Nyarlathotep--ye Crawling Chaos

  1. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    niggourath: You raise some interesting possibilities for dealing with the Crawling Chaos there. I'll not answer for Wilum but, since I was given the privilege of reading the tale as it progressed, I think he did an excellent job of weaving various elements of presentations of Nyarlathotep together, including hints of his role in the Dreamlands... which are incorporated into the feel and essence of the story without ever being brought into center stage physically... which gives the tale an especially eerie, nightmarish feel quite suited to an entity who owes his own existence to a dream of his creator....

    You do ask one question to which I have an answer, if not an exact one:

    "He [Nyarlathotep] said he had risen up out of the blackness of twenty-seven centuries[....]"

    As George T. Wetzel pointed out in his essay, "The Cthulhu Mythos: A Study" (1955, rev. 1971):

    -- Four Decades of Criticism, pp. 82-83​

    Joshi, on the other hand, has it as "the 22nd Dynasty of Egypt (940-730 BCE)" (The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, p. 370, n. 1)... though I suppose the "22" may be a typo for "27" here....

    By the way: Yes, Lovecraft's value as an educational tool is something which has not really been noted as much as it should; even his satirical verses are rich in such things, and prove a goldmine of reference and interpretation of historical, social, literary, political, and other matters if one reads them attentively. As Robert Bloch once put it, "Lovecraft was my university"; and I think something of that nature is still very true even today with at least some of his readers.

    He did, now and again however, get things a bit off... as having the earth be seen from the moon's dark side in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. (Though, again, one can perhaps build a case that this distortion is a part of the dreamlands milieu itself; in reality, though, given that this was a piece written without intent of anyone else ever seeing it, and never polished or revised, the most likely explanation is that he simply liked the image and found it both useful and atmospherically effective, so put it in there without thinking it through, and never went back and corrected it....)
     
    May 26, 2010
    #41
  2. J-WO

    J-WO Pretentious Avatar Alert.

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    Congratulations on finishing your novelette, WHP!
     
    May 27, 2010
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  3. nigourath

    nigourath Well-Known Member

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    Yes,congratulations for that ,and i would like to get my hands on that ,since from the info given ,it really roused my curiosity ,as much as HPL himself would :"the great perverted beast",'nyarlathotep with no signs of his physical appearance ",although many data hint at that as i imagine..."his/her obsession","creation in the dreamlands".I think the best Nyarlathotep is always the most obscured one,as i believe the same with the other Lovecraftian entities...Where or how can i have that ? Will there be included in a collection of stories, through Amazon or something?

    Oh and thanks for that j.d., the 27 centuries was an information burried in my mind.....This definitely puts him in the recorded part of Egyptian history (and the ethiopian "setting" definitely provides an even better background for the scheme of things,,,)-i just connected "the pharaoh" information ,which- "pharaoh"- was a representative of the egyptian gods-and god equal for the egyptians ,with something i read about the name "nyarlathotep' (wikipedia?not certain) ,that he was the first god of the Egyptian worship,before they created their pantheon.Well,what can i say...
     
    May 28, 2010
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  4. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    The new novelette will appear in The Strange Dark One and Others, to be published next year by Mythos Books and fully illustrated by Jeffrey Thomas. It collects all of my tales of Nyarlathotep. If you'd like to read one of them, contact me via my email:

    hopfrog@sesqua.net

    and I'll send you some few of my stories as attachments. Nyarlathotep is such a wonderful possibility as fiction. Do you live in Europe? The figure of Nyarlathotep can figure into any and all cultures, and I would love to see people who live in Sweden or Prague or Tibet write their own tales of Nyarlathotep set in their ancients towns or cities and see what they can come up with. I know that H. P. Lovecraft is big in Europe, but I have absolutely no idea how active Mythos writers are outside of the USA, and I want to know.

    I will happily share my fiction via email with anyone living outside the USA who may have difficulty obtaining my books, and I am always interested in exchanging emails with those who read or write Mythos fiction. I'm extremely busy and don't have much time to critique your own fiction in depth, but I am always happy to look over the Mythos fiction of others (including non-published writers) and giving some few thoughts regarding your Lovecraftian weird fiction.
     
