mercoledì 18 luglio 2012


Essay by Leni Remedios, translated into English by Leni Remedios with the supervision of Jane Broadhurst.
You can find the original in Italian in Critica Impura - letteratura, filosofia, arte e critica globale

Amongst the prejudices, literary ones are undoubtedly the most resistant.
I’ve always harboured a strong reluctance towards Lovecraft’s writings: as I’m more prone to the psychological side of weird tales, I’ve never relished the prospect of facing the tentacular creatures of the writer from Providence.
But I had to give up, before a man who influenced every kind of artists and not just writers, like the Swiss Giger in the visual arts and every genre of musicians (from Metallica to Vision Bleak and Iron Maiden, or the progressive H.P. Lovecraft); a man who led philosophers to hazardous comparisons with Husserl phenomenology and who, dulcis in fundo, together with the Welsh Arthur Machen and the English Algernon Blackwood represents what I call “the pre-Kinghiana triad”: for anyone fond of weird, horror, thriller, etc it’s the trio of authors of reference that precedes the advent of Stephen King[1].
I wondered what does of Lovecraft an unavoidable point of reference, a sort of phenomenon – on the same level of the creatures born by his imagination – not devoid of contradictions, first considered with a snobbish marginalisation by literary criticism, then with a nearly fanatic enthusiasm by his readers, finally recently included in the American Literary Canon.
What is, in his works, the element that is attractive and repulsive at the same time, the alchemical “quid” that elicits astonishment, metaphysical stupor or, on the contrary, embarrassment and distance, if not an ill-concealed attitude of ridiculing his writings?
Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1890 and in Providence he died in 1937.
His works appeared in the period of time ranging from 1917 (when Dagon was published) until  1935/36, in a historical time crucial for the first half of the twentieth century, namely between the first World War in progress and the Great Depression with its aftermath.
The author’s biography offers us fundamental and interesting hints to understand his literary output: both his parents ended their days in a lunatic asylum (first his father, several years later his mother); his mother used to seclude him at home  considering him “ugly” and since he was a young boy he had suffered from terrible headaches and was of  very delicate health; his maternal grandfather encouraged him to read the gothic classics such as Edgar Allan Poe and timeless works like The Arabian Nights and The Odyssey, while his maternal grandmother influenced his  passion for astronomy, an element that had a great influence on his writing, to the point of applying it the definition of cosmicism.
We have to add to all that the innate passion of young Lovecraft towards chemistry and his love for philosophy, esoteric sciences and occultism unites him to the other authors of the triad, Machen and Blackwood.
We might consider Lovecraft’s output under many points of views: from a mere technical point of view of plot development and literary devices; under the point of view of emotions that his tales evoke in the reader; finally from the point of view of the underlying issues of  the general sci-fi narrative structure.  For me the latter is the most charming and philosophically meaningful.
Yet all these aspects are intimately interconnected one to each other and to do an orderly analysis can be a very hard enterprise. Well, let’s try to do it.


