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This nOde last updated February 20th, 2005 and is permanently morphing...
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"All life is only a set of pictures in the brain, among which there is no difference betwixt those born of real things and those born of inward dreamings, and no cause to value the one above the other."
- H.P. Lovecraft
As a marginally popular writer working in the literary equivalent of the gutter, Lovecraft received no serious attention during his lifetime. But while most 1930s pulp fiction is nearly unreadable today, Lovecraft continues to attract attention. In France and Japan, his tales of cosmic fungi, degenerate cults and seriously bad dreams are recognized as works of bent genius, and the celebrated French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari praise his radical embrace of multiplicity in their magnum opus A _Thousand Plateaus_. On Anglo-American turf, a passionate cabal of critics fill journals like _Lovecraft_ Studies and _Crypt of Cthulhu_ with their almost talmudic research. Meanwhile both hacks and gifted disciples continue to craft stories that elaborate the Cthulhu Mythos. There's even a Lovecraft convention—the NecronomiCon, named for the most famous of his forbidden grimoires. Like the gnosticscience fiction writer Philip K. Dick, H.P. Lovecraft is the epitome of a cult author.
Magical realism already denotes a strain of Latin
American fiction exemplified by Borges,
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Isabel Allendein which a fantastic dreamlike
logic melds seamlessly and delightfully with the rhythms of the everyday.
Realism is far more dark and convulsive, as ancient and amoral forces
violently puncture the realistic surface of his tales. Lovecraft constructs
and then collapses a number of intense
polarities between realism and fantasy,
book and dream, reason and its chaotic Other. By playing out these tensions in his writing, Lovecraft also reflects the transformations that darkside occultism has undergone as it confronts modernity in such forms as psychology, quantum physics, and the existential groundlessness of being. And by embedding all this in an intertextual Mythos of profound depth, he draws the reader into the chaos that lies "between the worlds" of magick and reality.
Lovecraft himself "collectivized" and deepened his Mythos by encouraging his friends to write stories that take place within it. Writers like Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Howard, and a young Robert Bloch complied. After Lovecraft's death, August Derleth carried on this tradition with great devotion, and today, dozens continue to write Lovecraftian tales.
From the perspective of hyperspace, our normal, three-dimensional spaces are exhausted and insufficient constructs. But our incapacity to vividly imagine this new dimension in humanist terms creates a crisis of representation, a crisis which for Lovecraft calls up our most ancient fears of the unknown. "All the objects...were totally beyond description or even comprehension," Lovecraft writes of Gilman's seething nightmare before paradoxically proceeding to describe these horrible objects. In his descriptions, Lovecraft emphasizes the incommensurability of this space through almost non-sensical juxtapositions like "obscene angles" or "wrong" geometry, a rhetorical technique that one Chaos magician calls "Semiotic Angularity."
In this sense Lovecraft's magickal authority is nothing more or less than the authority of dream. But what kind of dream tales are these? A Freudian could have a field day with Lovecraft's fecund, squishy sea monsters, and a Jungian analyst might recognize the liniments of the proverbial shadow.
But Lovecraft's Shadow is so inky it swallows the standard archetypes of the collective unconscious like a black hole. If we see the archetypal world not as a static storehouse of timeless godforms but as a constantly mutating carnival of figures, then the seething extraterrestrial monsters that Lovecraft glimpsed in the chaos of hyperspace are not so much archaic figures of heredity than the avatars of a new psychological and mythic aeon. At the very least, it would seem that things are getting mighty out of hand beyond the magic circle of the ordered daylight mind.
In an intriguing Internet document devoted to the Necronomicon, Tyagi Nagasiva places Lovecraft's potent dreamtales within the terma tradition found in the Nyingma branch of Tibetan Buddhism. Termas were "pre-mature" writings hidden by Buddhist sages for centuries until the time was ripe, at which point religious visionaries would divine their physical hiding places through omens or dreams. But some termas were revealed entirely in dreams, often couched in otherworldly Dakini scripts. An old Indian revisionary tactic (the second-century Nagarjuna was said to have discovered his Mahayana masterpieces in the serpent realm of the nagas), the terma game resolves the religious problem of how to alter a tradition without disrupting traditional authority. The famous Tibetan Book of the Dead is a terma, and so, perhaps, is the Necronomicon.
Of course, for Chaos magicians, reality can coherently present itself through any number of self-sustaining but mutually contradictory symbolic paradigms (or "reality tunnels," in Robert Anton Wilson's memorable phrase). Nothing is true and everything is permitted. By emphasizing the self-fulfilling nature of all reality claims, this postmodern perspective creatively erodes the distinction between legitimate esoteric transmission and total fiction.
