@DMcCool To my knowledge, the invention of cosmic horror is universally attributed to Lovecraft.
@TransconaSlim - Yeah, i'm waiting for my next paycheck and then I'm buying it. There's a great review of it, arguing that Houellebcq is satan himself and that his book celebrates Lovecrafts darker side in the book rather than condemning it. http://www.curledup.com/lovecrft.htm
(There's also what appears to be an amateur translation here: blog.urbanomic.com/dread/archives/houellebecq-lovecraft.pdf) (
Now, after reading Callaghan's arguments, it sent me off thinking. The idea of mundane/cosmic/dream strands in Lovecraft is useful to spark new ideas. And something occurred to me, namely Lovecraft's view of psychology.
Think of either Poe's "black cat" or Stephen King's "Shining" (Lovecraft connections on either side of time). Both stories show from within the descent into madness, something that I think is a very popular horror trope.
But can you think of any story where Lovecraft's characters break down psychologically due to human pressure
? You know: from grief, greed, disappointment, torture- whatever? Did Lovecraft ever engage in the study of the human mind? I cant. In Lovecraft's pieces, madness and evil is explained instead as either inherent in biology
, or caused by exposure to cosmic horror
And that helps me understand his dream stories better.
Those stories suggest that Lovecraft viewed that the mind of healthy individuals was not only sane and good, but awesome in power. The psychology of Carter once we probe it is that of a demi-good.
To me, it seems that Lovecraft cannot consider the possibility that a healthy man of English decent to be evil or go mad, unless through a heroic-but-doomed encounter with the great powers.
There seems to be a contrast in his mind between the sanity of the isolated, pure mind and the horrors of the materialistic world lacking in humanity and aesthetics.
While Lovecraft expresses his fear of biological causes of evil and madness through racism, this view puts Lovecraft himself in the spotlight. Didn't his father go mad? If "bad stuff" is biological and genetic, doesn't that mean that Lovecraft had "bad stuff" in HIS genes? It's almost as if his racism is a way to express his own worst fear in what he felt was a less personal, less subjective way. He is shameless in his racism, so it seems like he was absolutely sure his audience agreed with him. Maybe he tapped into what he saw as an accepted, universal fear of biology, but which was really only reflecting his own fear of his own destiny.