Nyarlathotep--ye Crawling Chaos

  1. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    I've just typed up a new thread with this title, but I cannot post it. The message I get is "Your submission could not be processed because you have logged in since the previous page was loaded. Please push the back button and reload the previous window."

    I have no idea what that means. Anyway, I may try and rewrite the thing after to-night's work on my new book. I did a search here this morning on Nyarlathotep and was shocked that there seems to be no mention of this, my favorite Lovecraftian creation! He will prove a font of fascinating discourse.
     
    May 13, 2010
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  2. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    Okay, my Mother has her stupid telly on so loud and my young man one thin wall away is playing music, & this I cannot concentrate on writing fiction. All I can hear is music and Larry King discussing some Miss America scandal with Donald Trump. Talk about squamous. It eats into my brain and kills creative concentration. So I am here to try and rewrite the thread I wrote a wee while ago concerning Nyarlathotep. I wasn't able to post it, perhaps because in the middle of writing it I went to a second site to check out some Nyarlathotep fact and perhaps leaving here (even though I didn't log off) debauches one's posting.

    Ah -- strange times. There was one Mythos book that I heard was so lousy that I told myself I would never buy it -- Cthulhu's Heirs, one of the first Chaosium anthologies. It may have been their first. I have read many people saying that it is quite quite bad, the stories suck, &c &c. Well -- in looking over the list of Nyarlathotep's other names in the entry concerning him in THE CTHULHU MYTHOS ENCYCLOPEDIA by Kevin Ross, I came upon this:

    Dark One (California, Louisiana): Some Mythos cults are visited by Nyarlathotep in the semblance of an eight-foot, totally black man without a face, who can pass through any material barrier at will. ("Mr. Skin", Milan).

    That title, "Mr. Skin," absolutely charmed me and made me want to read the tale. I did a wee search and found that it is included in Cthulhu's Heirs, and I felt a kind of doom because I knew I would have to order that damn book. I searched some more and found a contents listing of The Cthulhu Cycle that included "Mr Skin" by Victor Milan -- but in checking my copy I found that this is an error. I found a copy of ye book for $3.00 at Amazon, and three is my magick number, so I order'd it, Yuggoth save my puny soul.

    I did a search on Nyarlathotep here, this morning, as I was going to use whatever thread I could find to discuss some thoughts that have come to me regarding this Great Old One as I have been working on my new novelette, "The Strange Dark One," for my collection of tales of Nyarlathotep. I was shocked :eek: to find that nothing came up in my search -- that apparently there is no mention of Nyarlathotep here, although surely there must be. So I wrote a little blog here instead, but it doesn't say much, as I was impatient to return to work on the story. But where to begin in discussing this Great Old One -- and is he to be numbered among them? S. T. Joshi writes, in his notes to "Nyarlathotep" on page 369 of The Call of Cthulhu and other Weird Stories: "Nyarlathotep recurs throughout Lovecraft's later fiction and becomes one of the chief 'gods' in his invented pantheon. But he appears in such widely divergent forms that it may not be possible to establish a single or coherent symbolism for him; to say merely, as some critics have done, that he is a 'shapeshifter' (something Lovecraft never genuinely suggest) is only to admit that even his physical form is not consistent from story to story, much less his thematic significance." I am dining with S. T. and Laird Barron this week-end, and I shall discuss this with them, if I remember as I swoon over the delicious Mexican food served at Azteca. All of these different aspects of Nyarlathotep work to my advantage as a writer of weird fiction -- I can contradict, add to, &c &c, all these other aspects of that which is known as Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, and then do my own thing.

    Dang it -- the mention of Azteca has overwhelm'd me with a sudden craving for beef jerky, thus I needs must log off and go to Safeway. I shall return.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
    May 13, 2010
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  3. Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    I just got my copy of "The Golden Bough" today. It is a thick book. In order to figure out Nyarlathotep, as J.D. said, it helps to read works of scholarship such as that book and "The Age of Fable" because surely Nyarlathotep is one of the more complicated characters in Lovecraft's pantheon. I think that it would help if a person understood a wide variety of myths before they solved this one.

