Friday, November 14

One Track Mind: Lovecraft in Brooklyn

Track title: Lovecraft in Brooklyn
Artist: Mountain Goats
Album: Heretic Pride

Whither H.P. Lovecraft? He of the overwrought, modern classical horror narratives, purveyor of all things "squamous" and "rugose?" He seems to be enjoying a minor renaissance among the net's intelligentsia, despite his bizarre proclivities towards eugenics and other outright violations of political correctness. Taste-makers from BoingBoing to MeFi peddle Cthulhu-themed tea-cozies and other mind-boggling, long-tail elements of niche hipster consumerism gone awry. Modern auteurs such as Mike Mignola and Guillermo del Toro borrow liberally from the fertile, feotid soil of ol' Howard Phillips' imagination, with admittedly entertaining results.

None of this excuses the truly execrecable aspects of Lovecraft's actual oeuvre, from his gender theories to his prose. And yet, despite his horribility, Lovecraft's stock continues to rise among present-day interwebbers. I can't explain it.

Now, something exists that might excuse these aspects of Lovecraft, and that is this song by the Mountain Goats.

H.P. Lovecraft, you can keep doing whatever it is you do, so long as you continue to posthumously inspire rock and roll such as this.

P.S. I like the double entendre of the song's rallying cry: "I feel like Lovecraft in Brooklyn." At first listen, I did not think of Lovecraft the Proper Noun, but rather "lovecraft" the possible neologism in the vein of "statecraft" or "songcraft." I feel like lovecraft in Brooklyn indeed.


Fraxas said...

I have nothing to say about the mountain goats. (I should give that album another shot; I was far, far, too angry at the world to tolerate it the first time I tried it.) But on Lovecraft, I can say that though I'm a fan of the mythos - dude basically popularized the horror genre - I agree his writing's execrable. He's as unreadable as Verne, as Asimov, as Heinlein. But his ideas! Things Man Was Not Meant To Know. Terrible Geometries. Nightmares From Beyond Time. Magic as a dangerous, barely controllable undertaking.

I get a thrill I don't fully understand from the ideas. If I had to give a post-hoc rationalization for it, I'd make an analogy between what I do for a living (and for fun), abstract-system manipulation in an environment that values specialized skill and knowledge, and what HPL's characters are about. The other analogy I'd make would be to children and dinosaurs: they're enormous, scary, violent, dangerous, and


because they've been dead for millions of years.

Pharaohmagnetic said...

That's a very good point. I can't believe I forgot to name-drop Stross and the mind-blowing awesomeness of imagination that underlies the Atrocity Archives. Lovecraft deserves at least part of that credit.

You blogged about this before, before, too.

Anyway, I admit that this is the wrong song to hear when you're angry at the world. But, if you're feeling alienated, unmoored, and far-from-the-home-that-no-longer-exists, much as Lovecraft felt when he was living in Brooklyn rather than his native Providence, then this is the song for you. All the more so if you fear the unspeakable entities from beyond the stars that will one day return to a cursed Earth and swallow our souls.

Jonathan Rubin said...

Hmmmm... didn't know that he had odd political views. I guess weirdness generally has no bounds... Nice prose, BTW :)