Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Vacation Necronomicon School Day Two

No homework yet for today, the assignment being a lengthy one: read At the Mountains of Madness--a lengthy prospect--then create an image of what madness looks like. I think I'll do it in colored pencil, and with any luck my scanner will be up to the task of reproducing it.

Not now, but soon. Tonight, mundane tasks of home maintenance call.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Vacation Necronomicon School: Day One

(If you don't know what that means, click here.)

Today's assignment was Dagon (1919), one of Lovecraft's earlier works. In it, the protagonist finds himself cast adrift upon escape from imprisonment on a ship. He reacts at first with bemusement and curiosity, mixed with evident disgust, which turns with striking swiftness to madness when he finds himself faced with creatures at once appallingly humanoid and even more appallingly other. (I would state that his madness seems precipitated more by the creatures' twisted approximation of humanity than by their alienness.) He descends into a sucking morass of suicidal despair equal parts assuaged and fueled by an addiction to morphine brought on by his attempts at self-medicating in the wake of his fearsome discovery.

The principal difference I see between tales of this genre and those of Lovecraft's Victorian predecessors is the appearance of a sort of naturalistic horror; that is, creatures at once blindingly alien and yet somehow recognizable. Far worse than supernatural beings which the rational reader can easily dismiss as mere phantasm once the story has ended, these beasts resemble us just closely enough to make the reader question, if only for a moment, the possibility of such things existing--if only just below the surface of our carefully rational minds. I can think of no more efficient precursor to madness than that.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

In Which I Make No Sense At All, Probably

When I'm wearing my amateur Egyptologist hat, I want all my facts in order, I want evidence lined up in orderly ranks, I want surmise and conjecture and wild supposition to be kept to the absolute minimum. If I'm conducting a Kemetic ritual, you can expect that I will have done my homework well in advance, and that what I'm doing will have some basis in history, all the while recognizing that we are modern people in modern times in a completely different country and cultural milieux and that recreating the ways of the ancient Egyptians would be impossible on nearly every level without a staggering budget and a time machine. When I'm being my regular pagany self, then it's a syncretic free-for-all, and all bets are off. All I can promise is clarity, in the sense that I'll at least tell you of my intentions beforehand if you're going to be a part of the proceedings. I'll never promise you a Kemetic ritual and then cast a Wiccan-style circle, or anything like that (though that could happen if I were to, say, conduct an "Egyptian Pagan" circle or something along those lines). I try to keep my abstract and ill-defined paganity separate from my hardcore Egyptological leanings, though some crossover is I suppose inevitable.

I was hoping if I just ran with this theme I'd eventually come to a point, but that's looking less and less likely, so I'll end this here for now. Expect more blathering along these lines in the future.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Uplifting Messages

The Baptist church marquee was particularly uplifting today. It said

I already deserve Hell

I don't have to do Anything More

(The caps were even more random, but I can't recall them precisely.)

Cheerful, that. Imagine a worldview--imagine a personal state of mind--in which you are so flawed, so inherently BAD, that you believe yourself to be worthy of an eternity of unimaginable torment, simply for having been born. I find that I can't imagine that, actually; that's profound mental illness, not a spiritual system. (Though in my more cynical moments, I am hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two.)

I find that I'm less offended by these screeds than I am filled with a bone-deep sorrow. How horrible must it be to live your life under that kind of internal tyranny. I am deeply, deeply grateful that my mind does not work that way.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Blog Silence

I find myself curiously disinterested in blogging much, these days. It's not that I've nothing to rant about--there's always something to rant about--nor am I particularly depressed or anything; it's more a sense of stasis, of precarious balance between one place and another. I have always been partial to those spaces-in-between, so this place I'm in now is in no way unpleasant; but neither is it very exciting from a narrative standpoint.

There's no identity crisis taking place; I know perfectly well who and what I am, perhaps more so now that I've dropped even the faintest pretense of trying to fit any part of me into a box designed for an utterly alien species. There's no crisis of faith; "faith" as it is generally defined has never played much of a role in my existence. I've been immersing myself in Egyptology lately, coming full circle back to that old and abiding passion and finding that I love it now as much as I ever did. I'll shortly be starting up a course in Middle Egyptian, and if the Gods are kind then before complete decrepitude sets in I'll be able to finagle a way to finance the Manchester University program. I won't be pursuing an advanced degree in Egyptology; I'd have to move elsewhere to do so, and frankly I enjoy eating regular meals too much to consider trying to find work in the field. When I'm ever able to return to college, it will most likely be to either continue my psychology/sociology studies, or to move on into anthro; but that's also for later. For now, Middle Egyptian, along with my FOI program (which will culminate in me designing my own course, eventually) will keep me occupied.

It's the absolute height of summer now, hot as all hell, stiflingly humid, everything feeling swollen and ripe not just with possibility but with eventuality, which is even more portentous and thrilling. (I like that my fandom presses that theme, as well: everything happens eventually and nothing happens but first a dream and this all works out in the end.) The end of this month brings the beginning of the harvest season, though in truth it's an ongoing process: fruit drooping eagerly from branches, tomatoes growing plump and heavy day by day, berries falling readily into waiting hands. May the crops, physical and intellectual, that I've been tending so far this year prove to be as succulent at the harvest.