Monday, September 1, 2014

Sudden New Book


What do you do when you feel gay??  I listen to Cher while apply Dior lipstick.  I don't know about y'all, but for me dance music is a form of celebration, and dancing is liberating.  I'm trying to do more in-house dancing as a form of exercise.

I was suddenly overwhelm'd, yesterday morning, with a sense of Lovecraftian euphoria, mainly because of
ye arrival of this fabulous new book collecting all of S. T.'s essays on H. P. Lovecraft.  And when I feel this euphoria, it has to manifest itself creatively, and so I was overwhelm'd with an urge to have my new version of Some Unknown Gulf of Night publish'd sooner than originally anticipated.  So yesterday morning I pitch'd ye idea to a publisher, and we are now proceeding to plan the book.  To differentiate the book from the earlier edition of Gulf, I will write 20,000 or 30,000 words of new material in the form of short stories that will be the completely new material in the book, stories set primarily in Sesqua Valley and Providence, methinks, with probably a new Enoch Coffin tale set in Boston.  I am feeling a sudden resurgence of creative energy now that summer is over and the days are cooler, so I intent to be writing like a fiend for ye remainder of this year.  I have much work to do.

The new version of Some Unknown Gulf of Night is a complete revision of ye entire text, with more than a third of the original material replaced with new original text, all of which has added about 7,000 words to ye whole, bringing it up to 40,000.  I consider my finest, most concentrated work, a true homage to the genius of H. P. Lovecraft.

Okay, back to my exercise programme.  Sing it, Cher!



Saturday, August 30, 2014

GLEE - Do You Wanna Touch Me? (Full Performance) (Official Music Video) HD

Emotional Aesthetic Expansion


Got a parcel from Hippocampus Press this morning.  One of many books included was ye above, whut I have been waiting for, waiting for impatiently.  I knew, instinctively, that the book wou'd have an effect on my Lovecraftian soul--I just couldn't comprehend the enormity of that effect.  H. P. Lovecraft is a passion on which I feed, and one that feeds me as an artist.  Indeed, more and more, I exist only as a writer who works in ye genre of Lovecraftian weird fiction.  That artistic focus does not ever fade, but burns more vividly, more outrageously, each year.  It is like some ecstasy of madness.  It makes me gasp, and turns my soul into a pit of aching that can only be eased by the writing of Lovecraftian weird fiction.

And mostly it is the result of my adoration for S. T. Joshi.  He is the fabulous fiend who forever feeds my frenzy.  It was not just chance, or luck, that brought S. T. to live in Seattle--it was my nameless fate.  I succumb to it absolutely.  I felt it just now, as I was reading Lovecraft and a World in Transition, this incredible creative ache to write Lovecraftian horror.  It's like being utterly in love and being unable to stop talking about my beloved--I need to babble more and more, through poetry & prose, of my adoration for H. P. Lovecraft.  It ain't normal.  And it's getting worse.

Another book included in ye parcel from Derrick was Joshi 200--a listing of S. T.'s first two-hundred books.  In the section of forthcoming book, I scanned ye titles of the tales that will be featured in the two volumes of The Madness of Cthulhu, to be publish'd by Titan Books.  Oh My Holy Yuggoth--what a wondrous anthology that will be!  And then I perused ye listing for The Variorum Lovecraft:

H. P. Lovecraft, Collected Fiction: A Variorum Edition.
New York: Hippocampus Press, 2014-15, 4 vols.
Notes. An entirely revised edition of my corrected texts of Lovecraft's fiction, based on a renewed examination of the textual status of the tales.  Texual variants in all significant appearances of each story are printed.  Volumes 1-3 (to appear later in 2014) will contain the original fiction; Volume 4 will include the revisions and collaborations along with an index of names and titles to all four volumes.

Oy, be still mine eldritch heart.....

and at around ye same time as those first three volumes slither forth, Liveright will publish ye beautiful hardcover edition of The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft.  So, you see, there can never be any lessening of my cosmic fever, because the food of ye gawgs, these wonderful editions, keep on coming and feeding my fanboy flame.  And the more than flame burns, the more I need to kindle it with ye writing of my own books of Lovecraftian weird fiction.  There will be no end, until my happy day o' death.