    May 28, 2010
    #44
  5. Extollager

    Extollager Well-Known Member

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    In the "Nyarlathotep" piece, Lovecraft wrote: "...the sparks played amazingly around the heads of the spectators, and hair stood up on end whilst shadows more grotesque than I can tell came out and squatted on the heads. And when I, who was colder and more scientific than the rest, mumbled a trembling protest about "imposture" and "static electricity," etc.

    I found myself wondering if HPL had been thinking about Nicola Tesla and then had himself a nightmare.

    Nikola Tesla - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
    Aug 25, 2010
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  6. Extollager

    Extollager Well-Known Member

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    Oh, that's funny. I posted the Wikipedia link without reading all of it, then saw that the entry says that people have wondered about just that Tesla-Nyarlathotep thing. I guess that answers my implied question!
     
    Aug 25, 2010
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  7. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    While there is no direct evidence HPL thought much about (or of) Tesla, the question has been raised, and a very interesting case made that at least a fair amount of the description of the showman aspect of Nyarlathotep was based on him.

    As for the origins of that particular piece, though... in a letter to Rheinhart Kleiner of 14 Dec., 1920, HPL discusses that. I believe you said you had read Selected Letters I, so you have probably seen the portion of that letter included there. If not, or if you've forgotten, and in any case for others who may be interested, here is the relevant passage:

    -- Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner, pp. 200-201​
     
    Aug 26, 2010
    #47
  8. J-WO

    J-WO Pretentious Avatar Alert.

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    Judging by this letter, I wonder whether Nyarlathotep--the one of his dream--is a personification of the modern world (and Lovecraft's fear/ dislike of it). Cinema reels, electric devices, the masses tramping blindly towards it. In terms of sheer imagery its early C20th angst distilled!
     
    Aug 26, 2010
    #48
  9. nigourath

    nigourath Well-Known Member

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    Ok ,this one goes to Pugmire, who at some time ,very politely ,offered me the chance , via email,to read a Nyarlathotep story of his.Willum,maybe a little ..rudely,i didn"t answer you back then and the reason was ,that i wanted to buy this work of yours ,through Amazon,especially ,because it was a summarization of stories ,and in these cases, i prefer to have a more complete impression of somebody"s work(it happens to me ,that reading a cut -off story ,always leaves me a little stranded).Anyway, i found the free time for reading this "Sesqua valley and other haunts",ordering through Amazon wasn"t a real problem, not expensive either(18 euros i think was the price -with shipment and such.)

    My first impressions were very positive, especially on the account of the technicality of language and the whole artistic aesthetic.Willum uses supremely well -in writing - the english language and i had the impression, that he strived for an artistic result-something i liked about Lovecraft himself,and sometimes i felt ,that he reminded me of HPL.Anyway ,after reading a good portion of stories ,i can only describe this work as "romantic dark fantasy" ,and with a a good deal of lovecraftian elements in it.My favorite one, was "the ones who bow before me", and i would recommend it to any faithfull fan of lovecraft out there.
    But,w.h.p, i would to like to ask you some things here,and especially i have a little ...objection ,about your version of Nyarlathotep:

    -First of all,are you influenced by any of those old gothic romantic tales?i was given that impression.Also,you are noting in your very clever Afterwords ,after each story ,that the locale of sesquan valley is really Twin Peaks of the homonym legendary tv -series of the nineties (happens to be one of my all time favorite....),and so i was pleasantly surprised..The tv series also has an unbelievable eerieness ,that i consider unique, and i find remarkable, that this place could influence another except david Lynch, the director.Does it create such a twisted vibe ?...Willum, is there a possibility ,since you wrote some of those tales before the tv-series, that David Lynch was aware of them?....i mean could he have drawn some inspiration from them..??
    And i also remember , an element ,about the series ,that i consider very Lovecraftian :the black lodge ,if you remember .It"s weird isnt it?