    Just off of the top of my head, it does appear that he changes shape. It also appears to be a trickster and more than that. In "The Call of Cthulhu" it does mention that the Old Ones are asleep under the ocean, yet they communicate through dreams. Than Nyarlathotep is described as 'the crawling chaos' but why? (was Nyarlathotep in the story "He") So there is plenty of missing information. I've only read 14 of Lovecraft's stories so far myself and it is getting interesting.
     
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  4. Starbeast

    Starbeast Benevolent Galaxy Being

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    Nyarlathotep- The Outer Being

    NYARLATHOTEP
    The OUTER BEING


    [​IMG]



    NYARLATHOTEP is the messenger, heart and soul of the Outer Gods. He is the only one to have a true personality, and he claims to have a thousand different forms. To him, causing maddness and insanity is more important and enjoyable than mere death and destruction.

    Only a few of Nyarlathotep's forms have been discribed. The Black Pharaoh is an Egyptian-looking human. The Bloody Tongue is an enormous monster with clawed appendages and a single long blood-red (at times) tentacle in place of a face with three odd-looking legs. This tentacle stretches forward when the thing howls at the moon. The Haunter of the Dark is Black and winged, with a trilobed red eye, and cannot withstand light. The Bloated Woman is a mammoth woman whose body convulses with numerous tentacles. The Beast takes the form of Egypt's Sphinx, but it's face is filled with stars.

    In addition, those who worshiping the Outer Gods often do so in hope of gathering Nyarlathotep's favor. Rewards to loyal slaves usually come through the Crawling Chaos, as the other Outer Gods are too mindless to care. Nyarlathotep may grant worshipers knowledge of spell, impart some destructive fact or divisive religous belief, or grant a servitor monster as an assistant. Nyarlathotep's gifts always seem to provoke turmoil among humanity, and particularly likely to bring suffering and terror to a gift's recipient.

    I hope I was helpful to you, for I too enjoy writing my own mythos. I gather inspiration from reading the forbidden verses of my own hand written copy of the dreaded and maddness invoking NECRONOMICON.
     
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  5. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    Oh my Yog -- Oberto peppered beef jerky, I should be doing a vlog, I so love to eat on camera. chomp chomp chomp
    :rolleyes:

    Is, in fact, Nyarlathotep "one of the chief 'gods'" of Lovecraft's pantheon, as S. T. Joshi has suggested in my entry above? Or is he (I call him "he" as I see him in the figure of a human male) a collective figment of the Great Old One's psyche? He has been called their soul and messenger, but this is ambiguous. And in his sonnet from Fungi from Yuggoth he seems so much more:

    And at the last from inner Egypt came
    The strange dark One to whom the fellahs bowed;
    Silent and lean and cryptically proud,
    And wrapped in fabrics red as sunset flame.
    Throngs pressed around, frantic for his commands,
    But leaving could not tell what they had heard;
    While through the nations spread the awestruck word
    That wild beasts followed him and licked his hands.

    Soon from the sea a noxious birth began;
    Forgotten lands with weedy spires of gold;
    The ground was cleft, and mad auroras rolled
    Down on the quaking citadels of man.
    Then, crushing what he chanced to mould in play,
    The idiot Chaos blew Earth's dust away.

    Thus we have the sunset of our extinction. Who is this idiot Chaos? I always thought that referred to "Azathoth," of whom we read in the next sonnet; but because the phrase is found in "Nyarlathotep," it must be a reference to the Crawling Chaos. He seems, in his fictive manifestations, anything but idiotic, and so this phrase bewilders me. Here we have a repeated motif found in Lovecraft: that humanity, that our very planet, was created by the Great Old Ones in jest. A thing of naught, our planet and everything that crawls upon it is crushed as dust and scattered into ye cosmic void.

    The appearance of Nyarlathotep as the Black Man in "The Dreams of the Witch House" is, for me, a contradiction of everything he stands for, and one huge mistake on Lovecraft's part. Or is it? I have no knowledge of any actual legend in voodoo of a messenger who is known as the Black Man and have always imagined this to be a title and representation of Satan.

