“The Unnameable” by Lovecraft.

There really is nowhere quite like Barcelona to sit and read horror stories. I didn’t get very far with Lovecraft ‘cos he was scary, though of a recognisable horror genre … I did not dwell long on the story, finding the atmosphere vaguely repressive and samey (everyone is after all entitled to response to literature and Poe always seems to do it best for myself.)

But one paragraph which fell ill of old transcription propensities rang O so many bells; and has been subject of discussion in this repressive little island, and that is the subject of ‘approaches to Art’ (and artistic responsibility) .

This short paragraph provided the preamble to the action and described the control ‘element’ in the story’s  tradition of horror..

‘It was his view that only our normal objective experiences possess any esthetic significance, and that it is the province of the artist not so much to rouse strong emotion by action, ecstasy and astonishment, as to maintain a placid  interest and appreciation by accurate, detailed transcripts of everyday affairs’

I think the delineation of that character gets as close as possible to taking the absolute piss without quite losing the run of the story.

and I gave up maybe three paragraphs later. There is a consistent fascination in us with mundanity,  but it does not make us get the bends– good writing always does that. Interesting that ‘Art’ is viewed as something separate and contained from ‘life’ . There are masters of the mundane and there are masters of astonishment, Lovecraft seemed to veer between the two without quite getting anywhere  near good scary bendy horror of the Grand Guignol type – it’d take a woman to do that.

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