Monday, February 13, 2006

Deconstructing From Beyond: Part 2

The far corners were all shadows
and the whole place took on a hazy unreality
which obscured its nature
and invited the imagination to symbolism and phantasm.

Lovecraft's theme was always to place the horror on the peripheral vision. Just out there - on the edge - to terrify. [Hitchcock would later be a master of this technique. One classic case was to place Jimmy Stewart in a wheelchair with a broken leg who sees a murder, totally helpless. (Rear Window)].

HPL piles up the peripherals here. “far corners”, “shadows”, “hazy unreality”, “obscured”, “imagination” (as opposed to seeing the real), “symbolism”, “phantasm”.

We also see he uses three 'ands' in the sentence in order to really stack things up for the reader. It is this very technique that tires some modern readers, I believe.

There is a clever parallelism of the previous sentence's phrase “which the every day eye cannot see” with “which obscured its nature”. The juxtaposition is interesting.

The archaic term 'phantasm' conjures a sentence from Dagon: “Often I ask myself if it could not all have been a pure phantasm -- a mere freak of fever as I lay sun-stricken and raving in the open boat after my escape from the German man-of-war.” Elsewhere we find in the poem The Poe-ets Nightmare(1916): Alitheia Phrikodes: “...till all a wild phantasmal glow became, Now burst athwart the fulgent formlessness ...”.

And we also might consider the poem “Fungii from Yuggoth” I. “The place was dark and dusty and half-lost ...with queer curls of fog ... smoke and frost ...” when we read "hazy unreality".

This sentence, then, bridges and sets the mood in the reader's mind that reality is past and unreality beckons.

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