Post Comment 9 comments on “Episode 23 – The Music of Erich Zann

  • Joyce Armijos on

    I’m a big fan of all of you guys!!
    I can’t wait till you talk about
    “The mountain of Madness”, you know his first and last Novella. Keep up the good work.

  • Sondermann on

    Great Show! I stumbled across your podcast listening to Yog Radio, and started at episode 1.

    Rue d’Orsay is an actual street in Paris.
    Zann is pronounced with a ts sound.

  • Nilesh on

    I enjoy all you podcasts in general and I congratulate you doing a wonderful job. But I found this one kinda weak, for one reason that I had read analysis of author Timo Airaksinen on Erich Zann story in his book ‘The philosophy of H P Lovecraft’.
    You guys may wanna check it out you haven’t yet. It’s a good read.

  • Timothy Dean on

    I just realized that Chris sounds like David Schwimmer

  • Old Man Parker on

    U RAWK!

  • Chadd on

    I think what happened to the narrator is the same thing that happened to other Lovecraft characters, and it represents an idea that Lovecraft seems to be fond of; namely, that the crazy, transdimesional places that coexist with the places we know are sometimes accessible — by accident, by metaphysical invocation, by moving along crazy angles, etc. This access is most often discovered by the Lovecraftian archetype of the sensitive student, artist, explorer, writer — the sensitive seeker, if you will. I think this is what happened to the Erich Zann narrator. Because of his sensitivity to the otherworldly, he somehow wandered through a rift or angle between dimensions and was privy to experiences and information that most of us are oblivious to. This is HPL’s primary personal conceit — that although he was poor, odd, lonely, and in many ways frustrated, he was still above the common run of people, who are not fully aware of their surroundings. In my opinion, this conceit is responsible not only for HPL’s best writing, but also his worst. It’s why some of his stories are laughably supercilious and others are so inexplicably affecting. In any case, as the sensitive seeker explores or researches his transdimensional discovery, he triggers a catastrophe (or near-catastrophe) and the rift is closed. We’re usually not told how or why it’s closed — maybe it collapsed or maybe some force intentionally closed it. Either way, the seeker is left shattered, desolate, and haunted. I think this also represents something that HPL personally felt — that it is very difficult to leverage or parley that special sensitivity into anything more than a unique inner life that is infuriatingly difficult to express or share.

  • Raúl Moreno on

    I quite agree with Chadd.


    I think Zann had come into contact with that outer being because of some past event, but I liked to interpret it as some kind of musical battle between the two, more than trying to drown the other one’s sound.
    I think the outer being wanted to take Zann with him. And if Lovecraft put there the idea that the protagonist is not capable of finding the place ever again it must be a hint that the place no longer exists in our part of the universe. It may be because the entity was so powerful it took the entire street instead of just Zann? The protagonist had time to run away; maybe if he had stayed some more he also would have suffered an ugly fate.

    I believe I remember Lovecraft, as me, didn’t like that endings that left to the reader to think “it was just a dream” or “she was crazy”, etc. He didn’t enjoyed human daily dramas, etc so why to write something that is not weird?

    I’ve always found it so sad for an artist to take the difficult effort to make you forget your scepticism and then tell you “no, sorry, even in this story, there’s no weird things, you are still in that boring world you live.”.

    About Erich still playing while physically dead… I don’t know ^^


    I love these podcasts, mostly because of your humour and “neutrality”; we all should laugh at some Lovecraft, as he himself was probably not proud of, as he was even too critical with his work.

    BTW, although you surely have learnt all of this since these first podcasts, if someone has read that horrible false Lovecraft biography were it is told he throw little stones to windows by night or stupid things like that, know that all that book says is false. Be careful with Lovecraft’s stereotypes; he lived many years (changes) and was not a caricature but a complex person as we all are.
    The best hints are in his letters. Or the memories of his friends or biographies done by serious people as Joshi, etc. to hint the real Lovecraft, not that caricature of a recluse, anti-social, or as you said in a podcast: “he hated everybody” (false!!! we misanthropes hate humanity as an abstract thing, you just have to read history and what we have done, but we have friends and believe in people as individuals).

  • Vincent R. on

    I’m a newcomer to this podcast. So far I have listened to the full reading of “Call of Cthulhu” and the discussions over “Rats in the Walls” and “Pickman’s Model”.

    In the “Pickman” ‘cast, one of the hosts (I forget who) mentioned something to the idea that “Eric Zann” is a better rendition of the “Pickman” story. I have to disagree.

    While the subjects are both “estranged” artists, the local’s are similarly “estranged”, and the narrators are academics, the are little to no other parallels between the two stories.

    —Potential Spoilers Start.—

    Lets look at the two Artists, Pickman the painter and Erich the cellist (or violoncellist). While both are portrayed as world class masters of their craft, outward feeling of their sublime work are polar opposite. Pickman seems to wish the world to see his grotesque works, but is turned down at virtually every turn. Erich seeks to keep his “haunting” works a secret, though was content (begrudgingly it seemed) to play solely on rare occasion.

