Nice job: press the turbo-charge button on a big push for digital scholarship at Brown University.
Readers living in small towns in America, Canada and elsewhere may be interested in some new ‘donationware’ I’ve just designed and released, over on my JURN site. It’s a $23 Microsoft Publisher 2013 template for a ‘small town America’ magazine, aimed at those engaged in reviving and boosting their small town. A quick post on your own small town Facebook group etc, promoting my new template, will help support my jurn.org service.
The 28-page U.S. Letter-size template comes as a .pub source-file for MS Publisher 2013, Microsoft’s affordable and easy-to-learn DTP software (part of their popular MS Office family). The template can, of course, be easily adapted to suit many other quality location-based magazine audiences, and the small town theme is just there to give a new editor something to quickly build on.
Historical weird fiction writers might enjoy Passing English of the Victorian Era: a dictionary of heterodox English, slang and phrase, as a free digital facsimile book. It also notes the type of user or source (“The lowest people”; “Californian”; “Low London”; “18th Cent.”, etc)…
A quick idea I had for an art installation project titled “The Library of Doom”:
1. Collect and shelve one copy of all the books that have seriously prophesied some potentially real doom, but a doom that singularly failed to arrive. Ranging in time from Mathus to The Limits of Growth, The Population Bomb, etc. They can all be had for pennies as used books, on the likes of Amazon or from thrift stores.
2. Add a second room in the library for the more recent variants, which now effectively form a sort of semi-scientific version of the old literature of religious apocalypse. A thousand or more of these must have appeared in the past few decades — as Matt Ridley has ably pointed out, on largely phantasmal subjects such as…
population explosions, global famines, plagues, water wars, oil exhaustion, mineral shortages, falling sperm counts, thinning ozone, acidifying rain, nuclear winters, Y2K bugs, mad cow epidemics, killer bees, sex-change fish, cell-phone-induced brain-cancer epidemics”
3. Add a third library chamber, through which the visitor progresses toward the exit, in which the shelves are empty. This represents the (similarly unfounded) alarmism that humanity will have to endure from doomists in the near future.
4. House and shelve the comprehensive chronological collection of the “Books of Doom” in a suitably charnel-esque library, perhaps partly arranged as a maze as well as a series of wide corridor-rooms. Add an illumined exit that evokes the feeling of “into the light, after darkness”.
Picture: Gothic Library by c17508
If anyone wants to actually create this as an art installation project, or even as a hybrid art/library collection that also has research functionality, then please feel free to do so. I’ll give the idea under a “Creative Commons Attribution” licence, so just give me a credit. I’d estimate at least 3,000 books, if the artist-collector were to make a thorough job of it. Maybe more, if official reports etc were included. Total budget, including library construction, might be $10,000, not including pricing the time of the artist and an assistant or the hire of the site (which is considered to be donated for free).
It might be done for less if each book were represented only by the spine of each book, printed actual-size on card and then shaped to form a realistically-sized and shaped book spine. Though that would have significantly less impact on visitors than shelving the actual books. It could even be done as a virtual videogame-world space, using a game engine such as Unreal.
Waymeet for Tolkien Teachers is a new website / signposting hub for those teaching Tolkien — perhaps alongside Lovecraft, Peake etc. It seems the intention is for the Waymeet to become an open “digital journal” on the topic (see the “submit articles” link on the menu), and as such it may interest readers who teach Tolkien-as-horror (barrow wights, Shelob, tentacled pool-dwellers, Black Riders, Mirkwood spiders etc).
Pulpfest 2015 has just posted its Lovecraft programme for August 2015. It will include…
* “Jon Arfstrom, perhaps the last living artist who contributed covers to the original run of Weird Tales … will talk about his career with pulp art historian, David Saunders.”
* “The Call of Cthulhu: The Development of Lovecraft’s Mythos” … a panel of Lovecraftian and pulp scholars.
Lovecraft didn’t always refer directly to classical sources when using classical sounding names. Here is a small example…
…came upon a black, gleaming specimen which certainly cannot be other than an eikon of Tsuthoggua! It was a semi-shapeless congeries of nighted curves —— squat & swollen, & with a curious suggestion of flabby viscosity despite the superficially petrific composition… [and it] left little room for doubt that it once stood in some curtained niche… of some such arcane delver as Athlophoros, who dwelt in the Street of the Alembics & vanished suddenly shortly before the desertion of the city…” — letter to C.A. Smith, 21st March 1932.
You cannot be freed from Rheumatism until you dispel the Uric acid. Athlophoros will dissolve it, and you will note immediate lessening of pain. Your entire system will feel better…” (Lima News newspaper, Ohio, 4th Sept 1903, representative of ads in other papers of the era).
Athlophoros Co. was involved in a “United States vs. the Athlophoros Company” legal case in California circa 1930, in which “five government witnesses, all physicians, [testified] regarding the inefficacy of the patent medicine Athlophoros”. No-one came forth from the East Coast to contest the case.
Lovecraft’s letter thus appears to assume that the California-based Smith will get the jokey allusion, both to the Athlophoros medicine and its “arcane delv[ings]”, and also to the way that Athlophoros had recently “vanished suddenly” from California’s chemist shops (indicated as “the Street of the Alembics”, an alembic being a small portable distillery vessel for medicines and chemicals) circa 1930/31.
Where did the name come from? In classical Greek times the phoros was the name of the money paid to Athens by the Greek City States, for the upkeep (i.e.: to ensure the victory-worthy status) of the Athenian military forces. In Roman times Athlophoros meant ‘victory/trophy-bearer’, specifically the winner of a chariot race (“Crowning the Athlophoros”, in E. A. Wallis Budge, The Decrees of Memphis and Canopus: Vol. II), and was used thus as a personal common-name by at least one priest of Alexandria. So presumably the patent medicine name tried to borrow a certan lustre from the heroic Roman usage.
Given the above advert one wonders if Lovecraft may have once used a wash of Athlophoros extract for his own face, since he suffered from thick ingrowing hairs that could not be shaved and thus had to be painfully delved for and plucked. S.T. Joshi has a passage on Lovecraft’s struggles with these “black, gleaming … semi-shapeless congeries of nighted curves”…
Harold W. Munro testifies that as early as his high school years Lovecraft was bothered by ingrown facial hairs; but when Munro speaks of “mean red cuts” on Lovecraft’s face he evidently believes these to have been the product of a dull razor. In fact, as Lovecraft attests, these cuts came from his using a needle and tweezers to pull out the ingrown hairs. This recurring ailment — which did not subside until Lovecraft was well into his thirties — may also have had a negative effect on his perception of his appearance. As late as February 1921, only a few months before his mother’s death, Lovecraft writes to his mother of a new suit that “made me appear as nearly respectable as my face permits.” (S.T. Joshi, I Am Providence)
Paul Tremblay gets a look at some of the Lovecraft treasures of the John Hay Library at Brown University. Who knew that the Commonplace Book(s) were so dinkily cute?