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Chapter 1: Lovecraft and the inhuman perspective

By introducing materialism into the heart of fear and fantasy, Lovecraft

created a new genre.

It is only until recent years that Lovecraft has remained the untapped curiosity
of the horror genre. Prior to Lovecraft, horror was addressed as strict fantasy;
as it was, the fantastic narrative object was never translated to a fantastic
narrative in that events are always subordinated to logic. However, with the
advent of Lovecraft�s amateur contributions to pulp magazines such as Weird Tales,
the horror genre has moved on from purely dealing with the fantastic narrative
object to the metaphorical �fifth dimension beyond that which is known to
man�.Whilst it remains possible to read him (as is popular to do so) as the 20th
Century equivalent of Edgar Allan Poe, this is to ignore a crucial difference in
their narrative dynamics. It is well documented that Poe relies directly upon the
psychological dimension to establish the poles in which he situates his narrative;
thus the only horror which it becomes possible to conjure is a metaphysical
�abyss� in which the narrator finds himself:

To conceive the horror of my sensation is, I presume, utterly impossible;

yet a curiosity to penetrate the mysteries of these awful regions, predominates
even over my despair [�].

At first I was too much confused to observe anything accurately. The general
burst of terrific grandeur was all that I beheld.

What is therefore central to Poe�s narrative is that, if fear is given the

infinite capacity of the mind, then it is possible for innate paranoia and fear of
negative forces to create the �horrific. If this then can be said to be true of
Poe, his position as antecedent of Lovecraftian horror is purely aesthetic. Whilst
there is an obvious stylistic parallel in that both resort in places to High
Gothic prose, Lovecraft always seeks to wrench horror (and the concept of horror)
out from the mental sphere and situate it, however incongruously, in the physical
sphere of objects. Whilst the notion of horror must necessarily remain
metaphysical, there is now an accompanying object of horror, in which those
metaphysics are contained. Lovecraft then, can be seen as the �creator of that
which cannot be created�: the amorphous qualities of dreams obtain direct
synthesis with reality, the animal kingdom is subverted into towering and
unsympathetic grotesques and humanity becomes unavoidably removed from the centre
of its own cosmic order. Writers like Poe pose these impossibilities in order to
question the boundaries of the possible and thus situating fear in a central
position. It is the mind that creates fear as it passes onto the object through an
attempt at understanding. By contrast then, the Lovecraftian narrative is one in
which the abysmal force unequivocally exists, in fact and allegory, with fear
created as the by-product. He thus creates objects that induce fear, rather than
fear that causes objects to be fearful. In Lovecraft�s world, Cthulhu is a fact,
and subsequently so is any madness invoked. It is through his concept of absolute
materialism that an understanding of Lovecraft�s mysterious equation of true
objectivity through horror can begin.

The �new genre� that Houellbecq discusses in his book H.P. Lovecraft: Against the
World, Against Life is where we can find cause for Lovecraft�s literary
reappraisal. Stylistically he appears as a throwback, but it is beneath his high
gothic, and even at times formulaic prose that we can locate deeply postmodern,
and even contemporary significance. Lovecraft uses horror to present a cosmic
order, which necessarily gives humankind an answering inhuman reciprocity in the
universe. It is thus from here that a serious reflection on the nature of being
can proceed. As we shall find, this new genre not only contains great significance
for science fiction and horror, but also for metaphysical enquiry about the self
and about the object.

Absolute Materialism and the Science of Art

The materialist denies that any standard is divine or absolute, and would
free our conceptions
(�) of those relative standards necessary to the orderly life and mental
comfort of mankind.

We shall begin in earnest with by dealing with the philosophy which grounds all of
Lovecraft�s work: absolute materialism. Whilst he may have claimed above that no
rule is absolute, he is referring solely to dogmatic and inductive rules. The
plain fact of the material existence of objects still remains. The only rule then,
which governs Lovecraft�s universe, and consequently human nature with it, is his
belief in �a logical order�, that transcends the perceptual modes of investigation
in being confirmed in actuality. It is perhaps this facet of his work that garners
the criticism of being formulaic and predictable. What really matters in a
Lovecraft narrative however, is what he doesn�t write: where the gaps in probable,
recognisable logic appear and are exposed by Lovecraftian absolute materialism:

The tremendous significance lies in what we dared not tell; what I would not
tell now but for the need of warning others off from nameless terrors.

The protagonist in At The Mountains of Madness displays the effect of this through
allegory. The narrator�s compulsion towards truth has its root in beneficial
humanism; a warning against horror and death. However, if we align this with
Lovecraft�s materialism then it becomes a metaphor for an objective fact which is
metaphysically self evident and is subsequently impossible to deny. If a warning
is morally a necessary reaction that Lovecraft relies on to provide human context
through narration, then it is that idea of �necessary reaction� through which he
transforms materialism into truth outside of the human sphere. As we shall see
this is how Lovecraft begins his existential system of being in the world through
art, and it is evidenced extensively through the idiosyncratic nature of his short
fiction. However, in order to approach that it first becomes necessary to address
how this artifice is erected in his (identically idiosyncratic) theory of art. The
reason for these very prominent idiosyncrasies is that Lovecraft is always pulled
in two ideological directions. On one hand by his materialist nature, and on the
other by his conservative nurture: in Nietzcheism and Realism he affirms that it
is only aristocracy that can produce true objects of value. However, in The
Materialist Today he explicitly demonstrates existence, and value with it, as
fleeting and pointless. Thus, in the first instance, one has to identify how and
where these gaps appear and their method of exposure, not what they are filled

One loud and conspicuous faction of bards, giving way to the corrupt
influences of a decaying general culture, seems to have abandoned all the
properties of versification and reason in a mad scramble after sensational
novelty; whilst the other and quieter school, constituting a more logical
evolution from the poesy of the Georgian period, demands an accuracy of
rhyme and metre.

Lovecraft views all language as having an intrinsic �nature�. In his literary

theory, he speaks extensively of a lexical and phonetical link between the written
word and the ear: he is in search of those �syllables which agree�. In a similar
fashion to T.S. Eliot, Lovecraft believes that there is a manifest �face� of art
which the individual artist must convene with before they create it. Unlike Eliot
however, Lovecraft initially staunchly rejects Modernism and consequently remains
an absolute materialist: he is not concerned by �the pair of ragged claws� which
exists in the gulf between artist and art, but the logical development in
historical trends of artistic communication which deem the constituents of the
rhyme to be linguistically �allowable�. Where the two do agree though, is in the
idea of the �balance� of art. Eliot�s balance of struck between subject and
object, but Lovecraft strikes his between two poles of perceived fact: the logical
progression of art (the human) and the logical procession of absolute science (the
inhuman).He traces this to the idea that nature itself produces a unending series
of metrically regular impulses: the fact that night turns into day and summer
turns into winter serves to produce a deterministic mental impression of rhythm
that �cannot so easily be outdistanced�. �Science� in this context is separate
from actual practiced scientific theories, and becomes both the how and the why
of the universe: the �force that doesn�t belong in our part of (perceived) space;
a kind of force that acts and grows and shapes itself by other laws than those of
our sort of Nature�. The metrical impulse is so constituent of consciousness that
to ignore it is to ignore the reason for and the nature of art. Lovecraft did no
believe in the Modernist principle that the mind was an object, but believed it to
be pure energy created in the observable world: hence the reason for the metrical

Our first concern is to separate this stance of absolute art as a product of

Lovecraft�s own personal aesthetic conservatism. Whilst a defence of the
Lovecraftian method is not easy, he begins it himself in the essay Metrical

Precision of metre is no mere display of meretricious ornament, but a

logical evolution from eminently natural sources.

The logical evolution of rhythm is rooted in the notion of linguistic gesture.

Poetry itself should seek to communicate what is at the �soul� of meaning. In
order to achieve this it must use those linguistic devices that are sensuously
attractive for the Hegelian other. If those devices do not attract the ear, then
language does not communicate; thus there is a science as much as there is an art
of expression. Lovecraft found this science to be most strongly evidenced in the
classical literature of Greece and Rome, and as such, he claimed that to �break�
entirely from those models is impossible. The Lovecraftian model of composition
relies on �Unity, Mass and Coherence� : the concept of unity succeeds in once
again placing Lovecraft aesthetically alongside Poe: all components of the
narrative must display some significant bearing toward the central theme. �Mass�
requires that important parts of the composition are placed at a point that has
corresponding importance in the narrative. Finally, coherence ensures that those
similar or related parts in the narrative appear close together, whilst those
which are unrelated appear far apart. Ultimately then, Lovecraft believes that
through the allowable rhyme and the combination of unity mass and coherence that
art becomes a reflection of material existence. It is, in essence, wholly organic
as it is in step with the logical progression of things that, through the fact of
material existence, must be natural and subsequently organic themselves.

It is perhaps, by his own standard, wrong for Lovecraft to replace what he sees as
dogmatic logic with his own equally dogmatic logic outlined above, yet as has
already been mentioned, what we are looking for is what Lovecraft does not write;
where the gaps in logic are so great, that he cannot proceed from them without
resorting to fictions. One thing we can take from Metrical Regularity and
Literary Composition is that inferred idea of unity �outside the narrative�, and
subsequently, we succeed once again, in distancing Lovecraft from Poe. Unity
amongst Lovecraft�s body of work results in a founding mythology that is
identically crucial to the classical fiction of Greece and Rome: it allows
Lovecraft the licence to present the logical order of his world as based on his
logic. The Lovecraftian twist is that his logic is not perceived logic of visible
cause and effect. In order that Lovecraft maintain his pursuit and subsequent
logical distortion of art, then it must be balanced with a concession to that
logic of art: eventually he partially accepts Modernism. The fact that Lovecraft
fills the gap with impossible beasts and fictional towns demonstrates this
concession; these are Lovecraft�s personal, and darkly baroque, aesthetic taste,
but the gap in logic is not. It is in filling this gap with materialist terror
that Lovecraft can use mythology to �mean something to those intelligent beings
that only consist of nebulous spiralling gases�, be they human or inhuman.