What’s immediately striking about Lovecraft’s writing is the accuracy, the extreme, glacial precision with which he relates the details of improbable imaginary events: with a maniacal rigour he cyclically turns back on the same theme of a tale never giving a definitive explanation, creating a continuous and cyclic “pre-climax” that keep the reader glued to his seat.  Masterly on that –although threatened by the risk of prolixity – is one of the few novels by Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness, in my opinion one of the Genius of Providence’s most perfect works.
Furthermore, one of the devices most used by the author is in recalling in different tales, recurring characters or themes, like pseudo deities (Cthulhu or Yog-Sothoth) or imaginary occult texts, like the terrifying Necronomicon, written about in 730 a.D.  by “the mad Arab” Abdul Alhazred. This device can create the risk of certain monotony in the narrative on one side, but on the other side raises in the reader a kind of familiarity: Lovecraft’s imaginative world becomes a very tangled labyrinth in which however it’s not difficult to get orientated.
Cyclopean proportioned buildings with unusual geometries, smelly caves, teams of scholars ready to accomplish a dangerous mission, dogs barking wildly in the proximity of negative presences, negro or mulatto attendants[2]  to name a few, are recurrent like the refrain of a well-known melody.
We might say this, giving a panoramic glance on his output: we have the feeling that there is a sort of run-up of the author, in which Dagon is nearly preparatory to The Call of Cthulhu and The Call of Cthulhu is nearly preparatory to At the Mountain of Madness, just to follow a line.
Lovecraft is recurring even in the absent themes: his is an asexual imaginative world, in which women appear very little and, if they do, they are mostly instrumental to evil’s development, like Lavinia Whateley, Wilbur’s twisted and albino mother in The Dunwich Horror or the old witch Keziah in Dreams in the Witch House.
The other resounding absent is the psychological depth of the characters: about protagonists we just know they are scholars or men attracted by mystery whose hunger for knowledge or an obscure, evil past in their family life leads them to trespass extra-sensory limits or to face uncanny experiences. In short, what is enough to develop the story plot But going deep inside the psychology of every single character is something that doesn’t matter at all to Lovecraft.
Sometimes the impression gained is that, throughout all his stories, you deal  with only one character, of which just few details change. At best the recurring characters are two: the leading role, who “chooses” to be led through the magic and who most of the times succumbs, and a co-protagonist (usually a specialist like a scholar, a psychiatrist, etc. or a team of similar subjects), who attempts, on the same events, a more rational scientific investigation, without being emotionally involved, often ending in failure  or compromising their mental health (The Rats in the Wall, At the Mountains of Madness, The Dunwich Horror, The case of Charles Dexter Ward).
It seems that Lovecraft doesn’t care about the individual and his specific psychological features  but rather the archetype and what it represents.  
What he cares about is getting in the dream, going “beyond the spheres”, at any rate.
The objective of the author is the suspense component, the creation of a magical claustrophobic atmosphere[3].
Instrumental to this research is – together with the characters, mere instruments – the accurate description of the landscapes, yet in their aberrant and fascinating deformity, like the bleak lands of Dunwich, that mirror the sulky and distrusting figures of its inhabitants; or in their fantastic inhumanity, like the cyclopean cities that spread on before the eyes of the protagonists. Cities that often, with their tall minarets and majestic domes, wrapped in a silence and in a light devoid of any human presence, much resemble the Arab cities in the middle of the desert, by which fascination maybe young Lovecraft had been subjected through the reading of The Arabian Nights.

On the other hand Lovecraft candidly admitted, in his letters, not to foster any sort of empathy towards the human race, but rather that all his interest and will of investigation went towards the landscape, towards the ravines of mystery that Nature offers. He claimed this to the point of asserting a sort of identification towards the landscape that was inspiring to him- first of all the context in which he was born – and the extreme, well-known assertion of this identification lays in the statement “I AM PROVIDENCE” carved in the commemorative slab in the town cemetery. Here we are in one of the beautiful contradictions of this author: from the macrocosm of cosmicism to the microcosm of his native identity; from endless sidereal spaces to the small American reality of his own town[4].
To say the truth, if one looked at this with a different glance, he wouldn’t speak about contradictions, but rather about a unity of the opposites, the very same who animated Paracelsus and the alchemists whom Lovecraft recalls in his tales.


