Archive for the ‘Lovecraft’ Category

Ceremonies

October 24, 2011

Listening to the podcast called H. P. Podcraft, heard a mention of the online bookshop Miskatonic Books. Over on their side saw a book called Lovecraftian Ceremonies.

Subtitle was “Seven Occult Dramas for the Magickal Performer”.

Which curbed my enthusiasm.

Because I had hoped for “Lovecraftian Ceremonies: Marriages, Divorces and Especially Burials by the Rites Older Than Man”.

Containing among others the following classics:

  • The Marriage of the Ichor Bride, According to the Cult of the Ichor-Baptism, to the Googroom of Swampness (Note: to prevent irrevocable loss of sanity, should be performed as a “role play” only.)
  • The Divorce for One, by the Apparition of Clui-Tsathoggua, the Reaver of the Opposite Sex
  • The Marriage Pact of the Rictus-Nightwound, for the Bloodworm-Lizard, for the Nameless Blasphemy of the Grotesque Unspeakable Sin of the Netherwounds (this is just gay marriage, but the author was not for it)
  • The Quick Rite for the Reversal of the Reburial, for One Priest, Two Shovelmen and a Lookout
  • The Disharmony of a Wizard’s Tomb (Keeps Unruly Youths Away Or Your Blood Back!), As Made Famous By The Tome’s Eibon!
  • The Baby Shower, or, the Terrible Rain of Mewling Infants
  • The Engagement Words According To Schädelzerschmetternerberg Mountain (“Sweet eternal love I swear, and if you betray, the Hounds of Tindalos have thee!”)
  • The Engagement Words According to R’lyeh (“Fhtagn bewbs etc.”)
  • The Engagement Words According To Mrs. Mason (“The Rat-Thing That Beareths The Secrets of Salem etc. etc.”)
  • The Last Rites, That End The World Entire, Symbolically Speaking

* * *

Q: “And do ye, under these loathsome gibbous moons, in this void full of the gibbering echoes of elder witcheries, take this nameless thing as ye wedded Thing?”

A: “Verily, I do, and may the Claw rend me if I recant on this.”

Q: “Thereby I then, with wild and ecstatic phrensies, do pronounce ye a Thing and an Another Thing! May ye common spawn, your hellish, squamous, rugose progeny flood the universe!”

A: “Iä!”

Q: “Let ye all rise for the Adulatious Devouring of Naan.”

Tolkien meets Lovecraft

September 16, 2011

To quote Wired (2006) reviewing Charles Stross’s Jennifer Morgue, the James Bond meets Cthulhu novel,

Which raises the question: exactly what genre of fiction wouldn’t benefit from the addition of the Cthulhu Mythos? Cthulhu westerns! Cthulhu biographies! And I’d particularly like to see a reinterpretation of Tolkein [Grrrr. -MoE] incorporating Cthulhu’s influence on Middle Earth.

That is a great idea. Tolkien’s world has a God (Eru Iluvatar), a bunch of incarnate angels (the Valar), and a fallen-angel Satan (Melkor Morgoth). Take those away, and add into the howling godless void uncaring, immensely powerful, horribly different alien creatures.

And think what elves’ close relationship with those “gods” might mean…

* * *

Frodo woke up staring at the ceiling. It was of green wood, green like deep water or a pinewood twilight. The ceiling tiles were wood, patterned and fitted like the scales of some great green dragon. The ceiling beams were a lighter green, irregularly patterned and rayed, as if the spidery-slim fingers of some —

Frodo shivered and clutched at his suddenly burning shoulder. He did not think of the knife, or the chase, or the lack of face on the black-cowled thing; instead, he recalled a visible hand, and shivered.

“My dear boy”, a familiar voice gasped; Frodo turned his head and saw a withered old Hobbit by his bedside, waiting like a tame praying mantis. A familiar withered old Hobbit, though it sickened him to see his corpulent old surrogate father grown so thin, so like a bent skeleton wrapped in too much skin.