Materialism pulls the narrative towards the pole of fact, whereas mythology pulls
towards the pole of art; both appear as two entities which exclude the other,
therefore it converges in pointing towards an incontrovertible terror which
subsequently becomes the only truth in the perceived universe. Whilst mythology is
crucial in the centring of terror, it does not strictly obey the rules Lovecraft
believed were laid down in the literature of Greece and Rome. Classical literature
uses it to provide an environment that can be mapped; it centres the objects in it
and therefore can present them as true. Lovecraft uses it in order to decentre the
perceived material object by pulling it in two opposite directions. Therefore it
is horror that finds itself as the central truth of the universe. The fictional
borough of Arkham is where Lovecraft sets some of his most notable stories (The
Dunwich Horror, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, Call of Cthulhu). It serves as the
literal and metaphorical nexus point where fact and fiction obtain �unity�. It is
situated on the North Shore of Massachusetts and by Lovecraft�s own admission �is
something like Salem in atmosphere and style of houses� The advent of Lovecraft�s
merging of a founding mythology with materialism removes the barriers between
aesthetic taste (fiction) and fact, and with it, art and artist. Unity, like
everything else in Lovecraft�s universe is subject to absolute reductive
materialism. It is the point where all those objects that are being unified
become so ultimately combined that their meaning as one object, another object, or
a combination of objects creating a new object, disappears into the void of
undetectable metonymic being: the �blankness� of Lovecraft�s �summer sky� that we
shall come to later. Metaphysical enquiry cannot sustain a unity in objects that
does not assert an identity as something inductively recognisable. Thus, if there
is to be an impossible unity is Lovecraft�s universe, then it must be at the
expense of the authors ability to �map� the object:

He see all the tress a-bendin� at the maouth o� the glen - opposite side ter
this - an� smelt the same awful smell when he found the big tracks las� Monday
morning�. An� he says they was a swishin� lappin� saound, more nor what the
bendin� trees an� bushes could make, an� all on a suddent the trees along the
rud began ter git pushed on one side, an� there was a awful stompin� an� splashin�
in the mud.

Lovecraft�s description of the final incarnation of the beast in The Dunwich

Horror is only defined by absence. It is a useful metaphor for our own method of
observing the inferred absence in his writing. We shall return to the problems in
providing a linguistic map of Lovecraftian entities in following chapters, yet for
now we have a steadfastly material absence. It represents on one hand, a literal
gap in space and time where two independent dimensions are overlapped and the
Dunwich Horror has come through.; it is Lovecraft�s fictional mythology that
allows this. On the materialist side of the pole however, it is an object that
exists bodily in one dimension with bodily energy existing in another. As
Lovecraft did not believe the mind to be an object in itself, but thought that it
was energy, and in the Dunwich Horror he shows the effects of the mind (science),
but when it comes to rendering the body (art) all that is evident is the effect
that body: signs, smells and tastes. What is ordinarily seen as a body moving
through the world and creating effect through the mental energy that produces
action is transformed into terror through the allegorical balance of materialism
and mythology. Lovecraft is very specific in describing only the final incarnation
of the monster as �the Dunwich horror�, despite the fact that there have already
been two more physical examples of it. This is due to the fact that the previous
examples are explained in terms of what is relatively known (incompatible
combinations of nature) and thus are not what horror is in Lovecraft�s universe.
Lovecraftian horror relies on the two boundaries mutually destabilizing one
another in order to create what Houellebecq calls �a vertigo effect� which is
incontrovertible to any viewpoint.

The vertigo effect involves the pole of reason pulling the mind in one way, and
truth pulling in the other. This creates the abyss between as the mind confuses
what should be and what is. Thus existence in the universe is identical to the
gulf where the Dunwich Horror should exist, but paradoxically cannot exist.
Mythology serves to centre terror in a world which is, due to uncertainty within
dimensions, only understandable through it. Cosmic materialism serves to fix as
concrete anything, be it unusual or mundane, that appears in that world. The
result is the vertigo effect that produces a perpetual confusion as both poles can
be seen to be mutually exclusive. Therefore Lovecraft creates horror as its
central idea of the perceivable universe. If it is the terror of confusion that
sustains the Lovecraftian universe, then this aligns Lovecraft with contemporary
theories on the grotesque. The vertigo effect is purely for human consideration;
in order to look at how Lovecraft can pull in two mutually exclusive directions,
we must examine the grotesque.

The Vertigo Effect and the Theory of Grotesque

The more remote and right the image between the two realities, the more
powerful will be the image.
-Pierre Reverdy

The power of the grotesque will either succeed or fail in relation to how remotely
opposed are those objects which it seeks to unite. It is a relational concept
which thrives on an ellipsis in perception between logic and object. Much like the
vertigo effect, there is a �shatter(ing) of coherence� in any moral imperative.
The consequence of the grotesque then, is that through the distortion of reality,
logical and moral enquiry can be restructured in order to accommodate the unknown
(hence it becomes �known). A cursory glance at Lovecraft�s relationship with the
grotesque provides what initially appears as a basic and direct method. As it is
terror that is focal to his universe, he relentlessly follows the pattern of
�[a]pocalyptic beasts emerge[ing]from the abyss� and thus consequently providing
those unfortunate enough to encounter them with a view of �the estranged world�
that is to be conquered, and in doing so the perceived world is restructured.
However, in order that we do Lovecraft sufficient justice, it becomes necessary
that his own particular vision of the grotesque becomes the subject to his
peculiar pursuit of an objective cosmic metaphysics. One of the points that
Wolfgang Kayser stresses in his work, The Grotesque in Art and Literature, is that
all literary manifestations of the grotesque provide an amoral liberation from the
fear and uncertainty of abysmal forces through their direct confrontation and
acceptance. If evil can be accommodated into the order of the world, then it can
subsequently be overcome through use of the logic which governs that order. In
Kayser�s case, it is the apparent removal of morality within the grotesque object
which is the key to the relational aspect. It is the idea of that which is without
or outside morality coming into conflict with that which is. If morality is
present in the grotesque then it immediately becomes tragedy; both are reliant
upon an inherent objective absurdity and thus it is morality from which tragedy
garners a meaning through events. However, if morality is subtracted from
absurdity then events are no longer �those things which should not, in the light
of the perceived cosmic order, exist� and consequently become �those things which,
contrary to all logical probability, are�.

It seems then, that Kayser�s model of the grotesque has its origins in the Gothic
fiction of the 19th Century. It relies on perceptual and subsequent moral
ambiguity to create a basic fear through the absurd distension of meaning in
correlation with appearance. Writers such as Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu require that
the protagonist expand their mind in order to accommodate an alien entity so that
it can subsequently close around it as it becomes understood. Resolution of
ambiguity is necessary so that the divide between grotesque and reality can be
redrawn. Kayser�s own notion of grotesque seeks to rectify the anomaly, much like
Gothic fiction:

The English Gothic novel confirms the moral order of the world; its figures
are judged by the standards of good and evil, which apply even to the

Kayser concludes his search for the definition of the grotesque by addressing it
as �an attempt to invoke and subdue the demonic aspects of the world�, which has
obvious connotations to his previous statement about the Gothic novel. The
grotesque is an expansion of knowledge, whereas tragedy is a repression of �evil�
knowledge. However, if this �expanded knowledge� is conquered, then surely all
this succeeds in achieving is subjugating the grotesque to the spheres of human
logic? The divide between morality and circumstance is insufficient in their
boundaries to accommodate those objects of the grotesque as exactly what they are:
objects. They perpetually remain the question that must be answered; the amoral is
defined by morality.

If we proceed from Kayser�s definition, then a Lovecraftian portrayal of the

grotesque in fact, becomes problematic. In the �subduing� of those impossible
beasts, does not the narrative grotesque lose its amorality and therefore become
tragedy? Whilst there is confrontation and subjugation of the grotesque, this
surely infers a moral order in which events occur. Indeed, there are few Lovecraft
narratives which end in human victory, and even in these cases, the �victory� is
partial; whilst The Case of Charles Dexter Ward concludes with the bodily death of
the evil object, the nature of Lovecraft�s beast, the demonic occultist Joseph
Curwen, is that his soul can transmigrate into another body. Thus bodily death may
conclude the narrative, but in Lovecraft�s world the evil still exists floating in
the metaphysical ether. If, in Kayser�s terms, tragedy can be recognised as
events which morality states should not have happened and came to happen through
the evil machinations of individual protagonists, then an inevitable suppression
of the inhuman can only lead to a persistent reaffirmation of the human cosmic
order and its moral right to existence: the Kantian moral �good�. Therefore it is
in the place of this apparent inconsistency that we can begin to understand the
Lovecraftian beast. It is true that Lovecraft can be seen to proceed from
Kayser�s notion of the amoral grotesque, however this amorality becomes entirely
absolute. Dieter Meindl comments that Kayser is pursuing the grotesque purely in
its capacity to invoke horror. The notion of horror is, like the grotesque,
entirely dependant upon the tension between �attractive and repulsive elements� .
The grotesque is the corresponding tangible object to the intangible response of
fear that the idea of horror provides. Lovecraft must portray the grotesque from
the human perspective in order for it to be a narrative. However, if we return to
the balance between a �possible rhyme� and Lovecraft�s �allowable rhyme� then it
can be said that whilst the grotesque object is portrayed as a distortion of
perceived reality, it actually exists in Lovecraft�s world autonomously not in
opposition to any form of morality. They have an entirely independent and
autonomous existence that is not judged by morality, but by a wholly objective
cosmic order. Lovecraftian monsters are simply things that are.

He had said that the geometry of the dream-place he saw was abnormal, non-
Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours.
Now an unlettered seaman felt the same thing whilst gazing at this terrible

In this excerpt from The Call of Cthulhu (perhaps Lovecraft�s most celebrated
work) it is possible to see exactly how Lovecraft removes the boundaries between
tangible grotesque and intangible fear. �Abnormality� is a subjective metaphysical
perception that is qualified by the (un)scientific notion of �non-Euclidean�.
Subsequently, the relational aspects of both those notions are removed and that
which previously constituted two independent objects becomes resolved in-
dialectically into one autonomous object. If therefore, the relational aspect is
removed, then so is any moral connotation to Kayser�s grotesque, and as such, it
must occupy a �dimension apart from ours�. This is a prime example of Lovecraft
implementing the �materialism of fear� that Houellebecq addresses ,and also
demonstrates how the divide between fact and fantasy can be breeched. If it is
accepted that Euclidean geometry can be distorted, then it follows then all modes
of empirical deduction can be distorted. Geometry is that which is so fundamental
to the eye delineating between objects, that if Lovecraft challenges it, he is not
dealing with a grotesque that can be seen as anthropomorphised in any way. If
there are no human qualities present, then in what sense is it in an oppositional
relationship with morality?

