|Posted by Tronyn on 2003/08/05 18:10:29|
|I thought Lovecraft would make a good topic for discussion here, since I'm sure the ratio of Lovecraft readers here is much higher than average. Discuss Lovecraft's ideas/philosophy, and also works of art/music/literature which attempt to capture Lovecraft's vision and whether they succeed or fail.
I've read the following compilations of work written in imitation of Lovecraft:
"The Disciples of Cthulu":
This contains a mixed bag. There are two incredible stories: The Terror From the Depths by Fritz Leiber and Darkness, My Name Is by Eddy C. Burglund (or some last name like that). Particularly the latter is amazing. The rest are either half-decent or abysmal.
"Tales of the Lovecraft Mythos":
A recent collection that pretty much stinks. There was one story that qualified as interesting; the rest were garbage.
"The Children of Cthulu" is another compilation that I saw for sale, but it looked so trashy that I didn't even pick it up.
I've also read "The Burrowers Beneath" by Brian Lumley, and "The Transition of Titus Crow" which follows upon it. The first book is quite good, Lumley's concept for a new type of Lovecraftian monster that inhabits the earth's core is very original and very cool. However, about 3/4 of the way through the first book, it starts to suck: it becomes like Lovecraft meets Tom Clancy's Rainbow 6, and that just sucks. An elite team of Cthulu monster eliminating specialists? BAH!!!!
The entire second book is so far over the top that, despite having some interesting ideas and being written well, it is just ridiculous. "Transition" is like Lovecraft meets H.G. Wells - something else so inappropriate it could never work.
Everyone probably agrees that John Carpenter's "The Thing" both is Lovecraftian and kicks much ass. But don't even get me started on how lame it is of id to rip monsters from that film for Doom3. "In The Mouth Of Madness" by the same director crosses Lovecraft's ideas with some Steven King style stuff, and it works out quite well. The movie is extremely, extremely over-the-top.
"Dagon" is a recent adaptation of Shadow Over Innsmouth, and is not horrible, but fails to capture the disturbingness of the story properly.
I've heard someone call the movie "Pi" Lovecraftian, and that could work on some level, but not a literal one.
There's always "The Thing That Should Not Be" back from the classic Metallica days, as well as "The Call of the Ktulu" by the same group from the same period. Both are very good.
Fields of the Nephilim apparently have a lot of Lovecraftian references in their music, but their inclusion of Sumerian mythology suggests perhaps they were suckers for the hoaxed Necronomicon which stated that Lovecraft's mythos was an adaptation of Sumerian mythology.
And in one song by Joy Division:
"An abyss that laughs at creation
A circus complete with all fools
Foundations that lasted the ages
Then ripped apart at their roots
Beyond all this good is the terror
The grip of a mercenary hand
When savagery turns for good reason
There's no turning back, no last stand"
That's probably enough blabbing by me for now, I'm sure others will have plenty to say.
PS: Also, last time I was at the bookstore I noticed that Penguin Classics had issued a book in their series entitled "The Call of Cthulu and Other Stories" by H.P. Lovecraft. Imagine Lovecraft finally being accepted as a canonical writer, alongside the likes of Dostoyevsky and other "real" and respected authors. Perhaps English profs won't be able to sneer so confidently at his work now...
I also bought a used compilation of his stories. I have only finished a few.
It's pronounced Kuh-THOO-lu, if I remember what my old copy of the RPG said.
Sandy Petersons Maps
were ugly, but very fun to play... and their odd blend of ugliness and randomness in my opinion added to the otherworldly feel that is Doom. hell shouldnt be structured.
same goes for Quake, he did the 4th episode which is the Elder world, which really shouldnt make much sense... he made good use of lighting and some neat tricks in his maps.
in a way i think he was the best mapper, in that his maps didnt look just like anyone elses... and it really did help create the sense of an otherworld.
Though episode two I think is the best (I guess Romero is good for something), I don't hate E4 nearly as much as everyone else. Who can despise The Elder God Shrine or the Palace of Hate? or what about the surreal coolness of Azure Agony?
I am not denying that Peterson's style gets very weird and features useless architecture often, but there is much good to be seen in E4.