The short novel (or long tale) At the Mountains of Madness, written in 1931 and edited afterwards[5], narrates about the adventure of a team of scientists in the still unexplored Antarctic lands; here the range of themes that run throughout the lovecraftian output is perfectly exposed: cyclopean and non-Euclidean architectures; the existence of a pre-human race whose origins date back to millions of years earlier, long before any scientific knowledge about hominids; madness generated by the confrontation with terrible truths and the consequent will of “protecting” the rest of human race from such truths (the explorers keep updated “the rest of the world” – University and press – through wireless reports, in which they decide accordingly to omit many gruesome details about the expedition).
The meticulousness, with which Lovecraft reports the details of the expedition, from geographic coordinates to the cold radio wireless reports, makes the reader really believe for a moment to what he’s reading: in short, Lovecraft can turn plausible the implausible. It’s not by chance that the author’s works deserved the definition of “weird realism”.
Here we’re going to the second point of our analysis.
In a curious article appearing in the philosophical magazine Collapse, Graham Harman makes an interesting parallel between Husserl phenomenology and Lovecraft’s literature[6].
At first you might think that the usual reductive impertinence of Western philosophy, especially the contemporary one, tends to trace back all the knowledge – even Lovecraft’s quirky imaginative world - to its own theoretical, conceptual categories. In a sense it’s true, but, as they say, you have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater: Lovecraft, as Harman underlines, far from being a “pulp-author”, was an intellectual, a deep connoisseur of philosophical movements; he declared himself a materialist and an atheist. Among his favourite authors he contemplated two philosophers of decadence such as Spengler and Nietzsche.
The “still unknown” which he evokes and the terrifying truths coming from cosmic spaces or from the deepest ravines of the Earth, don’t belong to a transcendental “beyond” or to a Kantian noumenal (philosophical term) realm: they are perfectly immanent to the space-time dimension we live in.
However much the described architectures are “non-Euclidean” or obey to laws unknown (till now) to the human mind, they don’t come from a transcendental dimension. 
The black holes in the space or the centre of the Earth are phenomena that we know (as far as we know) only indirectly; it doesn’t mean that they don’t belong to our dimension: “The terror of Lovecraft is not a noumenal horror, then, but a horror of phenomenology”[7].
This is what links him to Husserl: what the phenomenologist “brackets”, in a temporary suspension of knowledge, “(...) lays entirely within human consciousness”[8].
Up to now we’re dealing with the centuries-old philosophical issue about confrontation between knower and object known.
I’d like to venture on another level: the emotional/experiential one.
Which are the emotions evoked by such visions of world? Which impressions are raised by these merely rational disquisitions?
“I choose weird stories because they suit my inclination best – one of my strongest and most persistent wishes being to achieve, momentarily, the illusion of some strange suspension or violation of the galling limitations of time, space, and natural law which forever imprison us and frustrate our curiosity about the infinite cosmic spaces beyond the radius of our sight and analysis”[9].
If philosophy is impertinent and unscrupulous enough to make Lovecraft drawn to a comparison with Husserl, I don’t want to be less impertinent and anyway the following remark arouse, as to say, instinctively: the feelings of terror and fascination towards a so far completely unknown universe (tremendum et fascinans), the sense of awe and complete subordination towards a mysterious cosmic otherness (mysterium tremendum) led me to think at once to the definition given by Rudolph Otto[10] to the Holy. Ironically, Otto came out from the very phenomenological school of Husserl, from which he left because of his neo-kantian positions.   
It’s At the Mountain of Madness again to offer the perfect paradigm also in this case: Lovecraft is particularly skilful in creating a sort of suspension of the soul, in which we, the readers, are right there, in the small aeroplane’s cockpit, together with geologists and scientists, holding our breath on the edge of the world, waiting for the unspeakable located beyond the Antarctic peaks[11].
The merely physical sensation is your accelerated heart beating, your sternum rising: as we were physically lifted, in a prolonged state of anxiety and excitement.
It’s this sense of looming, well described by Giuseppe Genna on his essay[12], that recurs in Lovecraft’s tales and captures the reader in a sort of stupor. In reality, because of the issue of the recurring themes, the reader used to lovecraftian imagery already foresees what’s expecting him beyond the edge of the world. It seems that this stupor is actually premeditated, a rapture that the reader is waiting for and yet  it surprises him every single time. 
The massive architectures that unravel to the sight, immersed in the inhuman silence of the icy lands, create a totally praeterhuman dimension and a strong fascination towards which explorers can’t resist (beyond their terror, they will thrust themselves more and more forward into the burrows of the ancient city, animated by their hunger of knowledge); but also an undeniable disturbing feeling.
The truths evoked by this tale and by the other ones are terrible truths, which contact generates an unavoidable insanity in many fragile minds. Better not to know, the author seems to suggest.
And this suggestion sounds familiar, for example in the light of psychoanalytic theories that at the time of Lovecraft were in full development and which brought to light a disturbing undergrowth of unconscious material. 
Again, during that time scientific community were discussing the hypothesis of the existence of another planet (namely Pluto, the “dwarf planet”, discovered in 1930): this hypothesis was enthusiastically supported by Lovecraft, as revealed by his early letter of 1906 to the magazine Scientific American and it gives more support to his idea of human being as a miserable meaningless presence, before a boundless cosmos about which we know quite little and whose dynamics are indifferent to human sufferings.
The incipit of The Call of Cthulhu, not accidentally pretty much quoted, is relevant from this point of view and nearly represents an epistemological manifesto, a philosophical declaration of intent: “We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far”[13].
Further: in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward he talks about “obscure cosmic relationships and unnameable realities behind the protective illusions of common vision”[14].
Ignorance is restricting , but it’s protective. Knowledge bursts the gates of the incommensurable open and if it’s made by a weak mind the result is the loss of rational faculties.
Fascinans et tremendum, attraction and repulsion coexist in the very same experience, exactly like Rudolph Otto described the strongest and overwhelming experiences of contact with the Holy.
But the parallel ends right here: in the end, the mysterious side of cosmic and pre-human otherness by which the individual is totally awed, takes shape in the creatures sprung out by the author’s imagination, projections and materialisations of the most negative forces of the (immanent) cosmos; a negative degeneration against redemption and ecstasy, positive culmination of the (transcendent) experience of the Holy.
Here we have to highlight another of the author’s contradictions and I have to say that I particularly love contradictions, as bearer of vitality and drive: one of the most recurring adjectives of the atheist and materialist Lovecraft, related to the negative presences and energies of his tales, is “blasphemous”: what we’re induced to wonder is “blasphemous in respect to what?”
The other underlying subject is actually a terrific question which the author takes the wraps off and according which his alien creatures represent just a literary device: the idea that there isn’t a somewhat positive, edifying further dimension, a whatever cosmic order that counterbalances and gives a sense to the chaos of human misery and meanness, a dimension bearing each time the features  of the various deities, beliefs or philosophical systems.
Instead the fundamental idea is that this further dimension is a mere immanent malignant dimension or, at best, completely indifferent to human paths.
The authentic, philosophical question underlying the totally improbable creations of Lovecraft is a terrible question.
The feeling is that of the ground removed from under the feet.
The atheist “pantheon” of Lovecraft is a place of desolation and nihilism. There’s no salvation at all.
Even love for knowledge can turn out dangerous, as demonstrated: the only salvation for humanity is given by the impossibility of connecting all the kinds of knowledge, in a way that the ultimate truth is perennially slipping away. The hypothesis of reaching and enjoying that truth - even if for a moment - leads directly to the disintegration of the “I”.