There may conceivably be a survival (�) of a hugely remote period when �

consciousness was manifested perhaps in shapes and forms long since withdrawn
before the tide of advancing humanity� forms of which poetry and legend alone have
(�) called (�) mythical beings of all sorts and kinds.

What we have then in the Lovecraftian beast is a metonymic relationship between

fact and perception. Cthulhu and all that is associated with it do not achieve a
totality of meaning in themselves. Whilst they remain facts, what Lovecraft is
striving toward is that an autonomous grotesque displays a microcosm of the
�dimension apart from ours�. The abysmal force in the Lovecraftian grotesque is
not then, the distended version of our own reality but another reality in itself,
the existence of which is deemed a threat purely because it is actually an
existence: every beast that creeps through the divide between worlds demonstrates
another, apparently illogical, world. Therefore it is autonomy and objectivity are
at the true heart of what Lovecraft paints as monstrous. In positing another
reality as having objectivity, the plain fact of existence becomes grotesque. A
non Euclidean geometric shape can become grotesque purely because it contravenes
the singular nature of the fact of mathematics with another singularity which
achieves the same end in the same dimension, but via a separate method. It is in
this that we find further differentiation between the Lovecraftian grotesque and
Kayser�s model:

The grotesque however, is only a sensuous expression, a sensuous paradox,

the shape of shapelessness, the face of a faceless world; and just as our
thinking seems unable to do without the concept of paradox, so is art, our world,
which survives only because there is an atom bomb: in fear of it.

The existence of R�lyeh (the ancient sunken city in which the beast Cthulhu
dwells) is a reality which, whilst sharing the recognised dimension of time, does
not share the recognised dimension of space. The world of the grotesque then, is
no longer an �estranged� one, but co-existent yet still remote. It may remain
perpetually estranged to subjective human perception, but not to the cosmic order
which created it. The Lovecraftian grotesque is transformed from the distension of
recognisable forms into an �otherness� which is as absolute as the existence of
man. It is the combination of Reverdy�s �remoteness� and an absolute assertion of
reality that gives us the Lovecraftian grotesque. The notion of reality removes
the ambiguity surrounding grotesque imagery (�[w]hen reading Kafka�s works (�) we
do not know whether we are supposed to smile (�) and when we are supposed to
shudder�). Ambiguity necessarily confers a sense of a moral order that is
perpetually balanced between what should be and what should not be; this can also
be traced back to Poe and his grotesques of mental uncertainty. There is no need
for ambiguity in Lovecraft as the only divide there is between reality and
unreality. Lovecraft removes perceived notions of unreality through phenomena such
as non Euclidean shapes and subsequently places all capacities of the imagination
under the bracket of �reality�. If the grotesque is ultimately determined by
sharing space within reality, then unreality is impossible. Once again, there is
no �should� or �should not�, there is only existence.

By removing moral order we can see how Lovecraft shatters the entire structure of
the grotesque and reconstitutes it in starkly existentialist fashion: �what is� is
divided from �what is not�. There is no prescriptive order, there is only a
confirmed order. Grotesques in Lovecraft occur when objects perceived as being
objectively exclusive in the world are challenged, not in appearance, but in
structure. In order then, to further illuminate and understand the Lovecraftian
model of the grotesque, it becomes necessary to turn to Bakhtin and his essay The
grotesque image of the body and its sources:

The grotesque body, as we have often stressed, is a body in the act of

becoming. It is never finished, never completed; it is continually built,
created, and builds and creates another body. (�) [T]he essential role belongs
to those parts of grotesque body in which it outgrows itself, transgressing its
own body.

This echoes Lovecraft�s own words on the subject of cosmic scope:

All matter is in a state of balance betwixt formation and disintegration -

evolution and de-volution - and (�) the infinite cosmos is like a vast patch of
summer sky out of which little cirrus clouds gather here and there,
presently to be dissolved into blankness again.

For Bakhtin the grotesque is not that which is fixed in opposition by a moral
order. In its apparent independence and autonomy it possesses the ability of
continual extension and reconstitution in its exaggeration. Bakhtin sees the
grotesque as being necessarily cosmic in its scope and significance and thus with
the cosmically significant grotesque must come cosmic fear: �An obscure memory of
cosmic perturbations in the distant past and the dim terror of future catastrophes
form the very basis of human speech, thought and images�. It is in the
comprehension of power that cannot be conquered through physical force, and
subsequently becomes demonised as being in opposition to life, that the grotesque
creates fear of negation. If Bakhtin�s model is to be considered, then it appears
to cast humanity and human society as the �estranged� being as all action is
rooted in creating itself as other while the grotesque is plainly extant in the
reality of space and time. Thus the divide between reality and unreality as realms
occupied by humans and the grotesque respectively (those found in Kayser) ceases
to be fictitious and becomes metaphysical.

The constant movement of the grotesque indicative of what Bakhtin sees the
grotesque as expressing: the universal totality of life. In doing this, the
grotesque �stresses elements common to the entire cosmos� in order that it appear
as being antithetical to the subjective condition: If life is in constant state of
recapitulation, then the notion of the grotesque arises from the world of objects
presenting no fixed and subsequently tangible form. However, for Bakhtin, this
appears as only the surface nature of the grotesque; what he admires about the
work of Rabelais is that

The image of the ancestral body is merged with the people�s vivid awareness
of historic immorality. (�) The grotesque conception of the body is
interwoven not only with the cosmic but also the social, utopian, and historic
theme, and above all with the theme of change of epochs and renewal of culture.

Rabelais expresses a direct relational equivalence between those phenomena

encompassed by the grotesque and those phenomena found in human society. The only
differing factor is time. Rabelais� creature, Pantagruel, expresses this
assimilation and distortion of reality instantaneously as it is contained in an
object that moves through time. However the change in history is, due to time,
subtle to the point of being unnoticeable. However it is in showing direct
equivalence and significance in all constituents of the universe, that Bakhtin
believes the grotesque is found in the human psyche: �Man assimilated the cosmic
elements: earth, water, air, and fire; he discovered them and became vividly
conscious of them in his own body. He became aware of the cosmos within himself�.
It is through the grotesque body of Rabelais� Pantagruel that a �new concrete�
object is confirmed and subsequently a true historical awareness in man is
confirmed with it. Bakhtin�s existentialist grotesque makes explicit the �dim
awareness of catastrophe� and thus allows man to see the future in terms of
realism, not the abstract. It appears that Bakhtin �answers� the question that
the grotesque poses: the �new concrete� object allows humanity to confirm the
boundaries of the world in which it moves, and with it confirms those objects in
the world, be they grotesque or mundane.

Is it then possible to locate Lovecraft�s autonomous objective grotesque through

Bakhtin�s more contemporary method?

Bakhtin�s concepts of the grotesque is transcended to a certain extent by

the grotesque itself since its central characteristic is self contradiction;
given that it incorporates such opposites as laughter and anxiety - opposites
that admit of marked shifts of emphasis toward one pole or the other.

We find in Lovecraft�s grotesque the reflection upon the nature of being. Due to
their naturally polemic nature, they fail to materialise explicitly in the
narrative. The �opposites� Meindl discusses are often based in response to the
grotesque (the classic example being repulsion and laughter), however in
Lovecraft�s starkly materialist concept, emphasis falls on the grouping, in his
monsters, of species in the natural world that whilst not being opposite, are
naturally and objectively exclusive. Before we tackle the problem of language and
logic in Lovecraftian monsters, we must turn again to their mythology. Bakhtin
states that if there is to be a unifying force in the grotesque, then there must
be revelation through it:

�The other gods! The other gods! The gods of the outer hells that guard the
feeble gods of earth!�Look away�Go back�Do not see! Do not see! The vengeance of
the infinite abysses�That cursed, damnable pit�Merciful gods of earth, I am
falling into the sky!�

What Bakhtin and Kayser share in their respective grotesques is that they both
prove beneficial: Kayser liberates the soul from fear and immorality, whilst
Bakhtin liberates civilisation and the individual from entropy. Lovecraft
steadfastly refuses to liberate anything because, as the mind is stranded
irrevocably in the abyss created by the vertigo effect, there will perpetually be
that which is unknown. If there can always be those things which are unknown, then
there will always be those things which are amoral, and thus there will always be
apparent grotesques. What The Other Gods demonstrates is that, even if the gods of
the self, the gods of society and ultimately the gods of the world are conquered,
then there can always be gods of another that cannot: �the laws of the earth were
bowing to greater laws�. If we reduce this idea further, then it can be translated
into the fundamental problem of knowing that which is �other�. Achieving benefice
through the confrontation or acceptance of the grotesque relies on the relational
aspect operating, as highlighted by Meindl, between �one pole or the other�.
However, if Lovecraft invokes infinite amount of laws (poles) in the universe then
relations remain logically intact, but empirically impossible to deduce and thus
essentially removed. To return once again to what Reverdy says about the image;
Lovecraft provides the �rightness� in that logic decrees that if the earth has
gods that preside and control, then so must the planet of Kadath (and as will any
additional number of planets). He also provides the �remoteness� in that, to the
eye, these planets and subsequent gods are invisible. Baktinian extensions of the
mouth or eyes will not suffice for Lovecraftian unification; he requires something
to be wholly alien in appearance and constitution before it can become grotesque.
The key to the Lovecraftian grotesque is the infinite extension of possibility
which is married to a finite capacity for interpretation: it is true that man
exists in the universe, but it is untrue that this is a sufficient tool for its
understanding. Lovecraft�s world presents an infinite regress in possibility that
can only cease when that which contains it does. Again then, we have found that
Lovecraftian grotesques transcend the boundaries outlined by Bakhtin as man does
not discover the universe within himself, but discovers himself within the
�illimitable reaches of vacancy (which) extend beyond our sight or comprehension�.

Stranger Than Science Fiction

When your love life is over, life in general takes on a sort of

conventional, forced quality. One retains a human form, one�s habitual behaviour,
a sort of structure; but one�s heart, as they say, isn�t in it.

