No – it’s not a Cheech and Chong movie, it’s an HPL story!
Special thanks to guest reader and fine actor Scott MacDonell – let’s all hope his sanity returns soon.
Like pictures with yer words? Jason Thompson’s about to blow your mind!
Next week: Undertaking The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath
Podcast: Play in new window
Just wanted to say that I tremendously appreciate your attitude to the dream quest. Indeed, that story was *the one* that caused me to give up on Lovecraft as a teenager. i got through three pages of it, but couldn’t make heads nor tails of it. However, knowing from Mountains of Madness that there was probably a huge payoff for pushing on, i vowed not to give up on it. But it was just too steep a cliff to climb, I ended up procrastinating and finally loosing out to competing interests (girls and booze mainly). Only now, after listening to all your episodes- and especially your amazing treatment of the Silver Key- am I ready to attempt it again. i am sure with your assistance we shall overcome!
Is that Jason Thompson the manga guy? I never thought I’d get linked to him on this site.
it was a pretty cool story…
…and then came the “Moon Beams”
Very much enjoy the podcast, you guys are awesome.
Q: What do you consider the 1 or 2 best Lovecraft stories. I only ever read one of his stories when younger and cannot remember which but it must have been great for me to still think of H.P. is such high regard. And I also love the movie Dragoon (sp).
Thank you and will await reply
“Jaunty Binoculars” is the name of my Kajagoogoo cover band.
Not a great story, but like, you I really liked the idea of this house. One thing that struck me was how easy it was for him to find a way up there. Nobody had ever really tried. They prefer their mysteries.
Not EVERYTHING in the larger universe is out to murder us, in fact some of it is downright friendly… but merely seeing it will take something from you.
U R all fools! This is a great story!
I agree about the tone of the story. It’s like some weird mashup of The Picture in the House and The White Ship: “Look, there’s a very scary house and ancient creepy old man…and he’s taking me to play with the dolphins!”
“When you understand all about the sun and all about the atmosphere and all about the rotation of the earth you may still miss the radiance of the sunset.” – Alfred North Whitehead
“You may say I’m a dreamer…but I’m not the only one.” – John Lennon
I think you guys forgot to talk about Nodens, the Elder God. And I know, several fans, and I believe you guys do to, don’t believe that the Elder Gods do not fit in the mythos, but still, maybe several people who don’t or haven’t yet read Lovecraft’s book or works from other writers would like to hear about the Elder Gods. Just saying.
No no… you missed the point.
After seeing for himself the “fantastic” made real, the hero’s mind was put at rest.
He no longer needed to question the meaning of life. He knew, for certain, there is much beyond the mere physical meaninglessless of the world.
His soul will go on.
There is a whole supernatural universe full of “gods and monsters”.
So, now, he could be “present” for his family.
I’m looking forward to the Dream-Quest, simply because there’s so much in it. I actually think it has a fairly strong ending, and certainly reads like Lovecraft celebrating his return to New England after his time spent in New York, although it certainly meanders quite a bit in getting there. Individual parts are strong, but the structure of the thing is certainly awkward.
Chapter breaks would certainly have made it an easier read.
To get a better idea of what Lovecraft was aiming at with his dream stories, you might want to look into (of all people) J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay On Fairy Stories, because it’s all about the exact same tradition that Lovecraft is working in here. While I would be surprised if Lovecraft was familiar w/ Tolkien at that point, they’re both referencing an earlier literary tradition that I have no doubt Lovecraft would be familiar with.
You can find some excellent discussion about the essay here as well: The Tolkien Professor. Understanding “fairy stories” as a genre will make this story and the others like it a lot easier to “get”.
I would love to read it like that. Can we not read it as a parallel to Lovecraft’s New York trip? I think of how excited Lovecraft was at first about moving to New York, hungry for a real face-to-face social life and artistic stimulation. Once it turned into a nightmare and he returned home, its clear from his artistic output that he the experience had matured him and allowed him to make peace with the recluse that he had been. He had his adventure and returned sated even if somewhat scarred.
Reading it like that… the growing loudness of the laughter and music from the strange house, isn’t that the growing temptation that the new urban places were becoming to the young people of the smaller cities.
I’m also wondering whether our beloved hosts dismissed the first and last paragraphs too quickly.