    In Lovecraft's prose poem, "Nyarlathotep," we see this figure in the guise of what passes as mortal man; & it is in this guise that I mean to shew this Great Old One in my story, as a figure who calls himself Khem. Although my novelette is a semi-sequel to Derleth's "The Dweller in Darkness" (which I still enjoy except for it's confused and laughable ending), I am more interested in bringing into my tale echoes of "The Haunter of the Dark," my favorite Lovecraft weird tale. To portray Nyarlathotep in human guise has me a bit worried -- it may well be a huge mistake; but I find the idea too fascinating, and the challenge too intriguing, to back away.

    Well, the music in my boyfriend's room has died, and Mother has turned down the wretched volume of her telly, and she yawns and thus I know she will soon retire. & then this habitat is mine, as quiet as if I were back in my old apartment, where I lived in silence and solitude. How I sometimes miss those days. And so I shall return to my tale, and see if I can add another thousand words until I too grow weary and retire.
     
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  6. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    Wilum... saying this may completely doom me to dismissal by any true Lovecraftian, but... there are actually several things I rather like about Cthulhu's Heirs. Granted, it's a very uneven anthology, and some of the pieces in there have me shaking my head... but others I find oddly compelling and intriguing. It will be interesting to hear your take on some of this. (And I've yet to come across anyone who has a favorable opinion of "Watch the Whiskers Sprout"... except me....:rolleyes:)

    On Nyarlathotep him/itself... Yes, I think a human avatar makes sense... given his appearance as an antique pharaoh in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, and as the traditional Black Man of the witch-coven in "Dreams in the Witch House"... which, to me, makes perfect sense, as he/it does seem to sometimes take a shape which is comprehensible to those he is either intent on using or playing with for a time....

    I do think Tinsel is right in that there is a large amount of the Trickster god in Nyarlathotep... if a rather more vicious Trickster than one usually encounters (though Loki, at times....)

    And I think the idea of his being a "projection", as it were, of the thoughts (or, more likely, dreams) of the Old Ones, would not necessarily be incompatible with such a thing. It would also have its resonances with the dreams of Māna-Yood-Sushāi, which would seem appropriate....
     
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  7. Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    There is a lot that I have not read yet, but I really think that in the story "He" you get a sense of those experiments and doesn't something crawl out and claim a victim. If so than that is a good description of the crawling chaos, but I'll retire from this conversation since Nyarlanthotep is beyond imagining (or at least something was in some story).
     
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  8. Starbeast

    Starbeast Benevolent Galaxy Being

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    Re: Nyarlathotep--ye Crawling with slimey things with pointy teeth

    Aye tis true Tinsel, when Lovecraft describes creatures as shapeless or formless, who's to say what they look like. Even movie companies try to figure out how to create a thing that has no shape or form.
     
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  9. J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

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    I dunno ...carrying on Lovecraftian characters is somewhat suspect off the top.
    These were 'elder gods' ...dead, forgotten for millenia..it is the suggestion of what they were, rather than the details of their 'powers'. that made them so mysterious and frightening. Turning them into a marvel comics-style pantheon of super-beings defeats the purpose to a large degree.
    Lovecraft is taken too seriously sometimes. These guys had fun with their pulpy productions, there's jokes in the names themselves, references to other writers and so forth. It ain't Shakespeare, and trying to modernize it is like ...Conan with a cellphone.. or some other, better analogy. )
    Beyond imagining - good enough. I'm working on imagining what beyond imagining means.
     
    May 13, 2010
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  10. Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    Re: Nyarlathotep--ye Crawling with slimey things with pointy teeth

    That is why "The Picture in the House" ended the way that it did.
     
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  11. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    You have a point, to some degree... but then, Lovecraft himself encouraged others to follow such lines, had they a mind, and even those who weren't part of his circle produced things of this nature of which he approved. And some of the writers who have followed these lines have done very well indeed, whether it be Ramsey Campbell or Wilum himself (who has done some marvelous things with such concepts).

