Lovecraft: Invading the ego with shadows from the id
Recently published at the online Trebuchet Magazine, which “champions contemporary art, activist politics, and ecstatic music” and strives to be “A creative magazine minus the lifestyle upsell,” this brief and astute analysis of Lovecraft cuts right to the heart of his deep and enduring appeal as a visionary supernatural horror writer whose works resonate with an apparently inexhaustible power:
[T]he very titles of his tales announce a delirium spell:
BEYOND THE WALLS OF SLEEP
THE COLOUR OUT OF SPACE
THE WHISPERER IN THE DARKNESS
THE HORROR AT RED HOOK
DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE
The content consists of an almost whimsical effort to disturb the rational mind by overloading it with hyper-spatial concepts, mundane technical detail and curiously familiar atavisms which linger long after the final page. There are no traces of human eroticism but the work is positively id pornographic — loaded with lustrous glowing colours and the faint sting of intra-dimensional penetration.
Although his works are daring and imaginative, I defy anyone to stay completely focused on the narrative while reading Lovecraft. Try it as an exercise, and see if you can remember who exactly did what to whom, the precise location shifts, or even the exact order of events. A great effort is required by the reader to prevent the conscious mind from drifting down the many strange pathways which are sprung open by suggestive images embedded in the text. I suspect that it is these fecund pathways which attract and stimulate artists of a certain mindset.
. . . [T]hat is the startling point of Lovecraft’s fiction: to encourage a wilful interpenetration of the single-faceted ego by the sprawling id. Like the protagonist of The Innsmouth Horror* who discovers, at the last, and to his sublime relief, that he is one with the alien race who have pursued him relentlessly throughout the tale, it is we, the readers, who have been lured into an exotic and disturbing dream space not only for our pleasure, but for the sheer pleasure of the dream itself.
More: “Why Is Lovecraft So Sexy?“
* One wonders if the writer is actually thinking of Lovecraft’s story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” but has gestalted the wrong title in there. The Innsmouth Horror is an expansion pack for the Arkham Horror board game.