They are not exactly the same. The first paragraph talks of how when “oceanward eyes on tile rocks” see only mystic whiteness- this is referring to someone on the cliffs, looking out. Whereas the last paragraph talks of how *Kingsport* looks oceanward to see only mystic whiteness. The mystic whiteness being the legends and ancient wisdom of the provinces, isolating not only New York as if it were an island, but even the provinces themselves.
Speaking of J.R.R. Tolkien and Lovecraft, “While I would be surprised if Lovecraft was familiar w/ Tolkien at that point”, the more interesting question concerns Lovecraft’s influence on Tolkien. I’ve always thought that the multi-tentacled monster in the lake in “Fellowship of the Ring” bears an uncanny resemblence to a certain not-dead dreamer under the waves. It is perfectly possible that the Oxford Don was reading imported American fantasy fiction.
Just a thought.
While it’s uncertain whether Tolkien read Lovecraft, he DID read Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories. If there was a Lovecraft influence on Tolkien it may have been through Lovecraft’s influence on Howard.
I’m looking forward to Dream Quest. I’ve always enjoyed the escapist aspect of this story in our workaday world.
Is there a way to purchase the CD that was offered to donators last year?
Never laughed so much in an episode of HPP before!
Looking forward to the literary probing of the Dream Quest – since I dropped reading it after only a couple of pages.
Holy cow! Such conversations! You all have given a lot of food for thought, but I’ll have to sit on it a bit and digest.
Oh, if you still want to get the CD we’re giving it away with donations. If you donate and put in the ‘note’ section of paypal that you want the CD, we’ll give you a link to download it with.
The touch that I really loved in this story was that, when the first visitor (not counting Olney) came by the high house…it knocked. It didn’t scratch or hammer or howl at the door, it knocked, as any civilized visitor might. I’m endlessly amused by the image of this bat-winged, blasphemous horror from beyond sanity’s reign pausing outside and thinking, “Hmm…I don’t want to barge in unannounced. I’d better let him know I’m here.” It would be like receiving an *actual* call from Cthulhu–“Hello, Tillinghast? Yes, it’s Me; I wondered if I could come by later? Say, five-ish?”
Great episode; you guys do wonderful work with some of Lovecraft’s less-wonderful stories.
Zontar: I had a flashback to the movie “The Fifth Element” by reading your comment! Mr Shadow calling Zorg’s office making him sweat blood from his head.
Chard, any chance that you will be at San Diego Comicon this weekend?
Oops! Make that “Chad”. I must have been thinking about white wine.
No – won’t be there, unfortunately, although it’s always a great time.
I didn’t like this story as a horror story at all, but I found the key to it is in the last few paragraphs where the people of Kingsport are essentially afraid that the “magic” is disappearing. Certainly it seems to have disappeared from Olney. At the same time they seem to fear the house in a different way now, it seems like a siren that will draw men away and take the “light” from their eyes.
I find the story to be Lovecraft’s “Young Goodman Brown,” in that it portrays, much like the Hawthorne tale, a man losing his innocence upon some strange discovery.
Another good podcast about a so-so HPL story. I really, really enjoy how you guys are willing to give credit where it’s due, but you’re also willing to point out stuff you don’t like. There are so many things I love about HPL, but some of his writing can make me roll my eyes so hard I feel like I might sprain my ocular muscles.
BTW, “wizened” is pronounced [WIH-zend], like in “wizard,” not [WYZ-zend] like in “wise.”
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The key to the story is the Terrible Old Man’s observation that Olney’s spirit still lingered in the strange high house, or up there in the mists: that is, that Olney’s “soul” did not return with him. He’s right; and that’s why there is now heard revelry from the strange high house—because its mysterious dweller is no longer alone (he has Olney’s spirit-self, or true self, for company.) Now disensouled, the Olney that has returned to Kingsport—Olney in flesh, but not in spirit—is a “solid citizen.” Other interpretations posted here are horsecrap.
I just discovered your site. Having fun with Lovecraft these days and featuring this short story on my blog for this week. I’ve added this link to my post as I’m sure my readers will get a kick out of your commentary. Thanks guys! I happen to like Ross’s interpretation.
[…] http://hppodcraft.com/2010/07/14/episode-49-the-strange-high-house-in-the-mist/ […]
I see the repetition of lines from the beginning of the story at the end of it are an indication that everything is ostensibly back to normal. Thomas going up to the house hasn’t really changed anything as far as the town is concerned. The mystery is still in place.
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