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10 August 2010

Lovecraftian Landscapes

Graham Harman has a post up on the over-crowding of Paris in the Summer.  The only time I went to Paris was in August - maybe early September.  I had a rough time with it in general, but the Louvre was nice, and I'm glad I can say that I went.  That was about 14 years ago, though.
In any case, that's not what I want to talk about.  In his post he says that he'll spend next summer visiting Providence, RI, since he's never been there before and because he's working on a book about H.P. Lovecraft.
I can’t write a book on Lovecraft as an American who has never set foot in Providence, Rhode Island.
When I was a teenager - actually about the same time I would have gone to Paris, maybe a little earlier.  Lovecraft was one of my favorite authors.  He's since fallen out of that place simply because I spend more time reading anthropology, philosophy and Sci-Fi novels.  But I think Graham is onto something here.  I can honestly say that I didn't truly get a feel for the eeriness of Lovecraft's landscape until I spent a winter in Connecticut.  Maybe it's just because I spent most of my life in Kansas, but the sheer density of trees, bare-branched, ever-present and looming, coupled with the sights of abandoned buildings, and old, broken down stone walls made me feel very uneasy when I first moved there (in December of 2001).

That said, I think the landscape has changed a lot since Lovecraft's time.  The farms that the stone walls fenced in and the barns occupied would have only been broken up and turned into semi-rural real estate in the last 50 or 60 years.  Before then, the trees would have been cleared for pasture and cropland, and there might even have been chestnut trees instead of maples - though it would have been in his lifetime that they were wiped out by the blight (perhaps the encroaching fungus provided inspiration for one or more of his other-worldly tales). 

Anyway, Providence is a nice city, and I'm sure Graham will love it.  But, Graham, if you really want to experience a Lovecraftian landscape, can I suggest visiting rural Connecticut in winter?  While you're there you can check out Willimantic and the Frog Bridge - some very creepy statues that could easily be out of Lovecraft (in fact, the story behind the bridge - of a mysterious frog battle that took place during the colonial period - could be out of Lovecraft as well.  Who's to say those frogs weren't beings from beyond the veil of time and space?)

1 comment:

skholiast said...

I cannot vouch for Connecticut, but rural Massachusetts in the winter is certainly Lovecraftian, and indeed not far from Providence.

Great frog picture/story, too. Very Fortean.

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