Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.174: NecronomiCon 2017 Guest Pass and Panel Signage

Among some of the least relevant - and most self-aggrandising - Lovecraftian ephemera I have been prone to hoarding are these: my 2017 guest pass for that year’s Necronomicon, and a piece of signage with my name on, which was used for the academic panel I was on during the event.

In my defence, the sign is printed on a very high quality piece of card.

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.173: NecronomiCon 2017 Silver Key Pass

Entries into the Lovecraftian Thing a Day have, franky, been a little bit uninspired over the last few weeks - this is in part due to a punishing workload, exacerbated by back problems (which make typing for long periods rather tiresome and painful). I’ve also a little concerned about the sustainability of this enterprise since resuming the Lovecraftian Thing a Day in January - although in that particular regard, I still think I have much of interest to carry the project to its conclusion in December; it is more a matter of work and health not allowing much by way of conceptual free space for engaging more imaginatively with the entries. Sadly, today’s offering continues in that manner, with more personal tat - my Silver Key pass - from Nevronomicon 2017.

But fear not, daily Thing enthusiasts, as I anticipate that the next werk or so will allow for a renewal of my creative energies. Having said that, you might want to anticipating seeing something a bit rubbish tomorrow. And Sunday also...

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.172: The Watchers by Neil Spring

Returning once more to the theme of Cold War Lovecraftian horror, Neil Spring’s novel THe Watchers offers fictional speculation as to what was really responsible for a now-famous UFO flap (including the alleged landing of a craft, supposedly witnessed by a group of school children) which occured in Broad Haven, Wales, in 1977.

Note that spoilers are about to follow.

Spring’s solution is that the Broad Haven Triangle (as the case has become known in British UFOlogical circles) was the product of a branch of thr MoD employing occult rituals to summon/contact monstrous interdimensional forces, whose Cthulhuvian provenance is attested to in  snatches of faux-Lovecaftian alien chanting (‘Gha D’rcest Cthasska, Gha D’rcest Cthassiss’), and a passing mention of the Pnakotic Manuscripts - along with what I’m presuming is Spring’s own attempt at contributing to the canon of Cthulhu mythos tomes, the Diablonomicon (really?).

Interestingly, the novel also ties the events at Broad Haven to a claim which has been circulating in conspiratorial circles over the past decade: that occult rituals enacted by Aleister Crowley and Jack Parsons in the early-to-mid part of the 20th Century opened up interdimensional portals allowing to the UFO phenomenon ingress into our world. This has, in fact, become a central tenet of an emergent (and, I would claim, heavily Lovecraftian) ‘interdimensinal hypothesis’ (intially championed by Jhn Keel), and which has been replacing the extraterrestrial hypothesis in certain sectors of the UFOlogical scene in recent years.

The inclusion of this plot element is, perhaps, unsurprising, as it is a central to Nick Redfern’s The Final Events, which purports to be an account of a secretive US government think-tank called the Collins Elite, whose members supposedly uncovered evidence that ufos were really the vanguard of soul-sucking demonic ultraterrestrials who want to harvest human souls - a thesis which Spring admits to borrowing for The Watchers. Which of course ties neatly into yesterday’s post regarding Redfern’s referencing of Lovecraftian themes in his writings on the paranormal (and which I have discussed elsewhere on the blog).

Interestingly, in the afterword to The Watchers, Spring infers that he takes the hypothesis of Redfern’s The Final Events seriously - but does so using the rhetorical device of seemingly-detached, non-commital plausible denability (‘Do similar secret investigations continue to this day? The MoD says not, but then of course they have said that before. Readers can draw their own conclusions‘) - a technique which is effectively an act of bad faith, but one which (tellingly I think), is commonly employed within a great deal of contemporary writing on paranormal themes.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.171: The Slenderman Mysteries by Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern’s books are something of a guilty pleasure for me - his work is constituted of easily consumable, uncritical and problematically-researched takes on a range of pop-culturally-relevant paranormal and conspiratorial themes and ideas. I also consider him to be one of the more significant conduits by which Lovecraftian themes have been entering into contemporary paranormal, ufological and conspiratorial subcultures.

