Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lovecraftian musings...and art

Recently the students at the Rhode Island School of Design were issued a challenge, to illustrate some of H.P. Lovecraft's scariest scenes and monsters. At left is what I consider to be the best of their efforts, a Shoggoth painted by Craig J. Spearing that IMO is just begging to become a book cover. But there are lots of other goodies at this website, which it's only fair to say I found through io9. Dagon looks pretty awesome, too; as does a creature I feel sure the judge misidentified when he guessed it was a ghast (IMO, it's clearly a denizen of Innsmouth).

Anyway, looking at these images makes me think of the difficulty in turning creatures this squicky into subjects of mind control erotica. You can go the route Tabico and I did in The Icky-Squicky Spider, intentionally using the horror to illustrate the depth of the MC; or you can go the route I tried in Octopus Vulgaris, trying to find something beautiful amidst the squick. I doubt Lovecraft ever found anything beautiful in his creatures, and I have no idea if I succeeded or not. But I do know it's easier to make these things beautiful with words rather than images. Some of the student art I linked to above is funny, but the only one I'd call beautiful (Chun Lo's Dhole) looks more like something from an SF novel than anything from Lovecraft's mythology.

No, let's face it: if you ever saw one of Lovecraft's monstrosities in real life, it would be squicky, not beautiful at all. That's part of what I hinted at in Union, Reunion, when Allie has a moment, after submitting to the lake monster, where's she's hurting and horrified and thinks, "It's not supposed to be like this." That bit actually came from a dream of mine: a dream in which I submitted to a Lovecraftian monster and it was cold and slimy and painful, not pleasurable at all. The pleasure only came after I was "converted," which brings me back to the motivation of "The Icky-Squicky Spider."

I don't know; maybe you have to turn to Clark Ashton Smith if you want beautiful MC-monsters. I still recommend The Maze of Maal-Dweb, for all its overwrought prose. In fact, I recommend almost anything by Smith - and you can find it online at The Eldritch Dark.

But this was meant to be a post about Lovecraft, so I guess I've strayed a bit. I hope you don't mind. ;-) And I hope some of you will respond to these musings. Do you find anything beautiful, anything erotic, in any of Lovecraft's monstrosities? Do you have to reconfigure them in your mind, in order to do so? Or do you just separate your horror from your erotica entirely?


Tabico said...

Speaking of Lovecraftian erotica (and not-erotica), have you seen the recently released Alan Moore comic "Neonomicon"? The first one is very Lovecraftian subtle-disturbing, but the second one is outright sanity-impairingly perverse. I recommended it to a friend and he subsequently chastised me for doing so because he couldn't keep it in his house lest anyone else see it.

Anyway, if you weren't aware of it, rush out and get it. :)

thrall said...

I am very definitely looking forward to the Neonomicon, but I'll probably wait to buy until the whole series is released in a single book. I can't stand to be left hanging!

Anyway, nice to see you online again, Tabs! :-)

magic9mushroom said...

Well, I'm a little late to the party here, and I'm not a big Lovecraft geek, but I suppose I'll chip in. I can honestly say that the only turn-off in the pic you put up was the teeth - I found Saya (of Saya no Uta) incredibly hot and she looked much the same but without the teeth. I suppose it's that I don't get that cold knot in your gut that turns you off from slime or pseudopods - what I do get it from is the sight of small scurrying animals (hence, while I found "The Icky-Squicky Spider" incredibly hot to read, I'd be seriously squicked by a lot of it in a movie), and death. Death, in particular, will override just about any pleasure I get out of a work (biggest example I can think of on the EMCSA would be the second chapter of "Bedroom Pet", which was pure hotness for me right up until people started dying).

Anyway, that's just how it works for me. Love most of your stories, by the way.


thrall said...

Thanks for the compliments! I know almost nothing about anime and manga, but I just Googled "Saya no Uta" and it looks right up my alley.

BTW, in real life I'm terrified of spiders, myself. ;-)