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents”[15].
That is the opposite of what all the mystical-esoteric approaches of every age and place had been teaching: a homogeneous vision and a holistic knowledge, that create a harmony between micro and macrocosm, are the necessary premises to the enlightenment achievement and liberation of a human being, leading then to his integration/individuation instead of his disintegration.
Not that in these approaches – religious, mystic or, in the case of Jungian theories, psychological – there’s no risk of a potential break-up or loss of control: they take it into consideration, so much so that they promote a gradual and esoteric knowledge, in which the individual must be from time to time prepared to face the following step of awareness.
But sooner or later there’s supposed to be a positive outcome or it’s taken for granted that it exists.
Not in Lovecraft: there’s no possibility of redemption, whether laic or religious.
There’s no “way of salvation”, there’s just a way of escape and the only authentic way of escape is, regarding the author, imagination.
An escape from his own gloomy private reality, made of illness, isolation and marginalisation during his childhood and later of financial difficulties that harassed him more and more, till the end of his years.
But also an escape from a contemporary society that he saw ineluctably doomed to a tragic decadence. “It is my belief, and was so long before Spengler put his seal of scholarly proof on it, that our mechanical and industrial age is one of frank decadence"[16].
The background behind the man and intellectual Lovecraft, behind his sick and uncanny imaginative world, is a horizon devoid of horizons of sense. It’s the horizon of the man of the early twentieth century, who contemplates the inexorable doom of modernity and embraces, with cold awareness, Nietzsche’s death of God and the world secularisation.
He does it coolly and consciously: that is the salvation of Lovecraft as a man, in comparison to the personal adrift to insanity of the master Nietzsche. Lovecraft poured all his magma of madness into his imaginative world that is, objectively, sick and twisted. But he remained cynically sane till the end of his days, though devoured by a degenerating disease[17].  