The old Hobbit’s eyes twinkled with feverish intensity, with care, love, and something much like fear. “My dear boy. Your body is made whole, but the mind’s hurt lingers. Do not fret; this is a place where the terrors of the outside hold no power.”

Behind Bilbo loomed a second figure, as if a shadow of him: taller, robed in midnight blue, gaunt, with the robe’s folds in distressing layers round his neck. This figure was a stranger — no Hobbit — not human, even — a pale-faced being whose alien features hinted at ancestries far beyond the short memories of Halflings and Men; a proud king with serpentine black locks curling round his white, cruel features: a pyramid of a nose, a gash of a mouth, together with the puffed blood-red lips as if the infected wound of an Orc-blade; and eyes.

Sweet oblivion, those eyes! Vast — luminous — featureless pools of black with no iris or any other feature — cold — ancient and ageless — emotionless — save, beholding these two broken, humble creatures, an unspeakable amusement! As if they had seen such meetings so often as to call them nothing but an echo, a cipher with no meaning, and less value.

“Welcome to the house of Elrond”, that place’s master intoned, and Frodo escaped back into unconscious oblivion and memory’s nightmare.

* * *

“There are dark things in the wells which are the foundation of the world”, the wizard whispered. “Can you unsee that which you might see? If you cannot, be not so eager to see. Your life is the only part given for you to play; and you, my ignorant Hobbit, may have a role to play before the end, as other than a screaming witless husk.”

“Oh”, Pippin breathed, and shrank back from the well and the wizard both, the well-testing rock falling from his fingers.

Round them the halls of the squat-men spread, quiet and dead; built for nameless centuries, built and made kingly; and in one dark night, left empty. Mor-Ia was their name; the Dark Emptiness; not for their uninhabitation, but because of that Unspeakable without description or name that had emptied them.

* * *

“The Witch of the Golden Wood!” the Steward’s son spat. “I trust these elves not.” He threw an angry glance at Strider’s direction. “And you, elf-friend, less. Why would you consort with those who have seen the Elder Days, the days when bright stars burned new in the skies, and darkness welled down from them? Why should I trust you, a friend of the race that is not of this dusty earth, but a crafting of some Dark God? Those that go to them do not return, and those are the fortunate ones; for those that return, come back wrong.”

Strider did not answer; and Frodo understood why.

Brave the ranger was, and strong, and noble; but he could not escape the facts of his heritage; the taint of his lineage; the mixing of dull human blood, and the night-wine that flowed in inhuman veins. For though he did not seem so, though there was no fey madness nor lust for the timeless life of a tomb in him — no, not yet — yet Aragorn’s, Arathorn’s son’s one greatly distant ancestor had been, in the dim mists of Beleriand, and maybe still in the unfamiliarly geometried hidden city of Eressea was… an immortal elf!

Worse news

August 14, 2011

So I bought myself new Lovecraftian fonts, and had to write something fitting to test them. See (in pdf):

Some weird reportage
from an alternate
and shortly doomed world!

(And it had to be very rough, schlocky reportage because I can’t do believable sober Lovecraft-era newsprint. The names and titles are made up without consulting anything. Except Civitavecchia; always throw in one detail that’s actually researched; it’ll drive informed readers into a phrensy of doubt and futile research.)

* * *

Also: the HPLHS font licence agreement is a veritable Lovecraftian horror itself. I’m 75% certain I’m not breaking it by posting this sample, i.e. I am “us[ing] the font software as part of an overall graphic [...] design, for personal [...] projects”, but if I am wrong, well, uh, tell me.

Then again, I can’t “embed [...] the prop/font software for the purpose of resale or distribution” (is a clip on a blog distribution?), except that I “can embed the font software in works as needed, provided that the embedding is subset and encrypted to prevent extraction of the font software itself.” Tsathoggua save me!

Cooking styles of the famous

April 21, 2011

Lovecraft bachelor chow style: “Do not call up, what ye can keep downe.”

