The Corner

More from the Eldritch Swamp

Thinking about H. P. Lovecraft now, I’m kicking myself for having totally left him out of my book. In his own fictional way, Lovecraft was a great apostle of gloom — a gloominary (p. 251 of Doomed).

A pal just sent me this splendid quote from “The Call of Cthulhu”:

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of disassociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

Spot on! — if not quite as pithy as “Life is a hideous thing.” And, buttressing a point I make early in Doomed, this clear vision of all-encompassing despair settles the mind and brings a kind of contentment. As I recall from August Derleth’s biography of Lovecraft, he was a cheerful and convivial fellow, and his wife reported him a quite satisfactory lover.

And boy, was he conservative! He didn’t even approve of the American Revolution. Derleth says he would sometimes scribble out George Washington’s face on banknotes; and on encountering a statue of Nathan Hale, he shook his fist at it and shouted: “Thus perish all traitors!”