Much of his knowledge of the occult seems to have come from books on European witchcraft, written by people outside those witch-groups and coloured by the perceptions of non-Christian religions during his time, as well as colonial American witchcraft, as described by witch hunters of Salem like Cotton Mather. Some of these latter sources contain alleged accounts from accused witches, although the credibility and interpretation of such accounts would necessarily be, at best, somewhat questionable. A movement toward freer expression of religion in the 1970s has given us some insight, however, into magickal systems. We have come to see that while some of the details of actual occult practice, both modern and traditional, are often misrepresented in Lovecraft’s work, there is much that Lovecraft incorporates that is, surprisingly, close enough to give actual practitioners pause. An examination of the specific words used by Lovecraft suggests that he was not intimately aware of actual occult practices for raising demons or demonic gods, since his language in the rituals more closely resembles protective spells, which include the invocation of various names of the Judao-Christian God (or slightly altered versions of those names), such as Hel, Heloym, Emmanvel, Tetragrammaton, and Iehova, as well as names of archangels, such as Sother and Saboth, referenced in “The Horror at Red Hook.” These names are generally used in protective sigils by practitioners of magick against entities summoned against their will for service or information. Such usage would seem counterproductive in the raising of those entities themselves. Further, in “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” his titular character references elementals (sylphs, gnomes, and salamanders) in one of his invocations, which is suggestive of pagan worship rather than anything satanic. However, many aspects of the rituals, such as the drawing of protective circles,  the directions in which said circles lie, the placement of candles, and certain substances used,  are more or less accurately portrayed.  Furthermore, Lovecraft’s incorporation of geometry into magick (such as in “Dreams in the Witch House”) is a notion that has been historically present in magick systems for ages.

Mary SanGiovanni
Lovecraft and the Occult