Lovecraft ‘Randolph Carter takeout’ technique: “I repeat to you, gentlemen, that your ordering is fruitless. Also no anchovy, and double cheese to the gentleman in yellow.”

Conan original method: “Cooking came Conan, the Cimmerian, flour-faced, sullen-eyed, spatula in hand, a baker, a confectioneer, a pastry chef, with gigantic pies and much beefcake, to tread the raisined batter of the bread under his shovel-like hands…” (from the Nemedian Cookbook)

New Conan flair: “Crush your eggs, see them whisked before you… and hear the bakering of their omelettes!”

The Lucas motivator style: “Cook, I’m your father.”

The Bela Lugosi hint: “Ve do not trink… vine.”

The Pie of the Black Bird: “Quoth the Raven: ‘Spread evenly and bake for 20 minutes in the oven’s middle level.'”

Clark Ashton Smith “The Seven Geases of the Isle of the Torturers” style of meta-cooking: Cooking is an ordeal of recursive difficulties; order a pizza and wait.

(Maybe one tweet would have been enough; but I went and wrote a full post. Oh well.)

I had a shoggoth (fiction)

March 14, 2011

On Monday, I summoned a shoggoth.

It would have been more traditionally black-cowled sinister to do it on Sunday, but I had underestimated the amount of preparation necessary. (God, the smells!) Also, Monday’s the most cursed day, is it not?

On Tuesday, I finally got my wits and my nerve together, and took a look at the beast.

On Wednesday, I took a stiff drink, and resolved to not look at a shoggoth again. You know the paradox of the Uncanny Valley? How when you make something more human-looking, the remaining dissimilarities jump at you more and more? That’s the reason why cartoons are nice but human-looking haired, skinned robots oh God no. Here’s a note: Shoggoths know what people look like. A lot of people.

I took several more drinks after that.

On Thursday, with a hangover and a dread for my sanity driving spikes into the back of my skull, I did the Sign of Koth and the Circle of Pnath and the Mark of Hophilo, and cursed the size of my flat.

Metaphorically, that is. I am not a fool enough to start using eldritch powers against the basic geometry of the space where I reside. Nothing good would come of that.

I cursed the size of my flat, metaphorically, because it had left only one place where I could daub and enlineate the three-dimensional wards, lines, sigils, runes and whorls for the ritual of Veermis. Wouldn’t the landlord be surprised if he saw the pictures on the walls, I chuckled to myself, as I reached for the bathroom door.

And found it ajar.

That it had turned into a jar, I could have handled. That would have been just insanity.

But no, the door was ajar; unlocked; half-opened.

And through the dim gates of smashed memory I recalled a knocking, a knocking on my apartment door, as I lay sprawled dead dirty drunken on my bed; a knocking that then went away, or came inside; and recalling that flyer about bathroom renovations and inspections, I fell to my knees screaming.

On Friday, I had worked up the courage to peek inside. The shoggoth was there, of course; but there was a new vitality in it, and a new face in the hurly-burly of it, in the vortex that rose above the seat of comfort, which I now resolved I would never sit on, not with all the detergents in the world.

On Saturday, I got a long, strong stick and tried to push the lever.

It would not flush.

On Sunday, the police finally came. I had a dim memory of gibbering through the mail slot sometime during the night. The mode of speech was because of the flushing episode. As if it had wanted to show me all it could. And a part of me was tempted. That I spoke, through the slot, was because someone was asking for the landlord.

I remember screaming something about him “being eaten in the loo!” and something about “a face for too many eyes the porcelain pit the porcelain pit the unreconstituted bone lathe!”

Reckoning that pseudo-homicidal raving, a wonder the police took so long.

Then again, maybe they thought I was drunk? And who knows, maybe the shoggoth vocalized as the landlord once did.

That could have been me hearing voices, too; sources vary on whether shoggoths are really good in directed bellowing, or if that’s just the sound of the hinges of your sanity being screamingly unhinged as the doors of perception are opened into the whispering horizontal abysses of the plains of L—

Anyway, on Sunday the police finally came. I opened them the bathroom door, and now the shoggoth has three faces.