I go to-morrow to S. T. and Mary's Labor Day Cookout.  He hasn't yet received his own copies of Lovecraft and a World in Transition, so I'm gonna take mine and let him fondle it.  I will sit there, in his living room, and feed on the Lovecraftian aura that, try as he may, he can never shed ("I'm more than just a Lovecraft guy," he assures us, again & again...); and then I will spend the rest of ye week writing....feverishly...


Friday, August 29, 2014

Thanks Joe Shea!!!!


This morning brought an email from my mate Joey, who is one of the splendid souls helping to form next year's NecronomiCon II in Providence and seems interested in highlighting the silhouette of H. P. Lovecraft by Black artist, Perry.  And it came to me that this wonderful image could perhaps replace the Gahan Wilson tiki sculpture that currently serves as ye World Fantasy Award.  It's a beautiful image, it is a perfect reflection of H. P. Lovecraft, and it is the work of a Black artist!  Yes!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Non, C'est Rien" from Color Me Barbra

Cold Unyielding


Oh, this compulsion that draws me to act of madness.  Oh, this itching in my fingers, to go to ye blog of Daniel Jose Older and reassure him yet again that his head is up his arse.  I must resist.  Older, for ye whut don't know, is the fool who has begun a petition to replace the image of H. P. Lovecraft as the World Fantasy Award with that of Octavia Butler.  This Older thug calls Lovecraft "a terrible wordsmith," and that is suffice to reveal his complete inadequacy as a literary critic.  But, stop--I do not need to reply again to the blog of this grotesque idiot, because S. T. Joshi has done so, brilliantly.  www.stjoshi.org/news.html

To seduce me away from my stupid compulsion (I do no good on these blogs, because people see my pro-Lovecraft rants as merely the signs of a diseased mind, the reverberations of fanboy fanaticism), I spent ye morning reading the wondrous essay, "'The Outsider,' the Terminal Climax, and Other Conclusions," by Robert H. Waugh and found in his book from Hippocampus Press, The Monster in the Mirror: Looking for H. P. Lovecraft.  I then listen'd to Roddy McDowall's reading of "The Outsider" -- and that always reminds me that it was the gift of this record from a neighbor who owned a record store, back when I was a young teenager, that served as my introduction to H. P. Lovecraft.

"The Outsider" seems, still, such an important tale in ye Lovecraft cannon, one that I find hypnotic and full of suggestive depths; and it is the one editorial flaw of The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft that editor Les Klinger chose not to include the story in that otherwise magnificent edition.  This powerful story affects readers emotionally, and thus it is assumed that it must express some profound mental anguish of Lovecraft's own.  When the story's narrator states, "...I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men," readers sometimes assume that Lovecraft meant this as an autobiographical pronouncement.  Lovecraft never claimed this, and he came to disown the story as an artistic failure.

There are stories of Lovecraft's that take place in the real world, the world of wakeful men, in solid reality.  Yet even the most scientific of these realities, such as "At the Mountains of Madness," are touched by myth and ye poetry of the Necronomicon.  There is another kind of Lovecraft tale, a kind that intrigues me more and more, and has influenced my own attempts at writing weird fiction, wherein we cannot be certain if the narrative is a memory of a real incident or ye recollection of some dream.  These stories take place on a borderland between mundane reality and the Outside.  Such tales include "The Music of Erich Zann," "The Nameless City,"  and "The Festival."  "The Outsider" is another.  Commentators have found the narrative perplexing, because they are trying to understand it with intellectual logic.  S. T. complains, in his Notes to ye story in his first edition of Lovecraft from Penguin Classics, "On the level of plot, 'The Outsider' makes little sense.  What exactly is the nature of the 'castle' in which the Outsider dwells?  If it is truly underground, how is it that the creature spends time in the 'endless forest' surrounding it?  Taking these and other implausibilities--if the story is to be held to rigid standards of realism--into account, and noting the epigraph from Keats's Eve of St. Agnes, William Fulwiler has suggested that 'The Outsider' is merely the account of a dream.  There is something to be said for this, and this explanation would certainly account for the seemingly 'irrational' elements of the tale..."

