“Today I saw a girl with a very large chinese character tattooed on her arm and I barked out a laugh. The chinese reading, “an”, means “safety”, while the japanese reading, “yasui”, means “cheap”. Safe and cheap - exactly what i look for in street prostitutes.”—Elijah of Eli’s Weblog
“The man of understanding can no more sit quiet and resigned while his country lets its literature decay, and lets good writing meet with contempt, than a good doctor could sit quiet and contented while some ignorant child was infecting itself with tuberculosis under the impression that it was merely eating jam tarts.”—Ezra Pound’s ABC of Reading (qtd at Times Flow Stemmed)
PLAN59.com is a family-friendly Web site dedicated to the commercial art of mid-century America. Here at the nostalgia factory in Fairfax, Virginia, the assembly lines clank nonstop and the smokestacks belch 24/7 to deliver a high-quality assortment of jpegs, gifs, tiffs and the occasional vector graphic. In 2005 we started offering large-format prints of selected images on the site; in addition to delicious eye candy we also provide illustrations to corporate as well as nonprofit clients for print, promotional, educational and Web use. Satisfied customers include General Motors (Saab magazine, Cadillac), Noble Advertising, the Dana Corporation, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, the Wall Street Journal and PQ Publishers (dozens of images for the book and DVD Rose Colored, published under the Barnes & Noble imprint). E-mail us with your queries. The boss, David Hall, has been in the publishing business for 20 years.
CONTACT: Plan59.com, 12210-340 Fairfax Towne Center, Fairfax VA 22033.
TELEPHONE: 703-818-9660 E-MAIL: email@example.com
“But I think there are normal things a man ought to do, as he sleeps or wakes or walks. One of them … is to be able to write down in pen and ink what he really thinks about public questions, and why he thinks it: which is all that I have done in this place.”—G. K. Chesterton. A Miscellany of Men.
“I ceased in the year 1764 to believe that one can convince one’s opponents with arguments printed in books. It is not to do that, therefore, that I have taken up my pen, but merely so as to annoy them, and to bestow strength and courage on those on our own side, and to make it known to the others that they have not convinced us.”—
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, The Waste Books, Notebook E, 1775-76.
I’ve quoted this before - but I thought I would quote it again while I am on a Lichetenberg bender.
“I forget most of what I read, just as I do most of what I have eaten, but I know that both contribute no less to the conservation of my mind and my body on that account.”—Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, The Waste Books, Notebook J (1789-1793)
“Truth will find a publisher at any time, complaisance usually only for a year. That is why when you write you should always do so with courage and candor.”—Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, The Waste Books, Notebook F, (1776-1779) (via Mangan's)
“With my pen in hand I have successfully stormed bulwarks from which others armed with sword and excommunication have been repulsed.”—Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, The Waste Books, Notebook E, 1775-1776. (via Mangan's)
“To make other people laugh is no great feat so long as one does not mind whether they are laughing at our wit or at us ourselves.”—Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, The Waste Books, Notebook G (1779-1783) (via Mangan’s)
Mr. Joshi is correct about the cosmic level of meaning in Lovecraft’s stories, but he largely neglects another, social level of meaning. On that level, Lovecraft’s stories are dramas of modernity in which the forces of tradition and order in society and in the universe are confronted by modernity itself—in the form of the shapeless beings known (ironically) as the “Old Ones.” In fact, they are the “New Ones.” Their appearance to earthly beings is often attended by allusions to “Einsteinian physics,” “Freudian psychology,” “non-Euclidean algebra” (a meaningless but suggestive term), modern art, and the writing of T.S. Eliot and James Joyce. The conflicts in the stories are typically between some representative of traditional order (the New England old stock protagonist) on the one hand, and the “hordes” of Mongoloids, Levantines, Negroes, Caribbeans, and Asians that gibber and prance in worship of the Old Ones and invoke their dark, destructive, and invincible powers.
What Lovecraft does in his stories, then, is not only to develop the logic of his “cosmicism” by exposing the futility of human conventions, but to document the triumph of a formless and monstrous modernity against the civilization to which Lovecraft himself—if almost no one else in his time—was faithful. In the course of his brief existence, he saw the traditions of his class and his people vanishing before his eyes, and with them the civilization they had created, and no one seemed to care or even grasp the nature of the forces that were destroying it. The measures conventionally invoked to preserve it—traditional Christianity, traditional art forms, conventional ethics and political theory—were useless against the ineluctable cosmic sweep of the Old Ones and the new anarchic powers they symbolized.
Lovecraft believed that his order could not be saved, and that in the long run it didn’t matter anyway, so be jogged placidly and cynically on, one of America’s last free men, living his life as he wanted to live it and as he believed a New England gentleman should live it: thinking what he wanted to think, and writing what he wanted to write, without concern for conventional opinions, worldly success, or immortality. And yet, despite the indifference he affected, Howard Phillips Lovecraft has in the end attained a kind of immortality, for the classic tales of horror he created will be read as long as that genre of literature is read at all. And since man’s horror of the alien cosmos into which he has been thrown is perhaps the oldest theme of art, that may be for a very long time to come.
At the Heart of Darkness
by Samuel Francis
H.P. Lovecraft: A Biography
by S.T. Joshi
West Warwick, Rhode Island:
Necronomicon Press; 704 pp., $20.00
H.P. Lovecraft: Miscellaneous Writings
Edited by S.T. Joshi
Sank City, Wisconsin:
Arkham House; 568 pp., $29.95