    -Overall, i was very pleased by your book,especially ,the dark artistic quality ,that i felt it possessed,but still i have some objection ,about the presentation of Nyarlathotep:first of all,i liked that you were faithfull to the basic rule ,that he is the one leading to insanity and unforgifing madness,anyone who comes to terms ,with his presence.
    What troubled me at first ,was the fact ,that you depict him as a "faceless god",something not entirely irrational,since as described by lovecraft,he is the master of transformation,change and desquise ..among other things.Also, he is a presence out of space and time ,something you even mention at "the hands ,that reek and smoke".
    But what was even more odd to me ,was the impression -could i be wrong ?-that you present him something like A dream lord , a master of Dreaming.Although , for examble in "the dreams in the witches"s house " he used dreams to come in contact ,with the main hero there, i feel that this is a characterization ,a little inaproppriate for him.
    This characterization ,could feet a lot better for examble yuggoth ,that you also refer to him ,faintly, in your stories -remember ,Carter from "through the gates of silver key?".-but not nyarlathotep,in my opinion..
    Nyarlathotep, is above all,the most materialistic entity of the lovecraftian pantheon,the least paranormal if you wish,and the least aethereal , as you seem to be presenting him at times -although ,i could be misjudging here.
    His main trait , is not to manipulate dreams or communicate through them like for examble ,cthulhu does ,but -at the oppposite -to invade his very reality ,to make any intelligent being lose control of reality ,and lose control of itsself:in my opinion, he is a "reality shaper",a chaos that defies physical laws,and a physical being himself....just my opinion -i am still waiting by someone to create his own original version of nyarloathotep.

    Ironically enough , the only great depiction of Nyarlathotep,in the ..meta-lovecraftian years,was in a ...movie ,the legendary thriller of 1979-although, many havent noticed it-the "Phantasm" of Don Coscarelli , if i remember the director correctly.And even more ironically in the movie ,the otherworldly entity called "the Tall man", is never ..appointed the name "nyarlathotep",but i could never imagine a better version of nyarlathotep,in any movie or book to come.So i would recommend for anyone interested in depicting Nyarlathotep,to watch that movie (not the sequels , they suck bigtime).All the elements are there:eerieness,the ability to transform and confuse reality,or lead to madness,even the creation of an army of slaves for unknown purposes,that are never explained ,like in the lovecraftian prose "nyarlathotep"...
     
    Dec 28, 2010
    #49
  10. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    nigourath: I don't wish to answer for Wilum with the questions you posed to him particularly (though I would suggest a revisit to The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath perhaps), but on that last point, the Tall Man as Nyarlathotep... that's a very interesting concept. I must admit I never made such a connection myself, and the last of the Phantasm films (which was the only other one directed by Coscarelli) would seem to refute that... but it is a fascinating possibility, nonetheless. And, given Nyarlathotep's ability to possess someone (e.g., "The Haunter of the Dark"), it is barely possible that, even with Phantasm: OBLIVION, such an idea might prove tenable....

    At any rate, thanks for suggesting it. I've always liked Phantasm (despite its flaws) and felt that it often has some superb elements (and, of course, "Angus Scrimm" does a wonderful job in that role), so I may have revisit it in this light....
     
    Dec 28, 2010
    #50
  11. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    Was it Nyarlathotep that possessed Blake in "The Haunter of the Dark," or was it the haunter within the old church, a creature that is linked with Nyarlathotep but not Him. Yes? I love Lovecraft's ambiguity.

    Now, the tales in Sesqua Valley & Other Haunts are mostly early tales and do not represent my modern "take" on things. I got the idea of a Faceless God, of course, from Bloch's story, and it was his mentioning Nyarlathotep that planted the seed of my initial obsession with this dark god. Oddly, Nyarlathotep seems, to me, the only of the Great Old Ones who can, to my mind, be called a "God." My interpretation of the Crawling Chaos hasn't really changed, but it has matured and solidified. However, I am totally against the idea that these Great Old Ones may be easily comprehended and thus explained. They are creatures of Mystique, and to explain away their mystery so as to mundanely explain their nature, as Derleth try'd to do, is absurd. With my new book I have invented a nebulous character, a black sorceress, who will continue to reappear in future tales -- I am bringing her into the story I am writing for the Arkham House anthology being edited by Lois Gresh. This woman is becoming my representation of one aspect of Nyarlathotep, to whom she is linked in ways that I do not yet completely understand. She may be one aspect of his many faces and forms, she may be a separate cosmic creature who shares aspects with the Strange Dark One. The fun, for me, is not to be tied down by a sense of explaining the Great Old Ones or giving some "correct" portrayal of them that does not contradict HPL. Lovecraft contradicted himself regarding several things. My goal as a Mythos writer is to use these Lovecraftian elements so as to tell modern tales of the Cthuhlu Mythos, and to do so as audaciously and originally as I can.

