The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #147: H.P. Lovecraft

H._P._Lovecraft,_June_1934David Grubbs gets spooky with Michial Farmer and Nathan Gilmour as the trio discusses the horror fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. Conversations range from literary influence to biological racism, with some discussions on artistic imagination thrown in for good measure. The stories at the core of the conversation are “The Call of Cthulhu,” “Arthur Jermyn,” and “Pickman’s Model.”

19 thoughts on “The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #147: H.P. Lovecraft

  1. Hurray! A Lovecraft episode!

    Hang on, did someone just describe Lovecraft as “not antisocial, but he only came out at night”?  You have awakened the wrath of the Psychology Professor!  This is something that I yell at my Introductory Psychology students about. “Antisocial” does NOT mean “avoids the other humans.”  “Antisocial” refers to a diminished capacity to care about the rights and feelings of others.  The word you are looking for is “unsociable.”  Words mean things!

    Although Lovecraft “authoritatively” gave the pronunciation of Cthulhu as “Khlûl’-hloo” at one point, he was himself inconsistent in the pronunciation, so variant pronunciations are acceptable.  Cthulhu’s name is unpronounceable by the human vocal apparatus, anyway, so any pronunciation that is close should be acceptable.  “kə-TH’oo-loo” is acceptable, and any fanboy who says otherwise is only attempting to establish dominance in the conversation.

    If “Campus Crusade of Cthulhu” existed, they would hand out tracts like this: http://www.fredvanlente.com/cthulhutract/pages/index.html 

    Well, I’m off to go mad and kill myself now. Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.

  2. Charles H Oh, come on, Charles.  Do you storm into first-semester Latin classes and bust their chops about their use of “id” as a simple pronoun too? 😉

  3. This was a great listen, I felt like I was back in your class Dr. Gilmour. It was an interesting take to get the view of Lovecraft from someone who is not really a fan of Lovecraft’s writing. It is the Mythos of his writing that intrigues me. He exposes the flaws of humanity showing, I think, our curiosity as almost a flaw because we seek the truth despite knowing what that knowledge could possibly do to us. I will even make the jump that has been made in recent generations, I know this isn’t literary but, his writings have been turned into a tabletop game set in the world of his writings where participants fear to even open a book with the chance of their character going insane. Yet in the game to progress we have to give up at least some part of our sanity.

  4. Excellent episode. I haven’t much background in Lovecraft – I don’t think I even finished “At the Mountains of Madness” – but Michial’s only tepid disdain was enough to get me to try him out again.

    Oh, and by the way, the following link from 2009 just showed up in my Facebook feed today. Thanks, Grubbs, for enjoying Lovecraft without being this guy: http://www.theonion.com/articles/lovecraftian-school-board-member-wants-madness-add,2672/

  5. I love Lovecraft! Pretty good episode, but At the Mountains of Madness and The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath are not to be ignored!
    As a side note concerning your upcoming series, I believe the Fisher King is available on Netflix. They released a lot of Robin Williams movies after his death.

  6. we are dust Unfortunately, Netflix has removed it. We all watched it at crackle.com. If you have Firefox and an ad blocker you won’t be subjected to their commercials.

  7. Steve Douglas “Michial’s only tepid disdain was enough to get me to try him out again” is my favorite thing anyone has ever said about our podcast.

  8. jonmills51 Unlike most traditional gamers of my generation, my first GMing experience was w/ Call of Cthulhu, not D&D. Rolling SAN checks is always good fun!

  9. we are dust Unfortunately, there’s just too much HPL to pick from for one episode, but those would have also been strong choices. Also Whisperer in the Darkness, for its send-up of Frazerian myth-criticism.

  10. Charles H ngilmour Perhaps it WAS a misuse of antisocial, Charles, but he did say that HPL WASN’T antisocial, which I’m hoping you’ll concede!

    (Also, we’ve apparently read the same sources on Cthulhu’s pronunciation; that gargle-thing I did was my best approximation with a “human vocal apparatus.” Also also, we apparently needed to pull YOU in for an HPL episode!)

  11. Great episode, thank you gentlemen. 

    You mentioned his mythos, wherein there is some outer darkness full of things we can’t understand, things that should not be (Dr. Gilmour should get that reference). Robert E. Howard, whom I was a fan of before Lovecraft, used this same idea in a number of Conan & Solomon Kane stories, as a basic underpinning of his universe; it is the root of sorcery and the demonic in his work. I assume that it was Lovecraft’s idea first, because Howard’s use of it is remarkably similar. Some of that cross-pollination you mentioned.

    I’m fascinated by the dark New England supernaturalism that you all mentioned. How far back does that go? The Sleepy Hollow stories? Pilgrims of Plymouth afraid of things that go bump in the night? It seems like Lovecraft is a part of a longer tradition of finding that region of the country particularly eerie & supernatural. Howard does the same thing with the South. Being from the Pacific Northwest, I feel like I’m missing out by not having some kind of regional demons to be afraid of…

  12. Michial Farmer jonmills51 Jon, I’ll just say here that, like Grubbs, I was also an avid tabletop gamer back in the nineties.  My main GM experiences were with superhero games (Champions and Heroes Unlimited) and with Cyberpunk worlds (mainly Shadowrun but also some Cyberpunk), though I did do some Dungeons and Dragons as well.

  13. dpreimer Yes, true and creepy. I’ve seen grimoires sold in the “Spirituality” section of the Barnes & Noble that include Lovecraftian entities amongst the possibilities of elemental spirits one might summon/commune with. Not sure whether HPL would laugh, rage, or yawn in response.

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