Strange Flesh: The Use Of Lovecraftian Archetypes In Queer Fiction: Conclusion

 

 

Authors note: This is the 8th and final part of the series

Throughout this series of articles, we have covered a lot of ground. Beginning with Lovecraft, the man we have been able to glimpse the kind of thoughts he would have had going into the creation of his original mythos stories. Moving on from Lovecraft and his works, we have been able to pick out key components of Lovecraftian horror in several texts spanning short stories, novels, comics and film, all to show how queer horror has either picked up on the themes Lovecraft developed, and how the writers of these modern editions have evolved those themes to tell their own stories.

The most significant of these themes is perhaps the concept of the archetypal outsider. A character divorced from society in one way or other, forced to encounter the truly weird nature of the universe they find themselves a stranger in. While Lovecraft himself felt like a bit of an outsider, he was still, at the end of the day a straight (as far as we can tell), white male and as such really we can’t really consider him to be as truly an outsider or having gone through the sort of persecution experienced by LGBTQ people on a daily basis all around the world.

This is the most positive edition the queer community and its allies have added to the genre – an understanding of true outsiderness. Their contributions have allowed the genre of Lovecraftian horror to rise above its squalid beginnings as the deluded phobias of foreign cultures and miscegenation, and step into the important context of being an ideal stage for the exploration of literary topics often times unique to those of us aligning to a different orientation or gender expression than the status quo.

Although Lovecraft himself was a product of his times – racist, and homophobic in his views, he tapped into something important for the world of horror story telling. The occultist Kenneth Grant has been said to have regarded Lovecraft as having belonged to the same occult system as the infamous ceremonial magician Alistair Crowley, he believed that Lovecraft had tapped through his dreams into the same cosmic magic and mythos that Crowley had, despite the two never having met.

While it is doubtful that Lovecraft tapped into a legitimate real life occult history of the universe, it can be said that he definitely discovered something primal within mankind, an overarching experience that is the very opposite to that of his outsider characters. To quote the author one final time:

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” (Lovecraft, 1927)

The lives of LGBTQ people throughout history have been overflowing with this kind of fear both inwards and out. They have encountered fear from others who see them as unknown, as well as being afraid of the unknown themselves, of what their families would think, of how their friends would react, and how their God would judge them come the day they die.

For Lovecraft, the central philosophy of unknowable fear was the most important aspect of his writing. Regardless of whether that fear was sourced from his racist and and homophobic tendencies or not is irrelevant in the grand scheme as fear of the unknown is a fear which resonates strongly within all of us, creating a dark irony to juxtapose his ideologies. The worlds he built, the monsters, the gods, the philosophies have matured in the absence of the man himself, becoming what I believe to be a perfect stage for gay men and women to tell their tales.

References:

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