Saturday, March 28, 2015

Remove Kraken Insert Locus-less Existential Colonial Terror

It's likely that Lovecraft got the idea for Cthulhu from Tennyson's Kraken:

Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber'd and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

...which does paint a picture.

If Noisms' Yoon-Suin can be boiled down to:

Tibet, yak ghosts, ogre magi, mangroves, Nepal, Arabian Nights, Sorcery!, Bengal, invertebrates, topaz, squid men, slug people, opiates, slavery, human sacrifice, dark gods, malaise, magic.

....then a poem should be more than sufficient to describe a setting.

I imagine a Cthulhu game set in Martinique, with the tone set by Aimé Césaire's not entirely unKrakenlike Lagoonal Calendar (as translated by Clayton Eshleman and Annette Smith)

I inhabit a sacred wound
I inhabit imaginary ancestors
I inhabit an obscure will
I inhabit a long silence
I inhabit an irremediable thirst
I inhabit a one-thousand-year journey
I inhabit a three-hundred-year war
I inhabit an abandoned cult
between bulb and bubil I inhabit an unexplored space
I inhabit not a vein of the basalt
but the rising tide of lava
which runs back up the gulch at full speed
to burn all the mosques
I accommodate myself as best I can to this avatar
to an absurdly botched version of paradise
- it is much worse than a hell -
I inhabit from time to time one of my wounds
Each minute I change apartments
and any peace frightens me

whirling fire
ascidium like none other for the dust of strayed worlds
having spat out my fresh-water entrails
a volcano I remain with my loaves of words and my secret minerals

I inhabit thus a vast thought
but in most cases I prefer to confine myself
to the smallest of my ideas
or else I inhabit a magical formula
only its opening words
the rest being forgotten
I inhabit the ice jam
I inhabit the ice melting
I inhabit the face of a great disaster
I inhabit in most cases the driest udder
of the skinniest peak - the she-wolf of these clouds -
I inhabit the halo of the Cactaceae
I inhabit a herd of goats pulling
on the tit of the most desolate argan tree
To tell you the truth I no longer know my correct address
Bathyale or abyssal
I inhabit the octopuses' hole
I fight with the octopus over an octopus hole

Brother lay off
a kelpy mess
twining dodder-like
or unfurling porana-like
it's all the same thing
which the wave tosses
to which the sun leeches
which the wind whips
sculpture in the round of my nothingness

The atmospheric or rather historic process
even it if makes certain of my words sumptuous
immeasurably increases my plight.


  1. How. To. Watch. Australia vs. New Zealand ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Finals >>

  2. I've found some of Coleridge's and some of Gerard Manley Hopkins's poems to be great inspiration for Dungeons & Dragons. The former's "Kubla Khan" is quite possibly the best thing ever written in the English language. I wonder how much I'd sacrifice to be able to habitually and readily write that like.

  3. Just to go for the low-hanging fruit: Blake's Rime of the Ancient Mariner would be easy and so obvious it would count as cheating. Something good could also be done with Yeats' The Second Coming (which, BTW, also harkens back to Blake's prophetic writings with its theme): a primordial god-turned-monster awakening to usher in the Apocalypse, quite possibly in the early 20th century.

    1. Wait, I just realised that pretty much describes The Call of Cthulhu...

  4. A few years ago I saw a show at MoMA of Miro's work of 1927-1937, and I swear that I came out of it thinking that Lovecraft had been right about everything and that Miro had seen the same shit rising out of the nighted gulfs of the Mediterranean. Which to me just meant that Lovecraft wasn't the unique vacuum-spawned talent he's sometimes portrayed as but part of a global network of geniuses (of varying political and social awareness) all getting clued in to how the universe might actually work.

    It was a great show. It was the first time I actually bought the catalogue.