The typical Lovecraftian narrative is one that begins in Kaysarian fashion, is

informed by Bakhtin and concludes in the physical and mental abyss, subsequently
transcending both of them. However, if Lovecraft exhausts both Bakhtin and Kayser,
does this really constitute a grotesque? Can Cthulhu and all other cyclopean
beasts be explained simply as a previously unknown �allowable rhyme� that must
exist on the material pole but can only be rendered on the artistic ? It is true
that what Lovecraft presents is an object of horror, but to say that horror
constitutes the sole totality of the object is false. When dealing with horror,
Lovecraft does consider the human, and this is how it becomes centralised.
Paradoxically however, this centralisation is paradoxically alongside all other
aspects of the universe that his mythology implies, be they benign or cyclopean.
The problem of the grotesque is not the object itself, it is the method. Lovecraft
requires a far more regressive investigation than either Kayser or Bakhtin can
provide. Ultimately, no conventions of the grotesque can stand up to the
�impossible possibility� of the vertigo effect.

What entails the inhuman perspective is Lovecraft�s horror serving to pick apart
the relational moral qualities of good and evil. On the human scale this causes
the mind to be stranded between fiction and truth. On the universal scale this
causes all relational aspects to merge in significance through their infinite
nature, being rendered beyond all perceptual complexity. What creates revulsion is
not therefore simply a grotesque model as it demonstrates confusion at the immense
balance of concern in the universe. There is nothing to be won or gained from
confrontation with the weird, only a material realisation of the existence of a
force which exceeds human power. What then, is key to this Lovecraftian philosophy
is the idea that all relational elements in the universe are illusory, and when
these elements are upheld to the utmost scrutiny, they disappear into chaos and
uncertainty; it is an example of Humean metaphysics where cause and effect are
only attributable to the eye. Thus the Lovecraftian universe is one that is not
shaped by any perceived order, but by apparently random cataclysmic events that
contribute to the fact that the world as it appears in a present moment of time
simply exists. Thus Lovecraft displays a resultant and pervading nihilism toward
all perceptions of moral effect and order in the universe. As Michel echoes in
Houellebecq�s Platform, when it comes to human concern, in the face of the
�illimitable vacancy of space� Lovecraft�s �heart isn�t in it�.

This absolute nihilism toward perceived order is reminiscent of Nietzchean atheism

but more importantly, is contemporary to the ideas of Kafka, and precursive to
those of Beckett. Like Kafka, Lovecraft is unwilling �to perpetuate the vital
fictions that men have invented to dispel the fear of the dark unknown� and
subsequently, his anti-heroes must not only fight against a universal absurdity
created by the same vertigo effect, but the absurdity subsequently found in the
self. Both Kafka and Lovecraft are confirmed atheists and as such, with moral
boundaries removed, they resort to imagination to outline order in the world.
Narrative representations of the order of chaos are far fainter in Kafka than they
are in Lovecraft, as Kafka has no founding mythology in which to render
existential objects. Despite this, the gaps in logic in both Lovecraft and Kafka
are almost identical: they �define the value and logic of life in terms of what
they are not, knowing that what they are is (�) always a question�. It is present
on all levels of human experience, as Gregor Samsa exemplifies upon waking in

Gregor�s eyes turned next to the window, and the overcast sky (�) made him
quite melancholy. What about sleeping a little longer and forgetting this
nonsense, he thought, but it could not be done, for he was accustomed to
sleep on his right side and in his present condition he could not turn himself

Samsa is Kafka�s most Lovecraftian metaphor; the stark framing of a factual

material object unfolds into a mental displacement that becomes metaphysical
�awkwardness�. Kafka demonstrates that the attrition of the reasonable universe is
as unavoidably personal as not being able to exist in such intimate comforts (or
�vital fictions�) as sleeping on a preferred side. It is the body, as an object in
the universe, which governs the mind. The �faint dull ache� which Gregor feels in
his numerous attempts to gain comfort and the subsequent awkwardness of a �new�
body is representative of the objective body as having an autonomous existence,
independent of the mind. As Kafka severs the conventional dualistic link, the body
becomes scientifically improbable and the mind plunges into chaos: the insect
Samsa must drag himself across the floor by his head as he cannot control his many
limbs, whilst at the same time, inferring through his lateness for work, his need
to �hurry like mad� and the subsequent disorder of his daily routine. It is true
that the insect Samsa is a grotesque, but like Lovecraft it is internal
metaphysics that will suffer from this distortion, not the exterior object. Thus
it is the idea of �object� in Metamorphosis that governs action: Gregor�s family
are not repulsed by the invisible grotesque (they do no notice the change in his
voice) as they are divided from him bodily by the wooden door. It is only by
visual confirmation of Samsa�s body (the removal of the door) that he becomes an
absurd object and is subsequently ostracised:

His mother - in spite of the chief clerk�s being there her hair was still
undone and sticking up in all directions - first clasped her hands and looked
at his father, then took two steps towards Gregor and fell on the floor among
her outspread skirts, her face quite hidden into her breast. His father
knotted his fist with a fierce expression on his face as if he meant to
knock Gregor back into his room

It is the object as it exists in itself and as a figure of exterior perception,

that roots subjectivity in the world. Therefore, that there is a cause of Samsa�s
alienation is all Kafka is willing to say. In his process of negative empirical
delineation he refuses to say �why� there is cause and effect, only that it
exists. What is conventionally thought of as the mutual dualism of experience
reveals itself as purely one way from object to subject. Kafka�s notion of the
body removes the leap of faith required to view ones own body in correlation with
how it is and is viewed. Thus, if one wakes to find one in an alien (insect) body,
then all the �vital fictions� of inductive faith of self body image is irrelevant
and so the mind must exist, trapped in and servant of, a body now bereft of mental

Gregor is servant to his body in that his grotesque form denies him his own
decisions: he can no longer interact with his family and be perceived with the
identity �Gregor Samsa� :

Father. You must get rid of the idea that this is Gregor. The fact that
we�ve believed it for so long is the root of all our trouble. But how can it be
Gregor? If this were Gregor, he would have realised long ago that human beings
cannot live with such a creature

The ostracisation of Gregor performs the task of placing a barrier between body
and self. His will is to communicate and interact with his family, but he is
forced to do so by numerous interlocutors, primarily the charwoman. However, even
her contact with him is not without barriers; when he is discovered dead, it is
only after poking his body with a broom handle (another barrier) that his bodily
state can be confirmed. The �creature� to which Gregor�s sister refers is in fact
not the insect, but the mind that is empirically not linked through faith to the
body. It is the destabilised body that results in nihilism: by the end of
Metamorphosis Samsa agrees with his sister, and in a resigned and patient fashion,
waits for death. It is this resignation that is intrinsic to the destabilised
body, as the self realises the impossibility of answering its own questions, as
evidenced before K dies at the conclusion of The Trial: as he is being led off to
die, he compares himself to �flies struggling away from the fly-paper till their
little legs were torn off�. Kafka�s recurring theme therefore, is that the mind
exists as a destabilised duality which, paradoxically, diminishes further into
nothingness the more questions it asks and is asked. If there is no faith linking
mind and body, then it is the body which becomes the �other� and the mind �cannot
live with such a creature� and as such, the mind must be negated.

It is precisely here, where Kafka seeks to bring unavoidable logic to the

morbidity of nihilistic self destruction that we find him aligned with
Lovecraftian grotesque: they both display an ironically distended interpretation
of Heidegger�s notion of Dasein. It is through understanding Dasein that Heidegger
believes the self achieves a being in the world and the freedom to self
determination. It is the distinction between an inauthentic �they self� which
interacts in the world as it is part of the other, and the authentic self which
needs to follow its own being. Heidegger places the true nature of the self as a a
being outside the dimension of what is empirically knowable: science and
metaphysics. Where both Kafka and Lovecraft distend this is at Heidegger�s
principal method:

[to] put into question our own being, so that it becomes questionable in its
relatedness to Being, and thereby open to Being.
What they find when questioning the inauthentic they self is that an authentic
self is impossible due to the possibility for infinite questions, but no answers.
Thus, being remains terminally elusive. Kafka internalises this and finds the
missing truth in the otherness in the self, whereas Lovecraft finds it in his
absolute otherness of the external world of horror. All they both offer is a faint
or impossible view of the external dimension that infers that Dasein is a
certainty of existence, but impossible to reach. When perception of the self is
challenged, then this can only lead to immediate and absolute disarray. In
Lovecraft�s The Outsider, the narrator wakes to assume that he remains in the same
body that he slept in. It is after the discovery that he invokes horror in others
that he must question his relatedness to being and attempt to achieve Dasein.
However, like Gregor Samsa his questioning of the authentic self only leads to
infinite questioning:

For although nepenthe has calmed me, I know always that I am an outsider; a
stranger in this century and amongst those who are still men. This I have known
ever since I stretched out my fingers to the abomination within the great
gilded frame; stretched out my fingers and touched a cold and unyielding surface
of polished glass.

The possibility of achieving Dasein fails when the body is actualised in the
world. When the narrator realises that he invokes terror as he is of demonic form,
he does not wait for death like K or Samsa, but waits for a different century. His
previous dualism has been destabilised through outward form and thus, while his
mind appears to accept his body (he is �calmed by nepenthe� after he comes to
terms with his new form) it is external rejection as an object of horror which
renders Dasein impossible as he can no longer find the freedom to self
determination. In The Outsider, Lovecraft inverts his typical balance between self
and world as it is usually the human self which comes into contact with horror to
produce the irrevocable impossibility of Dasein. However, both means of expression
are identical in their consequences for the existential being in the world of


Chapter 2: Lovecraftian Mechanics: Deconstruction, Archistructure and Truth

With Lovecraft�s underlying aesthetic and metaphysical philosophies outlined, we
can now sufficiently establish him in a new bracket of literature. In the
preceding chapter we have looked at where Lovecraft�s concern lies, but now it is
time to turn attention toward how it is possible, within the confines of
narrative, to bring the impossible material object into being. Whilst Lovecraft
relies on horror, he does so to a metaphysically reductive point where the
literary depiction of it must be transcended and it becomes a reflection of the
self in the world. His predisposition toward infinitude is such that, whilst he
eventually accepts the tenets of Modernism, he transcends the Modernist dimension
of the Hegelian being in the world, and subsequently becomes the metaphysics of
being within an �illimitable vacancy� of being, both internal and external. This
is because, if the nature of the universe is horrific, then horror is unavoidable
and consequently a fact. For Lovecraft and his cosmic materialism, anything other
than the terror in the �blankness of the summer sky� does not maintain itself
sufficiently in the face of metaphysical investigation. Horror for Lovecraft then,
is necessarily both �archistructural� and deconstructive: he uses it to expose
ellipses in metaphysics that are both consciously and necessarily.

