Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The racism is part of the charm!

Ok, so I spent much of my free time today reading more H. P. Lovecraft stories again instead of writing. But it's "research", since I'm doing a Lovecraft pastiche this year. Yeeeeaaah... research... suuuuure.

And now I think part of the appeal of it is that you can get into this racist, horrified mindset. I mean, Lovecraft goes way beyond being "of his time" in the racism department. When you read the stories, you can sympathize and feel his horror at racial mixing, the fear of racial "degeneracy", the horror of foreigners, the fear that you yourself might turn out to be "tainted". It's interesting that eventually he seems to start to come to terms with it. The narrator of the "Shadow over Innsmouth" initially sees the Other as ugly and evil. By the end, he accepts it in himself and even empathizes with his poor cousin (locked away in an insane asylum). Unlike his uncle, he doesn't go and kill himself (although he does consider it.) He plans to go swim off to join his hybrid kin under the sea. (*cue happy song and dance number*). While this acceptance is itself part of the "horror" of the story, hey, it's progress. Of a sort.

The "cosmic horror" aspect isn't as objectionable to the modern day reader. But it's just as alien, in a way. As an atheist, I agree humans are not the end-all and be-all of existence. I don't think the universe cares. (I haven't seen any evidence to the contrary.) However, the thought does not fill me with terror or drive me towards insanity! I mean, it would be cool to time travel by swapping minds with some alien race! (Though not so cool to have my own species wiped out in a mass migration of alien minds.) Oooo.... giant sea monsters... Yeah. But by reading the stories, one can understand how horrifying it can be. (Of course it's frightening to be squished like a bug, but it's not intrinsically horrifying! It's only horrifying in context.) And in the Lovecraft stories, that element of wonder does exist and is appreciated. The dream quests. The strange alien cities. The ancient ruins. Mind-boggling, imaginative stuff.

Well, maybe that's just me. Part of the appeal of the Narnia series to me was letting me understand the Christian point of view and getting the importance of faith (which would otherwise be mysterious to me). And I liked Jane Austen novels for showing me an alien society.

NaNo NaNo NaNo. Well. One thing about NaNo is that it reminds me how easy it is to write 25000 words a month. Why don't I do that every month? Then I wouldn't have to bother with NaNo. Why? ARRRGH!

Lovecraft pastiche of the day:

The first word of the day is always the hardest.

That the word is in a human language and of a wholesome cast, is a battle I must fight every day. Today I shall have the victory.

Thus, a definite article in my mother tongue. I bind myself to the letters that one may follow another to form a word safe to read or write.

The second follows the first. It suggests a subject, a verb, and indeed a phrase or even a full sentence.

Only by such oblique measures can I bring myself to speak... no, even now I cannot bring myself to /speak/. But the written word is farther removed from those thoughts that writhe with such reptilian vigor in the recesses of the mind.

It is no longer a mind I claim as my own. It has become tainted with the /other/.

No. No more words will I expend on it, lest my own words be used to conjure it into the daylight world bequeathed by the grace of God to Mankind.

But write I must. The compulsion baffles my doctors, but is humored by the custodians of this quaint bedlam where I have been consigned by my parents ever since my return from Sabokan County. I am brought pen and ink and as much paper as I require to damn myself.

/Yrkth Ugh.../

No. My hand is my own. It is not illness of the mundane sort that afflicts me, no fever of the brain, no madness or consumption. They do not understand, who have never breathed the ghost-laden air of Sabokan County. They have never looked upon the face of the Breaker of Worlds.

I wish to God I had such innocence.

It was shortly after the war that I was sent there. I was a clerk then. It was my task to enscribe the treaty as it was agreed between our government and...


Ah, it is not any name I would willingly scribe. Those /powers/ that rule Sabokan County have names that are heard by entities tis better not to alert. More than heard. /Listened for/. Aye, there is one thing they can share with us, and that is an abominable /curiosity/.

Thus it was that I came to /their/ attention.

At the time I understood nothing. During the war, the folk of Sabokan County had allied themselves with our president and aided materially in our victory. Without them the blood toll would have risen even higher. Thus, even after his death, it seemed natural to me that we should honor our agreements and make this treaty with them. It was to end over a hundred years of violence and savagery that Sabokan County was finally embraced in the Union, under terms honorable and just to both sides.