I went to get a drink of water, and then spent an hour breathing heavily in a corner because there was no water from the tap and dear God had Ibn Schacabao told lead made proof against the Bindings oh dear God oh dear God.

After an hour, I convinced myself water pipes were not made of lead, no, not anymore.

Got a bottled drink to celebrate this technological advance in accidental protection against unspeakable horrors.

Then got a pen, and wrote this all down. Not sure why, but apocalypse logs like this are traditional. (“Apocalypse log you say? Why? Look in the toilet look in the toilet for the apocalypse log I dropped there—“)

I am fairly sure I had a reason for summoning the shoggoth.

I am fairly sure.

Because it goes this way: you have perfectly reasonable goals that will through some sensible pathways come to be and happen through you opening a gate for that amorphous thing, and it comes through not by its own volition, but because you will it to come.

You will it, you open the gate, wait for the wards to decay, and do your will; it is your will that drives it all. You have free will and the other side does not.

And by your will I mean my will.

Because I had a reason for summoning the shoggoth.

Because I had a reason, and I’m fairly sure I can remember it before the wards decay.

* * *

Ah, imagination. Someone mentioned shoggoths (or “servitors”) on a comment thread over on Charles Stross’s blog and bam this piece crawled out.

The title is from a Tom Smith song.

The Cult of Luv-Keraph

December 5, 2010

Here’s a Lovecraft-based microreligion which is something else than the usual tentacle-slapping Yog-Sothothery.

* * *

It is said understanding brings joy; and illumination happiness. This is not true, for the world is full of knowledge which does not make one happier. It would be knowledge to witness the copulation that led to one’s personal genesis; it would be knowledge to witness, one after another, each daily death as this sorrowful planet of ours orbits a slowly dying flame. It would be knowledge to have the fixed hour of your death, to better notice each empty second before the end. No, the nature of understanding is sorrow; what joy there is in it exists only because our understanding is incomplete.

Some, likewise, seek to understand the heavens, and to probe the mind of God — this is the most dangerous of all follies. Is it not already well demonstrated that there is a particularly obstinate and destructive mania that is solely a property of persons of theological excesses; a vast unhinging of the intellect and the very soul that makes sane men and women apologists for torture, tyranny and genocide, and willing to approve any atrocity because they have come to understand it must be so. The nature of divine things is not meant for us to know: to peek at the face of God is to go mad at the revelation.

We of the Cult of Luv-Keraph believe that understanding is evil, and illumination not self-negation but self-abuse; and thus we abstain from learning, and urge you all to do likewise. Bar the house of your soul against the chill winds which blow outside; keep the hearth warm with familiar things, and do not open your window, for those that do can be seen by the abysses above, and seeing and being seen, they are made lesser.

The Cult of Luv-Keraph: Because there are no things mankind is meant to know.

The Refrigerator of the Gods (fiction)

August 5, 2010

He would shout that the world was in
danger, since the Elder Things wished
to strip it and drag it away from the
solar system and cosmos of matter
into some other plane or phase of
entity from which it had once fallen,
vigintillions of aeons ago.

—Lovecraft, The Dunwich Horror

If only there was some sane contingent of cosmologists left, I could submit a paper on the solution of the Fermi paradox.

Ah well; there are precious few sane humans of any stripe left; and the answer was really open to anyone who could stop screaming for a few seconds and look up.

The Fermi paradox is this: life seems like a thing that should spring up fairly often in the cosmos; but there is no sign of intelligent life anywhere, save us.

I should probably speak in the past tense there.

The solution is a multiverse theory, it seems, of at least two universes. One is a cold, barren place, hostile to all life: a place of vacuum, radiation, vastly wheeling galaxies and supernova explosions; a place of forbidding distances and even more isolating stretches of time: a place where life stays put. A real refrigerator of the gods. Inhabitants, as far as we humans knew: just us.

