Tuesday, June 27, 2017

HP Lovecraft's "Azathoth"

Standard Introduction
            I am a fan HP Lovecraft.  Not his god-awful racism of course, but the fact that he wrote in such a stilted un marketable way.  I think it was Neil Gaiman (Though I can’t find the interview) that described HP’s work as "a churning morass of adjectives".  But the ideas in the stories, the mysterious and weird parts that lend themselves so well too modern horror are often great.
            The idea of humanity not being important at all, that the universe is chaotic and hostile, and that even knowing about these things leave the protagonists of the stories insane from the knowledge, those are all cool.
            What is also cool is that all of HP Lovecraft’s writings are public domain.  They can be re-printed, referenced, and even re-written by those (like me) who are fans of the ideas but want to make the writing cleaner, or tighter, or just less racist.  (Seriously, why did you name the cat that Howie?  Did you think it was funny?)
Today’s Entry
           I figured I would take one of his more accessible stories and rewrite it a bit as an experiment.  “Azathoth” is a fragment published after Lovecraft’s death.  It was the opening to what was supposed to be (I think) a “John Carter of Mars” type space travel story about a man who gains the ability to astral project himself to other worlds after years of stargazing to escape the drudgery of his day to day life.
            As this reads like a semi-poetic epilogue I didn’t have to change or add much, just a lot of restructuring, as the original text was 3 massive paragraphs that were physically hard for me to read.  For more info, here is a link to the story, and here is a link to the Wikipedia entry.
            If you want to do this yourself, here is a link to HP Lovecraft’s complete works, or at least the horror ones.  I believe he wrote some romance stories too and I have no idea where to find those.
            Anyway, here is the story.  I hope you enjoy it.

            When age fell upon the world and wonder went out of the minds of men.  When grey cities reared to smoky skies, tall towers grim and ugly in whose shadow none might dream of the sun or of spring's flowering.  When learning stripped the Earth of her mantle of beauty and poets sang no more of twisted phantoms seen with bleared and inward looking eyes.  When these things had come to pass, and childish hopes had gone forever, there was a man who set upon a quest to the spaces whither the world's dreams had fled.

            This man’s name and abode remain cloaked in mystery, for they were of the waking world.  It is enough to say that he dwelt in a city of high walls where sterile twilight reigned, that his days were filled with toil and drudgery among shadow and turmoil.  Returning in the evening to a home whose one window opened not to green fields or vibrant groves, but on a dim courtyard where other windows stared back in dull despair.
            From that casement one might see only walls and windows, except when given to lean far out to gaze up at the small stars that turned past the open top of the yard.  For those who dream and read much, mere walls and windows must soon drive a man to madness, and that dweller in that room lean out night after night to peer aloft glimpsing some fragment of things beyond.  Beyond the waking world.  Beyond the tall cities.  Beyond the dull despair.
            Over the years, he found names for the slow sailing stars, and to follow them in fancy when they glided regretfully out of sight.  Hypnotized by their splendor he gazed on them and thru them.  At length, his vision opened to many secret vistas whose existence no common eye suspected.
            One leaning, stargazing night a mighty gulf was bridged in the eye of his mind.  The dream haunted skies swelled down to the lonely watcher's window to merge with the close air of his room and to make him a part of their fabulous wonder.  He could see his stars about his as he gazed in his room.  Surrounded by the many points of light he had learned the names of over so many evenings of longing.

            There came to that room wild streams of violet midnight glittering with dust of gold.  Vortices of dust and fire swirling out of the ultimate spaces and heavy perfumes from beyond the worlds.  Opiate oceans poured there, lit by suns that eyes of men would never behold and having in their whirlpools strange dolphins and sea-nymphs of depths beyond.
            Noiseless infinity eddied around the dreamer and wafted him away without touching the body that leaned stiffly from the lonely window; and for days not counted in men's calendars the tides of far spheres that bore him gently to join the course of other cycles that tenderly left him sleeping on a green sunrise shore.  A shore fragrant with lotus blossoms and starred by red camalotes.  He breathed deeply the scents and listened to the distant thrum of that green star telling him of vast infinities now open.


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