Deconstruction n. not what you think: the experience of the impossible: what
remains to be thought: a logic of destabilisation always already on the move in
things in themselves: what makes every identity at once itself: a logic of
spectrality : a theoretical and practical parasitism or virology: what is
happening today in what is called society, politics, diplomacy, economics,
historical reality, and so on: the opening of the future itself.

Derridean deconstruction seeks to expose those unquestioned assumptions of

metaphysics that result in linguistic contradiction in, on one hand; literature
and philosophy, and on the other; the metaphysical experience and identity. There
is some discrepancy between whether deconstruction constitutes a method to be
applied to meaning, or an analysis of meaning that is already self evident.
Derrida himself claims that if deconstruction was a method, it would be
impossible: a method is a systematic procedure that will judge language according
to its own standard. Therefore if this were the case, this would be detrimental to
approaching the destabilization of �things in themselves. What Derrida seeks to
demonstrate is how language destabilises itself through the fact that it is
language. Deconstruction could only be a method if it was of a stable nature. It
is however by very design, unstable and its constant movement is an exact mirror
of the text that evidences it. Expressed language must necessarily demonstrate
cause for deconstruction as it is deconstruction that shows how a particular use
of language is put together. If language is necessarily different from instance to
instance, then deconstruction can have no fixed meaning as meaning is found
specifically in the language which is presently evidencing it: �deconstruction
does not do anything; it only performs what is already done by and in the text
being read (�), it is not an operation�.

As an analysis then, deconstruction recognises that language is erected and

developed on foundations of presence and absence that are conceptually opposed.
This is part of the foundation for metaphysics in Lovecraft�s universe; however
whilst deconstructive analysis lends the ability to pinpoint specific gaps in
enquiry, it cannot account for the assertion of an ordered system which fills
those gaps. For this Lovecraft uses what can be seen as �archistructure�; the
�system of systems�. In the Lovecraftian equation of the �possibility of the
impossible� it is deconstruction that donates the impossible, and archistructure
that donates the possible. At this point, in true Lovecraftian fashion, it seems
that these principles must necessarily exclude each other. However, like the
balance of art and science, they must co-exist to produce the impossibility of
material fear. In order that fear be material, it must denote presence.
If we have so far stated that Lovecraftian horror is not necessarily grotesque as
it does not obey the laws of moral opposition, then it becomes necessary to
investigate the Lovecraft�s method of their removal.

At The Mountains of Madness : Autobiography, Confession and Identity

It could easily be argued that, due to the horror and science fiction genres owing
a significant debt to detective and quest fiction, all of Lovecraft�s narratives
necessarily exemplify deconstructive analysis. Finding the presence of a narrative
and scientific object previously thought impossible operates at the very nexus of
the object and its destabilisation within recognised systems. However, in
Lovecraft�s novella At The Mountains of Madness, through the advent of a first
person narrative there is a self reflexive dimension, which in the third person
narratives, is lost to the madness and confusion of the horrific universe. The
first person narrative is not uncommon in Lovecraft, but At The Mountains of
Madness operates as a �confession� that the impossible manifestly exists as
resistant, not just to objective, but crucially to subjective classification. It
operates on a mechanic equivalent in effect to the genre of fictional
autobiography. This is however, not to say that it is comparable to works such as
Great Expectations where the �I� it turned outward toward the world and achieves
totality and meaning through events, but is the idea that the I must locate and
confront the other in the dimension of �mind�. Metamorphosis and The Outsider
display the destabilisation of dual consciousness that results from the material
object and the resulting human death due to impossibility of existence. Where At
The Mountains Of Madness differs is that it is one of the few (perhaps only)
Lovecraft narrative where a character comes into direct contact with the horrific
universe, only to physically survive without madness. Lovecraft seems to challenge
his own notion of cosmic horror as what he seeks to illuminate is the I suffering
destabilisation within its own boundaries. Lovecraft could be seen to be
destabilising his own cosmic scheme, but in reality this serves once again as an
existential device to situate man in the universe: if man, Cthulhu and the
universe are all slave to material fact, then the internal subjective realm, as it
is present in the universe, must be identically bound to it; an �allowable rhyme�
that is not a �thing in itself�, but a thing in the universe. It is how Lovecraft
chooses to negotiate the idea of personal identity that we can locate the
metaphysical significance in At The Mountains Of Madness.

The problem of autobiography dates back as far as classical literature with Cicero
who, with no family through which to denote his identity, wrote an autobiography
of how he would have himself remembered. This makes problematic his accuracy due
to the proficiency to knowingly or unknowingly mislead through personal
interpretation. It is this problem of writing the authentic self that leads to the
contemporary notion of the autobiographical narrative operating on what Timothy
Dow Adams addresses as �the paradox of alterity�:

�the autobiographer must create a text of what he knows from the inside in
terms of what we recognise from the outside�

It is precisely this problem that brings into question the idea of the possibility
of truth in autobiography. If an interior truth of self must be rendered with
regard to those objects and ideas which are metaphysically universal; subsequently
that there is any bearing between those universal facts and subjective ideas can
never obtain anything greater than, paradoxically, a speculative truth. Those
events that occur in the narrative are forever rooted in time to one mind, and
thus perceived facts are perpetually bound to the concerns of the narrator. The
point should be made here that similarities to such narrators in The Fall Of The
House Of Usher or in traditional Modernist narratives is barley even cosmetic:
absolute materialism and cosmic terror still serve as the paradoxically unknowable
�boundaries� of the world. In other words, there always remains a Lovecraftian
assurance that the world exists, yet instead of dogmatic assurance of such,
Lovecraft seeks to express how this must come to be through the notion of personal
identity. What At The Mountains Of Madness does demonstrate is that the confession
of a repressed truth allows the self to �discover in language a truth of the self
(�) that one did not know, and did not know that one did not know, it would seem
to involve a kind of taking responsibility for that truth�. It is the idea of
taking responsibility that we are concerned with here. Confession works on the
principle of discovering the direct relation of personal interpretation (in these
terms, interpretation means repression) to present order. The self reflexive
dimension of fictional autobiography lends the notion that this order is in fact,
internal due to the whole presence of the narrative being resultant of the
subjective will to confess and to make confession an object.

What has been outline in the preceding chapter is that cosmic horror originates in
co-existence. Like Sartre�s idea that �hell is other people�, Lovecraft believes
that �hell is the other�. At The Mountains Of Madness shows this co-existence now
from the �human� perspective, and with that demonstrates autonomous co-existence
in both self and other. The pretence for confession here is that the narrator,
having already himself ventured into a prehistoric mountain range that harbours
horrific phenomena previously thought impossible, attempts to prevent another
expedition from doing the same. Thus the dynamic here is that of truth providing
the protective force necessary for the narrator to realise his personal identity
and position within the events of the narrative, and subsequently his own
universe. The retelling of the tale will allow him to save the second expedition,
whilst simultaneously allowing himself to understand

Doubt of the real facts, as I must reveal them is inevitable; yet if I

suppressed what will seem extravagant and incredible, there would be nothing

If there is �nothing left� if one discounts the fantastic element, then Lovecraft
demonstrates the need to look to the fantastic to find the aforementioned co-
existence of man with horror. Ascertaining truth via the written word is where
Derek Attridge, in his essay Deconstruction and Fiction, locates the problem of
autobiography and truth: it is impossible to ascertain those sentences which
convey truth via their existence, as in the written form they appear alongside
those that are merely auxiliary to truth or are simply false. Once again,
Lovecraft affirms that the truth must come from the impossible, as from the
perspective of deconstructive analysis, if truth were to come from the possible
then it would already be self evident. It is therefore the need to employ these
systems in the first instance that dooms them to failure.

At the Mountains of Madness opens as a satire on the perceived method of finding

identity from outside: the narrator�s look to science. Throughout the primary
chapters we are inundated with labyrinthine scientific language that appears to
discard the ability to discern semantics in favour of the precision of lexis and

�Several distinct triangular striated prints like those Archaean slate,

providing that source survived from over six hundred million years ago to
Comanchian times without more than moderately morphological changes and decreases
in average size (�) Will mean to biology what Einstein has meant to
mathematics and physics.

After their voyage into the inner rim of the prehistoric mountains, Lake (who is
speculatively a satire on Conan Doyle�s Professor Challenger) chooses to venture
further with his own team of scientists and relay details of any discoveries via
radio to the remaining team members, of which the narrator is one. Already
therefore Lovecraft has implemented a device which places a gulf between science
and empirical deduction: the narrator cannot confirm or disconfirm any presence of
truth in Lake�s discoveries. He is separated from the object and subsequently the
language of science fails in describing the object and the man�s relation to it.
This is demonstrated by Lake�s retrospectively impetuous notion that it �confirms
his previous research� and emphasised by the fact that the apparent �nouns�
�Comanchian� and �Archaean�, whilst sounding as though they belong to a specific
era, are entirely invented. Thus, the language of science seeks to denote presence
at two points; confirm a narrative position of both teams and confirm a presence
in the object of horror. That it fails spectacularly on both counts is evidenced
as the narrative develops, but Lovecraft leaves signifiers even at this early
stage. Interspersed with scientific language are speculative words such as
�moderately�, average� and even �size�. The effect is that the assurance of
science is lessened due to scientific language points towards truth, only to, on
the cusp of denoting presence, being cornered into speculation. The illusion may
be that science is denoting presence in the object, but after deconstructive
analysis of Lovecraft�s sentences, there is a gaping absence.

Lovecraft is here clearly dealing with two of the key problems of autobiographical
identity: on one hand Attridge�s aforementioned problem of discerning the
scientific from the non scientific in an attempt to denote presence; on the other
there is the idea highlighted by Eugene Stelzig in his book Herman Hesse�s
Fictions Of The Self: the retrospective confessional identity can be seen as
different to the present identity that represses fact. Lovecraft demonstrates
that scientific language is reliant upon the same principals of inference and
vagueness of even the most abstract adjective, but this apparent inferred cynicism
toward it could be produced, not by facts of the time, but the perceptual change
brought to the narrator from his experience in the mountains. As has already been
stated, Lovecraft believes all things are slave to materialism, and thus the mind
at the time of experience and at the time of writing are unified by this. The
failure of science is emphasised when Lake�s transmissions inexplicably cease, and
the narrator�s team are compelled to look for him:

Some hours after our landing we sent a guarded report of the tragedy we
found, and reluctantly announced the wiping out of the whole Lake party by the
frightful wind of the preceding day, or of the night before that. (�) the
mangling action of the wind had rendered all eleven bodies unsuitable for
transportation outside.