    I would agree that, if one has something such as you depict, that would be a complete failure. But if one manages to retain the mystery, awe, and grandeur of Lovecraft's vision, or even takes it in a direction uniquely one's own while nonetheless remaining true to the spirit, I can't say I see anything wrong with that.

    While you also have a point about taking HPL too seriously at times... the fact is, that when it came to his stories (his original work, at least, if not always his revisions), he seldom allowed such "fun" to interfere with his more serious intent in writing. As he himself put it, the creation of his work was really all that mattered to him in the final analysis.

    And, while it may not be Shakespeare (though Lovecraft's best work is pretty damn good), it is the high end of imaginative fiction when read carefully, and in a good edition which hasn't been mucked about with; and any form of art (and, as even Peter Straub has put it, Lovecraft invented his own genre) which cannot be "modernized" in the sense of carried on as good literature (not hackwork, rehashes, or simply bad writing), has become a dead letter and nullity... and I think that's a looong way from happening with Lovecraft. We have an increasing number of truly imaginative and creative writers, artists, etc., influenced by his work, often writing in his tradition, but in their own voices (rather than aping the mannerisms, as Derleth & Co. so often did); proving that this really is a viable field for exploration by others, just as HPL himself wished it to be... not out of any sense of ego, but because he enjoyed seeing others taking his concepts and running in their own direction with them, as long as the resulting work was good....
     
    May 13, 2010
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  12. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    To bring Nyarlathotep into a realm as timeless (outside Time) as Sesqua Valley will in no way "modernize" him. No, I love to make my characters "old world" even though they live to-day. It needs to be central to the plot, certainly. In my last book I brought the artist Pickman into a tale, and it was bogus because he could have been anyone, there was nothing to distinguish him as the original character as created by HPL. I realise this is all very fan-boy, but I am a fan-boy to the core -- so that will be reflected in my fiction. It's a rather new "thing" of mine, bringing actual characters from Lovecraft's fiction into my own. Usually it's been settings or "stage props," but I am becoming more and more interested in characters. It really began when I wrote "Some Distant Baying Sound" which is a direct continuation of the original narrative in "The Hound." I'm quite fond of my sequel, but I don't know how most others feel about it -- there's been heavy silence. I am slowly working on a wee novel concerning Pickman, for which a publisher has expressed interest so that merely encourages me all the more. It's fun, doing this -- it returns me to Lovecraft as a different kind of reader, one who is far more alert and inquisitive. I love it.

    Was it Lovecraft himself who said that Nyarlathotep was the "soul" and "messenger" of the Great Old Ones -- did he said Old Ones? There's all kinds of "problems" in this for me -- as it suggests that the Great Old Ones are connected, somehow, en masse, as a collective thing with perhaps a single purpose, which they are not in my mind. They are, for Lovecraft, a single symbol of the Unknown Outside, the deep chaotic cosmos, &c &c; but as entities they are distinct and individual in all things. In the original prose poem Lovecraft has him looking like a pharaoh, although he has also been described as a man of pure blackness sans negroid features. One thing I keep meaning to hunt but always forget is, did Lovecraft ever refer to Nyarlathotep as a Faceless God? I always depict him as such in statue form and sometimes in supernal-human form. I love the contradictions and enigmas concerning this creature as found in Lovecraft's many references to him, because it rather gives me an out in depicting him in my own way -- not a "correct" way because there is no such thing in the Lovecraftian oeuvre. Yet I want him to be, as a creature, "Lovecraftian" to the core. Fun, fun, fun! I am a very serious writer, but there has always been a sense of play in this writing of Mythos fiction that I think I picked up from the original Lovecraft Circle -- it is gobs of fun writing this stuff. It feels like belonging to some adolescent club.:D
     
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  13. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

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    Ah, that happens when you stay logged in to post something, but don't post for hours or days. Looks like resolved, though. :)
     
    May 13, 2010
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  14. Ningauble

    Ningauble Lovecraftian

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    Re: Nyarlathotep--ye Crawling with slimey things with pointy teeth

    Eh? The end of "The Picture in the House" isn't particularly indescribable.
     