    Pickman wanted to exposes the true horrors of reality to contrast other’s works of “true beauty” and the like.

    Erich, whose ultimate motives only known to himself and his lost manuscripts (and poss’ The Other out the window), seems to do this “horror works” out of need and fear. In some ways, Erich actions when his narrator attempts to recreate those same works indicate that Eric wishes to keep some “Other” to remain a personal secret.

    Next the local. Pickman’s North End is a known area, but only a very select handful of persons actually call the “district” home (of a place to stay at least). It seems only accessible through labyrinthine alleyways and passages whose geometry confuses the senses. Erich’s, and the Narrator’s, Rue d’Auseil was a relatively known place (at least during the Narrator’s collage stay). This is noted by the population and the Narrator’s 3th Floor neighbors were of some rather notable variety (namely the respectable upholsterer).

    Both artists did seek isolation, Pickman for artistic inspiration, and Erich for reasons mentioned above regarding secrecy. Eich might have had another reason for his choice of room, but I will touch on my hypothesis later.

    And the respective Narrators? Both are victims of Lovecraft’s cardinal sin it seems; curiosity. Thurber (only named because Pickman called him by name) can be surmised to be a student of the arts in the academic perspective, as he could name drop some rather famous artist of the time and showed knowledge art movements and techniques.

    Erich’s nameless Narrator is/was a collage of philosophical metaphysics, and merely had a passing knowledge of music, seemingly able to acknowledge, let alone name,only one non-Erich-original work in all of this listing’s of Erich tallant. As such, is far less articulate in describing what he hears, vs. Thurber’s expert ability of identify the “horrifying realism” cornerstoning Pickman’s “Ghoulish” works.

    In this comparison, I hope I show that, while about profound but estranged artists, these two stories have little in common. They are wholly independent stories that happen to be in Lovecraft’s Eldritch Cosmology (assumingly).

    With at noted, I would like to go over my hypothesis over “The Music of Erich Zann”. Now, I will preface his by saying that I am a very green newcomer to Lovecraftian lore and only aware of it in passing, through a documentary about Lovecraft himself, through two Youtube vid’s attempting to describe it, and though the first two stories I have read. Here they are:

    1) Erich struck of a Devil Contract for his musical talents in exchange for his voice, nighy playing, and his soul with some Other. However, this nightly playing was solly meant to be secret or highly restrictive such that the Narrator’s presence and subsequent listenings upset The Other. In The Other’s attempt to remain secret, It steals the german manuscripts, and tries for take the Narrator out of the equation. This failed attempt subsequently swallowed (or closed off) Rue d’Auseil form the rest of mortal/material reality.

    2) Erich is nightly battling a rough Flute Player of Azathoth (or whatever the sleeping, blind center of all creation is). The details of this secret war was scribed in that lost manuscript, but The Other (here, that Flute Player) did not want that info known…

    3) Erich is contracted to play a small part in keeping Azathoth appeased, at the cost of his voice. Here, some Other found Erich’s natural talent kept Azathoth asleep, in his small mortal way, and employed his to do just that. because of this, Rue d’Auseil was actually “created” to howes Erich ,and a few innocent residence, relatively near Azathoth, whose realm is marked by both the ending wall and the window.

    As such, when the Narrator attempts to recreate the “horror works”, Erich feared that such poor imitation would upset his Other employer, let alone Azathoth. The times when Erich did play for the Narrator were times he managed to squeeze some time away from his “Other’ly” duties (like some other contacti was willing and able to cover his shit or something).

    On that fateful night, either the Other figured out the Narrator’s presence and eavesdropping, or Erich faltered somehow. One can be surtan, The Other did not want It’s story to be known (like the hosts posited). That faint, distant note? Likely a warning (for that other contracted player of time and space, of my “mechanical design”) of Azathoth’s impending restlessness.

    As penalty for not upholding the contract, The Other sawt to unmake Rue d’Auseil and cutoff any hope of exposing Azathoth to any more rude awakening’s of that puny planet it’s tinny, transitory inhabitance call Earth.

    This last 2 hypothesis gite Erich a sense of majesty and mastery over his craft that even Pickman would only dream of. Erich, in either case, had to have skills rivaling that of Gods themselves, and had a hand in keeping the inevitable a bay, regardless how futile it may be.

    — End of Spoilers.—

    Thank you for reading my easy on this matter, and to the Podcast, keep up all your hard work in bringing Lovecraft to the unsuspecting masses.

  • Ryan L on

    Hey Guys,
    Love the show! I’m re-listening from the beginning while I’m hunkering down to wait out the Coronavirus outbreak.What’s the piece of music played at 27min 40sec in? It’s really nice! I’d love to know the artist.

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