A noble aim, was it not?

As I say, I understood nothing. The terms of the treaty I wrote down as I heard them, without understanding the meaning behind the words.

In ancient times, barbarous tribes made their peace by fostering their sons and marrying their daughters to their one-time enemies. Now... now things are not done so simply. But that exchange of flesh and blood is not so archaic as one might imagine.

I was not brought to Sabokan County as a mere employee, but as an offering.

And I was given. For it is the desire of certain of those /powers/ to walk among mortals unnoticed. They wish to /travel/. The human world beyond Sabokan County has been locked from them by the work of those adepts who in secret association have guarded the human race from those /outside/.

I shall not speak of those rites which bound that alien being into my body. It is enough that this creature shares my mind, shares every particle of my being. I do not know what madmen, inspired by what hideous demons, devised such rituals. They are unfit for human eyes to witness, a blasphemy for human ears to hear.

/H'shia sunektlar yug inindiyath./

No. I will cut off my own right hand before I set such abominations down on paper.

/It/ is here, but it will see no more of the world than these four walls. It will corrupt no one, for I will never speak another word. This record I will burn as I have all the others.

I feel my body failing day by day. Such vile co-habitation is a constant degradation. Not for much longer will I endure this hell. Another week? Another month? See the tremor in my hand that no effort of will can suppress. Note the sickly hue of my skin.

Damn the treaty. Damn the peace. If I am a traitor for fleeing that unclean ritual too early, you are traitors to all Mankind for giving me over to...

/H'shia sunektlak yug urghulach!/

[Papers found on XXX's desk at the time of his death at the St. Mary's Sanitarium in YYY]

Addendum: (2012)

A sad story. The poor fellow was just trying to call out for help, but the host was too paranoid. Too scared to listen. He preferred to be stuck in the loony bin until the day he died (which happened a lot sooner than it needed to, down to pure human stubbornness.)

I wonder if it would happen that way today? I mean, there's laws about informed consent, yadda yadda yadda. But it sounds like they did give that clerk some papers to read and tried to explain things to him. He just didn't understand. Didn't understand what he was getting into, that is. Or what was getting into him.

Some people can't take it. Psychologically, that is. It's one of the deep instinctual fears and taboos, like snakes, bugs, and sex with your sibling. People don't like it. It feels wrong. But those instincts don't stop people from snake-charming, tarantula-keeping, or incest. So yeah. Just one of those things.

I suppose the Guest got home eventually. I couldn't find any record of its name or affiliation, though one can guess from the fragments here. Probably a yughul. Their techniques have improved since the nineteenth century, luckily.

I've met a few modern-day yughuls here and about. There was one at the gas station just off route 206 in Sabokan County. Nice fellow. Married to a human woman. Not sure how well that works, but hey, who am I to judge? I used to stop there regularly, on my way to the Unthinkable Library. The library moved in 2010, so I don't go that way much anymore.

People don't write this crap down like that anymore, either. Nowadays it's all facebook and selfies and youtube and twitter. Yughuls love twitter. Done wonders for their communication difficulties. Whatever you want to say, however dumb or weird, has been said somewhere in the twitterverse.

Annoys the Chronarchy no end.

They keep a lid on it best they can, but it's like whatsisface telling the tide not to come in. Yeah. I was an intern for the Chronarchy the summer before I was hired by the Hex. Whole different environment.

Really strict with the mind control.

Glad I only stayed the one summer.

The Hex gives me a longer leash. I can keep my hands clean, as long as I keep my nose out of the nasty shit. I can't help getting a whiff now and then, but...

Hey, they're keeping the homeland safe for humanity, right?

They gotta do what they gotta do.


  1. I haven't ever read Lovecraft, but he's been on my list for ages now! I'm very slow at getting around to reading "the classics".

    Also, I think I don't write nearly as much when it's not NaNo because I don't feel that "push" to write. Or rather, that freedom to just spew out words not caring if they're good or not. And besides, the rest of my time should be spent editing what I've spewed out in the past!

  2. One of the nice things about Lovecraft is lots of short stories. As a person with a short attention span, I am likelier to read "classics" that are... short!

    But yeah, I know what you mean about the "push" and spewing out words.