Book club #3: The Music of Erich Zann (HP Lovecraft)

Corpsey

bandz ahoy
he's anti-science therefore pro-transcendence - "here is a window such as Erich Zann's, beyond which lies a world more terrible than imagination can grasp, where science dwindles to zero and incredible passions rage as winds in a vacuum.... Where?"
I wouldn't characterise Lovecraft as anti science. As I recall, he actually fetishised the 18th century and its 'enlightenment' principles. He was certainly dejected by what science had seemed to have proven the existential case: that the universe is vast, and indifferent to human values, and beyond our paltry comprehension.

Nicked from Reddit

"Astronomy underwent radical expansion over the course of Lovecraft's life. Between his birth in 1890 and his short story "Polaris" in 1918, improvements in telescopes and the advent of spectroscopy had increased the number of stars we could catalog from around 400 (visible with the naked eye) to over 10,000, then upwards of a million. Then in 1920, the Great Debate over "spiral nebulae" opened up the staggering possibility that our Milky Way was not the only galaxy and that the so-called "Andromeda Nebula" and similar bodies were as well—which Edwin Hubble would conclusively settle only a few years later.

By 1926, when Lovecraft wrote his breakthrough "cosmic horror" tale "The Call of Cthulhu", the known size of the universe had increased another six orders of magnitude and humanity's place in it had grown all the more insignificant. No wonder Lovecraft's narrator felt that science "will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
I wouldn't characterise Lovecraft as anti science. As I recall, he actually fetishised the 18th century and its 'enlightenment' principles. He was certainly dejected by what science had seemed to have proven the existential case: that the universe is vast, and indifferent to human values, and beyond our paltry comprehension.

Nicked from Reddit

"Astronomy underwent radical expansion over the course of Lovecraft's life. Between his birth in 1890 and his short story "Polaris" in 1918, improvements in telescopes and the advent of spectroscopy had increased the number of stars we could catalog from around 400 (visible with the naked eye) to over 10,000, then upwards of a million. Then in 1920, the Great Debate over "spiral nebulae" opened up the staggering possibility that our Milky Way was not the only galaxy and that the so-called "Andromeda Nebula" and similar bodies were as well—which Edwin Hubble would conclusively settle only a few years later.

By 1926, when Lovecraft wrote his breakthrough "cosmic horror" tale "The Call of Cthulhu", the known size of the universe had increased another six orders of magnitude and humanity's place in it had grown all the more insignificant. No wonder Lovecraft's narrator felt that science "will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."
Good post. And yeah, he was anything but anti-science. At one point he wanted to be an astronomer.
 

Corpsey

bandz ahoy
no one writes as badly as lovecraft except a few comic book writers. its unprecedented in terms of how bad it is.
I can't remember if houellebecq acknowledges (or refutes) this in his book

Famously the French poets revered Poe, who is often regarded by English/American critics as stylistically embarrassing
 

catalog

Well-known member
And similar through line to new wave French cinema, where they famously revered monogram pictures, which was strictly b movie
 

Corpsey

bandz ahoy
It must happen a lot with English/Americans appreciating literature that speakers of the native tongue find tasteless.

The example that springs to mind is Dostoevsky, who is obviously revered in the West but who Nabokov considered a terrible writer (though this might just be a case of Nabokov being eccentric and hating Dostoevsky for other, non-stylistic reasons).
 

WebEschatology

Well-known member
nice one corpsey have you read it, it's literally a 20 minute thing, props to @WebEschatology whose opinion would also be good to hear
i mean i picked this story because it for a lack of a better expression exists in its own universe its not bogged down by any of the Cthulhu stuff and feels like a more off the beaten path take on the kind of stories Poe was writing.

Not only that but its one of the more effective stories where his lack of any explicit description of the music Zann plays or whatever black chaotic void he sees at the end works to the stories advantage imo
 

luka

Well-known member
if he doesn't know how to read then how has he been able to navigate this forum for so long?

i say this with no knock on audiobooks btw
He's got a sort of knack for saying things which, though strictly speaking are irrelevant, feel somewhat related to the conversation. It's like a sixth sense but it's completely random.
 

version

Well-known member
he wouldn't have lasted a minute in one of those old garage raves especially when the badman started taking over

Lovecraft in a garage rave looking like Steve Bannon in Saudi Arabia.

tenor.gif
 

WebEschatology

Well-known member
He's got a sort of knack for saying things which, though strictly speaking are irrelevant, feel somewhat related to the conversation. It's like a sixth sense but it's completely random.
is it a sixth sense or just that he has a habit of just saying things and dishing out takes just to say things and dish out takes?
 

luka

Well-known member
He can't read what we say, it's just random chance that gives the illusion of participation and communication. It's an eerie effect but I promise you he doesn't know how to read.
 
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