Lovecraft thus solidifies his virtual reality by adding autobiographical elements to his shared world of creatures, books and maps. He also constructs a documentary texture by thickening his tales with manuscripts, newspaper clippings, scholarly citations, diary entries, letters, and bibliographies that list fake books alongside real classics. All this produces the sense that "outside" each individual tale lies a meta-fictional world that hovers on the edge of our own, a world that, like the monsters themselves, is constantly trying to break through and actualize itself. And thanks to Mythos storytellers, role-playing games, and dark-side magicians, it has.
In _Foucault's Pendulum_, Umberto Eco suggests that esoteric truth is perhaps nothing more than a semiotic conspiracy theory born of an endlessly rehashed and self-referential literature the intertextual fabric Lovecraft understood so well. For those who need to ground their profound states of consciousness in objective correlatives, this is a damning indictment of "tradition." But as Chaos magicians remind us, magic is nothing more than subjective experience interacting with an internally consistent matrix of signs and affects. In the absence of orthodoxy, all we have is the dynamic tantra of text and perception, of reading and dream. These days the Great Work may be nothing more or less than this "ingenius game," fabricating itself without closure or rest, weaving itself out of the resplendent void where Azathoth writhes on his Mandelbrot throne.
- Erik Davis - _Calling Cthulu_
There has been some speculation that Lovecraft believed what he wrote to be true on some level, due to his descriptive dreams of "abductions" by beings he referred to as "night-gaunts," winged, reptilian humanoids without facial features who sound suspiciously similar to the Galatur or Gala of the Sumerian KI-GAL. His fiction, he believed, was in some way influenced by "revelations" he received during these "dream-abductions," which is a very familiar story to those who study the modern "UFO Abduction" phenomenon.
- _The Deep Dwellers_ by William Michael Mott
Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?
H.P. Lovecraft: They say
my head has been cut off, but the blind fools will soon know the eldritch
horror of the abominable Pukpuklathop who froths with loathsome ecstacy
the NOW OPENED PORTALS TO THE OTHER SIDE!!!
episode _Professor Peabody's Last Lecture_ (vhs/ntsc) from _Night Gallery_ hosted by Rod Serling
psychedelic entity H.P. Lovecraft (ca. 1967-1969)
LINER NOTES FOR H.P. LOVECRAFT'S H.P. LOVECRAFT/H.P. LOVECRAFT II
By Richie Unterberger
Like the stories of the author after whom they were named, H.P. Lovecraft's music was spooky and mysterious, a vibe well-suited for the psychedelic times when their two albums were released in 1967 and 1968. Their remarkably eclectic balance of folk, jazz, orchestrated pop, and even bits of garage rock and classical music, was too fragile and ethereal to keep afloat for any longer than that, perhaps. It lasted long enough, however, for the group to gift us with two uneven, occasionally brilliant albums that are among the most intriguing obscure relics of the psychedelic age.
The band's none-too-stable personnel were about as diverse as could be in the milieu of 1967 Chicago, not a city known for hatching top-flight psychedelic outfits. Guitarist George Edwards, the leader of H.P. Lovecraft if anyone was, had been a folkie in the early 1960s, entering the rock scene in the mid-1960s on the Windy City's Dunwich label. He cut a single of the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood," as well as a cover (not issued until the early 1970s) of Bob Dylan's "Quit Your Low Down Ways" with Steve Miller on guitar. He also sang backing vocals on a couple of Shadows of Knight hits, yet by late 1966 was playing in a lounge jazz trio at a local Holiday Inn.
That experience did not go to waste, however, as another member of that trio was classically trained keyboardist and singer Dave Michaels. Michaels would sing backup vocals on the early 1967 single that served as H.P. Lovecraft's debut release, "Anyway That You Want Me"/"It's All Over for You" (added to this CD as bonus tracks). Essentially a vehicle for Edwards, the A-side was a fair pop-rock tune by Chip "Wild Thing" Taylor (which was a hit in the UK for the Troggs). The Edwards original on the flip was actually a solo outtake from 1966, sounding like a raw folk-rock derivation of Dylan's "It's All Over Now Baby Blue." Edwards and Michaels, however, determined to form a more permanent and ambitious H.P. Lovecraft lineup over the next few months. This eventually settled into the quintet of Edwards, Michaels, guitarist Tony Cavallari, drummer Michael Tegza, and bassist Jerry McGeorge (who had been rhythm guitarist in the Shadows of Knight). In late 1967, this lineup recorded and released their self-titled album, a wide-ranging mixture of covers and originals that unveiled a far more striking vision than had been apparent on the single.
The group's strongest asset was the superb dual harmony lead vocals of Edwards and Michaels, showcasing Michaels' operatic four-octave span with a blend reminiscent of the Jefferson Airplane. Michaels' multi-instrumental virtuosity on organ, harpsichord, piano, clarinet, and recorder-often bolstered by session players on horns, clarinet, piccolo, and vibes-gave the band a much wider range of timbres than much of their competition. Their seeming determination to plough different ground with every cut sometimes misfired, as with the too-cheerful version of Dino Valenti's "Let's Get Together" and the hokey old-time music of "The Time Machine." More often, though, H.P. Lovecraft devised a haunting ambience that lived up to their pledge on the back sleeve to make songs inspired by (author) H.P. Lovecraft's "macabre tales and poems of Earth populated by another race."