Needless to say, the shade of Lovecaft is invoked more than once in Redfern’s recent offering, The Slenderman Mysteries - unsurprising, given the acknowledged influence of Lovecraft’s work on this relatively recent piece of digital folk/fakelore. Simlarly, it has been recognised that the figure of Slenderman owes something to the modern ufological mythology of the Men in Black - an issue which Redfern explores in this book. Bear in mind the fact that I haven’t offered citations in support of the above claims, as I don’t want to be labelled a hypocritic in relation to what comes next (but message me if you require the relevant references, as I will be happy to provide them).

For my part, I’ve been predisposed toward the notion that the mythology of the MiBs was at least partially influenced by  Lovecraft’s fiction: specifically, an early analogue of the MiB appears in Lovecaft’s Whisperer in Darkness - a tale which also involves an early fictive example of alien abduction. Indeed, in his They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, Gray Barker notes that Alfred Bender - who, via Barker’s book (and Bender’s own Flying Saucers and the Three Men) shaped early ufological lore concerning the Men-in-Black - was an avid fan of science-fiction literature.

In relation to which, for a brief moment, Redfern’s The Slenderman Mysteries offered me the hope of additional evidence in support of a Lovecraft-Bender-MiB link by way of the author’s claim that Bender was ‘a big fan of the writings of H.P. Lovecraft’. Sadly, as is the case with so much of the rhetoric of contemporary pop-cultural paranormal and conspiratorial texts, this is presented, via a kind of occulted illocutionary act, as an authoritative fact for which documentary evidence or appropriate citations in support of the claim are deemed uneccessary. Indeed, as with so much of this material, even where one does encounter the concrete citation of sources, these often direct one to either a wikipedia entry, or some other dubious, wholly uncritical and non-peer-reviewf online source. In this respect, more than once have I had to point out to a student the error of treating the number of referenced footnotes in the work of someone like David Icke as evidence of the author’s academic credentials.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.170: NecronomiCon 2017 Commemorative Book

I received the first hint today (via Facebook) that preparations for NecronomiCon 2019 are underway - in anticipation of which, I present the commemorative convention book from NecronomiCon 2017, which contains a fine collection of art, essays, and short stories in celebration of the con.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.169: Wentwood Tales - Creep

Wentwood Tales is an imprint of Three Imposters press dedicated to producing chapbooks of short-form weird fiction influenced by Arthur Machen and the Welsh landscape. The first of these is Jon Gower’s ‘Creep’ which, if I’m honest, doesn’t quite seem to launch the series off to an auspicious start. There are vague elements of Machenesque folk horror involved in the narrative, and on occasion ‘Creep’ echoes Machen’s style in its more sardonic phases; but overall there is nothing here which really seems to speak to a profound or primordial exploration of the metaphysical topography of rural Wales which one typically finds in Machen’s work; thus, whilst I approach this from the perspective of an uncouth southerner, this feels like a horror story set in Wales rather than a Welsh  horror story.

That said, my anticipation is that the next two chapbooks in the series - Catherine Fisher’s ‘The Tunnel’ and Matthew G. Rees’ ‘The Word’ (and which should be winging their way to me as we speak) - may perhaps demonstrate a closer affiliation to Machenesque moods and themes; and in other respects, ‘Creep’ is to be commended: it is not, by any means, a bad piece of weird fiction - and as a chapbook is a high quality production with regard to the Three Imposters’ usual standards; in addition to which, it is great to see a resurgence of limited edition weird fiction chapbooks such as this in an increasingly digitised age.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.168: Palladium at Night

Today’s offering may be apposite in light of the release of the first episode of CBS’ Strange Angel: Palladium at Night (or PAN) is not only an actual spy satellite launched by an (as yet undisclosed) US intelligence agency in 2009, it is also the title of a limited edition novelette of weird/cosmic horror by Christopher Slatsky, which treats said satellite as the focal point of a tale of intersecting dimensions - and the weaponsation of time by a militarised NASA, employing occult technologies developed by none other than Jack Parsons.

Without giving too much away, Palladium at Night thus fits neatly into this blog’s recent run of conspiratorial Cold War Lovecraftian horror - although here we are dealing with a more inflected Lovecraftian cosmicism which veers in the direction of William Burroughs moreso than towards the trappings of the Cthulhu Mythos. One of my favourite purchases from NecronomiCon 2017, this really did not disappoint. Hopefully Palladium at Night will be made available again in a more accessible format at some point in the near future.