Wednesday, May 17, 2006

That Hideous Extremity of Human Outrage

Today I listened to a reading of H.P. Lovecraft's horror story "The Hound" from 1922. It's a grisly tale of decadence, gore and supernatural dread, and the over-the-top reading by highly original actor Ernst-Hugo Järegård fit it very well.

The story revolves around graveyards and human remains. It struck me how poorly equipped a prosaic archaeologist like myself is to appreciate the HORROR of opening graves and collecting GRISLY TROPHIES. In fact, some passages are pretty reasonable descriptions of everyday business to archaeologists and osteologists.
Wearied with the commonplaces of a prosaic world; where even the joys of romance and adventure soon grow stale, St John and I had followed enthusiastically every aesthetic and intellectual movement which promised respite from our devastating ennui.

[...] finally there remained for us only the more direct stimuli of unnatural personal experiences and adventures. It was this frightful emotional need which led us eventually to that detestable course which even in my present fear I mention with shame and timidity -- that hideous extremity of human outrage, the abhorred practice of grave-robbing.


The predatory excursions on which we collected our unmentionable treasures were always artistically memorable events. We were no vulgar ghouls, but worked only under certain conditions of mood, landscape, environment, weather, season, and moonlight. These pastimes were to us the most exquisite form of aesthetic expression, and we gave their details a fastidious technical care. An inappropriate hour, a jarring lighting effect, or a clumsy manipulation of the damp sod, would almost totally destroy for us that ecstatic titillation which followed the exhumation of some ominous, grinning secret of the earth.
Well, H.P.L. my friend, I guess I'm guilty as charged. That hideous extremity of human outrage is pretty much a trick of my trade. I haven't violated very many ancient tombs compared to seasoned colleagues in contract archaeology, but I have spent innumerable hours in playful reverie over... things others have collected on their predatory excursions.

But of course, I have yet to encounter any blasphemous jade amulets described in the Necronomicon.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read that the lack of jade amulets with unspeakable symbols in Scandinavia is due to an unherited fear of tentacles, hence no Cthulhu worshippers. Perhaps we just like those blaphemous bubly spheres better.

22 May, 2006 22:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Järegård readings are absolutely wonderful and amazing, despite obviously being made on a shoe string budget that didn't allow any retakes.


24 May, 2006 01:37  

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