Saturday, September 15, 2007

What is The Beast in the Cave All About?

Lovecraft came under the influence of two powerful intellectual forces. The first was the emerging weird tale found in his dark fiction sources. He read tarzan, and ghost tales, and western mysteries, and so much else. This is not much different than kids today reading comic books, watching John Carpenter movies, or reading science fiction and horror.

He also was deeply influenced by Scinetific Adventurism. It was the rage of the Edwardian era. He lept from chemsitry, to antarctic exploration, to evolution, to astronomy, to arctic geology, and more. He wrote letters to Scinetific American, and later newspaper articles, and letters to fiction magazines that disputed scientific facts.

It is explicit that he knew Upton the astronomer, and Appleton the chemist. I propose he also knew the most famous biologist in America - Packard.

Lovecraft worked hard on this little tale, and it is significantly different than anything that came before.

I believe the first version showed a cave cat (he had just lost his cat in the 1904 move), and Packard died at the same time that his grandfather Whipple did. At least within several months of each other.

The cave cat had devolved just as Packard proposed in many published sources. Notably" "1. Change in environment from light, even partial, to twilight or total darkness, and involving diminution of food, and compensation for the loss of certain organs by the hypertrophy of others.

"2. Disuse of certain organs.

"3. Adaptation, enabling the more plastic forms to survive and perpetuate their stock.

"4. Isolation, preventing intercrossing with out-of-door forms, thus insuring the permanency of the new varieties, species, or genera.

Lovecraft is "actng out" through his weird fiction science as he knows it. It would be an ongoing theme until he died.

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