Saturday, June 02, 2012

Prometheus. Oh Dear...

Perhaps it is an inevitable condition of advancing years that one finds one's attitudes and values drifting toward conservatism. Even so, I never thought I'd ever find my views in alignment with either the Telegraph or the Daily Mail. However, on the matter of Ridley Scott's Prometheus - which I had the misfortune of seeing earlier today - I find myself in total agreement with the reviews of said rags posted here and here. In contrast to which, some online fanboys seem insistent that Prometheus presents the viewer with a daring new mythology as well as profound speculation on matters of human import. To this I say: if you are seeking philosophical and existential depth from a movie, even the turgid and superficial pop-metaphysics of The Matrix are more substantive than the sketchy meanderings of Prometheus. Which, ultimately is both an incredibly over-hyped film and the weakest of the Alien franchise (despite Scott's insistence that the movie inhabits a completely separate conceptual terrain to its predecessors). In light of which, del Toro's predictions about Prometheus sounding the death knell of At the Mountains of Madness seem premature (roll on the HPLHS version of this which, if ever made, I predict will be infinitely superior to the cgi monsterfest del Toro seemed intent on producing). In brief, the excitement I felt at watching the various Prometheus trailers, all of which seemed to promise a darkly Lovecraftian spin on the Ancient Astronaut myth, absolutely and categorically failed to be satisfied by this muddled travesty of a movie. If you have not seen this film yet, just watch the trailer and construct your own scenario regarding what you think is going on - it is likely to be much more horrifying and awe-inspiring than the five minutes or so of hackwork which went into the plotting of Prometheus. Despite what else you may hear on the internets, intelligent sci-fi this most certainly is not. Go and re-read HPL's At the Mountains of Madness instead.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Ghooric Zone is...Changing

The more astute amongst the already sharp-eyed regular readers of this blog may have noticed one or two minor changes to the design and layout during recent perusals.

Needless to say, Whispers from the Ghooric Zone is transitioning into an entirely new mode of being. At present, said metamorphosis remains incomplete as we continue to explore otherwise unplumbed strata of ocular phantasmagoria, excavate colours hitherto concealed to the normal optic range of the human visual apparatus, and otherwise 'mash things up a bit' (as I understand kids on 'the street' are want to say these days). I expect things will settle down in a week or so. Until then, especially sensitive readers are advised to pour themselves a strong cup of tea to settle their nerves until normal service is resumed.

Clyde Lewis Announces the Return of Cthulhu

In an earlier post I mentioned Clyde Lewis’ alleged encounter with an MiB calling himself Nyarlathotep. More recently, Lewis has continued to mine a rich vein of Lovecraftiana as grist for the conspiratorial mill by devoting this episode of his apocalyptic shock-jock paranormal radio show to a discussion of Cthulhu and his spawn with a somewhat bemused Shaun Branney (of HPLHS fame) as his guest. Granted, much of the discussion seems tongue in cheek, although the gullibility of some of the callers with regard to Cthulhu’s existence is worrying to say the least. Even so, Lewis has provided his thoughts on the matter of Cthulhu’s reality (which he does seem to treat seriously) in more detail here, here and here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Breaking News: H.P. Lovecraft invented 2012!

Its official! As regular readers of the Fortean Times are probably aware, a boffin over at the University of Kansas (and one of those pesky anthropologists to boot) has proven categorically that H.P. Lovecraft invented 2012. Blimey! Almost as controversial as Jeremy Clarkson's claim that Isembard Kingdom Brunel built the world!

Sensationalism - and Clarkson's vulgarly unreconstructed colonialist rhetoric (at least we know what he spends with his time thinking about when not advocating the shooting of rioters and their families) - aside, the latest edition of FT includes an interesting article by anthropologist/archaeologist John Hoopes of the University of Texas exploring the origins of 2012 apocalypticism, the blame of which is in part laid at Lovecraft's door. The crux of the matter lies, it seems, in the fact that Mayanist archaeologist Michael Coe(who inadvertantly helped foster the 2012 myth) is also a massive Lovecraft fan. To this Hoopes adds that Lovecraft's work also contributed elements of cyclical catastrophism to the mix.

I'm initially sceptical that these two points together demonstrate a significant influence upon 2012 mythology on the part of HPL. Indeed, a problem I've regularly encountered in my own research is the plausibility of establishing anything even vaguely resembling a causal link (except where explicitly stated, as in the works of Kenneth Grant) between the literature of the weird and and contemporary oc/culture. Added to which, apocalyptic themes are not uniquely Lovecraftian, but have manifested historically in a number of contexts (Norman Cohn's Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come offers a good historical overview of the matter). I suspect that both homegrown Christian millenarianism and Theosophical recensions of Hindu temporal mythographies (as Hoopes himself recognises) have as much to do with 2012 as does Lovecraft. In addition to which, genuine Lovecraftian elements seem to be absent from much of the 2012 apocalypticism I've been aware of (mainly that of the vapid type spawned from the smug, self-gratified maws of New Age white-lighters...).

In this interview from August 2011, Hoopes elaborates somewhat, and mentions he is working on a book on the matter which I await with eager anticipation. Even if a causal link between Lovecraft and 2012 is questionable, I have no doubt that Hoopes' book will prove a significant contribution to the growing literature demonstrating the wide cultural influence of H.P.L. who, perhaps moreso than Brunel, could truely be said to have invented the modern world.

Apologies, by the way, for the long leave of absence. In the post Xmas doldrums, we at the Ghooric Zone have been drifting listlessly through strange realms of black horror - a matter to be rectified as normal service is (hopefully) resumed...