...was the shittest by a considerable margin. E1, E2, and E3 all have their distinct and invidual charm (I prefer E1 for the mapping, but E3 for the theme), while E4 is vague and haphazard. Never-the-less I do find a few maps appealing - E4M5 has some cool design features, the donut of E4M4 is really rather cool, and there's other odd little features dotted around (shrines, graveyards). I also understand where people are getting at with the atmosphere, it is even more dislocated than Quake in general* - unfortunately that is not adequately supported with refined mapping - once can make something that is fucked up but also well made (Elek's "Darkness" I think has captured the spirit of E4 well, but with much better mapping).
* This is also noticably in the gameplay, full of odd traps, mad spawning monsters (E4M3!), excessive power-ups etc, which I think works well enough to add character.
....I think I have just managed to argue against myself that the margin of shitness was not nearly as considerable as I first stated.
knows lots about Lovecraft, but he seems to have disappeared, gone on vacation or soemthing.
I am thinking about doing a lovecraft Page at my site.
I have read a few of his stories and love them.
I have not disappeared, I just didn't want to rehash the same old stuff I've posted before.
The matter of Lovecraft in movies is always a troublesome one. R.P.G. linked me to a site a while ago ( http://www.gizmology.net/lovecraft/movies/critique.htm
) where an author drew the distinction between Lovecraft
movies and Lovecraftian
movies; the former being those that are specifically based, and often titled, after some component of the Mythos e.g. Dagon, Necronomocon ( a passable TV movie triplet in the Tales From The Crypt mould ) and Cthulhu Mansion. The latter are those that have a more implicit connection to the mythos, yet capture its essence e.g. The Thing and Alien. The former tend to be rather cheesy, as though the movie makers simply cannot accept the mythos as anything more than 'rag-tag band of characters set upon by tentacled horror' and often contain painfully stilted scenes of explanatory dialogue, paraphrsing chunks of the mythos, or Vincent Price hamming it up as some tin pot occultist. The latter are generally superior and deal with tensions of mood and time rather than action.
There are plenty of other 'survival' movies that ostensibly contain Lovecraftian elements - Pitch Black ( whos sinuous nocturnal creatures can only be Night Gaunts :) ), Phantoms, Deep Rising, Leviathan, Sphere etc. etc. Whether or not they are Lovecraftian depends more on what surrounds the creatures than the creatures themselves. With most movies, as with other media, Lovecraftian themes or elements crop up all the time but alongside other stuff like action and high tech.
One of the most Lovecraftian films I've seen recently is the Australian classic Picnic At Hanging Rock. There's not a tentacle or blasphemous tome in sight, but the atmosphere and suggestion of something primal and hungry tugging at the characters' stiff, aristocratic and repressed world is overwhelming. It's commonly understood now that the best way to depict a monster/ghost/entity in a movie is subtly and sparingly, because what the audience sees is not as scary as what they think
they see; Ridley Scott realised this and cut most of the Alien out of his movie. You could view Picnic At Hanging Rock as the ultimate extension of this - the creature movie where there is no creature. There are other ways to view it too.
With regards other writers, some of the best stuff I've read is published by Chaosium ( the publishers of the COC RPG ). Stories are collected, edited and introduced by Robert M. Price, who also includes a few of his own works, and divided by subject matter. Each anthology is focused on one of the key entities of the mythos, such as Azathoth or The Necronomicon, and the stories span many years, authors and interpretations. Price has some of the best comprehension and erudition of the mythos ever and really helps to connect it all together.
The only Lumley I've read were his short story compilations. Interestingly enough, the stuff I enjoyed most were his shorts not based directly on Lovecraft, collected together in Fruiting Bodies And Other Fungi. Cool stuff. His treatment of the familiar mythos always struck me as a tad amatuerish and literal.
As for Lovecraft being granted literary credibility, in one introduction I read ( possibly one of Price's ) it mentioned that Jorge Louise Borge had dedicated a short story of his, published in an American magazine, to H.P. Lovecraft. I think many writers probably do regard Lovecraft as important; it's his association with schlock horror by critics and even readers that seems to be the problem.
BTW Tronyn, the Nephilim are anything but suckers. It sounds like you have neither the mind nor soul to appreciate Carl's music, lyrics or beliefs. The hoax Necronomicon doesn't state that Lovecraft was explicitly
basing his mythos on Sumerian mythology. Lovecraft didn't base any of his ideas explicitly on anything; there are elements of hindu, hebrew and egyptian in the names and deities of the mythos, but his intention was not to create a pantheon that directly imitated any one of those ( which is what most generic fantasy/scif-fi does ). The book simply draws parallels with Lovecraft, the magical system of Aleister Crowley and Sumerian mythology, the contrast being against the more common and in fact more historically recent ideas of good/evil dualism. And considering it's a hoax, the effect Carl achieved by drawing on it for inspiration is as genuine as it gets. But to say any more would, I fear, be pearls before swine.