The other cosmos, then: a place of teeming life and endless hunger. No vacuum, but vibrating membranous living things that fill every spot of space; no empty spaces, but omnipresent slobbering, gibbering, devouring alien monstrosities. Swarms of  gas-bag cows a trillion strong that feed on air; skyscraper-sized plutonium wolves that eat rock and belch lava; moon-sized blasphemies with clouds of fork-things for the catching and consumption of plant and meat. Living northern lights of radiation that consume seawater, leaving in their wake a trail of green-glowing poison, nonatomic, non-element-based, not sane.

They yanked us back, and there was nothing we could do, outnumbered a million to one. They number more than all the grains of sand in all of the cold cosmos that was our home. They… they may not even be sentient. Certainly not in any way we understood the word. What is sanity when instead of scenery, there is only hunger?

I am the last man alive, as far as I know. Outside all is burning ash and sound that does not need the dwindling air to carry its wail. Soon some ultimate horror will fill the skies and rub the tortured remnants of planet Earth clean. Nothing but a ball of molten lava will remain. Then, if that is no fitting feast for any of the horrors of this filled space, then maybe this dish that was our home will be spit back into the refrigerator of the gods, to cool down and grow another crop of food, covered by the saran wrap of distance, away from hasty, greedy fingers until another feast awaits.

A typo-born sea creature

June 1, 2010

It comes, floating over the waves, a pallid viridian pustule on the summer wind, carried on some noxious exhalation of its inner chambers, twisting tow-ropes or tentacles trailing in the water at its wake. If it is a ship, it is one of immense antiquity; if it is a living thing, there is no saying if it still lives. As it comes closer, as it looms over you, there is a faintly audible sound, as if a whine of steel rotors, or a whisper of tortured electric ghosts. The wind from within that carries it over the waves boils and burbles at its hem, distorting the air and turning the water to white foam and whiter steam. As it not quite sails, not quite flies, you see much too late the black specks, the things scrunched in on themselves to have jaws much bigger than they themselves, as those black sentient droplets of hunger dart across its bows with thousands of eyes all fixed on you.

It is… the Lovercraft.

The Lovecraft hovercraft.

Scientifically speaking Hiator immundus, i.e. “impure mouth-breather”.

I am a cretin.

Lovecraft, for real

November 2, 2009

Mentioned Lord of A Visible World yesterday; and soon after came across a passage of so-Lovercraft-it’s-a-parody-of-Lovecraft in it, in a letter where L. is somewhat maniacally describing shopping for a suit, and not succeeding:

Well — having exhausted Brooklyn, I descended to the depths, and took the subway for the 14th St – 7th Ave. colony. Pegana, what a gauntlet to run! Indescribable scum pulling one into holes in the wall where flamboyant monstrosities ululate their impossibility beneath price-cards of $4.95, $7.50, $10.00, $12.50, $15.00, $17.00, $18.00… puffy rat-eyed vermin hurling taunts when one does not buy and airing spleen in dialects so mercifully broken that white men can’t understand them… crazinesses in cloth hanging in fantastic attitudes and displaying unheard-of anomalies — before Heaven I vow that despite the horrors I’ve seen on people, I never saw the like of these fungous freaks off people! Perhaps the human form inside a suit fills it out to some semblance of Nature — certainly these empty nightmares swinging in the winds like gallows-birds had nothing of Nature in them!

What I wouldn’t give for “Your Movie Sucks“, written by Lovecraft instead of Roger Ebert. (Oh, the quote is off p. 160 of the hardback edition.)

* * *

Meanwhile, NaNoWriMo 2009 is at 6025 words of the minimum of 50 000; not too shabby after 2 days of the 30 available. For some reason the anticipation seems to be getting worse, but the execution keeps getting easier. (And it’s in Finnish, so so much for samples.)

Well, the subject helps, too: it’s a tale of something creepy happening in a sprawling university, probably something involving things that go bump in the night and are worse than Prof. Hoary yet again failing to find the light switch.

