Eighth Meeting of Cthulhu Rising at La Madeleine on Lemmon Ave

Welcome to the eighth meeting of Cthulhu Rising: The HP Lovecraft Society of Dallas. Please remember to take notes for discussion. Please note the new location, and that I've pushed the meeting back to 6:30. I look forward to seeing you all on the 28th. 

Cthulhu fhtagn!

READING LIST FOR DISCUSSION 

• 1919: Old Bugs

• 1919: The Transition of Juan Romero

• Cults of an Unwitting Oracle: The (Unintended) Religious Legacy of H. P. Lovecraft

• A section on HPL from the book Science and Destabilization in the Modern American Gothic, by David A. Oakes. A copy of this was made available at meeting number 7 for those who prepaid at that time.


SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION

The Wikipedia page on The Transition of Juan Romero

The Transition of Juan Romero WebComic.

The HP Podcraft, Episode 6 - The Transition of Juan Romero.


GLOSSARY

Huitzilopochtli - a Mesoamerican deity of war, sun, human sacrifice and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. He was also the national god of the Mexicas, also known as Aztecs, of Tenochtitlan. Many in the pantheon of deities of the Aztecs were inclined to have a fondness for a particular aspect of warfare. However, Huitzilopochtli was known as the primary god of war in ancient Mexico. 


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  • Cary

    I just reread "The Transition of Juan Romero" again. I must say I do, for the most part, like the story and how it developed. I feel Howard is much less self-conscious as a writer with this piece, and the mystery of the "unexplained phenomenon" edges more towards the plausible than outlandish.

    July 12

  • David W.

    sorry. I should have let you know. My boss made me cover the weekend guy. Last minute change. I was so pissed the meeting escaped my memory.

    June 29

    • Cary

      No worries David. We missed you and wondered where you were. We didn't get to discuss Science and Destabilization much, so keep reading it and we'll discuss more in the future.

      1 · June 30

    • Melissa S.

      David, again, as Cary said, don't worry. We know you would have been there if at all possible. Melissa

      June 30

  • Melissa S.

    Everyone, I came across some articles that include the pronunciation of Huitzilopochtli; it' something like “wē tsēlōpōcht lē.” There are many versions of the pronunciation, but they all seem to agree that the "H" is pronounced like a "w." (Maybe this is obvious to those of you who know Spanish; I didn't have a clue.)

    June 28

    • Cary

      The Aztecs spoke N'ahuatl, not Spanish, if that is what you are assuming there.

      June 28

    • Melissa S.

      Cary, yes, I was being completely silly stating "Spanish." I know what happened: I was subconsciously thinking of how the "J" in "Juan" is pronounced with a "w" sound and how the "x" in "Mexia" is pronounced with a "h" sound. Melissa

      June 30

  • Melissa S.

    As always, all of the readings were excellent and the discussion stimulating, generating, in my mind, additional ideas and theories. I only wished more members had attended. If you did not attend, please read all the comments associated with this meeting and view the photos and captions for this meeting.

    1 · June 29

  • Cary

    Well, it was just Melissa and me this time, but we had a good conversation anyhow. : )

    June 28

  • Cary

    The story I was thinking of was "Ligeia," to be sure. Poe opens up the story with a quote from Glanvill:

    LIGEIA

    "And the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the mysteries of the will, with its vigor? For God is but a great will pervading all things by nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield himself to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will. -- JOSEPH GLANVILL. "I CANNOT, for my soul, remember how, when, or even precisely where, I first became acquainted with the Lady Ligeia. Long years have since elapsed, and my memory is feeble through much suffering. Or, perhaps, I cannot now bring these points to mind, because, in truth, the character of my beloved, her rare learning, her singular yet placid cast of beauty, and the thrilling and enthralling eloquence of her low, musical language..."

    June 24

    • Cary

      Perhaps it was a mistake, or he misquoted an unreliable source, or he was just making it up because it sounded good. Who can ever say.

      June 28

    • Melissa S.

      Also, perhaps the version of the quotation may depend on the edition of the work Poe was quoting and/or Poe was reading Glanvill's 17th century English and mistranslated it and/or "tinkered" with it to give it the flair he wanted. I'm not familiar at all with Glanvill's body of work, but I assuming the Levines are correct when they state no one has been able to track down the exact source. Melissa

      June 28

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry, but I can't make it tomorrow. Hope to see everyone next time.

