Friday, April 11, 2014

Mapping Lovecraft Country

Mapping Lovecraft Country
Bobby Derie

Blackened words scribbled in darkness, calling back to the mad scratching of a time-lost monk in an age of small-minded theology, black marks on vellum that echoed (or would echo) the wind-swept and tide-washed runestones on the shores of New England, curious artifacts without provenance, that did not exist yesterday and yet tomorrow will have been there for centuries so that Indians may scratch their heads over them new antiquities deposited on their shores from some future time. In another time white-bearded scholars rub leather elbow patches to debate the etymology of Shub-Niggurath, alien chrononauts driving their failing meat-sacks, the original intellects encased a hundred million years earlier to record their mundane secrets, only to return at some later date with nothing to mark their sojourn except an inexplicable fetish for rugose clones. Where once the worms and moles were masters of the primeval forests of Maine and Vermont (another construct of contemporary newthink; the pilgrims wandered through gardens of cleared fields left by the millions wiped out by plague, and feasted on the corn of the dead) now there lurk pits with strange amoeboid children crying out their first (and last) words, the echoing TEKELI-LI dribbling up through the floorboards mistaken for the mumbling of devils and the settling of the earth by those who find comfort in superstition and science. Saint Brendan on his leather-hulled canoe will brave the tides only to hear the Call of Cuitiliú in his dreams as he floats, with dry and bitten lips over the deep city of Y'ha-nthlei, caught in fever-dreamlands of islands beneath the sea twisted with the half-pagan imagery of a tortured Christ in the pale robes of Adonis and Osiris. What Old World ghouls left their ancestral cemeteries for the broken mounds of Lovecraft Country? Perhaps the strange wendigo, their cousin, put them up as Boston spread over the salt marshes, and cannibal vintages matured (slate markers in place of labels) to their tastes, the old Arab ghuls wiling the midnight hours away debating which grave to pop open tonight. For certainly there is a strange gravity that draws all these things into its orbit, a quaint and forbidden country squished into the geography, the Miskatonic carving a riverbed through time and space and imagination, sinking ever deeper into the sub-strata of myth and reality, so that even now tourists wandering through middle Massachusetts keep out a sign on the highway, hoping to see some weed-choked pull-off and a hand-lettered sign for Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth. Physical existence is just a skein to be drawn aside, walking tours of Marblehead and Newburyport and Salem dragging the eager seekers behind the scenes to the desolate and decrepit docks, the witch-haunted lanes with the odd attics and forbidden corners, the somber university which houses in its moldy bricks horrors that more ancient and authentic institutions cannot match - what is Oxford and Cambridge to the dark glory of Miskatonic, no matter how more grand their catalogues? Miskatonic is the university as dreamed by he who never went to university, a grail of all possibilities unaccomplished, shelves stocked with the secrets of the universe denied by frail body and pitiful mind, and so its shelves stretch out in non-Euclidean dimensions, poor Dewey running out of decimals and resorting to arcane runes to map the twists in that collection, where sorcerous ourangutans flit in the deeps between literary universes, and somewhere poor Borges set down his book and never did see it again. Like a tumorous colour from out of space has that strange region metastasized beyond the Aylesbury Pike, colonist spores spreading through the Severn and Sesqua Valleys, creeping eerily into the edges of Weird Westerns and Nazi Occultism, until ancient Sumerians sang hymns of Sentinel Hill atop their ziggurats, and worshipped unseen (and unseeable) Xoth with grim sacrifices. From one corner of the globe to another archaeologists spades clink against the remnant of a thousand ancient races, turning over the soil to reveal the latest octopoid carving and tentacled idol to set next to the others in their crowded secret museums. (What did they unearth at Herculaneum, that so set in motion the Victorian censors - and so spurred a tide of pornography and taboo lore that has never quite abated? How pale and quaint a scene as the satyr mounting the she-goat, compared to the six-breasted goat-women, vaginas dilating in strange rhythms, that dance through Machen-hills, among the druidic standing stones which must have been erected before even St. Brendan made his journey, a thousand years old as of last week.) Like the prisoner of R'lyeh the tentacles of that strange country reach out to past, present, and future - ever outward do cold mechanical eyes probe into the darkest reaches of space, and ever new dark planet in our system is a whispered Yuggoth on the lips of the many disciples, as was foretold with the discovery of the Ghooric Zone in in 2337 (1977).


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