    For example, I abhor the treatment of Nyarlathotep in "The Dreams in the Witch House" and completely reject it when writing of Him in my own tales. Perhaps my invention of this black witch is my subconscious trying to make sense of the Black Man as depicted in Lovecraft's ridiculous story -- a story that I love and hate at ye same time. There is much to build on regarding Nyarlathotep, new ways in which to involve Him in one's fiction. I probably error in turning Him into a speaking character in some of my fiction, but so be it. I am not yet finished with Him. He invades my dreams, always.
     
    Dec 28, 2010
    #51
  12. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    Yes, Bloch (with HPL's approval) certainly brought in both the "faceless god" aspect (which actually originated with "The Rats in the Walls": "It was the eldritch scurrying of those fiend-born rats, always questing for new horrors, and determined to lead me on even unto those grinning caverns of earth’s centre where Nyarlathotep, the mad faceless god, howls blindly to the piping of two amorphous idiot flute-players") and the Egyptian relationship (which, of course, began with the prose-poem "Nyarlathotep", in which this mysterious, mercurial figure made his/its first appearance). Several of the stories in Bloch's Mysteries of the Worm, not to mention his first collection, The Opener of the Way, deal with Nyarlathotep, who seems to have fascinated Bloch as well. (He also appears in Bloch's late novel, Strange Eons.) As has been made mention of by several commentors on Lovecraft's work, this particular figure shifts and shimmers, throughout Lovecraft's corpus; so much so that one can never quite pin down what, specifically, his actual symbolic role is (assuming Lovecraft had one).

    Certainly, we see him both as "the Crawling Chaos", an almost -- or perhaps entirely -- mindless force at times; and as both the messenger and a malign jester figure in the Fungi sonnet bearing the title "Azathoth" ("I am his Messenger," the daemon said, / As in contempt he struck his Master's head").There is, in fact, reason to believe that HPL may have at times blended the two figures of Nyarlathotep and Azathoth, while at other times he had them in his mind as separate entities -- as Price (iirc) has said, Nyarlathotep playing a sort of John the Baptist figure to Azathoth's Christ (although, given "The Dunwich Horror", that would seem more the role of Yog-Sothoth or his offspring).

    At any rate, this "jester" aspect, which can be seen in somewhat subtler fashion in The Dream-Quest, is why I've never had a great deal of trouble with Nyarlathotep as the Black Man, as I can easily conceive of him utilizing such a pre-existing(?) trope with his malicious sense of humor. (Then again, who's to say that he wasn't the original? Such certainly caused enough "chaos" within the Puritan community, easily showing forth the seething cauldron of pent-up fears, hatreds, jealousies, and sheer viciousness so firmly suppressed by the outward appearance of the "American Zion".)
     
    Dec 28, 2010
    #52
  13. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Well-Known Member

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    Many thanx, J. D. I had either forgotten or simply never noticed that the Faceless God aspect originated with HPL, and that pleases me profoundly.
     
    Dec 28, 2010
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  14. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    You're welcome, Wilum. That is a passage that has caused considerable controversy over the years, from what I understand. Many readers simply see it as a bit of atmospheric "window-dressing" but, frankly, I think there was more to it than that. I'm not entirely sure that Lovecraft had a firm idea in his mind at this point, but it seems to me to hint of the relationship of the de la Poer's to the past, as well as, quite possibly, a faint hint of a blurring between "reality" and "dream", such as HPL was so fond of.

    I would be willing to wager, however, that this is what August Derleth was picking up on with "The Dweller in Darkness"....

    As I recall, Robert M. Price did a piece on Nyarlathotep's role in "The Rats in the Walls" many years ago; I'll have to see if I can track it down....
     
