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Lovecraft and the Real

This post was written by Anna
on July 2, 2010 | Comments (2)

Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Donald Tyson, author of The 13 Gates of the Necromicon.

Ask most fans of H. P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos (as it is generally but erroneously called) who Lovecraft was, and chances are they will say he was a science fiction writer. While it is undeniably true that Lovecraft wrote science fiction, that’s not all he wrote. Many of his stories are fantasies patterned after the model of the Arabian Nights, or outright occult horror stories. Even his science fiction is very unlike the science fiction of Clarke and Heinlein. In Lovecraft, science and the stars are both regarded as realms of unutterable horror, and those who delve too deeply into either of them go mad.

Donald TysonScience is not the answer in Lovecraft’s stories, it is the problem. Anyone who looks beneath the surface of our reality will inevitably discover truths with which the human mind cannot cope. It doesn’t matter who does the seeking—no human mind can withstand the truth that lies behind the comforting illusion of our daily lives. Stronger and more courageous minds can endure to look upon reality for a little longer, can bear to delve a little deeper, but they too must always disintegrate in the naked face of the ultimate horror of the real.

This is why the Necronomicon drives men mad. It strips away too much of the comforting illusion that cushions our lives from the shock of truth. In Lovecraft’s stories, truth is a kind of burning angel, the mere touch of which sears flesh from the bone and ultimately transforms everything to ashes. This was not a fictional posture for Lovecraft—this is what he genuinely believed to be so. Lovecraft held that mankind is able to survive only by clinging to illusion the way a drowning man clings to a piece of jetsam.

Not surprisingly, he denied with a tenacious determination reality in his own life. But the reality denied by Lovecraft was not what is commonly thought of as real—the material world, and the laws of science. These fictions Lovecraft embraced and exalted with desperation. He needed them in his life in order to cling to his fragile sanity.

No, the reality Lovecraft denied was what he saw in his dreams, and what he copied from those dreams into his stories. It was the reality of the Necronomicon from which Lovecraft fled his entire life with single-minded, fanatical devotion. He did not reject the occult because he felt contempt for it, although this was his public posture on the subject, he rejected it because it terrified him. And the reason it terrified him was because he sensed, with the deeply buried, unconscious part of his mind, that on some non-material level, it must be the higher truth that would drive him mad.


Our thanks to Donald Tyson for his guest post! For more from Donald, read his article, “Lovecraft and the 13 Gates of the Necronomicon.”

Reader Comments

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#1 
Written By Blackbird "BB"
on July 2nd, 2010 @ 7:28 pm

Hmmm
How to put this, I’ve personally read every page of Fiction Lovecraft ever wrote at least twice, I have read “At the Mountains of Madness.” and the “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward literally dozens of times.

and I think you are fundamentally correct in that in Lovecraft’s minds eye, Science is not the answer.. it is the problem. (that) Anyone who looks beneath the surface of our reality will inevitably discover truths with which the human mind cannot cope… the truth that lies behind the comforting illusion of our daily lives.

but I must admit I for one am disappointed Llewellyn has chosen to further the misconception that the Necronomicon is/was ever more than just what it is … a literary device. An off stage character, that like any off stage character can be imbued with a sense of horror and ‘beyondness’ that no real book, no book quoted at any length; no book described in any detail could hold for Lovecraft’s audience. H.P. understood better than most authors how to point and audiance towards terror, but let the Audience use its imagination to take that final leap.

Its like the old film, ‘American Were Wolf in London’ while the Were Wolf is a nearly off stage horror we only get the least glimpses of … its a great movie and the terror is real; but then they make the mistake of showing him full on, and its just awful and the movie falls on its face. HP never falls on his face, he always keeps the Horror just beyond.

But the Cthulhu Mythos, and that is its proper and widely accepted name was, is, and always will be … A Fiction, and nothing but Fiction. Really,

Blessings, BB.

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#2 
Written By JW
on July 17th, 2010 @ 1:50 am

I quote from one of Lovecraft’s letters: “If any mystic thinks that matter has lost its known properties because it’s been found made of invisible energy, just let him read Einstein and try to apply his new conception by butting his head into a stone wall.”

Mr. Tyson, would you care to test the reality of a stone wall?

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