Sunday, October 02, 2005

Clear your calendars Portlanders

Since it is now scary book (as well as movie) month. I thought I should mention H.P. Lovecraft. For most of the last few decades, Lovecraft has been relegated to the D&D club set. The Library of America, the closest thing the country has to an official canon, put out a Lovecraft edition last year. So maybe more than just the freaks will be reading him. He is a bit tough for the modern reader as his prose is florid, he is massively un-PC and he is given to cop-outs as in "I would describe it for you, but it was so terrible that I cannot."

Even with all that he is worth reading. Lovecraft had a bleak, perfectly 20th century outlook on life. In his universe, there were gods and superbeings, but they were all evil and out to get humanity. His heroes weren't out to defeat evil, just escape and survive. His descriptions are heavily biological as well, you get the feeling he didn't like anything organic. This quote from The Call of Cthulhu sums his worldview up nicely:

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.

Portland plays host to the yearly HP Lovecraft Film Festival, which is coming up next weekend. Patti Smith will be there to talk about how he influences her songwriting, read some poetry and do Lovecraft readings. You can also read some of his short stories online.

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