October 10th, 2009

Tea-drinker par excellence

Down these means streets

HP Podcraft's latest issue discusses The Street, clearly one of the worst Lovecraftian stories that he ever wrote. On the other hand the discussion about HPL and modernism, from about 20 minutes in, is very interesting indeed. It sets up the Miskatonic Valley against Modernism with its Christian views. HPL loved the Classics and they say to know the gods is to invite madness.

HPL said that he wrote the short story Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" after he "had nearly fallen asleep over the tame backstairs gossip of Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio." HPL wrote that he wanted to write something that would make Winesburg sound like "the annual report of a sunday school" So in Winesburg they might have a few moral issues but in AJ, the guy's a freaking monkey-man (which is kind of ironic given HPL's atheism and his, and I'm just presuming, support of Darwin's theories).

I would go and read TdL on this but I really need to tidy my books first. By which I mean, I can't find it.
Tea-drinker par excellence

It was the little people

There was a man who when he slept, saw in his dreams little people who acted out scenes. And he thought perhaps he could do something with these little people.

... the little people who manage man's internal theatre had not as yet received a very rigorous training; and played upon their stage like children who should have slipped into the house and found it empty, rather than like drilled actors performing a set piece to a huge hall of faces. But presently my dreamer began to turn his former amusement of story-telling to (what is called) account; by which I mean that he began to write and sell his tales. Here was he, and here were the little people who did that part of his business, in quite new conditions. The stories must now be trimmed and pared and set upon all fours, they must run from a beginning to an end and fit (after a manner) with the laws of life; the pleasure, in one word, had become a business; and that not only for the dreamer, but for the little people of his theatre. These understood the change as well as he. When he lay down to prepare himself for sleep, he no longer sought amusement, but printable and profitable tales; and after he had dozed off in his box-seat, his little people continued their evolutions with the same mercantile designs.

And this seemed to work quite well, and he wrote down these stories, but he always wondered, Who are the Little People? They are near connections of the dreamer's, beyond doubt; they share in his financial worries and have an eye to the bank-book; they share plainly in his training; they have plainly learned like him to build the scheme of a considerate story and to arrange emotion in progressive order; only I think they have more talent; and one thing is beyond doubt, they can tell him a story piece by piece, like a serial, and keep him all the while in ignorance of where they aim. Who are they, then? and who is the dreamer?

And that man was R.L. Stevenson.