    May 13, 2010
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  15. Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    I'm forced to attribute the lightning strike to Nyarlanthotep. If he is presented in another story related to voodoo, than there is some support. I have to also believe that he was involved in the story "He", at least until this is disproved.

    There is plenty of Christianity in the form of Puritanism in his writing, however his own created pantheon has to be behind the motivation of any cult members or any strange folk who are evil. There is also the similar dialect of the two characters in "He" and "The Picture in the House". Anyway, it simply puts the question to rest as to the source of the evil. This may give Nyarlanthotep a ranking among the extraterrestrials (mentioned in "The Call of Cthulhu"), if he was one of the Old Ones, he did not join them under the water, and that needs to be explained within the text by inference or else directly, or else in some other source such as Lovecraft's letters, unless of course the only one that can explain that is the priest Cthulhu.
     
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  16. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    Tinsel -- where on earth do you get even a vague hint that Nyarlathotep is connected in any way to "The Picture in the House"?:confused: There is certainly no mention of, nor hint at, any such connection in the text, nor can I think of anything remotely resembling such a connection to that tale from any other Lovecraft work.

    Please give me what you see as the textual basis for such....

    As for your question, Wilum... Here are the references I can think of to Nyarlathotep as "soul" or "soul and messenger". as well as "faceless god":

    -- "Nyarlathotep" (prose poem)​

    -- "The Rats in the Walls"​

    -- The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

    -- The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

     
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  17. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    Thank you thank you, J. D.! The Other Gods -- ye other gods -- this had me ripping open S. T.'s An Index to the Fiction and Poetry of H. P. Lovecraft, where I found:

    Other Gods: DQ [Dream-Quest, in At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels, Arkham House revised edition, 1985] 308, 312, 315, 318-19, 321, 338, 353, 355-56, 370, 389, 391, 396-97, 399-400, 403-4/[Not capitalised in OG] 292, 295, 299, 301-2, 305, 321, 335, 337, 351, 369, 371, 376, 378-79, 382-83.

    So, these entities are mention'd only in "Dream-Quest." It shames me to confess I don't know if they are named as ye Old Ones. S. T. lists ye mentions of ye Old Ones thus:

    Ole Ones: DH 170/174-75; Mo 117f./326f.; MM 62f./58f.; SOI 331, 333, 367/335-36, 368; HM 235/124; SOT 400/399; HD 106/112 [It is not certain that all mentions refer to the same entities] [I think these pages refer to both the older Arkham editions and S. T.'s revised editions]

    So, "Other Gods" is used only in "Dream-Quest" -- yet then in that same work we find the only references in Lovecraft to "Great Ones." Oy...it's a long list. A smaller list concerns the title:

    Great Old Ones: CC 139-41, 147-48/143-46, 152-53; MM 25, 59/23, 55 [Cf. Elder Things. It is not certain that the same entities are referred to in CC and MM]

    Hell, this makes me wish that I had Lovecraft's fiction on CD so that I could do electric searches!

    I am slowly, when I have time and energy, rereading "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath," although I have trouble deciding if I want to read it in ye Penguin or Arkham edition -- I like the hardcover feel of the Arkham House so I'll probably continue with that.

    Hey! Wait a minute! I have my recently purchas'd edition of The Shuttered Room & Other Pieces, with Lin Carter's essay, "H. P. Lovecraft: The Gods"!!! Surely an expert like Carter wou'd know if the Old Ones and the Other Gods are the same, he was an expert on ye Mythos after all :rolleyes:.

    Oh, crimey He lists Nyarlathotep as an "earth elemental"......:confused::rolleyes::( Hmm, he's flipping useless, although his section on "Nodens and the Elder Gods" reminds me of -- ye Elder Gods. Ye Elder Gods???

    Back to Joshi: &, Lin honey, there are no Elder "Gods" mention'd in Lovecraft:eek: S. T. lists Elder Ones and Elder Things (which, S. T. notes: "Presumably = Great Old Ones")....