The discovery of Lake�s deceased party is the catalyst for the abandonment of
science. The material object becomes a subjective one at the exact point at which
fear is realised: Lake and his party have been supposedly killed by a chaotic
unpredictable force (the �mangling wind�). In the opening sections, it was the
narrator trying to assert his autobiographical identity through the words of Lake
who was, in turn, speaking through the words of science. With Lake dead this must
cease and the narrator is forced to turn to his own language within which to
assert identity: the language of repression. In terms of Attridge, the repression
of horrific knowledge forms the need for the autobiographical narrative: the
narrator must use autobiography to confess to those facts which he has repressed,
and subsequently, gesture towards the truth of presence. At the discovery of
Lake�s corpse, fear drives the narrative ever more inward and subsequently away
from the material world, linguistically further from presence. Despite this
however, as Janet Varner Gunn states in her work Autobiography: �the truth of
autobiography is to be found, not in the �facts� of the story itself, but in the
relational space between the story and its reader�. If presence is not to be found
in the language of science or metaphysics, then it is to be found in what we have
already established as central to Lovecraft�s universe: the language of horror.

With Gunn�s idea in mind, we ultimately turn once again to the unavoidable nature
of material cosmic terror. It is in this relational space that we find the
Lovecraftian identity: after the narrative flight from science, the narrator turns
to myth, its opposite, in the same detailed clinical fashion. However, like all of
Lovecraft�s tales, the truth is present in the form of what cannot be said:

It was an affair of vague psychological symbolism and aesthetic association

- a thing mixed up with poetry and paintings (�). Even the wind�s burden held
a peculiar strain of conscious malignity

The confession in Lovecraft is not the confession of a �fact�, because the failure
of science demonstrates the fact to be impossible. If science fails, then there
can only be the idea of myth, which simultaneously provides no insight into truth.
What the confession succeeds in being is the admittance of Gunn�s relational
space, and that to achieve self realisation the self must give itself over to that
which lies at the heart of deconstructive analysis: what is conveyed rather that
what is structurally erected. It our opening chapter we sought to illustrate how
Lovecraft erects a system of objects in the world, but it is only through
examining the psyche involved in discerning those objects do we illuminate how it
is possible for the impossible to be conceived. Confession is the mental
realisation that one does not know something and thus, as the narrator confesses
his does not posit a moral quality in relational space, and subsequently accepts
that he is slave to the material facts:

If the fate which screened us was benign, that which gave us the half
glimpse was infinitely the opposite; for to that flash of semi vision can be
traced a full half of horror

Danforth has refused to tell me what final horror made him scream out so
insanely - a horror which, I feel sadly sure, is mainly responsible for his
present breakdown.

Although the experiences of the narrator and his partner, Danforth, are identical,
their fates are not. It is claimed that Danforth fully confronted the object of
horror yet has refused to confess to it. Subsequently, he does not gain access to
the relational space in the universe and is driven irrevocably mad. The power of
the confession in At The Mountains Of Madness spares the narrator as he does not
apply known form (in this case a manifest �space� for the object) to what he sees.
Danforth is mad because he, like Lake and his presumption that horror �confirms�
his science, still maintains that what he saw is that which should not be whilst
the narrator posits no moral should into the relational space between man and
world and is such spared. The �full half of horror� contains the idea that he only
perceived half of the truth, but it is a full truth because it is the only half he
can see. Thus we have what Adams calls �outside�, although being �half� of the
truth it paradoxically constitutes the whole of what it is possible to perceive
subjectively. Thus, the narrator shows that his confession possesses material
quality: it is simply an act to prevent the inevitable death of the future
expedition. From the standpoint of deconstruction, Derrida�s idea of there being
�nothing outside the text� is translated here as there being �nothing outside the
mind� and consequently �we only exist within impenetrable envelopes of discourse
(�) life termers in the prison house of language - (�) there is nothing beyond the
prison bars�. It is the mind which must accept the limitations in the relationship
between subjectivity and fact in order to �survive� cosmic horror. Walsh�s
statement of there being �nothing beyond the prison bars� translates as there
being nothing that can be materially confirmed beyond thoughts. Therefore the
narrator has an identity in the most material sense because he is alive, safely,
behind the prison bars of consciousness. At the Mountains of Madness paradoxically
disconfirms the truth in a perceived law because whilst the narrator is still
free, he is free because he has allowed himself to be. Self analysis and
possession does allow a place of being in the world, but existentially, the mind
must always be �allowed� to exist; internal subjugation to full horror is another
allowable rhyme.

Language, and Archistructure

Lovecraft as author is free to confine men to themselves whilst allowing an

infinite possibility in the world he creates. This is the question that At The
Mountains Of Madness cannot answer: language is a Nietzchean prison house for
protagonists, but the same is not true of its archistructuralist author. The
traditional struggle between author and word is not present in Lovecraft;
Lovecraft uses his own world of the impossible to sidestep having to deal with the
problem explicitly, and chooses to gesture toward it implicitly through grotesque
allegory. Allegory here does not mean that the grotesque displays symbolic
reference to another object, but the idea that the impossibility of the material
grotesque makes reference toward the possibility of its existence. In the opening
chapter of his book The Dark Matter of Words Timothy Walsh deals with the
propensity of language to demonstrate presence through absence. This is a
pertinent point from which to begin a discussion of how language makes material
horror possible.

From a simple impression in a pillow, we could deduce where someone has

slept and even confirm the existence of a resident where before there may have
been doubt (�). (There) are similar kinds of impressions that can speak
volumes about what is missing, the figurative signets and sleepers that press
upon our stories and then depart.

Lovecraft�s fiction is riddled with absence. However, as Walsh demonstrates here,

it is absence that assures us of presence. When confronted with the negative
quality of cosmic horror the mind will retreat to positive affirmations in order
to describe it. As has already been stated, this is impossible, and thus it is
through what is not said, thought or written that Lovecraft�s horror achieves
presence. The gap is required of logic and thus language when confronting his
objects of horror achieves the same end as Walsh�s pillow metaphor: that there is
a residual �indentation� in the universe when language attempts to describe
Cthulhu and his ilk, is narrative proof of presence. However, this is not to say
that Cthulhu exists as Cthulhu, or indeed as the half squid half dragon monster
that he is rationalised as being. All Lovecraftian monsters are described in terms
which are almost immediately dismissed by sceptical qualifying adjectival phrases
such as �like� and �it was if�. This is because to Lovecraft, like Derrida after
him, to describe the object of truth is to unlock a �destabilisation always
already on the move in things in themselves�. Lovecraft refuses to commit to any
one narrative description of any horrific object or emotion as immediately after
it is described, it becomes redundant.

The impossibility and subsequent failure of language is created by Lovecraft�s

archistructural creation of his universe. In marrying horror to materialism
Lovecraft posits a relational, subjective idea into factual truth. In Pickman�s
Model we find probably Lovecraft�s best reasoning for this marriage of
impossibility and his best metaphor for the failure of all artistic

The really weird artist has a kind of vision which makes models, or summons
up what amounts to actual scenes from the spectral world he lives in.

It was the technique, Eliot - the cursed, the impious, the unnatural
technique! As I am a living being, I never elsewhere saw the actual breath of
life so fused into a canvas. The monster was there - it glared and gnawed
and gnawed and glared - and I knew that only a suspension of natures laws could
ever let a man paint a thing like that without a model

What Lovecraft�s words ask of the reader is akin to Julian Wolfreys� view of
Joseph Conrad�s Heart of Darkness: it is to be understood as a parable. Parables
necessarily work through their indirect approach to truth. Instead of word
signifying object, it signifies a comparable mood or object; �another reading or
truth not otherwise expressible� . The parable is therefore concerned with how the
narrative points toward meaning, not what the words explicitly mean: Lovecraft�s
�unnatural technique�. The void found when looking at Pickman�s painting is what
J. Hillis Miller refers to as a �double paradox�. Linguistic illumination of the
object is impossible due to the dual nature of vision; when the object is
considered visually at one point the viewer sees the dimensions as they appear in
space and time, and at the same point the object is �unveiled� in terms of its
potentiality for action and interaction, subsequently one is believed to see the
essence of the object. If it is illuminated however, through physical or artistic
means, that is because it was in darkness, and thus the darkness is then only seen
in terms of the light. Darkness is invisible and thus impossible to perceive with
light giving an indirect, parabolic knowledge of its existence. This can be
applied to Pickman�s Model as the idea that in art, language cannot perform the
task of rendering both these dimensions of the object and thus, given that
Lovecraft�s universe has centralised fear, he must exclude the physical pole of
description in favour of the essence of the object. Thus the reaction to Pickman�s
artistic interpretation of the monster, even if (as we discover) it is drawn from
life can only be described in terms of what it does (�glared and gnawed and gnawed
and glared) because it is only through describing the object in terms of
potentiality can Lovecraft partially free the narrative from the impossibility of
the linguistic void. He uses the perceptual �light� of material form to gesture
towards the �darkness� of its constant movement through time. Material fear, due
to its paradoxical nature, is set aside from relational concepts and subsequently,
if something is posited in it, then it immediately dissipates into nothing.
However, if only potentialities are used, then this does not seek to confirm or
disconfirm any one trait of the object, asserting that possibilities are all that
is true.

This is Lovecraft�s � own unnatural technique� because it seeks to paradoxically

confirm that there can be no confirmation. Even when he ventures into physical
description from life not art, Lovecraft demonstrates similar linguistic
restraint. In The Call of Cthulhu Lovecraft presents two physical descriptions of
Cthulhu�s form. The first is at the outset of the narrative upon the discovery of
a model of the beast:

It represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus

like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery looking body,
prodigious claws on hind an forefeet, and long narrow wings behind.

The second description, from life, comes at the conclusion and as it is from life,
differs greatly in emphasis:

It lumbered slobberingly into sight and gropingly squeezed Its gelatinous

green immensity through the black doorway into the tainted outside air of the
poisoned city of madness. (�) The Thing cannot be described - there is no
language for such abysms of shrieking and immemorial lunacy, such eldritch
contradictions of all matter, force, and cosmic order.

