Sunday, 15 January 2012

Looking Cute with Some Thing in Innsmouth

 “We shall see that at which dogs howl in the dark, and that at which rabbits prick up their ears after midnight.”
- H.P. Lovecraft (1917)
I am not a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction. It isn’t that I think it is particularly bad – I don’t. I just do not rate it especially highly and there are many other things I would rather be reading.
On the face of it, Lovecraft was very much a product of his time and place – 1890 Providence, Rhode Island – somewhat conservative and staid, reserved and traditional.
(Click images to enlarge)
But clearly, underneath this conventional exterior something really quite exotic must have been occurring. Seemingly, however, the only person not to recognise this fact was Lovecraft himself.
It is worth bearing in mind that Lovecraft would have been only 10 years old when Freud’s ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ was originally published; words like ‘unconscious’, ‘psychoanalysis’ and ‘repression’, although not necessarily entirely new, were certainly not commonly used and had altogether different meanings and connotations to their present day definitions.
And likely Lovecraft would have been pretty contemptuous of the psychoanalytical definitions anyway - such was the force of his stoicism and materialism. Nevertheless, some of his fiction was based upon nightmares he experienced, albeit he didn’t attach any particular psychological meaning or significance to them.
Lovecraft would occasionally receive guarded and sincere messages warning him to stop revealing “occult secrets” in his stories. Or to “never again mention the sacred Necronomicon text”. Others would caution that his public revealing of the existence of The Great Old Ones would cause them to manifest within human spacetime.
Lovecraft found this all most perplexing because, you see, he was amazed that anyone took his work seriously at all! That they might then actually believe that the content of his stories had any substance was simply ridiculous to him.
Furthermore, that some, Kenneth Grant for example, would then go on to practically make a career out of analysing the fictional creatures and gods in Lovecraft’s stories and then claim they represent the darkest of all archetypal energies buried deep in human consciousness would have simply outraged him.
To a large degree Lovecraft brought a lot of this upon himself. His work is influenced by, amongst others, Welsh horror novelist Arthur Machen, an Initiate of a late-Victorian occult order called ‘The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn’ (GD).
The GD attracted a ragbag of wannabe magi, mystics, occultists and other similar eccentrics - perhaps most notably English hippy-satanist Aleister Crowley (who appears on this blog in various personas and disguises), Irish poet WB Yeats (who’s dreams we have also previously trod on) and the Order’s Founder, mad-as-a-hatter faux-Scotsman SL MacGregor Mathers.
So here we have this stolid 19th Century American pulp fiction writer working while under the influence of an endorphin-rush caused by prolonged exposure to British sages, spiritualists, initiates and magicians.
No good could ever come of it.
At one time, what I found to be find most astonishing was Lovecraft’s own bewilderment when he was contacted and warned about the dangers of “releasing this material to the general public”.  He went and poked a stick down the Rabbit Hole of the Delusional - and then acts all shocked and outraged when out popped the many denizens of that domain.
But alas, he is not alone in having behaved thus.
Even with my short experience of such things I too have been approached by sincere people who have seen in my work certain meaning or significance that I had certainly not consciously put there.
Sometimes it is very flattering; other times I am simply bemused and scratch my head.
It wasn’t until after some reflection that I started to make some sense of what was occurring.
For example, one guy (who claimed to be a RL psychologist) gave me a “virtual personality analysis” based on the content of my films. It would be unfair to say that his analysis was totally wrong but it was, in my opinion, very incomplete.
“Secret Slut,” was his professional and most likely projected, self-serving diagnosis.
Very incomplete. And therefore of little practical use.
Another time, soon after the release of ‘PsychoKiller’, I received a series of anonymous emails of a rather unsavoury sexually violent nature.
The writer of these emails was utterly convinced that I would find them a turn-on. He was also very wrong.
Their main problem was they were trying to form a complete conclusion based on only partial data. Although making machinima is “labour of love” type work, it would be a gross exaggeration to go on and say “it is the mirror of my soul”.
When we create a piece of writing, or produce a film, a sketch or painting, a sculpture or whatever we are offering *part* of our psyche for examination. This is both the nature of creativity itself and then choosing to display that creative act publically.