Reading Professor Waugh's excellent essay this morning made me focus on the one aspect of solid reality found in "The Outsider" -- "a cold and unyielding surface of polished glass."  This seems to be a reality from which there is no escape, and yet the creature that expresses it is one that rides with the mocking ghouls on the night-wind, an activity that can be experienced, one would imagine, in dream alone.

What can we decide regarding the Outsider's gender?  Mollie Burleson has written an essay in which she explains why she considers the creature female--but I find the essay unconvincing, as it seems, to me, to paint a limiting and uninspired picture of that which constitutes womanhood.  However, I find the idea intriguing, and in the novella that I have recently written with David Barker, "In the Gulfs of Dream," I have presented the Outsider as one of female gender.  Professor Waugh writes (THE MONSTER IN THE MIRROR, page 115), "Since this is a first-person narration, the 'I' prevents the specificity of either 'he' or 'she' from being uttered (as I have tried to avoid those words, though 'it' is surely unsatisfying also); we cannot know whether the Outsider is a man, woman, or a something to which gender is indifferent..."  But I think it is clear that H. P. Lovecraft saw the Outsider as male, for the first three words of the story are, "Unhappy is he..." (my emphasis.)

This is one example of why I find the superb weird fiction of H. P. Lovecraft endlessly fascinating, to ye point of obsession.  I have not mention'd ye prose style of the story, which Lovecraft described (if indeed he was speaking of narrative style in this statement), as representing "...my literal though unconscious imitation of Poe at is very height." (Selected Letters III, page 379).  That's a delicious word--"unconscious."  Lovecraft blasted the prose style of the story years after writing it, and seems to be the reason why he came to dislike the story; but I find the prose exactly right, and very beautifully evocative.  Each time I read or listen to the story, I delight in it more than ever.  It is a classic example of that wondrous creature we call "Lovecraftian horror."




[postscriptum:  I found that I cou'd not resist returning to Older's anti-Lovecraft blog one last time; but instead of calling him rude names I concentrated on promoting the genius of H. P. Lovecraft.  Older mocked me because I used the word "genius" in reference to E'ch-Pi-El--but I found another writer who has also used the word, in a scattering of pre-publication reviews of Leslie S Klinger's forthcoming The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft:
"Erudite and informed, often playful, just as often dryly funny, Klinger's remarks open up a breathtaking, authoritative, affectionate vision of this cherished but often misunderstood genius of weird fiction."  --Peter Straub, author of Koko and A Dark Matter, editor of H. P. Lovecraft's Tales from The Library of America.]

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

DUNWICH AS BEAUTIFUL NIGHTMARE



One of ye wonderful things to happen this year was Pete Von Sholly's invitation for me to write wee essays for the Lovecraft Library series from PS Publishing in England.  I've written new essays for five of the initial nine volumes.  Through some mishap, my original essay for THE DUNWICH HORROR volume wasn't used (it was intended to replace an old fanzine article that was included in the book).  I cannot now remember if I've publish'd my new essay here, so I thought I wou'd do so nigh.  I have an itch to write essays on Lovecraft's fiction especially for this blog, to share my ideas about the work and my passion for it.   (For instance, I just noticed the very peculiar tense in which Lovecraft wrote "The Terrible Old Man," and I have no clue what to call the tense chosen by HPL.  If I remember, I will ask S. T. at his Memorial Day Cook-Out this week-end.)  So, here is my unpublish'd essay on "The Dunwich Horror."  I do not mean to pose as any kind of scholar, for I am not.  These are but ye ramblings of a fan.

DUNWICH AS BEAUTIFUL NIGHTMARE

W. H. Pugmire, Esq.

There is one beautiful illustration in this volume of PS Publishing's Lovecraft Library that perfectly captures one magick moment in this story:  "Considerable talk was started when Silas Bishop--of the undecayed Bishops--mentioned having seen the boy running sturdily up that hill ahead of his mother..."  Pete's illustration for the scene in this volume is perfect in tone and helps to illustrate one of the story's powerful features--its sense of place.  Lovecraft doesn't simply make up a town called Dunwich--he conjures a mythical setting that magnificently enhances the sinister atmosphere of the tale, atmosphere that was all-important to this outstanding literary artist.  The potent opening paragraphs of the story set the mood superbly, with poetic language and spectral imagery; and then, at the end of the third paragraph, Lovecraft gives us one of his finest and perfect sentences:  "Afterward one sometimes learns that one has been through Dunwich."