    Dec 29, 2010
    #54
  15. nigourath

    nigourath Well-Known Member

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    Did i ...write ..."yuggoth" as the faceless figure in "gates of the silver key"?I think ..now re-counting it , it was Yog-Sothoth...damn,what a little mix-up..anyway,i believe the latter ,while he wasn"t a dream-lord,he was the one ,that Carter had to confront,in order to break the barriers of space and time.Simply,while i was reading it ,this was like a Dream sequence to me,a scenery of dream ,which ofcourse proved to be very real...

    About the "phantasm series" ,i deliberately didn"t mention the sequels-except ,saying that they were a waste of time,even the second movie .Sadly- as an afterword ,on what you mentioned, J.d- Don Coscarelli didn"t realize the opportunity of revealing a true Lovecraftian connection to the "Tall man" and his origins,although so deeply Lovecraftian he was.Instead,if i remember correctly,in the last movie, he declares, that "Tall man" was in fact -at his past -a human ,who found a portal to another dimension.Yet,even this is ..Also a Lovecratftian tale in it"s own right.But,still, to me it was an opportunity lost ,by Don Coscarelli...
    Imagine the things implied and the new filming horizons opening,if he had implied ,that the Tall man was in fact Nyarlathotep-and a lot sooner ofcourse than 1998 -or did he simply fail to realize that?(that"s the most likely scenario....)...What can i say about these directors ....(By the way,not so irrelevant!-J.D ,did you know ,that Don Coscarelli was acquainted to the "lovecraftian" Stuart Gordon ,and had a very positive opinion about him?just a remark)

    W.h.p,keep up the good work.A female version or association to Nyarlathotep?That's the impression i got also ,from this early story of yours, in your book,namely "Selene"?Anyway,will there be an effort of yours ,absolutely on Nyarlathotep?You still,haven"t answered on the Twin peaks part of my previous thread.Anyway,hope to see more of you-we need writers,that resemble Lovercraft"s writing style.
     
    Dec 30, 2010
    #55
  16. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    I didn't know that about Coscarelli and Gordon, but it shouldn't surprise me. Interesting....

    Yes, it would have made a fascinating connection had he deliberately gone with the Lovecraftian connotations there; sadly, he didn't....

    Incidentally, when it comes to "Through the Gates of the Silver Key", don't forget that this was not entirely Lovecraft's. In fact, a great deal of the basic structure and idea was the work of E. Hoffmann Price, who goaded HPL into a "collaboration" by writing his own sequel to "The Silver Key". When HPL saw how very different it was in both manner and matter from his original, he undertook to make it a collaborative effort (which Price had been nagging him to do for some time). While he altered quite a bit, there is still a fair amount of Price's original there as well. (The title was "The Lord of Illusion" and it can be found in Robert M. Price's anthology, Tales of the Lovecraft Mythos.)

    Of course, the use of Yog-Sothoth in that tale differs considerably from that in "The Dunwich Horror", showing how HPL's own concept of his creations evolved over time....

    If you can find it for a reasonable price, you may want to look into the Chaosium anthology, The Nyarlathotep Cycle, which includes a variety of views of the Crawling Chaos....
     
    Dec 30, 2010
    #56
  17. BAYLOR

    BAYLOR There Are Always new Things to Learn.

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    He's the most investing of Lovecraft's creations.:)
     
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    Sep 27, 2015
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  18. BAYLOR

    BAYLOR There Are Always new Things to Learn.

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    I know tho is a little late in game to ask but why would anyone Human or otherwise want to curry favor with him ? His concept of reward is to bring about destruction of all including those who serve him faithfully.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2015
    Sep 29, 2015
    #58
  19. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator

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    You forget just how many religious look forward to the "End Times" and the destruction of at least the Earth, if not the universe, and how many of those are actively working toward that end. Each has some reason which seems reasonable to him or her, but to others would seem frankly batsh*t crazy and deserving of a massive regimen of Thorazine....
     
    Sep 29, 2015
    #59
  20. BAYLOR

    BAYLOR There Are Always new Things to Learn.

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    An a moral insane godlike entity would certainly attract followers from the Lunatic fringe.
     
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    Sep 29, 2015
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