Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, H.P.!

Today marks the 118th anniversary of the birth of Howard Phillips (or H.P.) Lovecraft. If he were alive today, he'd probably be droning on at great length about the ineffable horror of being one hundred and eighteen years old and being buried alive.

Lovecraft's influence should not be underestimated, and while the word "Cthulhu" may mean nothing to you, you might want to take a closer look at any Jesus Fish you happen to see on cars - just in case the front end is covered in tentacles. Remember: Cthulhu Saves, in case he's hungry later.

A friend recently told me of an analysis she had heard suggesting that Lovecraft's horror - in particular, its elements of deep-seated revulsion and mortal terror - came from his loathing of the world in general. I disagree. In spite of everything, I think Lovecraft quite liked the world, but based his horror on a loathing and revulsion towards certain elements of it - such as women, minorities, Jews, Chinese, Muslims, shellfish, crustaceans, cephalopods, fungi, cold, small towns, foreigners, old things, old people, country folk, new things, the countryside, rats, city dwellers, hotels, Egyptians, the night, theaters, rugose cones, penguins, stars, trains, basements...

Well, he liked cats. Definitely liked cats.

Yep, he was a racist, a sexist, an elitist. But he was also the master of overwrought purple prose. His stories are fun to read, excercises in creativity from a fevered imagination. Most of them have been anthologized, and many are in the public domain and can be found online. And just think, once you've familiarized yourself with them, you'll be able to more fully appreciate this:

"Run for it, Har...unghh..."


hedera said...

Ah, another Lovecraft aficionado. I used to work with a guy whose custom license plate read RLYEH, and whose cube was adorned with bumper stickers for the Campus Crusade for Chthulu.

I've read a number of his works myself; I too appreciate the overwrought purple prose, and I'll confess that one or two of his pieces have made me just a little nervous, very late at night in an empty house. He didn't like empty houses either.

I certainly wasn't aware that someone was selling a plastic Chthulu toy! I'm sure H.P. would consider that was tempting fate, or whatever.

D.B. Echo said...

Hedera, I'm not sure where the plastic Cthulhu in the fake commercial came from, but I know there are all sorts of plush and cuddly Cthulhu toys out there!