In the final confrontation with Cthulhu, all language of space disappears. The
statue of Cthulhu is locked in time, it is a structure, and thus can be described
in ridged terms. However, Cthulhu in reality is an object that moves through time.
If Pickman�s technique is �unnatural� it is because it freezes an object that can
only be expressed through movement: �slobberingly�, �gropingly�, �shrieking� and
even �contradictions� all display a form of movement. It is the constant movement
within even the stationary object (it constantly contradicts natural laws) is that
which creates the void in Lovecraft. Language of the object as it appears is the
language of space, whereas the second pole in Miller�s paradox is the language of
time. Like concepts such as the �squid dragon�, where the presence of two objects
operating in the same space exclude each other, language of time and language of
space cannot be present in the same object. If, due to the constant structural
challenges the monster proposes, nothing can be posited as the structural essence
of �the Thing�, then its rendering is impossible, but its presence is not. The
void results from a similar linguistic dynamic as is used in Samuel Beckett�s
anti-novel The Unnamable. Beckett uses language in an absolutely �pure� sense�;
words signify only what they have the power to signify in themselves, with the
possibility of inference being totally removed. . Beckett�s narrative deals with a
consciousness that has survived bodily death, and as such all objects that can be
signified are absent. In this state words, without an object to signify,
completely fail to posit any presence in and of themselves: language is that which
�they have crammed me full of, to prevent me from saying who I am, where I am�.
Language is revealed as only possessing the ability to signify objects negatively;
a square is defined as square as it is not a circle. Thus if there are no forms
for language to gesture towards, then it will move in ever diminishing circles of
paradox until it is ultimately abandoned, resulting in the persistent, yet
resigned � I can�t go on. I�ll go on�.

MORE - WORM/MANHOOD ANALOG. YWhat Beckett attempts with The Unnamable is to reach
the �real silence� of metaphysical existence, where there is no need for words,
just a �pure� understanding of existential position and essence. This is identical
to what Lovecraft seeks to achieve with the cosmic material grotesque. �Full
horror� (as opposed to the full half) presents the object as materially existent,
but linguistically impossible. The �they� that Beckett�s narrator accuses of
�cramming� him full of words is that of an other recognisable through concept and
gesture. If in bodily death, and in Cthulhu that other is not present, or a
paradoxical contradictions to all dogmatic rules of the other, then the object
becomes unsignifiable. Language is shown to be necessarily Hegelian in that it is
dependant upon the mutual recognition of gesture; when that recognition is not
found then all language will ultimately unravel into the uselessness of �The Thing
cannot be described�. Language is shown to be both negative and prescriptive; thus
to delineate between truth and falsity, absence and presence is impossible. The
language of an object will necessarily impose what conventional recognition
requires of the object; Manhood fails because without prescription of an adjacent
recognised concept the word cannot refer to anything. Similarly, as Cthulhu is
partially recognisable in terms of other forms, it too cannot be sustained.

Contrary to human language, Cthulhian modes of gesture and communication are

completely syncopated with being. Therefore it points directly towards the object
by dint of its singular possible interpretation:

They knew all that was occurring in the universe, for Their mode of speech
was transmitted thought. Even now They talked in Their tombs. When , after
infinities of chaos, the first men came, the Great Old Ones spoke to the sensitive
among them by moulding their dreams; for only thus could Their language reach
the fleshy minds of mammals.

For a knowledge and language to be a truthful device then the system of language
itself must necessarily be removed. In this place there is simply a system of
�knowing� that cannot fail as there is no need to use it; something is either
known, or it is unknown and thus paradoxically everything is known due to rigid
boundaries of possibility. If there is no compulsion toward language then that is
because language is not needed; subsequently affirmative knowledge of presence
replaces conscious deduction and elimination of absence. For Lovecraft, this state
is only possible in the normally conscious mind in a state of unconsciousness:
dreams. In a dream the mind does not guide itself, but is guided. Therefore the
innate deduction of experience is absent. Thus if the mind is not consciously
deducting then the surrounding universe becomes known as there is no need for
critical examination. Once again the mind is demonstrated as separate from the
actions of the universe and subsequently the duality of mind and body is removed.
Paradoxically it is through the through the cessation of conscious deduction that
the mind achieves a synthesis with the world of objects, however illusory, and
becomes a part of the archistructural model.

In the deconstruction of Lovecraft�s language we come to the same conclusion

drawn by Georges Bataille on the nature of all human artifices:

Architecture represents the silent, homologous gravitational mass that

absorbs every meaningful production. The monument and the pyramid are where
they are to cover up a place, to fill in the void: the one left by death. Death
must not appear, it must not take place: let tombs cover it up and take its

It is Bataille�s assertion that all systematic structures are erected in an

attempt to obscure all concepts of negation into irrelevance. All human
architecture serves to produce is copies of that data which has been empirically
assimilated and then reconstituted into what is perceived to not be a copy at all,
but a model. All systems therefore serve as the aforementioned parabolic
interpretation of an irreducible concept. There can be no language of death as all
language proceeds from being; an existence above the irreducibility.
All systems therefore perform an identical role be they systems of identity,
language or science; affirmation of itself at the expense of the other: �Theory
does not know or encounter its other. The other escapes it (�) because this other
does not give itself to being known because it has nothing to do with the theory�.
Bataille�s concept of the other is resistant to categorisation because, in
creating a system, the architect necessarily excludes that which cannot be proven
by it. A system will proceed from that which it, in itself can establish.
Therefore conclusions can be reached within the model but the question of its
origin still remains: from the indentation on a pillow it is possible to deduce
that it was slept on, but it is impossible to say why this was so. Similarly
language allows us to ascertain that Cthulhu is a presence in the world, but it is
impossible to ascertain if this presence can be contained within the words such as
�Cthulhu� or �gelatinous green immensity�. Lovecraft�s concept of horror is
created as the direct other to all perceived systems and therefore it is inferred
that all human concepts of archistructure exclude those �differences (which) must
be reduced, diminished and strung together with logic� . For Lovecraft and
Bataille an archistructural system cannot perform any action of exclusion; if it
is to be the systems of systems then it must be inclusive of all phenomena of
confirmed, explicit or implicit, presence. As Lovecraft himself states: �My
objectivity, always marked, is now paramount and unopposed, so there is nothing I
am not willing to believe�.

Archistructure is seen to be deductively impossible. Lovecraft�s objectivity

requires that he remain constantly willing to accept that nothing is impossible.
It is this constant movement of infinite speculation that is necessary if he is to
maintain objects within his world. If the full horror is confronted, then madness
serves to once again render it impossible to translate. It can be conceptualised,
but that does not translate into language. Language therefore can only perform the
task of pure gesture, as that which is performing the gesture, and that which the
gesture is directed at, cannot be deduced in their entirety. It seeks the end of
the equation without first establishing a beginning. Cthulhu, and the associated
mythology, have been excluded from language due to the nature of systems: in
order to establish a fact, there must be that which the fact can be grounded
against, thus we return once again to relational properties. Lovecraft�s notion of
�impossible possibility� requires that the things which exist, simply exist.
Existence is not a system, but a material fact. This is simultaneously possible
due to the principle �it is true that things exist� and impossible due to the
principle �the existence of things creates a system; those things which exist�.
Impossible possibility of cosmic horror therefore does not designate any known
material fact to be integral to the universe, not even basic existence. What it
logically requires however, is an infinite potentiality in which things can exist
and posses the qualities of existence in infinite alignment with those things
which can not posses the qualities of existence. As this necessarily can not be
translated into worldly objects which exist, it is only possible to see the �full
half� which existence allows. This full horror is translated into the full half in
Lovecraft�s Herbert West: Reanimator. Essentially a parody of Shelley�s
Frankenstein, Lovecraft examines language used in knowledge of full horror;
absolute negation (death). Herbert West is a medical student who discovers a
�reagent� that can reinstall life into a corpse. Thus what Lovecraft presents in
the reanimated corpse is a mind that has full knowledge of all material

For that very fresh body, at last writhing into full and terrifying
consciousness with eyes dilated at the memory of its last scene on earth, threw
out its frantic hands in a life and death struggle with the air; and suddenly
collapsing into a second and final dissolution from which there could be no
return, screamed out the cry that will ring out eternally in my aching

What there is, in the reanimated corpse is a pure gesture without a direction; it
is the vertigo effect working at its most reduced level. After the mind
experiences �unexperience� it is stranded between mundane reality and super-
reality: the �final dissolution� of conscious being. It becomes impossible for
gesture to signify anything, or even be an act of signification. Lovecraft
demonstrates the possibility of a language of both death and life; affirmation and
negation. A successful model of language is one that is a composite of the effects
of positive being, whilst originating in in the noumenal essence of negative, or
�un� being. However language, as a perennial gesture, never succeeds in
Lovecraft�s world. The narrative drags the reader to its conclusion using an
inferred or empirical faith (mythology and language or science and deduction) to
the point where both are exhausted. No theory of language or grotesque can contain
the beast; it remains eternally, as Bataille says, nothing to do with the system.
It appears as grotesque because it confronts and encroaches with an awesome
material power; the material nature however, is born from a necessity that objects
exist. It is the fact of their existence that confines the conscious part of man,
with his inductive mind to the prison house, not just of language, but of being
itself. The object can only be known via Pickman�s method: from a view of the
model, found without deduction.
The Need for Material Horror

Without the object, horror is simply psychosis, untenable and impossible to

recognise subjectively. Thus, it is easily ignored or debunked through supposed
positive affirmations. What the object of horror does is place the untenable
nature of psychosis into a rigid form that provides the ellipsis in logic within
the logically deducible, not create it as logically deducible because it is in
opposition to the deducible; it destroys the system by the fact of its operation
within it and subsequent governance of it. A horror or grotesque that does not
serve this purpose can offer no true reflection upon the nature of being. Horror
without a body, or not examined in terms of that body will always result in the
confirmation of the system, not an indication of the model. It affirms the full
half, instead of the full horror. Kayser�s tragic grotesque and Bakhtin�s
universal grotesque succeed in being �the grotesque�, but fail as they only
operate in the realm of what is known. If horror is known, it is known through
language; if Attridge demonstrates the difficulty in discerning between truth and
falsity, then Lovecraft reduces this further, demonstrating that all language,
including the language of science is innately moral and subsequently subjective.
If science seeks truth, then it seeks those words which closely accord to the
empirical truth. Yet the word and the fact must remain terminally dialectic and
never achieve a unification in a new concept as they describe the presence outside
from the absence inside. Horror must necessarily be material in both the
phenomenal and noumenal senses of the term; it is not against morality or contrary
to truth, but is purely �against� and �contrary�. It is that which, due to the
possibility of its separation renders a system useless.