Yet “the solitary of Providence” was not a lonely one separated from the contemporary life in which he was living. If one reads between the lines he will discover that some of his tales in particular are not at all a mere escape from reality.
It’s true that there are hundreds of letters, addressed to many friends and men of letters (he was not so much solitary as he seemed) in which he amply described his own socio-political position, but I don’t care reporting here his dissertations about Marx, Engels and the impact of their ideas on society.
I’d rather analyse two tales that are very similar one to each other: The Dunwich Horror and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
In both cases the protagonists are social outcasts, rejected. In the first case Wilbur is a very odd child who grows up frightfully rapidly (at ten years old he looks like a young adult), whose grandfather introduces him to the reading and studying of mysterious manuscripts, apprenticeship followed by experiments made especially on the barn next to the house in which they live.
In the second case a psychiatrist elucidates the birth and development of the insanity of his patient, Charles Dexter Ward: at a certain point Charles followed the footsteps of an ancestor who lived a hundred and fifty years earlier, Joseph Curwen, whose sorceries upset much of the local community of the time. Curwen used to make dreadful experiments of dead resurrection in the farm that he rented, on purpose, outside his town (because the horror has not to be accomplished in your own home).
In both the tales the local community is aware of the oddities of these individuals, in some way people identify and recognize the uncanny element, but they don’t talk about it, better: the inhabitants of Dunwich and Providence limit their selves to whisper, without giving actual importance to their doubts. Yet there’s a crescendo of tension and misgiving, corroborated by other strange and appalling events.
But it’s as though they want to shut their eyes every time, for the sake of a quiet life .
Horror is under everybody’s eyes. Horror is muted  by everybody’s silence.
Until a point of reaching an utmost saturation, in which the horror is not bearable anymore and consciences feel the urgent moral obligation of going into action. This happens when the cancer has by then already exploded and the situation is so unmanageable to force the community to have to turn to an external agent (a specialist, whether doctor or archaeologist, etc) or to the unity of forces, namely villagers expeditions aimed not only at the physical elimination of the maleficent cancer, but also at its ontological nullification, at the elimination of his sense, forcing to pretend that a similar aberration has never existed, such is it being unspeakable.
Genial is a short passage where, after the raid to Curwen’s farm, in which in reality its elimination is never described if not in its lateral events, two frightened messengers arrive to the farm of a neighbour asking for some rum “One of them told the family that the affair of Joseph Curwen was over, and that the events of the night were not to be mentioned again”[18].
The mechanism of removing the maleficent and dark evil goes on also after its elimination, through an indifference that is converted, physically, in an abandonment of the places where the horror has been taking place: Curwen’s farm lays there untouched after the raid and will be reanimated only a hundred and fifty years later, when his heir, Charles, will act again his ancestor’s deeds.
Something similar happens to the house of old witch Keziah, in Dreams in the Witch House: after the tragic end of the story with the protagonist’s death, the house is completely forsaken, wrapped in a tenacious will of oblivion  till time and exposure to elements make it inexorably collapse, bringing to light horrible evidences linked to black magic.

But in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, written by the way two years earlier than The Dunwich Horror, there’s a further element, that makes the novel a very interesting exemplar and I dare say unique in the lovecraftian production there’s a further bond that links, in an indissoluble way, the gruesome character of Joseph Curwen to the community that points indignantly at him, namely the bound of money.

