Dear PstD readers – I’ll be travelling down to Providence, RI this week to participate in Necronomicon 2017 (after a brief stop in Salem, MA, always hard to resist, especially as I’m keen to see Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett’s collection of pulp sf/horror art at the Peabody Essex Museum, on display until November 26.)
The organizers have outdone themselves this year in putting together a wide variety of events and a diverse array of presenters, and I’m looking forward to the broader and less exclusively Lovecraft-centric focus on the weird than previous years have seen (and I say this as one invested in studying HPL, his sources, and his influence.)
I’m presenting a talk as part of the Armitage academic track on Sunday morning, (8/20) 10:00-11:15, in the Bristol-Kent Room, Omni Hotel, 3rd Floor. The session is ominously titled “Emanations of Abominations: Lovecraft Around the Globe.”
My talk is titled “Shadows Out of Space, Colours Out of Time,” and is based on one section of my chapter contribution for the essay collection, The Call of Cosmic Panic: New Essays on Supernatural Horror in Literature (while the peer-review process always makes publication dates tricky to predict, the collection should appear in late 2018.)
The chapter examines how Lovecraft’s ideas of weird fiction and cosmic horror are uniquely suited to both being incorporated in and critically appreciating the formal and conceptual possibilities of comics as a medium. It considers the centrality of modes of representing temporal and spatial relationships to Lovecraft’s theories of weird fiction and cosmic horror, and how these have been adapted to comics by a variety of writers and artists, including Junji Ito, Charles Burns, and Alan Moore.
The talk (while still absurdly broad) is considerably more circumscribed, and focuses on how mangaka Junji Ito adapts the image/symbol of the spiral from Lovecraft’s work, using it in his magnum opus Uzumaki to unsettle and transfigure perceptions of the human body, space and time.
Making subversive use of fascinatingly detailed line-work and the relationship between panels and inter-panel gutters, Uzumaki provides a momentary disruption of “the galling limitations of space and time,” a trait Lovecraft viewed as the central goal of cosmic weird fiction.
I’ll be one of the panelists for “Machinations and Mesmerism”: How Middle European Fantasists & Romanticists informed Modern Horror” Friday (8/18) morning 1030 – 1145 in the Grand Ballroom, Biltmore 17th Floor. The description reads:
“Modern weird fiction is rooted in countless literary genres. The fantastical works of many Middle-European authors (Goethe, Meyrink, Hoffmann, Kubin, Schulz, Tieck, etc.), both notable and obscure, are often overlooked as a strong source of influence to both general horror and modern Weird fiction. Join us for a discussion that will touch upon the worth of these narratives as sources, the themes that share a common thread with the modern weird, authors who may not be thought of immediately when one thinks of current dark literature, and how one might look upon the literary genre critically as forerunners to the present dark literary landscape.”
I’ll also be one of the panelists for “Lovecraft in Context” on Saturday (8/19) 430-545 PM, Newport-Washington, Omni 3rd Floor. The panel description reads:
“Lovecraft in context, more than just a quick annotation, some of Lovecraft’s most obscure references are links to other stories, secret crossovers, and in-jokes to the well-read. Find out what you are missing out by not delving into the details of that off-handed remark.”
I’m in some intimidating company for this one – Leslie Klinger, Paul LaFarge, Steve Mariconda, J.M. Rajala, and Peter Rawlik. These are all scholars/writers I admire, but I’m especially thrilled to be sharing space with Paul LaFarge, whose magnificent novel, The Night Ocean, is one of the most queerly fascinating things I’ve read in recent years. A sort of multiply-nested piece of vampiric biography, it out-Pale Fire-s Nabokov, examining identity, obsession, fandom, and the will to believe, ingeniously threading Lovecraft and W. S. Burroughs together via R.H. Barlow. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it (Douglas Wynne has written a sharp review of it for the Lovecraft eZine here .
Speaking of scholarship on weird fiction and Lovecraftiana, my latest foray into scholarly non-fiction to make it into print came out back in June. The Lovecraftian Poe: Essays on Influence, Reception, Interpretation and Transformation (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017) is a peer-reviewed essay collection that I edited, introduced, and contributed a chapter to; it examines the complex relationship between these seminal writers from multiple points of view, and at a length and level of detail that has never been done before. For the time being at least, you can read the entirety of both S.T. Joshi’s foreword and my introduction to the book here. This project, like most academic collections, was a long time coming together, and had its conceptual genesis in the wake of the first NecronomiCon I attended back in 2013, so it seems appropriate to mention it here.
In September, look for a longer post about The Lovecraftian Poe, including the table of contents, chapter abstracts, excerpts, links to recent work by the contributors, and some praise from reviewers.
Look, too, for a new Necro(nomicon)scopy, debriefing some of the highlights of this year’s ‘Con, and an update and schedule for my participation in CanCon 2017, Ottawa’s fantastic annual speculative fiction convention, coming up so-so-happily-soon in October 13-15.