The power of material horror is therefore inescapable. If it were not material,

then it would not be able to exert any power beyond the personal (psychosis).
Descartes cornerstone of metaphysical being, �I think therefore I am�, is a
positive affirmation which brings with it the possibility for negative
affirmation, with both in turn necessarily entailing the infinite noumenal
possibility for both. This defies the pseudo-model and is subsequently other. Thus
the need for an affirmative truth is dictated by the need for other, untruth or as
translatable into Lovecraftian terms, horror. It is the power of horror
(equivalent to negation) which is ultimately free to exert power in the universe
as it remains terminally different. Thus, the function and action of material
horror emerges as identical to Foucault�s idea of power within society. Power does
not exist in rigid hierarchy, but in a �net like series of relations�, much like
those inferred in The Other Gods, which must accommodate everything in the
spectrum of society. Therefore there can be no morally relational point through
which a pseudo archistructure of justice or freedom can be established. Where
Foucault seeks to analyse power is how power operates, not how power should

Power relations can materially penetrate the body in depth, without

depending even on emendation of the subject�s own representations. If power takes
hold on the body, this isn�t through first having to be interiorised in
people�s consciousness.

For Foucault there are two effects of power: the first is, that by the very
existence of power, it draws out �those peculiarities over which it kept watch�.
The exercising of power will produce pleasure, therefore this pleasure can only be
sought through the exercising of power. Therefore as power is exerted by the
pursuit of pleasure, the pursuit of pleasure necessarily induces the use of power.
Thus in the pursuit of the self, relations necessarily emerge with domination and
subjugation at its centre. The will to power is not something internal that is
directly sought by the self, but it a by product of the fact of individual
existence. Thus every human act is an indication of or gesture towards the
omnipresent exercising of power. The present facts of power in society will lead
to the second effect of power: the close relation between power and truth. Truth
for Foucault is not a model for all things which can be possibly known, but a
system which analyses how those things which are constructed; for instance, an
opposition between the established and the radical. Truth, like power, has the
propensity to maintain a hold on all subjects of the �regime of truth�: thus �the
very possibility of being an intellectual, a revolutionary or a radical is already
a consequence of power relations�.

This system is observed identically in Lovecraft, with �truth� replaced with the
material object and �power� replaced with horror. Lovecraft�s stories are
persistently unerring in their pursuit of horror because it is horror itself which
introduces the unknown or un-quantifiable into the human equation; in order that
perception is possible, there must be known objects and thus, through its
inevitable investigation (Foucault�s �pleasure�) it draws out those circumstances
in which it can exist. What is sought in Lovecraft is not pleasure as such, but a
quantifiable sphere in which the mind can exist, hence why some of Lovecraft�s
characters are scientists or philosophers; they are all seeking truth. If horror
exists unperceived, then it is not horror, but a possible object. The pursuit and
perception of the possible object transforms it into horror and therefore produces
a form of subjugation and domination; if investigation of horror is needed to
restabilise perception the paradoxically it is through the pursuit of
investigation that the self becomes a resident in the prison house of existence;
pursuit of horror can only end in subjugation. If horror brings itself to be
through the need for stabilised consciousness, then investigation with it shows
horror to maintain a close relation with the material object. If conscious is to
be stabilised, it must confirm objects as they exist empirically. However, as the
perceived object is, in this sense, �produced� by horror this is not possible.
Madness and death seek to once again establish the order of power in the universe
by subjugating the mind to the possibility of its own autonomous existence.
Therefore horror and the materialism are dialectically aligned, and united when
the object of horror is perceived.

The power of material horror is absolute because it lies in the reliance of

perception upon absence. Absence itself relies upon noumenal properties existing
and their subsequent governance of all phenomenal objects in the perceptual
sphere. As there is absence, there is also the accompanying mental need to
investigate, which is the method through which horror brings itself into
necessity. In Lovecraft this is evidenced as much structurally as it is
metaphysically. He never begins a narrative at the point of �action�, but seeks to
construct the artifice of �mundane� reality in order that he can tear it apart.
Nevertheless, Lovecraft always begins from the point of horror: most (if not all)
of his stories present a foreshadowing in their opening sections:

During the winter of 1927-8 officials of the Federal government made a

strange and secret investigation of certain conditions in the ancient
Massachusetts seaport of Innsmouth. (�) a vast series of raids and arrests
occurred, followed by the deliberate burning and dynamiting (�) of an enormous
number of crumbling, worm eaten, and supposedly empty houses on the waterfront.
Uninquiring souls let this occurrence pass as one of the major clashes in a
spasmodic war on liquor.

What foreshadowing serves to achieve is the necessity for investigation. It is

allegorical to perception; if there are objects and actions of objects (the
burning down of a house) then in order to perceive them, the mind must attribute
cause, effect and meaning. This is necessitated by actions appearing to have
qualities such as �deliberate�, �strange� that contradict previously accepted
truths (the houses destroyed were thought to be empty). Therefore if there is a
need to look externally, then the truth of the universe brings about the ways in
which it can �penetrate the body�. It is only through not enquiring, and as such,
denying the principle action of the mind that it is possible to remain untouched
by the power of material objects. Materialism becomes horrific in the process of
deconstruction being realised as infinite. The inquiring mind cannot change its
path toward an understanding of the object, because it requires it to operate in
the first instance; thus there always has to be narrative. Narrative as a process
of enquiry results in the unity between fact and fiction as outlined in Chapter 1;
if there can only be understanding through unity in these two spheres then the
presence of a noumenal truth will pull itself apart and gesture towards an absent,
and therefore unknown truth at the centre of meaning. It can be said therefore
that the notion of a horrific universe is as crucial to metaphysical existence as
Lovecraft�s method of exposing the gaps in perceptual logic; archistructural truth
remains terminally unknown, thus all objects governed by that system remain
partially unknown. Mundane reality indicates super-reality and subsequently fear
of the unknown is present in all spheres of human existence.
Chapter 3: Necessary Destruction

The sphere of cognition is restricted to the dimensions and attributes of

human beings. (�) The information sphere in man is further restricted to a sphere
that has a certain character and direction of physical (for instance
thermodynamic) processes. For instance, we would not be able to communicate with a
system that has a contrary direction of electromagnetic and thermodynamic

If material horror is a necessity in the universe, then the consequentially the

only property that can be attributed to any human system is that they will
ultimately defeat themselves. By the very need to construct and apply an ordered
system necessarily entails that it can be disordered; the presence of order
gestures toward its absence and thus the movement from a low entropy state to a
high entropy state. . As the other is permanently exterior to a given system then
it will always operate in a �contrary direction� to modes of perception and thus,
�communication� with it remains impossible. All cognition is dependant upon the
�direction� of what Jiri Zeman calls �the cosmic and information flows� that
determine time, space and physical attributes in the perceivable world; it is what
designates the order and subsequent interpretative qualities of a system. Order is
the carrier of information and thus to transmit information is to cause order.
Rudolf Arnheim demonstrates this propensity in his example of the behaviour
magnetised needles inserted through cork discs, with their poles point in the same
direction (thus repellent), that are floating upon water at the introduction of a
magnet of the opposite pole:

Under these conditions, the needles, which repel each other but are
attracted by the larger magnet, will arrange themselves in the simplest
possible form: three needles in a triangle, four at the corners of a square, five
at the corners of a pentagon. Thus orderly shape results from the balancing of
antagonistic forces.

Perceptual order in a given system is therefore seen to rely on a balance of

forces that exclude each other, thus the flow of information can be in a
determinate direction. Arnheim tells us that the entropy value of a system is not
based upon the absence of order, but a destabilising of the antagonistic forces
which results in disruption in the transfer of information. As long as there are
antagonistic forces present within the system, it is their equilibrium which
allows for order. A system with a high entropy value is one in which information
denotes an increase in probable circumstances which results in unpredictability.
If a system is to be ordered there must be a high level of improbability, in order
that possible circumstances can be deleted causing order to take shape through the
possibility of predictability. Thus maximal entropy in a system results from �a
maximum of information; and since information is measured by order, a maximum of
order is conveyed as a maximum of disorder�. In his book The Emperors New Mind,
Roger Penrose elucidates this idea in perceivable terms:

Imagine a glass of water poised on the edge of a table. If nudged, it is

likely to fall to the ground - no doubt to shatter into many pieces, with
water splashed over a considerable area, perhaps become absorbed into a carpet,
or to fall between the cracks in the floorboards. In this, our glass of water is
merely following faithfully the equations of physics.

The standing glass of water is an ordered system. There is an ease of prediction

that a stationary glass containing water will remain stationary and thus there is
high improbability of disorder in this system; it cannot be disordered as it
stands. However, when new information is introduced (a nudge) then the possible
probability is doubled: it could remain stationary or fall to the floor. Entropy
directly increases upon this increase of probability as the glass falls to the
floor, scattering itself and its contents and produced a disordered system.
Therefore we can see, in starkly material terms how a system will inevitably err
towards a high entropy state through the increase in possibilities that is induced
by maximal information, the subsequent decline in probability and the eventual
obliteration of coherent structure.

A system of high entropy lies at the very heart of Lovecraft�s work. It is

evidenced on every level, be it narrative, philosophical or stylistic and serves
to ground all of his fantastic and grotesque ideas firmly in the realm of
necessary reality. The nature of Lovecraftian horror is entirely dependant upon
its capacity to disorder and ultimately destroy. Our first point of departure for
this will be Lovecraft�s own peculiar vision of dimensions in architecture,
turning us once again to the sunken city of R�lyeh. If geometric dimensions are
separated from their singular nature then information within the system is doubled
and so too are the possibilities. If there is no longer one permanent example of
perceptual order, then the system of perception and delineation becomes more
unpredictable. If possibility and unpredictability continue the inexorable
increase which is denoted by the minds necessary enquiry into the unknown, then
conception of non Euclidean geometry results in a state of high entropy: madness.
The mind can be seen to behave identically to Penrose�s� glass of water; the
shattering of coherence in the system of the mind results in thoughts becoming
dispersed and unconnected because the excess of information (two structural
properties of objects) disrupts the equilibrium between subject and object. The
disrupted equilibrium causes thoughts and all associated mental projections to
lose their inductive property which serves as a shield against �the illimitable
vacancy of the universe�., Therefore it is with this that the realisation infinite
possibilities force the mind�s descent into madness.