Mad artist in ancient sinister house draws things. What were his models? Glimpse.
October 29, 2008 11:10 PM   Subscribe

"Mirage in time—image of long-vanish’d pre-human city." - "Ancient and unknown ruins—strange and immortal bird who SPEAKS in a language horrifying and revelatory to the explorers." - "A very ancient colossus in a very ancient desert. Face gone—no man hath seen it." - Images based on the commonplace book of HP Lovecraft. posted by Artw (61 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
posted by jokeefe at 11:11 PM on October 29, 2008

posted by Kwine at 11:14 PM on October 29, 2008

It hurts.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:17 PM on October 29, 2008

Did my wall of text just blow your mind with cosmic terror?

Interactive fiction based on the commonplace book
Exibition at Maison d’Ailleurs: 1, 2.
posted by Artw at 11:17 PM on October 29, 2008

posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:23 PM on October 29, 2008

the blue to yellow ratio is too high!
posted by joelf at 11:26 PM on October 29, 2008

Eh, I like it. I don't think my opinion will be enough to save you from deletion though.
posted by puke & cry at 11:29 PM on October 29, 2008

Azathoth shall claim this post well before Walpurisnacht.
posted by benzenedream at 12:16 AM on October 30, 2008

Whatever the third link pictures is, we will kill it before it evolves into that.
posted by Mr_Zero at 12:31 AM on October 30, 2008

I mean fourth picture.
posted by Mr_Zero at 12:33 AM on October 30, 2008

For a moment I had a dreadful sinking feeling that every single letter in that post was a separate link. Thank God there were only 19 to look at.
posted by salishsea at 12:40 AM on October 30, 2008

Awesome. And horrible.

In the senses Lovecraft would have used the words.
posted by Caduceus at 12:50 AM on October 30, 2008

The wall seemed unassailable - an endless mountain of yellow against the blue of the sky. With a click I was confronted with incomprehensible horrors of such hideousness that I sought madness as the only exit. My ignorant curiosity unleashed images of immortals most foul, ancient and malevolent, a hunger that would know no ceasing.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:32 AM on October 30, 2008 [9 favorites]

Shapeless living thing forming nucleus of ancient building, reminds me of something.

I'm glad for Lovecraft's work, even if it is true that he's a racist misanthrope.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:07 AM on October 30, 2008

posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:18 AM on October 30, 2008


But the dreams I'll have tonight.....
posted by codswallop at 2:32 AM on October 30, 2008

Holy crap!
posted by trip and a half at 3:41 AM on October 30, 2008

So Nyarlahotep pops across to the library where Cthulhu's actually a bit more rugose and squamous then usual. And he says, "what's up?"

And Cthulhu says "Rl'yeh fthagn, ahem! Blimey! Sorry, phlegm. Bit ill, actually."

So Nyarlahotep rubs three of his pseudopods together and says, "I have just the thing!"
And he leads the mighty Elder One across the non-Euclidean town square, down a dodgy back alley, where an eldritch couple of debt collectors are lurking.

And Nyarlahotep says: "Here's that sick squid I owe you."

From Barbelith. Wonder where Tom has been lately?
posted by netbros at 3:41 AM on October 30, 2008 [4 favorites]

You are SO much better than that Madonna thread.
posted by gman at 4:26 AM on October 30, 2008

The only reason I haven't read Lovecraft yet in my life is because I think it would truly scare the fuck out of me like nothing else has. I know I could just be working myself up over nothing, but these links don't help, Artw. (Actually, they do. Where should I start as a HP neophyte?)
posted by not_on_display at 4:47 AM on October 30, 2008

This better NOT get deleted. These are fucking awesome.
posted by absalom at 5:07 AM on October 30, 2008

Just read the short stories, there aren't a great deal of them. Shadow over Innsmouth is particularly good. For a more light hearted approach, try Neil Gaiman
posted by BigCalm at 5:09 AM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm glad I didn't see this when I was a little kid. I'd probably still be hiding under my bed. That's a damn scary painting.

Where should I start as a HP neophyte?

The short story "The Call of Cthulu" is a good intro. I'd also recommend "The Lurking Fear," "Dreams in the Witch House," and "The Rats in the Walls."
posted by marxchivist at 5:27 AM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yeah. Barker and King can make your heart race, and have you jumping at the slightest noise.

Lovecraft will have you convinced that not even death itself can save you from eternal dread on a scale too vast to comprehend without losing your mind to the unfeeling abyss that is rightly the home of something so terrible, to merely contemplate it is to gibber and worship, as a mere human mind is not capable of encompassing even the least of it.

In other words, Lovecraft carefully and eloquently describes that which cannot be understood, and the confusion and imagination it stirs up is magnificent. It was a cute trick to figure out at in the 20's, post-WW I, where science and technology was really ramping up, revealing a new wonder every day that sprains the brain involving spans of time, amounts of energy and cosmic size on scales that dwarf everyday experience. Here's the awesome part: as the pace of discovery has increased, Lovecraft gets scarier and scarier. He takes the part of your head that keeps track of megaparsecs and killowatt-hours and the Cretaceous period, and uses that to put the same kind of primal, animal fear into you that a roach has in the shadow of a housewife's high heeled boot.

