Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Interesting to find that Edmund Wilson wrote about HP Lovecraft in the New Yorker in 1945. He was not impressed. Although:

‘Lovecraft’s stories do show at times some traces of his more serious emotions and interest. He has a scientific imagination of somewhat the same kind, if not of the same quality, as that of the early Wells. The story called “The Color Out of Space” more or less predicts the effects of the atomic bomb, and “The Shadow Out of Time” deals not altogether ineffectively with the perspectives of geological aeons and the idea of controlling time. The notion of escaping from time seems the motif most valid in his fiction, stimulated as it was by an impulse towards evasion which has pressed upon him all his life: “Time, space, and natural law,” he wrote, “hold for me suggestions of intolerable bondage, and I can form no picture of emotional satisfaction which does not involve their defeat – especially the defeat of time, so that one may merge oneself with the whole history stream and be wholly emancipated from the transient and ephemeral.

But the Lovecraft cult, I am afraid, is on an even more infantile level than the Baker Street Irregulars and the cult of Sherlock Holmes.’

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

'The coldness, the “quickly sated intellect,” the awareness of banality, the tendency to be easily wearied and surfeited, the capacity for disgust – it was all constituted to elevate to a profession that same talent to which it was linked.

Why? Because it belonged only in part of the private personality; the rest, however, came from something above the individual, was an expression of a collective sense that the means of art had turned stale and were exhausted by history, of being bored by all that, of striving for new paths. “Art advances,” Kretzschmar wrote, “and does so by means of the personality, which is the product and tool of its times and in which objective and subjective motives are joined beyond differentiation, each assuming the form of the other. Art’s vital need for revolutionary progress and achievement of the new depends on the strongest subjective sense for what is hackneyed, for what has nothing more to say, for those standard, normal means that have now become ‘impossible’; and so art helps itself to apparently unvital elements: personal weariness and intellectual boredom, the disgust that comes with perceiving ‘how it’s done,’ the cursed proclivity to see things in light of their own parody, the ‘sense of the comic’ – what I am saying is: Art, in its will to live and progress, puts on the mask of these dull-hearted personal traits in order to manifest, objectivize, and fulfil itself in them.'

- from Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

"Just as the businessman
Invests money in a concern, so you think the audience invests
Feeling in the hero: they want to get it back again
If possible doubled."

- Brecht on The Mother, 1935