    June 27

    • Cary

      Miss you too. Hope to see you next time.

      June 28

  • John P.

    Sorry, but I won't be able to make this one. I'm wrapping up the class I've been teaching, trying to finish the last of my presentations and get the final in order. This is it, though, so I should be able to make the next meeting. In the meantime, Cthulhu f'tagn, y'all.

    June 27

    • Cary

      We'll miss you.

      June 28

  • Melissa S.

    In "Some Notes on Lovecraft's 'The Transition of Juan Romero,'" Leigh Blackmore criticizes Lovecraft's apparently random connection between the Aztec and Hindu cultures: "he has incorporated references to both the widely disparate Aztec and Hindu cultures, but there seems to be no clear reason why these might be connected through the events of the story." I disagree; see The Encylopedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and General Literature by W.H. De Puy, 9th edition, 1896 (which Lovecraft owned): "Humboldt also discusses the Mexican doctrine, represented in the native pictures, of four ages of the world belonging to water, earth, air, and fire, and ending respectively by deluge, earthquake, tempest, and conflagration. The resemblance of this to some versions of the Hindu doctrine of the four ages or yuga is of so remarkable a closeness as hardly to be accounted for . . . " (207).

    1 · June 22

    • Melissa S.

      Leigh Blackmore's essay is excellent and well worth reading. It's just that it irks me when a critic writes something along the lines of "there's no apparent reason why Lovecraft included X [fill in the blank] in this story or did X [fill in the blank] in this story, so he must not have had a real reason for doing it, thus it's a weakness of this work." Regarding criticisms like this, I feel the critic hasn't taken the time/effort to track down Lovecraft's possible/probable inspirations (which I can usually track down doing some basic research) or really spent the time/effort considering WHY Lovecraft created/included a certain element/effect. Melissa

      June 25

    • Melissa S.

      Came across an analysis of Lovecraft's "Celephais" in "The Dream World and the Real World in Lovecraft" (excellent essay). Some of the points mentioned seem relevant to "Transition." Joshi points out that "Celephais" resembles "Polaris" in that "a sort of dream is employed in penetrating other worlds or other planes of reality." "What seems to have happened is that Kuranes [protagonist of 'Celephais'] has somehow gone back in time to the town of his ancestors . . . It may be indeed, that like the narrator of 'Polaris,' Kuranes is prey to ancestral memory, and that his 'dreams' are merely a means of escaping into a world that is very real, but which is merely set in the historical past." Melissa

      June 27

  • Melissa S.

    Everyone, did a little bit of investigation regarding some of the texts mentioned in "Cults of an Unwitting Oracle." Much more convoluted nonsense than anything remotely frightening and/or shocking. Didn't want to really investigate further due to being suspicious of some of these websites--look like they could be virus-ridden!

    June 27

  • Melissa S.

    Also, I've noticed a trend in Lovecraft criticism: either Lovecraft is "too vague" or Lovecraft includes "too many details." So Lovecraft is damned if he does, damned if he doesn't, so to speak. I start with the assumption that Lovecraft did have a purpose/reason for including a certain detail/creating a certain effect in his fiction. My approach is probably influenced by being an English major and being forced to read works like The Iliad and The Divine Comedy. If you dismiss every detail/effect in works like this because you don't immediately understand their purpose, you'll get nowhere. I once analyzed/researched every detail in a canto of Purgatory (Divine Comedy) and discovered meaning in EVERYTHING. Melissa

    June 25

  • Cary

    And again in the fourth paragraph: "Among innumerable other instances, I well remember something in a volume of Joseph Glanvill, which (perhaps merely from its quaintness — who shall say?) never failed to inspire me with the sentiment, — "And the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the mysteries of the will, with its vigor? For God is but a great will pervading all things by nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield him to the angels, nor unto death utterly, only through the weakness of his feeble will."


    And for the record, although it is off topic, this idea that "For God is but a great will pervading all things" certainly seems to have influenced Schopenhaur's philosophy to some extent.

    June 24

  • Melissa S.

