Saturday, April 29, 2006

Nyarlathotep Part 13 Thoughts

By 1920, Lovecraft was deep into amateur journalism, had absorbed Lord Dunsany, chruned out hundreds of poems, and many stories. There was still a taint of Poe - and he would protest that he would always be obsessed by his hero - but his stories were very Lovecraftian.

He had not yet mastered his cosmic nihilism, and his admiration of Sam Loveman colored even his dreams. However, like a pointilist drawind, HPL took tiny snippets of his real and imagined life and made a montage with a moody background of horror. Like an impressionist, the horror was subtle.

If Jackson Pollack was akin to splatter punk, and Manet akin to an M. R. James ghost story, Lovecraft was Picasso. A bit here, a bit there, an eyeball out of place, or an arm on top of the head, it all came together at the end to shock.

I've tried to show below that every sentence had a touchstone in reality. However, the reality of Lovecraft's cloistered life was abstract to virtually everyone else. That abstraction added to the shock value.

Nyarlathotep was not just an Egyptian pharoah like Klarus, or Tesla, or an alien god stomping in our backyard, he was snippets of each put together into a horrible, uncaring, destroyer. Apocalypticism is uniquely American and here is Lovecraft's first exploration of it. Prior to this, individuals went mad facing the terror. This time, a whole town (Providence of course) was obliterated.

Stan Sargent has done the most recent masterful rendering of Nyarlathotep - an outstanding writer and knows HPL inside and out. But lest we stray too far afield, like a good canonical scholar, we must understand the writer of the original text before we put words in his mouth. There are as many flavors of Mythos as Baskin Robbins has ice cream - all delectably horrific, but sometimes one wants just plain vanilla Howard - still the best.

PS: Thannnk yoooou. More than 2000 reads from you. I know how many choices you have, thank you for making HPLblog one of them.

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