    Yuggoth, whut is that buzzing in me brain? Whut is that tugging of me eye as I study attentively all of this nameless text? Why do the shadows move so suggestively around me? Why am I not working on completing my new story???
     
    May 14, 2010
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  18. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    This is so amazingly weird it feels like eldritch enchantment. Earlier today I did a review on Amazon of Gary Myers' Arkham House book, The House of the Worm. He's been on my mind of late, and meeting him at last year's Lovecraft Film Festival was fantastic, he's so cool. There were only two reviews of the book at Amazon, and neither of them were okay, so I wrote me review, which has yet to be posted (I hope it will appear to-morrow). So, tonight, I brought the book up to reread some of it, and I began with Gary's Introduction. Now, in relation to my last post here about Other Gods, Elder Ones, &c &c ------ well, here's Gary's Introduction to the Arkham House book, which I have just read in bed five minutes ago in a state of nameless wonder.

    "Chapter One of this book is not a major contribution to the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft, as expounded by his friend and publisher, the late August Derleth, but it does present an interesting heresy.

    "According to Derleth, the central precept of the Cthulhu Mythos is that the evil Great Old Ones once made war on the benign Elder Gods, and were banished by Them to outer darkness, where they abide the hour of their resurgence. The body of Mythos lore recounts the modern manifestations of the Ancient Ones trying to return. The theme of resurgence is an important one in Lovecraft, and the Great Old Ones are his invention, though other writers have added to the pantheon; but the Elder Gods, with the exception of Nodens, are entirely the creation of August Derleth.

    "Only Lovecraft is scripture. Elder ONES, at least, are mentioned with Nodens in 'The Strange High House in the Mist'; but the Elder Ones are younger than infinity's Other Gods, who came to dance on Hatheg-Kla 'before the gods or even the Elder Ones were born.' And Kuranes, in 'The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,' identifies the Elder Ones with the Great Ones of Kadath, who carved their own anthropomorphic likeness on Ngranek. It was the Great Ones who banished the Gugs 'to caverns below' because of their sacrifices to Nyarlathotep and the Other Gods. But the Other Gods are the ultimate gods even in the opinion of the priests of Nasht and Kaman-Thah, as Lovecraft states plainly. Probably the Great Ones had more than one reason for desiring to escape from Kadath, and Nyarlathotep for keeping them there. Protection by the Other Gods is refined cruelty.

    "The Great Old Ones of this book are the Other Gods and their affiliates, but the Elder Gods are only a somewhat optimistic appraisal of the Great Ones of Kadath. Man has frankly biased opinions about the ordering of his universe and the obligations of his gods toward himself; the gods, being mindless, have no opinions, or else they have found that obligations can be evaded successfully merely by swallowing whoever would call them to their attention. The cotters of Vornai are orthodox Derlethians, but the Worm is notoriously a skeptic."

    To come upon this short after writing the just previous post is truly a wonderful and strange experience. It is a sign, but of what I am nor certain......
     
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  19. Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    If proof only consisted of direct references than this would not be fiction. This does not need to be defended because I am relying on inference. It is not worth describing here. I still need to read many of these stories but I am working out my philosophy because I need to organize these stories so that I can appreciate them more. I'll have to do the same thing with Robert Howard's fiction. Who knows which will be more complicated. I don't mind it this way, for I am kind.
     
    May 14, 2010
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  20. J-WO

    J-WO Pretentious Avatar Alert.

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    I've got a fondness for that anthology. In fact, I didn't even know it had a bad rep. It was the first thing I read after Lovecraft, so I was just happy to have mythos tales set in the present, I expect.

    Whiskers was deeply confused, but the image of Azathoth inside a... er, what was it... a food cart... has stuck with me. That tale was Victorian, wasn't it?

    There was some tale with Dolphins and Deep ones, too (The love that dare not echo-sonar its name...)

    But (to return to thread) Mr Skin was the stand out piece. Had a great 70's blaxploitation feel to it. But with Nyalathotep.
     
    May 14, 2010
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