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"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear. And the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."
January 15, 2011 5:45 PM   Subscribe

Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown - A 90 minute documentary on HP Lovecraft with contributions by Neil Gaiman, John Carpenter and Guillermo Del Toro.
posted by Artw (26 comments total) 120 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy shit. I am on my phone right now, so I can't watch, but I can officially say that I love Artw.
posted by brundlefly at 6:28 PM on January 15, 2011


Well, that's good, because looking at Related Posts I was a little afraid that there might be too much of me.
posted by Artw at 6:37 PM on January 15, 2011


About 30 minutes into it, I didn't mean to watch it for this long.

Yeah brundlefly, I might just have to spouse Artw.
posted by marxchivist at 6:37 PM on January 15, 2011


Oh man. I don't have 90 minutes right now! But the title "Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown" triggers a reflexive urge to argue against the implied premise! Even though I'd be shocked if all the folks named really did miss the point of Lovecraft. And yet, the title!

Bookmarked for when I do have 90 minutes in case a "Someone on the Internet is wrong!" moment really is in store.
posted by Justinian at 7:49 PM on January 15, 2011


I've seen this twice -- once from Netflix, and another time at a Lovecraft film festival -- and it's pretty solid. Funny at parts, too.

I'm curious if you feel like elaborating Justinian; the quote that the inspired the title (and is the title of this post) is straight from Lovecraft himself and his own private writings pretty much confirm his aims, plus I don't at first glance think it's missing the point of Lovecraft to say that much of his work is about the fear of the unknown -- unless you want to make a semantic distinction between unknown and unknowable or something, which doesn't seem all that fruitful in the end because I don't think anyone would disagree and it wouldn't prove people missed any larger point. I'm hard-pressed to think of another "point" of Lovecraft, except maybe fear of what's new or different, all of which could fit under the heading "unknown" without a lot of effort.

I'm sincerely curious, by the way; not trying to be dismissive or snarky.
posted by Nattie at 8:04 PM on January 15, 2011


Supernatural Horror in Literature

Of course, Lovecraft is more likely to be describing his influences than himself, Machen, Blackwood and the like.

If you ask me what the best bits of the bets Lovecraft are about I wouldn't really say they're about the unknown, so much as the brain scrambling gulfs of the unknowable.
posted by Artw at 8:47 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


We are so convinced that discovering alien intelligent life will be something recognizable such as found in Star Trek or Star Wars. I'm convinced that it will be found to be maddeningly unknowable and horrible as expressed in classic HP Lovecraft stories, and the worst possible thing we can do is to try to make contact. In the long run, I think the human race will be better off having nightmares after nights of reading Lovecraft.
posted by eye of newt at 9:04 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


We are so convinced that discovering alien intelligent life will be something recognizable such as found in Star Trek or Star Wars. I'm convinced that it will be found to be maddeningly unknowable and horrible as expressed in classic HP Lovecraft stories, and the worst possible thing we can do is to try to make contact.

I share the opinion that life elsewhere in the universe probably takes forms that, to us, would seem bizarre and novel. I think that's precisely why we need to contact them. Undoubtedly it would drive some people insane; precisely the sort of people who can only have their minds expanded, at this point, by madness. Would you love to see Sarah Palin encounter an Elder Thing? Other than McCain?
posted by JHarris at 9:20 PM on January 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's just as likely, eye of newt, that alien life would be equally unable to understand us. We shouldn't be afraid of the Elder Gods. We ARE the Elder Gods.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:22 PM on January 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I love me some lovecraft. When I moved from Canada to New England, I was really hoping to find towns like insmouth along the coast. Alas. It's all touristy and overpopulated. No degenerate townsfolk. No black rock off the coast. No creepy university libraries with books under lock and key. Now inland into New Hampshire. That's a different story!!
posted by Smegoid at 9:36 PM on January 15, 2011


Artw. great find and i love biogs' and this one is good. It makes one interested in reading his stuff.
(is it me or all or most of the Lovecraft movies save "Dagon" kinda, well, not filmed so good)
posted by clavdivs at 10:04 PM on January 15, 2011


The "Buy Now" button to get the blu-ray would be a lot more convincing if it didn't lead to something that looks all the world like a phishing site.
posted by rodgerd at 10:05 PM on January 15, 2011


90 minutes well spent. Thanks.
posted by nola at 10:19 PM on January 15, 2011


Would you love to see Sarah Palin encounter an Elder Thing?

You must be kidding. When the old ones rise, she'll be wearing an octopus hat and barking orders at everyone.
posted by Rat Spatula at 10:25 PM on January 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


The "Buy Now" button to get the blu-ray would be a lot more convincing if it didn't lead to something that looks all the world like a phishing site.

Looks like an Amazon storefront.
posted by Artw at 10:40 PM on January 15, 2011


Awesome. Thank you.
posted by cthuljew at 11:49 PM on January 15, 2011


That was really great. Thanks for posting it, Artw!
posted by honeydew at 1:10 AM on January 16, 2011


Lovecraft is one of those authors I wish I had gotten into when I was younger (the other being Philip K. Dick), so that I could properly geek-out, obsess over him. Nowadays, as an adult, I just read him and am amazed.
posted by snwod at 2:24 AM on January 16, 2011


Almost every time I read/see anything documentary-ish about Lovecraft I always get annoyed when I'm reminded that I missed sharing his birthday by just one day.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:40 AM on January 16, 2011


It's all touristy and overpopulated. No degenerate townsfolk.

Right - that's all inland in New England these days - beachfront property being too pricey for your average malformed hybrid or anthropomorphic fiend.

Worcester, MA really has what you're looking for.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:22 AM on January 16, 2011


For those interested in the origins of Lovecraft's style of horror I'd really recommend reading Algernon Blackwood's story The Willows - as Lovecraft puts it when describing Blackwood "Foremost of all must be reckoned The Willows, in which the nameless presences on a desolate Danube island are horribly felt and recognised by a pair of idle voyagers. Here art and restraint in narrative reach their very highest development, and an impression of lasting poignancy is produced without a, single strained passage or a single false note. "

For those following the HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast it's just hit The Dunwich Horror, which is heavily influenced by Arthur Machen, particularly The Great God Pan. He also takes a lot from the wonderfully strange The White People.
posted by Artw at 9:24 AM on January 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Really really enjoyed this a lot. Basically the story of a home-schooled socially outcast goth who found a fan fiction forum where he gained some noteriety, and then eventually founded a 'zine which lead to his finally selling stories for publication. All the while writing copious amounts of email and continuing to write for his circle of LJ friends.

All, of course, done 100 years ago, on paper, in longhand.
posted by hippybear at 9:55 AM on January 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm curious if you feel like elaborating Justinian

I still haven't had time to watch the video. So I don't know that elaborating gains anything. But in general I think Lovecraft is much more about the realization of humanity-in-general and each individual's insignificance in a cold, uncaring universe than about a generic fear of what we don't understand or whatever.

As I said, without viewing the video (which I hope to do today) I have no idea if this thought is even relevant. Even if Lovecraft himself was quoted about "Fear of the unknown" that wouldn't be dispositive to me. Hell, Haldeman has said that The Forever War isn't at all a reaction to Starship Troopers but any serious understanding of the genre essentially requires that comparison. So authors aren't always reliable about certain aspects of their own work.
posted by Justinian at 2:25 PM on January 16, 2011


Interesting thing I didn't know before watching this was that HPL encouraged his wife to write at short story
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:21 AM on January 17, 2011


Just got round to watching that now. That was great.
posted by Elmore at 2:06 PM on January 17, 2011




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