Curwen manages a gigantic business of import/export of raw materials, necessary to sustain the high costs of his experiments, through ships that come and leave continuously from the docks on his commission. Therefore all the businesses of the town depend on him. Further, the smart Curwen used to land small amounts of money to his workers, in exchange of their silence over any of their misgivings about his movements at the farm.
Every now and then he lends himself even to charity towards important local institutions (such as schools, libraries, etc), inducing the community, more and more diffident, to quieten its own conscience and to look at him only under the guise of notable and benefactor of society.
He copes even to marry a young local lady, with a grotesque arranged marriage whose ceremony counts the presence of all the town notables.
Which and how many horrors can society tolerate within itself to assure the surviving of its superstructures?
That is what Lovecraft seems to mean.
Agonizing screams are heard, dozens of sailors disappear, dogs bark wildly: numerous are the clues and glaring is the truth for anyone who wants to see it.
But we want to continue and prefer shutting our eyes, because recognising the truth means disintegration of the society of which we are part?

Horror doesn’t belong only to the odd and murky Joseph Curwen or to his descendant Charles Ward, manifestations of a shadow projected outside ourselves: it’s a horror that affects anyone, where everyone, under a disguise of contempt, is somehow a silent accomplice.
No need to go back approximately sixty years (for us), to the unusual dust that, from the chimneys, laid on anywhere in Auschwitz or Birkenau, upsetting inhabitants already perplexed by the comings and goings of suspicious trains: also our contemporary age is full of horrors, it’s enough thinking to the big pharmaceutical multinational corporations – just to be closer to the narrative – that in laboratories located in the outskirts of the Western world (South America, Mexico, etc) exactly like Joseph Curwen in his farm far from the town, make their worst atrocities, to the point of sacrificing human lives or mutilating, torturing animal species for the sake of scientific research[19].   
Except for few associations and individuals who denounce them, the majority of human society is inclined to incorporate those elements within itself, as parts of a vague progress that cannot be renounced.

Finally I would agree with Joshi in saying that Lovecraft’s success, compared with other writers of that time who were labelled as “pulp”, lays in the fact that he was an intellectual, a scholar with “ (…) tremendously potent and bizarre imagination. It is this that initially fascinates readers in their teenage years; only later do some readers go on to perceive the intellectual substance behind the imaginative force of Lovecraft's work”[20].
As often happens about writers of genius, his works lay themselves open to a double level of reading, in which the great evocative power, that instantaneously catches our most emotive side, takes its nourishment from a vast symbolic cultural reservoir.

A worthy gloss to this essay is a quotation from one of “the masters of doubts”, Carl Gustav Jung: his Liber Novus (or Red Book) has recently been published, after its author and his heirs reticence because of its contents, considered potentially destabilizing for humanity, still not ready for similar truths or even, as he himself wrote, it can appear as craziness to a superficial reader.  Right like the imaginative Necronomicon, I dare say ironically...
The quotation, taken from Jung’s biography, well remarks the nihilist background of the writer from Providence and detects the (non)sense of his escape in the imaginary: a fantasy background that yet, paradoxically, was his own horizon of sense, his own cosmos in which to situate himself:

“The need for mythic statements is satisfied when we build up a view of the world that gives satisfactory explanation about the meaning of man in the cosmos, a view that rises by our psychic wholeness (...). The lack of meaning restrains the fullness of life, therefore is equivalent to illness. The meaning turns bearable many things, perhaps everything”[21].

