mightyfastpig (mightyfastpig) wrote in circletpress,

A guided tour of Whispers in Darkness, Pt. 2

Continuing my personal observations on the other contributions.

venus de lovecraft by ~CLDahlstrom on deviantART

The Flower of Innsmouth, by Monique Poirier and Dreams in the Laundromat, by Elizabeth Reeves

I used to subscribe to the popular image of Lovecraft as this racist, sexist, neurotic, paranoid, humourless, failed-to-launch recluse who lived with his mother figures and wrote unreadable stories, who would be mortally insulted if he had lived to see his creations of cosmic horror sold as cuddly plush toys.

However, the more I learned about Lovecraft, the more I realized how misleading that image was. For one thing, he travelled extensively and socialized with other writers and scholars. I was astonished to discover that he had a sense of humour, and that some of his stories were written tongue in cheek, if not as outright parodies of other writers or even himself. "Herbert West: Re-Animator" was meant to be a black humour gorefest, not a subtle evocation of horror, and had Lovecraft lived to see the filmed adaptations, he might have appreciated their grand guignol thrills and chills.

This is a roundabout way of saying my preconceptions of who Lovecraft was and what a Lovecraftian story should be were just that: preconceptions. So, in stories in which humans mutated by their contact with Mythos creatures are viewed with acceptance and even desire, instead of horror and fainting, are still Lovecraft stories. Perhaps in a register that Lovecraft might have explored at some point, given the chance.

Devil Reef, Innsmouth by *RichardPace on deviantART

Ink, by Bernie Mojzes

Here, the Eldritch Horror is not lurking on the inaccessible plateau of Leng or sleeping in a sunken continent or prowling around a subterranean grotto in Antarctica. It's sitting on a barstool, drinking and smoking.

I used to hate sushi. Or rather, I hated the idea of it, having not tried it. I can remember when the whole idea of sushi was a punchline, this weird food that weird foreigners ate, and only pretentious, privileged snobs like Molly Ringwald's character in The Breakfast Club actually ate it. Nowadays, I live in a city where you can hardly walk a block without passing a sushi joint, and it's one of my favourite foods. The idea of eating raw fish and cold sticky rice for lunch has gone from ludicrous/horrifying to commonplace. My tastes have evolved, if only due to familiarity.

When humans witness alien horrors in Lovecraft, generally they completely lose it. But what happens after repeated exposure? Does the shock wear off? Could humanity undergo some kind of psychological evolution to the point at which they can cope with the existence of these monsters? Legend has it that in the early days of motion pictures, people would panic when the film showed an approaching train or a man shooting a pistol at the camera. Today, such an image hardly gets a rise out of us.

Modern life is full of things that people of the past would have found deeply unsettling. We today are horrified by the thought of undergoing surgery without anaesthetics, but in the early days of ether and morphine, people were horrified at the thought of being so close to death that a person could be cut upon without being aware of it. Again, people's attitudes and preconceptions changed; they adapted. Their idea of horror altered by exposure and utility.

What one generation finds utterly abject, the next seeks out as a means of transcendence. I can imagine an alternate history in which the Otherness of the Deep One-human hybrids of Innsmouth slowly seeps into the mainstream, through their art and music, until subcultures are built around fragments of the Mythos. The Esoteric Order of Dagon just another boutique religion in California, US Steel selling shoggoth-derived auto parts, etc.

Postcard from Innsmouth by ~dreamsofego on deviantART

"Ink" also demonstrates that there are human monsters too, and that's enough to make someone seek out something other than human. Don't forget that Lovecraft was writing in the aftermath of the First World War, and he must have been aware of man's inhumanity to man revealed by that conflict. Also don't forget that his mother and father both had severe mental health issues. Maybe he wrote about aliens because he felt like people were too horrifying, in an uninteresting way.
Tags: erotica, peter tupper

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