Lovecraft the advertising man

November 1, 2009

Am reading Lord of A Visible World, a biography of Lovecraft that consists totally of his letters. (Which, you know, dwarf his other output.) Some insights are immediate — namely, he has a sense of humor, he has really weird affectations (I can understand him calling himself “Grandpa”, being all antiquarian and cranky, but going from that to calling his aunts “daughters” is a bit much!), he seems basically a nice cosmic atheist guy, except socially spineless and with a couple of really dumb opinions. (That being mostly a reference to his anti-modernism and his racism. And his futilism isn’t exactly my cup of tea either, but I can understand it.)

However, the point of this post is the fact I came across — namely, when finances went badly, he briefly tried a job as a door-to-door salesman (no sales), and tried to get one writing gushy ad copy; no success. Now, the man is not the image we have of him, but there’s something altogether too funny in the idea of H.P. Lovecraft writing advertisements.

* * *

Just think of it!

7 out of 11 Bobbed Heads want

the Bobbie Pin

Keeps Bobbed Hair Tidy

in the blind winds redolent of the fungi of accursed Yuggoth which sweep out of the uncaring skies to eradicate the frail citadels of Man!

The Fastest Seller ever known in the Beauty Shop

* * *

An entirely new and different SELF-SUPPORTING “INTERWOVEN” ANTEDILUVEAN SOCK

No Gadgets — No Garters — No Ghastliness

but they DO stay up

Styles illustrated

2 pairs $ 1

No other sock made like this by the blind hairless white apes of Africay

Patented and exclusively

“Inter-Woven”

THEY WEAR LONGER

THE SOCKS MY GOD CARTER THE SOCKS

* * *

NEW Kissproof

the waterproof rouge…

in a startling jade green case

Kissproof — the modern rouge — stays on no matter WHAT one does! A single application lasts all day! The youthful NATURAL Kissproof color will make your cheeks temptingly kissable — blushingly red — pulsating with the very blasphemous spirit of reckless, irrepressible youth as yet untouched by the paralyzing Knowledge of old age! Your first application of Kissproof will delight you! Whether you journey to the catacombs of Ptolemais for forbidden embraces, or to the carven mausolea of the nightmare countries to slither your lips over things that even the epicures of the terrible shudder to mention in their unspeakable lotus-dreams, you should heed the words of Abdul Al-Hazred, the Mad Arab of Damascus: CHOOSE KISSPROOF… as hinted of in the forbidden Necronomicon!

“I would do anything to get KISSPROOF, in a stylish green case! Seizing the green jade object, we gave a last glance at the bleached and cavern-eyed face of its owner and closed up the grave as we found it.” —Mrs. St. J., genuine testimonial

* * *

What do the neighbors think of her children?

To every mother her own are the ideal children. But what do the neighbors think? Do they smile at happy, grimy faces acquited in wholesome play? For people have a way of associating unclean clothes and faces with other questionable characteristics. And yet they cannot even guess at the abysms rent open when these dark elements of strength, solitude, grotesqueness and ignorance combine to form the perfection of the hideous! No human language has words for such a Thing!

Fortunately, however, there’s soap and water.

“Bright, shining faces” and freshly laundered clothes seem to make children welcome anywhere… and, in addition, to speak volumes concerning their parents’ personal habits as well. Ia-R’lyehl Cihuiha flgagnl id Ia! No, I shall not shoot myself — I cannot be made to shoot myself!

There’s CHARACTER — in SOAP & WATER

(Published by the Association of American Soap and Glycerine Producers, Inc., to aid the work of Cleanliness Institute.)

* * *

“Now, Howard… that’s not quite what we want. And what, that’s what the graphics department did based on your… My God! What’re those THINGS?”

“That’s the ‘before’ picture, Mr. Smith.”

(All based on actual advertisements of the 20s; such as the one for Kissproof here, the one for soap, plus lines cribbed from HPL’s stories, and a few words of interpolation from me.)


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