But it must be realised that it is only *part* of the psyche is being presented in any given piece of work...or, actually, even in a whole body of work. To try and construct a complete and coherent personality formulation based upon this incomplete information can only lead to error.
And sometimes it can be baffling trying to understand how other people see what they see, believe what they believe, behave as they behave.
These were the subjects I was contemplating while standing on a stage in the Opera House on a Second Life region called Innsmouth.
Tutsy Navarathna is filming a sequence for one of his upcoming films. I am semi-naked; he is wearing his Plague Doctor outfit. The lighting is gorgeous.
I don’t know exactly what he is filming or how it will eventually get used but I have complete confidence that it will look great in his hands. I just let him get on with it while I ponder ideas for a HP Lovecraft blog-post.
“Pixie!” Tutsy had IM’d 15 minutes previously. “I have found a great sim. You must come see. I want to do a shooting with you.”
He sends me a tp. On arrival I immediately recognise it.
“Hey Tutsy! This is Innsmouth! I filmed here for ‘Too Sick to Prey’. Great sim!”
And it *is* a great region, as these pictures attempt to show (click to enlarge).
Innsmouth, Massachusetts is the fictional coastal town that Lovecraft created for a number of his stories in the 1920s and ‘30s.
Founded in 1643, Innsmouth originally gained a reputation for shipbuilding, fishing and other maritime activities. However, due to the War of 1812, that industry was largely decimated. Only the fleet owned by Captain Obed March remained.
Marsh was the head of one of the town’s leading families and in 1840 inaugurated ‘The Esoteric Order of Dagon’. This dark religious/occult fraternity took root in the town due to its promises of rewards of gold jewellery and bountiful fishing.
The initiates of the Order primarily worshipped two beings, Father Dragon and Mother Hydra. To a lesser degree they also worshipped the far better-known Cthulhu.
Human members of the Order were expected to mate with creatures known as the Deep Ones – a race of immortal frog-like, ocean-dwellers with feeding habits very reminiscent of my brother’s.
The offspring from this mating are born with human looks and features but, as they grow, slowly start taking on more and more of the characteristics of the Deep Ones – ears shrink, eyes bulge and become unblinking, the head narrows and hair falls out, scabs forms as the skin turns to scales. This became known as “The Innsmouth Look”.
As a result, neighbouring towns and villages tended to shun the inhabitants of Innsmouth.
In 1927, the Federal authorities started a town-wide investigation of Innsmouth, apparently for bootlegging. Arrests started a year later. The residents were not, however, taken to normal prisons; that much is a known fact. They simply disappeared or, it is suspected, the Government “caused” them to disappear.
And it is at this point where Lovecraft signs off and Second Life takes over.
Darmy (darmin.darkes) and BaileyMarie Princess have created a marvellous virtual 3D version of Lovecraft’s Innsmouth.
This region is perfect for filming machinima, taking shapshots and for roleplay. Tutsy and I love it and admire the depth of quality of work that has gone into it. We have both spent many hours here filming and taking photographs. The region looks good under many different Windlight settings.
Take the hotel, for example. You can *feel* the sinisterness of the place in the pit of your stomach. It is a very physical feeling.
It really is most eerie.
The clock ticks in a relentless, threatening way. But this is not the threat that “time will one day end”. No. It is far worse than that. It is the threat that time will *never* end. It is the threat of immortality; the threat that things will always be like this – that things will never improve. It is the threat of the Deep Ones.
In many locations on this region the sinister feelings of abandonment and desolation are constantly reinforced by sounds of ship mooring blowing in the wind, creaking windows and doors, a child’s manic laughter.
Certain locations are most definitely creepy. In fact – and this is somewhat embarrassing to admit  – at some points I felt a involuntary constriction of the sphincter ani internus muscle as my body involuntarily protected itself against the alarming and scary external signals it was being subject to.
The fact is Lovecraft’s work has never, ever managed to produce such an emotional and physical visceral effect in me. Second Life’s Innsmouth did – and *that* is why it is so remarkable.
I highly commend Innsmouth region to you – for exploring, filming, photography, roleplay and as a demonstration of how to use sound, textures, prims and a massive amount of talent and imagination to make a truly immersive environment.
Here is a reload of my ‘Too Sick to Pray’. I very much look forward to seeing the result of Tutsy’s filming at Innsmouth.

1 comment:

  1. I been there and this a cool sim and great for machinima cause I hardly ever saw anyone there. Actually I think I used a warehouse there in one of my videos.