[1]It’s Stephen King himself to regard these authors among his masters.
[2]  To avoid the risk of prolixity I can’t indulge here on Lovecraft’s racist hints: for that I refer to the considerations of S.T. Joshy, leading figure of lovecraftian scholars, who says that racism on Lovecraft is undeniable and not completely ascribable to the social context of the time; I limit myself to add here that Lovecraft’s racism (however contradictory) has purely psychological-biographical roots.
[3] T.S. Joshi speaks about “incantation” and “a mesmerizing atmosphere of horror and awe”. See  Interview to S.T. Joshi By Wil Forbis, June 16th
[4]In reality this statement hides, quite ironically, a semantic double meaning: “I am Providence”, sentence that Lovecraft quotes in a letter addressed to James F. Morton in 1926. The quotation is a Satan’s phrase taken from a Christian text, The Life of St. Anthony by St. Athanasius: “Once a demon exceeding high appeared with pomp, and dared to say, ‘I am the power of God and I am Providence, what dost thou wish that I shall give thee?’"
[5]The Mexican director Guillermo del Toro is struggling for years with Hollywood productions for a movie version of this novel.  .
[6] Graham Harman, On the Horror of Phenomenology: Lovecraft and Husserl,  in Collapse Volume IV. Philosophica Research and Development, 2008, Urbanomic, Falmouth, UK, electronic version 2009.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] H.P. Lovecraft, Notes on Writing Weird Fiction, Kindle edition.
[10] Rudolph Otto (1869-1937) German theologian and historian of religions. His ideas about the Holy, marked by concepts like the numinous, the totally Other, fascinans et tremendum, etc, enormously influenced the following philosophy/history/sociology/psychology of religion.
[11]By the time in which Lovecraft was writing there were several expeditions in Antarctica, that left many parts still unexplored: right these ones roused the author’s overwhelming  imagination.
[12] See Giuseppe Genna, Il Personaggio Vuoto - 3: Lovecraft, ovvero l'Autore Vuoto e l'Opera Vuota
[13] H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu, Kindle edition.
[14] H.P. Lovecraft, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, Kindle edition.
[15] H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu, Kindle edition.
[16]From a letter to Clark Ashton Smith, 1927.
[17]He even kept a diary, The Death Diary, in which reported the progression of his illness for his doctors.
[18] H.P. Lovecraft, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, Kindle Edition.
[19] In January of this year the Argentine newspaper La Nacion reported news about the sentence pronounced on the English corporation Glaxo SmithKline and two of its doctors guilty of the death of 14 argentine babies, followed to pharmaceutical experiments (anyway notice that, although the multiple murder, Glaxo was fined 400.000 pesos, nobody was sentenced to imprisonment; and still is unknown the results of other laboratories in Panama and Colombia), The experiments should have tested a new vaccine against the pneumococcal bacteria. Reality is more uncanny than Lovecraft’s tales.  

[20] Interview to T.S. Joshi, op.cit.
[21] See A. Jaffè, Sogni, ricordi, riflessioni di C.G. Jung, (1961-62) , Rizzoli, Milano, 1978, p. 399 (translation to english by Leni Remedios).

venerdì 6 luglio 2012

Un metodo pericoloso: Sabina Spielrein e il femminile rimosso della civilta'

  Saggio uscito per il numero 1 della rivista SPEECHLESS (vedi link in calce all'articolo)

“Ogni uomo porta in sé la forma intera dell’umana condizione”
Michel de Montaigne[1]

Nel 1977, in uno scantinato del Palais Wilson di Ginevra, vecchia sede di un prestigioso Istituto di psicologia, viene ritrovato uno scatolone colmo di documenti. Il ritrovamento è il frutto casuale di un paziente lavoro di ricerca capeggiato dall’analista italiano Aldo Carotenuto.
Di cosa si tratta?
Lo scatolone contiene frammenti di diario e un carteggio importante fra tre soggetti: il padre della psicanalisi Sigmund Freud, il suo discepolo Carl Gustav Jung, in seguito allontanatosi per fondare una nuova teoria e una certa Sabina Spielrein, psicanalista ed autrice del diario.
Il materiale porta ad emersione particolari finora sconosciuti sulle vicende storico-biografiche dei tre personaggi, vicende che hanno inciso in maniera inequivocabile sugli sviluppi teorici di ognuno di loro.
Ció che viene alla luce turba e sconvolge talmente il mondo intellettuale da stimolare una lunga serie di saggi, opere teatrali e cinematografiche, di cui il film di Cronemberg, “Un metodo pericoloso”, rappresenta solo l’ultima appendice.
Insomma, anche figurativamente parlando, Sabina Spielrein - dimenticata, rimossa, incompresa - emerge dal sottosuolo della civiltá, dall’inconscio della storia della psicologia, simboleggiato cosí bene dallo scantinato del palazzo ginevrino, per rivendicare la sua veritá.
Sabina Spielrein è il perturbante[2] della storia della psicoanalisi. (...)

