Sunday, January 31, 2016
Lovecraftian Thing A Day No.31: Arkham Horror
Today’s post marks something of an early landmark in the Lovecraftian Thing A Day series of ‘microblogs’; and now I have managed to submit at least one blog post per day for the entirety of January 2016, I’d like to take a little bit of time to explain what this is all about.
Whispers from the Ghooric Zone started up back in 2013, and has, at best, been rather erratic with regards the regularity of posts. I resurrected the blog (for the second time) back in November 2015 (in part inspired by my time at NecronomiCon in Providence that year). Whilst I had a lot of ideas (along with plentiful notes) for some of the things I intended to talk about, work and life interceded to such a degree that I wasn’t able to submit the intended weekly posts. I write regularly, but even so am a slow writer at the best of times – but I am also a great believer in the dictum that writing begets writing.
So, in a fit of pique and frustration at lack of progress with the blog, on New Year’s Eve 2015 I determined that I would embark on the present enterprise: the intention being that, daily for the entirety of 2016, I would present an item or object from my collection of Lovecraftiana along with a short commentary on the piece – in part as a placeholder for what would hopefully become regular posts on more substantive topics (yet to appear!), but also as a means of encouraging me to engage in regular ‘creative’ writing via the pressure I’d put myself under by doing this publicly and via social media.
On which point, I am fully aware of how egocentric the daily presentation of my collection of Lovecraftian odds and ends might appear – and indeed it seems pointless denying that is the case. Even so, the series so far has proven very productive personally: some of the items have evoked memories of times and events That were all but forgotten; others have led to short forays into a kind of flash fiction, leading me to wonder if I might be able to create some kind of narrative continuity throughout the series, perhaps facilitating its transformation into another kind of creative work. In the former case, I’m quite surprised by just how odd certain of my experiences around the Lovecraft milieu have been; with regard to which, in the latter instance, I will leave it to you, good reader, to judge which of my stories really are accounts of genuine experiences, and which are fictions…
…And so on to today's Lovecraftian Thing A Day, which I acquired, at the age of 19, from Games Workshop’s original store at Dalling Road in Hammersmith during the Summer of 1987. Unfortunately that copy met its demise due to a severe case of mold in the early 1990s: the one displayed here I picked up about 6 years ago on eBay. I bought the original copy a couple of months before I was to leave my familial home for the first time and head off to the University of Leeds to begin a Religious Studies degree: a move that was to have a significant impact upon the overall trajectory of my life and career, as doing religious studies led me directly to the study of anthropology (I am now a lecturer in that discipline at Goldsmiths College, the University of London); it was also in Leeds that I first encountered the contemporary esoteric practice of Chaos magick, which in turn has led me to explore the intersections between Lovecraft and esotericism for the better part of my academic career. Whilst I was never directly involved in Chaos Magick in Leeds during the time I was there (I returned to London in 1995), I was often on the periphery of the scene: at one time I worked next door to Id Aromatics – an aromatherapy shop where I used to pick up copies of Chaos International, and which was either owned or managed by Dave Lee (who later become the head of the Illuminates of Thanateros). For a time I lived on Burley Lodge Road, virtually opposite to the notorious UK occult shop The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This was also where I bought my first copy of the Simon Necronomicon as well as Peter J. Carroll’s Liber Null & Psychonaut. Towards the end of my time in Leeds, I also had the opportunity to meet Brian Ward, who supplied the Lovecraftian illustrations to Carroll’s book – and therein lies a tale which I will relate as part of a later Lovecraftian Thing A Day.
These thing aside, Arkham Horror resurrected my love for gaming (which had waned as I entered my later teenage years) and inspired an interest in solitaire gaming which continues to this day – certainly one of the threads which will continue to weave itself through this series is the degree to which Lovecraftian tropes have become integral to contemporary tabletop gaming culture.