He was a racist, this is true, but this was only because he was very, very crazy. He was a misanthrope - he was looking for an excuse to say rotten things about everyone in the general, and racism was a ready-made excuse to hate huge swaths of people at a go, so he took it. I think it was the concept of people in the plural that drove him nuts, because the reality of modern society never matched any sort of ideal... and to be honest, he was kind of fuzzy about what ideals he was after. As for people in the specific, he was charming, gracious and warm, answered every letter sent his way, and actually married a Jewish fan of his, despite his family's disapproval, so the race thing wasn't too much of an issue for him.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:43 AM on October 30, 2008 [4 favorites]

At first I was over whelmed by all the yellow but then when I started looking, I wished there was more. Nice post.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 5:50 AM on October 30, 2008

The only thing that could make this post better is if it was written in some unimaginably old language on parchment made from the skin of an eldritch god.

The one thing I can never get out of my head when I read Lovecraft is the sound of fruiting fungi amidst crunching leaves. A soft dry stretching popping sound. A whitish thing that feeds on death but is itself alive.

Goddammit, I love October.
posted by Pastabagel at 5:56 AM on October 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

Bold underlined text is fucking illegible.
posted by smackfu at 6:00 AM on October 30, 2008

even if it is true that he's a racist misanthrope

That's a little too glib. If I remember correctly from reading about him last year, he was at first very antsy around mixed-race crowds after moving to New York, but his wife helped him over that fairly quickly.
posted by mediareport at 6:04 AM on October 30, 2008

I'm so glad these are pictures. I thought I was going to have to read all of those links.
posted by gfrobe at 6:07 AM on October 30, 2008

Mod note: Ia! Ia! More Insided some of it fhtagn!
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:20 AM on October 30, 2008

Where should I start as a HP neophyte?

Start with The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre, which has the classic short The Call of Cthulhu and The Shadow Over Innsmouth, one of the creepiest and most suspenseful things I've ever read (and a great peek at Lovecraft's race-mixing fears in horrific form). The Colour Out of Space and the very brief, poignant and in some ways hilarious The Outsider are also included. Del Rey has two other collections, The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft: Dreams of Terror and Death (with an intro by Gaiman) and The Transition of H.P. Lovecraft: The Road to Madness (with the essential novella At the Mountains of Madness) that end up being fairly comprehensive. But that first one will give you the best initial taste, I think. Soon, you'll be drinking deep. bwaha
posted by mediareport at 6:24 AM on October 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

Iä artw!
artw f'tagn!
posted by Mister_A at 6:56 AM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

He was a racist, this is true, but this was only because he was very, very crazy.

This is not really fair to Lovecraft. His (clear and obvious) racism is a product of his time and place, and while that does not excuse it, it may help to explain his attitude toward race, which was very much in the mainstream of his culture at the time. It is interesting to note that, as a New Englander, his racism was mostly directed to the Portuguese and the Italians, who were perceived to be "over-running" Providence, his home town. Clearly Lovecraft had a fear of "otherness", but in many ways we all still do. It was not "crazy" to publicly profess such views as Lovecraft held in the early part of the twentieth century.
posted by Mister_A at 7:15 AM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

These are neat, and I'm glad to have the link to the commonplace book, but it kind of takes away from the whole unencompassable-by-the-human-mind thing that I take to be essential to Lovecraft's giving me the chills.

I mean,
...instead of describing any definite structure or building, he dwells only on broad impressions of vast angles and stone surfaces - surfaces too great to belong to anything right or proper for this earth, and impious with horrible images and hieroglyphs. I mention his talk about angles because it suggests something Wilcox had told me of his awful dreams. He said that the geometry of the dream-place he saw was abnormal, non-Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours. Now an unlettered seaman felt the same thing whilst gazing at the terrible reality.
Once you put images to this, the loathsome redolence no longer surpasses our thinking.
posted by felix grundy at 7:21 AM on October 30, 2008

He was a racist, this is true, but this was only because he was very, very crazy.

I doubt he was particularly racist compared to the average of the time, and was probably more snobbish than anything. He wasn't crazy either... in fact he was very sane. Too sane.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:24 AM on October 30, 2008

As much as I love all of these creepy images, I have to say that making up this stuff in my head always gets me even creepier mental images. These images are best when they're just hinting. It's the ten foot monster problem I think. Stephen King says it best.
If you show people a ten foot monster, they say "Well, at least it wasn't a 100 foot monster." If you show them a hundred foot monster, they say "Well, at least it wasn't a 1000 foot monster."
posted by jessamyn at 8:09 AM on October 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

not_on_display, I started reading Lovecraft on Wikisource. They seem to have a fairly complete record of everything he wrote, so if you can stand to read walls of text on a monitor you're good to go. Call of Cthulu, Shadows over Innsmouth, Mountains of Madness, Dexter Ward, basically all the novellas and short stories are there to madden you.

