Text: Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy (Graham Harman) - remixed
Illustrations: Flanders landscape between Bruges and Antwerp
Use rhetoric devices to make landscapes more convincing:
Beneath the content of any communication lie certain modulations of rhetorical subtlety that have more weight in our determination of truth, falsity, and reality than does any explicit judgment about content.
While it is a genuine pleasure to visit Providence and tour these scenes from Lovecraft’s stories, there is the inevitable comical effect of seeing how utterly non-ominous most of these places look in person. But Lovecraft somehow makes it work, piling allusion on allusion like a creepy old neighbor constructing a second basement beneath his already mysterious existing one.Use explicit descriptions of the obvious to make landscapes more meaningful:
There are not simply one or two locations felt to be harmful, but the more vague and general “certain hilly regions.” No specific reason is given for avoiding these locations, other than the unspoken sense that they are “highly unhealthy, unprofitable, and generally unlucky to live in.” And best of all, “the farther one kept from them the better off one usually was.”
The second photograph simply depicts “a druid-like circle of standing stones on the summit of a wild hill.” No footprints are clearly visible here, and the real highlight of this passage is Wilmarth’s wonderfully vague inference that “the extreme remoteness of the place was apparent from the veritable sea of tenantless mountains which formed the background and stretched away toward a misty horizon.”
This explicit deduction of the photograph’s location, drawn from subsidiary hints of its design, further display Lovecraft’s obsessive tendency to speak openly of connections and junctions that are normally left in an unstated rhetorical or perceptual background.
About this series
Over the years I've collected many place descriptions. It's a waste to keep them on my harddisk. So I'll publish them from time to time. I will add some pictures when suitable.
Enhanced and amplified topographies can be found in a broad range of literature. The best ones link to metaphysics or mysticism and (pre-) load the landscape with unexpected layers, sheets, slabs and strata of meaning. We can appropriate all this work to enrich our everyday surroundings.
Previous posts are 1:The paranoid method, 2:Rooftops and sacrifices, 3:Oil and electricity, 4:Sewing machines, 5:Rooftops and apparitions, 6:Woods, 7:Mushrooms, 8:Formlessness (2d), 9:Formlessness (3d), 10:Autumn, 11:Monsters and mad scientists, 12:Empty spaces, 13:Stars and planets, 14:Addiction against emptiness.