It Wasn't I
R.P.G. linked me to a site a while ago ( http://www.gizmology.net/lovecraft... )
As much as I would like to be associated with something useful, I'm afraid that I cannot honestly take credit for having shown you that site.
ok, maybe it was a different site. Or a different R.P.G. Or a different me? Spooky.
A comic book that has a fair amount of Lovecraft influence is the Hellboy series ( by Mike Mignola, who also did an Aliens graphic novel, Salvation ).
The long-awaited AvP movie is apparently to be set in present day Antarctica, where a research team discover ancient monuments beneath the icecap.
And I got this in my inbox recently: http://www.applelust.com/oped/editorials/archives/monks_030801.shtml
- Kthulhu Fhtagn
It Is Time
I think now would be a good time to insert this lovely drawing by biff:
that image is hilarious.
As for Fields, I happen to like their music a lot. But perhaps I was treading on holy ground by suggesting their inspiration from the hoaxed Necronomicon was less than entirely valid. I see that you are more quickly offended by this than I would have expected, but then again since Fields appear to be the one band that is very central to you, it's probably similar to what I would think if someone attempted to call Joy Division insincere.
Anyway, I am perfectly aware of what Lovecraft's mythos represents and what his intentions were, and I didn't think that his ideas were based on anything previously existing beforehand. I am well aware of parallels between his work and other mythologies, especially hindiusm, some of which are discussed by him in his essays and even sometimes referenced in his stories. Also, I don'y think I need any lecturing on how recent good/evil dualism concepts are.
The point is, defend Fields as much as you like (and thank you for clarifying their intent to draw their own parallels, rather than taking hoaxed parallels for granted), but aside from that clarification I was well aware of the rest of the information that you stated.
...I was well aware of the rest of the information that you stated.
I, on the other hand, was not.
kell and tronyn collaborate on a huge Q1SP lovecraft tribute level.
After all, they are two of the best Quake 1 mappers around. =)
Fair enough, mate. I try very hard not to be precious about the Neph, but they have an even bigger impact on me than Quake ( gasp ). The main reason I relate to them so much is because they are genuine...they mean every note, lyric and image 100% and that's a very rare thing. I mean, I must be the biggest Aliens fan left on the planet, but I'm also the first ( and often the second, third and fourth ) to acknowledge the flaws and inconsistencies in the saga. One of the commonest misconceptions that narks me the most is the interpretaion of the pentagram as an exclusively satanic symbol. It's not. That's not a matter of personal interpretation, it's mathematical fact. But that doesn't stop id software slapping 666 all over their games or poorly-informed neopagans debating the issue in pubs and forums.
Anyhow, no hard feelings I hope.
Tronyn did try to get me involved in such a Q1SP epic, but tbh I'm not sure I'm up to it anymore.
Maybe I am.
I need a smoke.
Shine On Through My Silent Thought Again...
I also think Daniel Z. ...um... Whatshisface's House of Leaves is Lovecrafty in its style. (No, I'm not talking about the typesetting trickery.)
no hard feelings, don't worry about it. I know what you mean, there is a lot of misinformation and general crap floating about in the esoteric realms as it were :)
I can see why my suggestion would have offended you now, hehe. My apologies.
As for the Lovecraft Q1SP epic, there was a time a while ago when I actually thought glassman, myself, and several others (I think tyrann as well) were going to do one, with help from kell. But it fell through. Truth be told I'm not sure if I really *can* Q1SP map anymore, because although I would like to and do try, I find that first I'm far too into Wc3.3 to use WC1.6a anymore, which creates tons of problems, and also everything I create ends up being so massive and detailed that the engine can't handle it.
there is a lot of misinformation and general crap floating about in the esoteric realms
As "demonstrated" artfully by Umberto Eco in Foucault's Pendulum.
You do realize that you can use WC3.3 to map for Q1, don't you?
you can use GtkRadiant too.
yes you can, but there are a lot of problems.
foremost among them is texture alignment Anyway, it's essentially a matter of the amount of hassle, which is large.
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