If you've ever wanted to get into the Conan stories they've also got the Robert Howard collection as well. Howard and Lovecraft were friends and there's a lot of the Cthulu mythos in Conan.

Great post artw
posted by daHIFI at 8:13 AM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yea, the tease is where it's at jessamyn. That's one of the reasons that Lovecraft spent so much ink describing the divers cyclopean ruins and unhallowed places that haunt his fiction. This makes the reader think, "wow, the monster that lives there must be bad-ass!"
posted by Mister_A at 8:14 AM on October 30, 2008

Stephen King says it best.

It was Benny Hill I think that made a similar point in one of his television essays, the title of which I think was something like "At Least it Wasn't a Twelve-Foot Pianist".
posted by cortex at 8:18 AM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Dude, there's no room for jokes in an HP Lovecraft thread. SRSLY.
posted by Mister_A at 8:21 AM on October 30, 2008

But for monsters, bigger is worse.
posted by jessamyn at 8:25 AM on October 30, 2008

My kids have this funny book where a girl kisses a monster and turns into a monster herself! Not in a horrific The Thing way, just a reverse frog/prince move.
posted by Mister_A at 8:28 AM on October 30, 2008

Alan Dean Foster took a crack at Shrek?
posted by cortex at 8:36 AM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

I would watch or read that!
posted by Mister_A at 8:37 AM on October 30, 2008

I have failed to go mad looking upon these pictures. Post flagged for images not being sufficiently iridescent!

Sort of kidding, sort of not. My ideal Lovecraftian palette of color, while it has a some bilious green and corpse blue, is almost greyscale, with a barely perceived prism swirl over it, like the faint sheen you see on top of moist turkey left in the fridge too long when you hold it up to the light; your brain is still processing what these colors mean by the time you take a whiff and realize that this is the mostly invisible patina of decay. Because only Lovecraft can make a rainbow ominous and nauseating.
posted by adipocere at 8:53 AM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Lovecraft was a racist product of his era, yes, but he was also crazy. Full stop.

Well, alright, maybe "highly disfunctional" would be better than simply "crazy." Mostly, I think, it came from his upbringing, which really *was* crazy. A brilliant and creative mind, he could never seem to live up to the expectations he set for himself and that were set for him by his grandfather. This doesn't even consider the effect of his mother's generally lunacy, such as the early childhood spent dressed as a girl and refered to as "my daughter." So, yeah, he never had a chance.

Thank God. He wouldn't have been much of a writer, otherwise.

In a lot of ways, I see it as the same sort of "crazy" that made Yukio Mishima so good. That sense of growing up in the wrong time and place, with those feelings encouraged by a slightly batty grandparent.
posted by absalom at 10:16 AM on October 30, 2008

I actually had to check the poem linked to here because it was so WTF I suspected it was a hoax someone had sneaked in, and it turns out it;s legit (if unpublished), so yeah, pretty racist at times. See also: The Horror at Red Hook.
posted by Artw at 10:30 AM on October 30, 2008

For those wishing to spend the next few weeks compulsively flinching:

The fewer details he provides, the more your mind fills inthe blanks with its worst subconcious fears. Since I read all the Lovecraft I could find during one twitchy stretch of my teenage years, I've never watched a horror movie: my brain keeps filling in the periphery with all sorts of tentacle-faced critters and their wild-eyed human worshippers that are not at all what the filmmaker intended (and way more scary).

Also, "edlritch."
posted by wenestvedt at 11:01 AM on October 30, 2008

I think "neurotic" is probably a better term than "crazy." He wasn't delusional in a non-functional, needs to be locked up for his own safety kind of way. He just had a lot of issues.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:48 AM on October 30, 2008

Thanks, everyone, for pointing me in the right direction so that I see what people have been talking about all these years. I'm going to the library tongiht and I'll make sure to.... One sec, someone at the door... [walk walk walk] Who is it?EEAAAGH
posted by not_on_display at 1:29 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

posted by homunculus at 2:00 PM on October 30, 2008

posted by Artw at 2:11 PM on October 30, 2008

* gibbons *
posted by jessamyn at 2:16 PM on October 30, 2008

Gibbons are not Lovecraftian, unless they live in cyclopean ruins of some kind or marry aristocrats.
posted by Artw at 2:20 PM on October 30, 2008

Gibbons are so Lovecraftian, on account of they are the most rugosest of the apes, and apes are the squamousest primates.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:35 PM on October 30, 2008

Your momma is such a gibbon, you fly into a rage upon receiving her a crate containing her mummified remains and burn your house to the ground.
posted by Artw at 3:42 PM on October 30, 2008

Iä Iä Iä!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:58 PM on October 30, 2008

posted by cortex at 4:27 PM on October 30, 2008

You know what noöne has said yet? Chthonic. Gettin' mad chthonic up in this piece, or more properly down in this piece, if you will.
posted by Mister_A at 7:40 PM on October 30, 2008

posted by not_on_display at 7:55 PM on October 30, 2008

*gibbon + camel*
posted by homunculus at 8:25 PM on October 30, 2008

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