    Also, everyone, Leigh Blackmore notes, "his [Lovecraft's] citation of this passage from Glanvill (author of the work on witchcraft, Sadducismus Trimphatus) by way of Poe inextricably links the horrible abysses of 'Transition' with the terrible watery abyss of Poe's 'Descent.' (Lovecraft also cites Glanvill in 'The Festival,' in which the narrator notices Glanvill's book in the house on Green Lane in Kingsport, Massachuetts." This is a little confusing/misleading. The narrator of "The Festival" does indeed recognize Glanvill's Sadducismus Trimphatus; however, the quotation concerning the "well of Democritus" actually comes from Glanvill's Essays on Several Important Subjects In Philosophy and Religion (1676). I will post some images. Melissa

    1 · June 23

    • Melissa S.

      Cary, haven't looked into the Poe/Glanvill reference too deeply, but plan to do so, depending on my time available. But I thought the illustration from Sadducismus Trimphatus was just too cool! Interestingly, none of Glanvill's works are listed in Lovecraft's library (although that does not positively rule out the possibility that Lovecraft did read one or more of Glanvill's works). Lovecraft may have just been familiar with the Glanvill quotation in Poe's "Maelstrom." Based on what I've been able to research so far, Lovecraft did read Murray's The Witch-Cult in Western Europe and he may have come across Glanvill via Murray also. Melissa

      June 24

  • Cary

    Since Howard mentions Joseph Glanvill (as does Poe in "Ligeia," or perhaps, "Morella"), I wanted to put a little from Wikipedia about Glanvill here:

    Joseph Glanvill (1636–1680) was an English writer, philosopher, and clergyman. Not himself a scientist, he has been called "the most skillful apologist of the virtuosi", or in other words the leading propagandist for the approach of the English natural philosophers of the later 17th century. In 1661 he predicted
    "the time will come, when making use of magnetic waves that permeate the ether,...we shall communicate with [persons on the opposite side of the globe]." He was the author of The Vanity of Dogmatizing (editions from 1661), which attacked scholasticism and religious persecution. It was a plea for religious toleration, the scientific method, and freedom of thought. It also contained a tale that became the material for Matthew Arnold's Victorian poem The Scholar Gipsy.

    Continue here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Glanvill

    June 23

  • Melissa S.

    Hey, everyone! Lovecraft included some footnotes to "The Transition of Juan Romero" which are not included in the electronic edition of the story (see link on our website). First note: " . . . across the blurred patch of celestial light which marked the gibbous moon's* attempts . . ."--"*AUTHOR'S NOTE: Here is a lesson in scientific accuracy for fiction writers. I have just looked up the moon's phases for October, 1894, to find when a gibbous moon was visible at 2 a.m., and have changed the dates to fit!!" Second note: ". . . fragments of a passage in Joseph Glanvill which Poe has quoted with tremendous effect--" Note: "Motto of 'A Descent into the Maelstrom'." Third note: "Later I definitely placed that word in the works of a great historian"--Note: "Prescott, Conquest of Mexico." These notes are included in the edition of the story reprinted in Dagon and Other Macabre Tales, Selected by August Derleth, With texts edited by S. T. Joshi, [1987 edition].

    1 · June 19

  • Melissa S.

    See under "General Photos" for Aztec myth of Chicomoztoc and its relevance to "The Transition of Juan Romero."

    1 · June 22

  • Melissa S.

    Also, I am planning to post (hopefully today) what I consider to be the key concept in "Transition" that really pulls the story together. I firmly believe these critics who contend that Lovecraft throws things in randomly or contend that there's little to no purpose to something Lovecraft includes in a story are simply on the wrong track; Lovecraft is NOT a "random" writer but the very opposite, a writer incredibly meticullous who always has a reason behind what he includes in a story.

    1 · June 22

  • Melissa S.

    Also, concerning "Juan Romero," I found what looks like an excellent article, "Some Notes on Lovecraft's 'The Transition of Juan Romero' by Leigh Blackmore, 2009. I've skimmed through it, but am planning to read much more carefully. See link http://www.scribd.com/doc/23227152/Mantichore-13. You should be able to read this on-line, but to print it, you probably need to sign up for an account. Melissa

    June 19

    • Cary

      Melissa, that article by Blackmore was actually on my reading list when I first organized this meetup, but when I finally went to link to the article, I could no longer find it with a search. Odd you found it, but thanks. Blackmore's website is not that great, and badly needs to be modernized. Everyone, please add this to your supplemental reading list.

      June 19

    • Cary

      When you click the link, select "full view" and then scroll down to page 8. And yeah, I was unable to print it, but I don't have an account on that site, and not sure if I want to get one (so many accounts already).

      June 19

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  • Cary
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