Good morning from the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain. It is four in the goddamn morning as I start this entry, Foo Fighters are on the VH1 Classic, and it is what it is, as if it could be otherwise.
I’m thinking this morning about where stories come from. It’s almost like a chemical reaction. Mix bleach and ammonia, you get deadly gas. Mix Experience A with Influence B, combine with Song On Ipod C, and you get a story. The beginnings of a story, anyway. You still need to put that ass in front of the keyboard and expend some mana, but you get the idea.
I was talking with my associate Aaron Jacobs (follow his blog or my curse be upon ye) about H. P. Lovecraft–we were in Brooklyn, not too far from the setting of “The Horror At Red Hook,” the thesis of which is “What Are Those Immigrants DOING In There?!” Lovecraft’s racism is no secret, the way he used slurs as punctuation. But as we’re talking, we come to the conclusion that his bigotry suffused his entire body of work almost at a molecular level.
Horrors coming from beyond with agendas unknowable to even his learned protagonists? Accursed lineages borne of ancestors mixing with other races? A terror of the chaos lurking outside of his experience?
Holy shit–it’s baked right in. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.
It’s a good thing that Weird fiction and cosmic horror aren’t locked into HPL’s xenophobia–the fear of the Unknown is universal, and even though Howie’s Unknown was African-American people, Jewish folks, women, and other human groups, the unease about what’s beyond the firelight was with us all along, and will continue.
And yeah, Lovecraft influenced me–the title of this very blog is taken from the the Arabic name, al Azif, of his go-to Shunned Tome. But once you see it, you can’t unsee it. You take what’s universal, and you leave what’s harmful. Always be critical. Always examine your lineage and see if there aren’t any monstrous fish-folk swimming around there.
You want a good deconstruction of Lovecraft’s fictional ecosystem, I implore you to check out The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle. It takes the framework of “Red Hook,” strips out the bigotry and the squamous, batrachian prose, and infuses it with the living, breathing soul of a haunted Depression-era New York. Dead serious, this novella is legit, my only complaint being that it feels like the first act of a bigger story. Go get it, then read “Red Hook,” and tell me which is better.
I saw a story this morning about an opera, an honest-to-god opera, based on The Shining, which looks interesting. Theater is something I’m not too well-versed in, and in this era of Hamilton ripping things up, that’s something that needs to change. My wife and I went and saw the touring production of 42nd Street, which was a delight.
My love of fictional spy Phil Coulson is well-documented, and a little creepy. I freely and fully admit to this. No content here, I just feel like it’s something I needed to let out there.
I only just saw the brilliant Attack The Block yesterday. Man, what a movie. I only knew John Boyega from The Force Awakens, and his brilliant online presence, and his performance in ATB was shocking. Don’t be like me. See if if you haven’t.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I hope the day is kind to you. If it isn’t, grab it by the neck, threaten it with a knife, and ask it why. I’m right behind you, fam. Believe.