The SFFaudio Podcast #523 – The Tomb by H.P. Lovecraft; read by D.E. Wittkower. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (32 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Evan Lampe.
Talked about on today’s show:
The Vagrant, March 1922, June 1917, Weird Tales, 1926, his first adult story, so polished, Jesse’s favourite Lovecraft story, personality, Jervas Hyde or Jervas Dudley, how you interpret the events of the story, I want to be somewhere else, Polaris, WWI, a civil war among the Teutonic races, complex loyalties, bacchanalians, beautiful not horrific, Gaudeamus, lyrics for an Ale Storm, out of character, out of place, the one flaw in the story, that’s the point, possessed, genetic connection, lucky for me, dreamed all day, are the events all real, humouring him?, a palliative?, Hiram should be black in the film adaptation, an aged and simple minded servitor, who like me loves the churchyard, he insults everybody, an archetype, the male nanny, the absent nanny in The Outsider, everybody is kindly, a kindly espionage, insane boy, insanely lonely boy, the opening, three sentences, this refuge for the demented, a comedy piece, a disclaimer, even funnier, I’m smarter than all of you, a psychologically sensitive few, Supernatural Horror In Literature, he’s right, the premise of The Call Of Cthulhu, this is just truth, there is no sharp distinction between the real and the unreal, flashes of supersight, more bragging, a truth that most people never think about, epistemology, a construction, not looking vs. not seeing, maybe my blue is your red, the wine dark sea, orange, an article about blue, rare in nature, the history of race, Asians as the yellow race, a hoax, George Psalmanazar, Formosa, Taiwan, Grey Owl, he’s a fraud, putting on an artificial personality, what resonates, something very real, childhood, everybody gets one, we’re always looking back, that whole experience, a very autobiographical story, “Jesse Willis: Dreamer and Visionary”, literally true, born into a wealthy family, ancient and little know books, 1711, Boston gentry, a coach-ride away, somewhere in Lovecraft country, his connection to Poe, a reincarnation of Poe, how can this be?, visited Edgar Allan Poe’s grave, the inventor of monomania, The Black Cat
FOR the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief.
an open temperament vs. insane psychopath, “pen”, neither expect nor solicit empathy, a penknife, walking on eggshells for this poor broken boy, such a sympathetic character, The Green Dragon Inn, the Hobbits are interested in Earthly pleasures, a sex party across the Brandywine, making so many Tooks, fear of thunderstorms, an interesting detail, an overlay, this is the goth kid, imposing too much of the libertine upon Lovecraft, the horror is losing control, Beyond The Wall Of Sleep, The Shadow Out Of Time, a story about adolescence, he can’t admit that, Lovecraft is horrified, a straight up bacchanalia, gay blasphemy tore from my lips, Castro’s confession in The Call Of Cthulhu
Suddenly a peal of thunder, resonant even above the din of the swinish revelry, clave the very roof and laid a hush of fear upon the boisterous company.
if that’s the case…, playful, restrained, echoed early on
I do not think that what I read in these books or saw in these fields and groves was exactly what other boys read and saw there; but of this I must say little, since detailed speech would but confirm those cruel slanders upon my intellect which I sometimes overhear from the whispers of the stealthy attendants around me. It is sufficient for me to relate events without analyzing causes.
other stuff going on in the hollow
I have said that I dwelt apart from the visible world, but I have not said that I dwelt alone. This no human creature may do; for lacking the fellowship of the living, he inevitably draws upon the companionship of things that are not, or are no longer, living.
the trees, the rocks, and the graves, a walk with one of his aunts, a man out of time (born two centuries too late)
Close by my home there lies a singular wooded hollow, in whose twilight deeps I spent most of my time; reading, thinking, and dreaming. Down its moss-covered slopes my first steps of infancy were taken, and around its grotesquely gnarled oak trees my first fancies of boyhood were woven. Well did I come to know the presiding dryads of those trees, and often have I watched their wild dances in the struggling beams of a waning moon—but of these things I must not now speak.
as a toddler, The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen, dryads and nymphs, fancies, he makes of them friends, another way to tell this story, from the Private Eye’s POV, is the P.I. lying?, What?!, he doesn’t actually ever go in there, the key is a dream key, a Dreamlands story, he never actually goes into that tomb, astral projection, he’s a dreamer, in the woods and the books, a bolt of lightning, by what miracle?, what colour is this dress?, a supernatural agency, a malevolent force
“Sedibus ut saltem placidis in morte quiescam.”
