Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lovecraft, Paganism and Horror I (24 October 2013)

"It would be trite and not wholly accurate to say that no human pen could describe it, but one may properly say that it could not be vividly visualized by anyone whose ideas of aspect and contour are too closely bound up with the common life-forms of this planet and of the three know dimensions.“
-         H. P Lovecraft The Dunwich Horror (1929)

This month, in the season of haunting, I’ve been reading HP Lovecraft again, this time delving into a couple of his more mature works; The Dunwich Horror (1929) and Dreams in the Witch House (1933).  I had promised myself earlier in the summer that I would return to HPL in the hopes of better understanding him and his craft.  I’d had a bad taste in my mouth from reading a few of his earlier tales, and then had been fairly impressed with The Color out of Space (1927).  I wanted – and still want – to know what drove him as a writer, as well as what makes him so influential in horror literature and film.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lovecraft, Paganism and Horror II (10 October 2013)

“The dreams were wholly beyond the pale of sanity, and Gilman felt that they must be a result, jointly, of his studies in mathematics and in folklore.  He had been thinking too much about the vague regions which his formulae told him must lie beyond the three dimensions we know, and about the possibility that old Keziah Mason – guided by some influence past all conjecture – had actually found the gate to those regions.”
-         H. P Lovecraft  Dreams in the Witch House (1932)

This story comes at the whole superstitious, medieval idea of witches and the occult from a different angle; one in which mathematics and science are employed to open up a portal between our world and a trans-dimensional world where monstrous beings wait to invade.  The ‘witch’ of the “Witch House’ is said to a woman tried and imprisoned at Salem for witchcraft who, because she knew certain mathematical formulae, was able to escape.   She told the judges that “lines and curves could be made to point out directions leading through the walls of space to other spaces beyond.”  An interesting idea, as fantastic stories go.  She escaped, and went to Arkham, MA, where she took up residence in an old gabled house and (apparently) lived out her years there.  Or did she?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

My Life with Francis; A Poetic Naturalist’s Reflections (6 October 2013)

“The truth about living in the universe is elusive, exciting, and mysterious, and it is in the pursuit of mystery that we find all that is worth having, including ourselves” (1)

-          Moyra Caldecott  Women in Celtic Myth (1992)

Friday was the feast of Saint Francis. Today, as I walked in the woods and experienced the Autumnwood coming to realization, I remembered walking with Francis, imaginatively, as my guide and friend for several years in the late 1980’s, when I was fast approaching the threshold of my Poet’s vocation.  Last night I remembered that last December I was reading Murray Bodo’s The Journey and the Dream; a book that I had first received as a gift from a Franciscan sister in 1988, and which I received as a gift again last Fall, again from a Franciscan sister.  The more recent giver did not know I had read the book before; she thought it a fit exchange for something I was offering her.  But I’d read this book before, and it became one of those fecund guides for my spiritual footsteps for the next three or four years, from the late 1980’s until the early 1990’s.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Dream in Transit (5 October 2013)

[A Walking Meditation on the Feast of Saint Francis; 4 October 2013]

- Montague Whitsel
Walking alone in solitude in the woods,
I met Francis at a stream,
where he was crossing
stone to stone and mud to sand
near the cross-hairs of immanent transcendence. 

I said “hello_” tentative in presence,
but it was a dream,
and I was walking awake in the world!

I haven’t seen or talked with Francis
for a while_ I told myself,
as the dream continued to play out
before me. 
Francis was playing
at the stream’s flux and flow,
dancing from ripple to trough,
selflessly laughing to himself_
unaware of being watched
from such a far-stationed nearness.

On this side of the sídhe, I yet could hide.

He grasped a fish in both hands,
and stumbled forward off a stone
on which he was standing,
recklessly aloof_
laughing as he bumbled forward,
splash after muddy splash,
with the fish wriggling in his hands.
“I have become a fisher of fish!” he cried,
in a cornucopia of denuded joy
that was as infectious as his laugh!

I laughed, too_ and the dream faded from view.

And there in the aftermath I was left_
standing in the stream
on this side of the sídhe,
feeling completely revived and re-inspired_
to become what I am at my best.

I wept for this impromptu meeting with Francis,
and cherished each frame
of the dream-sequence_
‘til I had imbibed it so fully –
burning it
into the celluloid of my own soul –
that I could perhaps
re-enact the film myself as myself
someday along the Way.