Underlinings (#61)

Nick Mamatas interviewed, on Lovecraft:

As I argued in the Los Angeles Review of Books a couple of years ago, Lovecraft is wrongly considered a bad writer because he’s actually a difficult writer. He engages in polyphony, using the modes of everything from learned rhetoric to personal letters and newspaper reports to build a case for the verisimilitude of his creations. Lovecraft’s bad reputation as a writer comes largely from his epigones, who ape his style without understanding choices, or from people who really haven’t read him closely. Complaining about his prose is like complaining that a modern filmmaker made a film in black and white instead of color — it’s a choice with a purpose, not an accident or an artifact of incompetence. …

Underlinings (#37)

Michael W. Clune on Ligotti (and “the psychology of cosmic horror”):

Things are not what they seem. This is the mantra and the practice of cosmic horror. Lovecraft wrote stories in which familiar appearances — mountains, stars, old New England houses — melt away from things that now wear an unspeakably different aspect. While the focus in Lovecraft is always on the alien reality below the appearances, Ligotti is fascinated by the simple capacity of changing appearances to suggest a different reality. He pursues the inhumanist psychology of the process in which appearances come loose from their anchor in the human world.


Carmela Ciuraru on the multiplicitous Fernando Pessoa:

For some authors, the task of writing is a descent into the self. Pessoa ventured in the opposite direction, using his heteronyms as a means of escape and claiming that within his mini-populace, he was the least “real” and compelling of the bunch. The others were constellations swirling around him. In the context of psychoanalysis, a split identity is seen as a wound that needs healing. But in Pessoa’s mind(s), there was nothing disorienting about it. “I’ve divided all my humanness among the various authors whom I’ve served as literary executor,” he explained. “I subsist as a kind of medium of myself, but I’m less real than the others, less substantial, less personal, and easily influenced by them all.”

Near Blindness

Miltonic echoes in the life of Aldous Huxley:

Just how much Huxley was able to see is uncertain, although his eyes were obviously compromised, forcing him to compensate in creative ways. Julian Huxley thought that his brother developed a Herculean memory so he could better retain what he labored so hard to read. “With his one good eye, he managed to skim through learned journals, popular articles and books of every kind,” Julian recalled. “He was apparently able to take them in at a glance, and what is more, to remember their essential content. His intellectual memory was phenomenal, doubtless trained by a tenacious will to surmount the original horror of threatened blindness.”