from The Aeneid, “give a dead man a place to rest in”, unquiet dead, he’s a ghost, very sensitive, he’s going to get what he wants in the end, kind of beautiful, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, the Halloweening season, suspicion of festivals and gathering, Halloween is the return of the spirits, placate the spirits, basket of emptiness, when we read Roman history, ancient roman documents, Cicero is just a dude, Marcus Aurelius, Hiram was a buddy of Solomon, a Tomb of Hiram, the Comb or Tomb of Hiram, extreme antiquity, Lovecraft’s awareness, little call-outs, the only book that gets mentioned, textual references, the Arkham Insiders podcast (the German version of The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast), Plutarch’s Lives, Frankenstein, a worm eaten translation, a true story, the life of Theseus, tokens of destiny, the time was not yet ripe, the will of fate, he does learn to do this, unlocking things with his dreams, a box in the attic that contains the key, entirely plausible, predicted, he’s 11 years old, so well put together, so much detail, a dozen times, Parallel Lives of the Noble Greek and Romans, aspects, Romulus, listening through a hole, spied upon, the blank slate, ivory tower, a mix, a monster and a well-spoken gentleman, the effect, a self-harm story, wearing the black beret and black nail polish, creepy and good, a great story, latch onto the festivities, understanding Lovecraft’s view of history of the Atlantic and civilization and race, the Georgian playfulness, very very bad,
Then, whispered Castro, those first men formed the cult around small idols which the Great Ones shewed them; idols brought in dim aeras from dark stars. That cult would never die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom. Meanwhile the cult, by appropriate rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient ways and shadow forth the prophecy of their return.
freedom and degeneration and evil, dive into Lovecraft’s letters, quite an adventure, barbarism and the frontiers, long rants, freedom is going to bring us all down, letters to Robert E. Howard, civilization vs. barbarism, talking past each other, the Alexandrian chaos, hybridity, interracial marriage, witches, Maroon communities, pirates, zootsuiters, celebrating freedom, building a wall, 122 of the Weird Tales version, charnel conviviality, I must not describe, the THING happened, you absolutely must read The Loved Dead by H.P. Lovecraft and C.M. Eddy Jr., that’s his bent, the greatest sense of humour,
For a week I tasted to the full the joys of that charnel conviviality which I must not describe, when the thing happened, and I was borne away to this accursed abode of sorrow and monotony.
I should not have ventured out that night; for the taint of thunder was in the clouds, and a hellish phosphorescence rose from the rank swamp at the bottom of the hollow. The call of the dead, too, was different. Instead of the hillside tomb, it was the charred cellar on the crest of the slope whose presiding daemon beckoned to me with unseen fingers. As I emerged from an intervening grove upon the plain before the ruin, I beheld in the misty moonlight a thing I had always vaguely expected. The mansion, gone for a century, once more reared its stately height to the raptured vision; every window ablaze with the splendour of many candles. Up the long drive rolled the coaches of the Boston gentry, whilst on foot came a numerous assemblage of powdered exquisites from the neighbouring mansions.
presiding x2, powder (and ash), faces and wigs, “throng”,
With this throng I mingled, though I knew I belonged with the hosts rather than with the guests. Inside the hall were music, laughter, and wine on every hand. Several faces I recognised; though I should have known them better had they been shrivelled or eaten away by death and decomposition. Amidst a wild and reckless throng I was the wildest and most abandoned. Gay blasphemy poured in torrents from my lips, and in my shocking sallies I heeded no law of God, Man, or Nature.
out of control, the lighting bolt in Frankenstein, The Witch-Cult In Western Europe by Margaret Murray, druids, cthonic religions, Cultures Of Darkness: Night Travels In The Histories Of Transgression by Bryan D. Palmer, carnival, masquerades, secret societies, cultural night, anti-capitalist, resistance comes out at night, on the side of the state, Livy’s account of the bacchanalians, Augustus’ moral reforms, men have to get married, promiscuous character, more uncleanliness, small government, morally transgressive, some YouTube idiot, it’s always moral decline, not great at economics or politics, sensitive to night, astronomy and night walks, not directly inspired by a dream, dreams are central, ultimately connected, super-creative and imagination connected, full of fancies, is there a victory here? or is it a tragedy?, that barred room, not a triumph, We Can Build You by Philip K. Dick, delusion, connection with his ancestors, some philosophy line: being-toward-death, thantophilic
It is midnight. Before dawn they will find me and take me to a black cell where I shall languish interminably, while
insatiable desires gnaw at my vitals and wither up my heart, till at last I become one with the dead that I love.
My seat is the foetid hollow of an aged grave; my desk is the back of a fallen tombstone worn smooth by devastating
centuries; my only light is that of the stars and a thin-edged moon, yet I can see as clearly as though it were mid-day. Around
me on every side, sepulchral sentinels guarding unkempt graves, the tilting, decrepit headstones lie half hidden in masses of
nauseous, rotting vegetation. Above the rest, silhouetted against the livid sky, an august monument lifts its austere, tapering
spire like the spectral chieftain of a lemurian horde. The air is heavy with the noxious odors of fungi and the scent of damp,
mouldy earth, but to me it is the aroma of Elysium. It is still–terrifyingly still–with a silence whose very profundity bespeaks
the solemn and the hideous. Could I choose my habitation it would be in the heart of some such city of putrefying flesh and
crumbling bones; for their nearness sends ecstatic thrills through my soul, causing the stagnant blood to race through my
veins and my torpid heart to pound with delirious joy–for the presence of death is life to me!
incredibly connected to this story, Ashes, very delectable, not a cannibal story, utterly delightful.
Posted by Jesse Willis