Most of the songs on H.P. Lovecraft, however, were not originals, but folk-rock covers. The Edwards-Michaels vocal blend was particularly stirring on their covers of "The Drifter" (penned by folkie Travis Edmonson, half of the duo Bud & Travis) and the folk standard "Wayfaring Stranger." Their debt to cult folk-rocker Fred Neil was expressed in a gutsy, hard-rocking version of that singer-songwriter's "The Bag I'm In," as well as "Country Boy & Bleeker Street," which combined two songs from Neil's mid-1960s solo debut album. "I've Been Wrong Before," by a then-little-known Randy Newman, had already been done by Cilla Black (who had a British hit with the tune), Dusty Springfield, and California garage band the New Breed; H.P. Lovecraft gave it a particularly mystical, enchanting reading.
Yet the finest song H.P. Lovecraft ever did was the group composition "The White Ship." The six-and-a-half-minute opus had a wavering, foggy beauty, with some of Michaels' eeriest keyboards, sad dignified horns, lyrics that fit in well with the albumís constant references to drifting and wandering, and even the ringing of an "1811 Ship's Bell" (by Bill Traut). In yet another stylistic twist, Edwards and Michaels put their lounge jazz chops to good use on the suave but moody "That's How Much I Love You, Baby (More or Less)."
By the time H.P.Lovecraft II came out in September 1968, the group had replaced McGeorge with bassist singer Jeff Boyan; moved from Chicago to Marin County; and shared bills with Donovan, the Pink Floyd, Procol Harum, the Jefferson Airplane, the Buffalo Springfield, Big Brother & the Holding Company, and other top psychedelic acts. Their music had become more psychedelic, but also less focused and more self-indulgent, sounding at times like an acid trip starting to go awry. This prevented the album from being the equal of its predecessor, though at its best it still packed quite a punch.
Michaels' keyboards in particular were moving into gossamer spaciness that undoubtedly made H.P. Lovecraft a good match for sharing the bill with Pink Floyd. (Not released until the 1990s, the Live May 11 1968 album proved that H.P. Lovecraft, unlike many psychedelic bands with mighty ambitions, could execute their complex arrangements well in concert.) "At the Mountains of Madness" was certainly a highlight of the group's psychedelic free flights, skittering close to, but never falling into, an abyss of menacing distortion-ridden chaos, with especially acrobatic vocal tradeoffs. "Mobius Trip" gave the lounge jazziness of "That's How Much I Love You, Baby (More or Less)" a far, well, trippier gloss, its vocals evaporating into the mist at the end of the verses, its lyrics soaked in disoriented hippie euphoria.
More disorganized outings like "Electrallentando," however, indicated that the drug experience might be getting the better of them. "Keeper of the Keys" had a pseudo-operatic vocal so stentorian that it was difficult to tell if it was over-reaching earnestness or parody. (The forty-second Zappaesque link "Nothing's Boy," by the way, was written by radio wordjazzmeister Ken Nordine, who also provided the spoken narration.)
For all its ephemeral weirdness, H.P. Lovecraft II looked back to folk music with its radical psychedelic reinterpretation of Billy Wheeler's "High Flying Bird," the early folk-rock classic that had been recorded by Judy Henske and the Jefferson Airplane. There were also adept close-harmony covers of "Spin, Spin, Spin" and "It's About Time," both of which utilized Michaels' flair for classical-flavored keyboard lines. The latter of these had especially Airplane-ish vocalizations and almost tortuous shifts of musical settings, veering between dissonant psychedelia and strident strings. Both songs were written by Edwards' friend Terry Callier, the folk-jazz singer whose cult was small enough to make Fred Neil's following seem huge. (Callier, incidentally, had recorded "The Drifter," as "I'm a Drifter," in the mid-1960s, prior to H.P. Lovecraft; Edwards would co-produce a half-dozen of Callierís tracks in late 1969.)
Although H.P. Lovecraft were well-received on the psychedelic concert circuit, neither of their two albums sold well enough to make the charts. Edwards has recalled (in Ptolemaic Terrascope magazine) that the second LP was something of a rush job, without as much time for writing or recording as they would have liked. Dissension and the pressures of touring caused the band to split in 1969. Although Edwards and Tegza did re-form the group in 1970, Edwards left before their album came out, by which time the band were simply called Lovecraft, and bore little musical resemblance to the H.P. Lovecraft of the 1960s. A final Lovecraft album came out in 1975.
psychedelic fusion entity H.P. Lovecraft