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To: alt.magick
From: Raven 
Subject: Necronomicon (9408.nconhpl.js)
Date: 49940802

Quoting: | (PARKER RYAN); 

|>|Are you implying that Lovecraft himself made up the Necronomicon and the
|>|entire Cthulhu Mythos?
|> No.  I am stating it outright, and as bluntly as I can.
|Then you are SADLY incorrect!! HPL used a HUGE amount of old Arab myth and
|magick in his stories. The mythos are largely HPL's reinterpretation of
|old near-eastern myth in a modern horror context. Irem, the Rub al Khali,
|Urm at Tawil, the Ghouls, the "deep ones", the "Mad Poet", the prehuman
|Great Old Ones, ancient "evil" books of Arabic poetry based knowledge of
|the "Old Ones", the call of the Old Ones "Al Azif", are ALL based directly
|on Arab myth and Magick. The name Cthulhu has a very close Arabic
|equivalent ("khadhulu" which is pronounced C'athulu). This name is
|associated with the ancient, "sleeping" Dragon of the Abyss (primordial
|ocean) and is very close to HPL's Cthulhu. The way HPL used of the words
|and phrases "al Azif", "Mad Poet", Irem, and Rub al Khali and well as the
|nature of his Old Ones suggest more than a casual knowledge of Arab myth
|and magick! Indeed HPL managed to tap into the very core of an obscure
|area of Muqarribun teachings on magick. HPL's use of "Dagon" and "The Black
|Goat of the Woods" with a thousand young are other obvious examples of his
|use of Near Eastern myth in his stories.


Excuse me, but I think just possibly you may be missing the point a bit.

I did not suggest that HPL had created the whole world of myth, or even
the rich and ornate subset of it that springs from the Middle East.

On the contrary, HPL carefully chose to set his stories against a
background that would make them believable.  This was his great
contribution to the art of horror fiction, as Stephen King points out.

Grimoires, books of magic, in great number, either come from that
area -- or are attributed to it, for the same reason.

So HPL created one more such book for story purposes, as written by
a "mad Arab" (whose surname al-Hazred has no meaning but strangely
resembles his mother's maiden name Hazard).  The book is his creation.
I state that.  I do not state that he invented all MidEast grimoires.

HPL created the Mad Arab himself, tying him to the mythical city of
Irem, long vanished in the desert sands.  He did not create Irem.

HPL created the unknown city of Kadath on the plateau of Leng, deep in
mystical Tibet.  He did not create the tradition of mystical Tibet.

HPL created the specific Mythos of his stories, involving Cthulhu,
Yog-Sothoth, and Nyarlathotep.  He did not create Thoth or Imhotep,
whom you may find in books on ancient Egypt; merely adapted the
sounds of their names.  He did not create all pre-Christian theogonies,
merely his own -- lent plausibility by the prior existence of others.

Yes, Dagon the fish-god may be found in old myth... in the Bible, for
that matter... which makes his use of that name for the fish-god in
the short story "Dagon", not evidence for his discovery of hidden
traditions, but evidence of his wit in using a name that his readers
could recognize or easily find -- making his story more believable.

The "Goat with a Thousand Young" whose presence creates helpless terror
strongly suggests Pan (goat-footed and horned) the source of Panic.
Again, the readers are expected to make that connection and believe
the story more for its similarity to other things they already know.

HPL is hardly the only writer to do this.  Look up Arthur Machen's
fiction sometime -- for instance and for parallel, his use of the
same Greco-Roman myth, "The Great God Pan".  Machen wrote a story
during WWI, "The Archers of Mons", which many people since then have
insisted was literally true.  Ambrose Bierce, I think it was, had a
similar effect on the history of the bathtub -- a satire now widely
republished as literally true history.  Edgar Allen Poe played hoaxes
in his writings, and was delighted when people believed them.  That
tradition of journalistic hoaxes is well over 150 years old, and the
papers at your grocery store register will prove that it's still alive.
(Unless you believe all those photographs are real and untouched.)

Lovecraft, Machen, Bierce, and Poe were all well-known horror writers
of their times, whose stories were and are remembered for their chilling
believability (at least while reading them).  This is art, not reality.

This is knowing when to mix truth into lies -- which makes it important
for any reader wanting to know the truth, not to assume that one piece
of true history or ancient myth makes the whole story a true history or
an ancient myth.  The artist will have borrowed from the world at times.

"Raven"    (JSingle@Music.Lib.MATC.Edu)    Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA

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