Why was it essential to Lovecraft to create his mythical towns of Dunwich, Arkham and Kingsport?  I do not know if he ever articulated his reasoning for these creations, but I think, in part, it was in order to give him complete artistic and creative control as far as atmosphere is concerned.  These are places touched by the Outside, intimately so; and those unfortunate souls who dwell within these spectral pockets of unearthly horror are tainted absolutely, and aware of their contagion.  This aspect of Lovecraft's art affected me greatly when I began to write my own tales of Sesqua Valley, although I gave it my own wee twist and have nameless contamination a source of eldritch celebration, a thing more desired than feared.  

S. T. Joshi has been severely critical of "The Dunwich Horror," to the point of suggesting that it is one of Lovecraft's artistic failures.  This is nonsense.  In I Am Providence (page 719), S. T. states: "In an important sense, indeed, 'The Dunwich Horror' itself turns out to be not much more than a pastiche," and then goes on to list the other works from which Lovecraft got his ideas for the tale.  Rather, Lovecraft has taken his many influences of theme and plot and, with his expert artistry, created a story that is uniquely his own in every way.  One of the story's powerful components is its use of character.  The criticism aimed at Lovecraft that he was incapable of creating interesting or realistic characters is idiotic, and his use of character is one of the points of perfection in his weird fiction.  The portrayals found in "The Dunwich Horror" are remarkably effective and exactly right for the part they play, with each a faultless portrait.  Most fascinating, for me, is the bizarre and tragic figure of Lavinia Whateley.  She is deftly painted, and yet her story has untold depths, and a clever writer could construct an entire novel from the hints that Lovecraft has given us.  (Indeed, our genre's finest modern poet, Ann K. Schwader, has written an entire sonnet sequence concerning the doomed Lavinia.)  Miss Whateley is a symbol of all that is fabulous and awful in Dunwich.  She is an innocent who was, perhaps, ravaged by her father when he was possessed by the force known as Yog-Sothoth.  She loved Wilbur absolutely, and was perhaps murdered by him.  She was the unsophisticated, unworldly child who became corrupted by books she studied with her insane sire.

This is a story of supernatural horror.  Some have claimed that Lovecraft's monsters are "merely" aliens from outer space, and they are wrong.  Yog-Sothoth is not a monster that has filtered to earth through cosmic realms but rather a completely supernatural daemon conjured forth by black magick.  What kind of "alien" can be summoned by the arcane language of a nameless grimoire?  This magnificent monster comes not from ye cosmic abyss but from alternative dimension--the Outside.  It is, in every way, not of this world. It does not belong in any sane universe, and it is impossible to comprehend its nature. Yog-Sothoth is as perfect a symbol of the unearthly as the stigmatic fiend featured in "The Colour out of Space," which is indeed, as the story's title instructs us, cosmic.  We never encounter this daemon in the story, yet feel its presence and influence enormously.  

The portrait of the "Dunwich Horror" itself, although effective in its way, is the story's weakest point.  It is a wonderful effect of plotting, to center the focus of the first portion of the story on Wilbur, and then to concentrate completely on the monstrous twin and its destructive nature.  Robert Bloch performed a similar feat in Psycho, and Wilbur's death may be thought of, playfully, as the shower scene in "The Dunwich Horror."  Alas, the climax is simply silly, and although it thrilled me when I was very young, it now makes me groan.  The image of a bloke wielding an insecticide spray-gun filled with hoodoo powder which is then shot at the invisible titan so as to give it a shape that can be described is inept.  Lovecraft perhaps thought it would be effective to have the scene described by yokels who watch from a distance, but here he erred.  It would have been far more effective for the scene to have taken place among the three courageous men, on the haunted hill, directly in the close-at-hand presence of the beast, and described from their unimaginable proximity to this madness out of time.  Still, we have that delicious moment of hideous revelation, where it is shewn that half of the horror's face resembles that of its proxy sire, Wizard Whateley.  The hints and suggestions there implied are a Dunwich horror indeed!