...continua a leggere cliccando sul link qui sotto:


[1] Michel de Montaigne, Saggi, Adelphi, Milano, 1996, p. 1068.
[2] Si veda Sigmund Freud, Il Perturbante, 1919( “Il perturbante è quella sorta di spaventoso che risale a quanto ci è noto da lungo tempo, a ciò che ci è familiare”). 

mercoledì 4 luglio 2012

estratto da "La stanza di Milady" - FOSCHIE

La fitta nebbia di Settembre raggelava le ossa.
Gli alberi avevano iniziato a perdere le foglie ed i tronchi, resi scuri dalle continue rugiade e foschie della stagione, si andavano progressivamente denudando dei propri gioiosi abiti color verde, giallo, rosso. L’odore pungente delle foglie marcescenti, unito a quello della corteccia umida, giungeva stranamente piacevole e melanconico al tempo stesso; un grigio velo uniforme si librava sopra ogni prato, ogni cottage, ogni albero, cancellando qualsiasi traccia di colore, come se tutte le colline avessero d’un tratto indossato un mantello per fronteggiare l’inverno incipiente.
Una figura scura indugiava nella nebbia: un silenzioso, meditativo essere umano, la cui presenza nessuno avrebbe notato se non per lo sbuffare del cavallo al suo fianco.
Contemplava il profilo della sua casa, che si stagliava sulla cima della collina: un’imponente divinitá vittoriosa contro i vapori delle foschie, che vanamente tentavano di cancellare anch’essa.
Per un tempo considerevole proseguí nel contemplare i contorni ed ogni singolo angolo della propria magione, finchè si ritrovó riluttante a tornarvi.
Quale sforzo era stato, esaudire il desiderio di isolamento e preservazione del proprio dolore. Aveva cercato disperatamente un posto come quello ed infine aveva scelto ed eletto Lastsight Hill come tana perfetta in cui nascondersi dal mondo: ora iniziava a percepire che la sua scelta deliberata si stava tramutando in un maleficio subìto, una trappola che aveva costruito con le proprie mani e dalla quale poteva a stento scappare. Poteva solo accettare con rassegnazione di dare corso agli eventi cosí come si svolgevano dinanzi a lui.
Stava di fronte alla sua magione come un dannato sta di fronte alla propria fossa: assolutamente incapace di accettare il fatto che la sua ora sia arrivata, indulge e rimane in equilibrio sul limite della fossa, aspettando che qualcosa succeda, qualcosa che cambi il corso delle cose.
Ma nulla sarebbe successo (...).
La foschia, una volta dolce rifugio, al quale egli affidava le proprie segrete lacrime come gemme depositate in uno scrigno, si rivelava ora una prigione, dalle sbarre eteree ancorché crudeli.
I rami scuri degli alberi si stagliavano desolati nell’aria, facendosi spazio a fatica attraverso la nebbia, come se la stessero perforando pur di potersi estendere verso il cielo; in lontananza si udiva l’abbaiare e l’ululare dei cani, un gemito sempre più crescente: un canto struggente pieno di nostalgia, come un ultimo saluto alla vivacitá dell’estate.
Il canto era talmente angosciante che il cavallo ne fu in qualche modo disturbato ed inizió a scrollare la testa, agitando selvaggiamente la  criniera.
Ma non era stato l’abbaiare dei cani, nè il loro ululato a risvegliare la sua intuizione di bestia.
Qualcosa di più sottile, qualcosa di non immediatamente udibile era lí con loro nella brughiera