Monday, February 13, 2006

Deconstructing From Beyond: Part 4

The picture was very vivid
for a while,
but gradually gave way
to a more horrible conception;
that of utter,

absolute solitude
in infinite,
soundless space.

The magician's hand is at work in this pericope. We have “picture”, “vivid”, “conception” contrasted against “a while”, “gradually”, and “gave way”, the latter three portraying a fading or passage of time.

Next, Lovecraft is deep in sibilant alliteration. The snake hisses and t'sks in “absolute solitude”, “sightless” and “soundless space” with 8 s's and 7 admixtures of labials and linguals: b/t/d/p's.

The language used in this sentence is uniquely Lovecraftian in its combinations.

The term “vivid/picture” is a Hegelian coupling that Lovecraft uses in The Whisperer in the Darkness (1930), “the deep things I saw and heard, and the admitted vividness the impression” and “the wonder was lessened by the fact that the old legends, shared at one time throughout the hill country, furnished a morbidly vivid picture which might well have coloured the imaginations of all the witnesses”. The term “vivid” is used at least five times in The Whisperer in the Darkness.

In At the Mountains of Madness (1931), Lovecraft writes similarly, “...hitherto withheld photographs, both ordinary and aerial, will count in my favor, for they are damnably vivid and graphic...” In a 1927 letter to C A Smith he says, “I was exceedingly pleased to hear of your vivid vacation, & can picture something of the strangeness & fantastic wonder ...”. The Silver Key (1926) has, “into twilight realms where magic moulded all the little vivid fragments and prized associations of his mind into vistas ...”.

“Soundless space” is also a recycled expression seen in a Poe-et's Nightmare (1918): AletheiaPhrikodes, “Demoniac clouds, up-pil'd in chasmy reach
Of soundless heav'n, smother'd the brooding night ...”.

The Horror at Red Hook (1925) has the key phrase, “... would admit but few visitors to his absolute solitude; eschewing close friendships and receiving his rare acquaintances ...”. In Dagon (1917), “...I began to despair in my solitude upon the heaving vastnesses of unbroken blue...” & “Perhaps I should not hope to convey in mere words the unutterable hideousness that can dwell in absolute silence and barren immensity.”

1 comment:

Fran Friel said...

With a blog named Lovecraft you should have an especially SWEET day!

Happy Valentine's Day, Chrispy!!



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