June 29th, 2012

bun: tired

Not Dead Yet

Sorry for the long silence.  I've been having an upswing in my thyroid symptoms since being sick (five weeks, ugh), and though I've been tested again, frustratingly, my Endo won't do anything about it, since my thyroid is "still within normal levels".  So the symptoms remain, and I wear out even faster than before.  I'm afraid I'm not going to be much use to anyone at Pennsic, but I still want to go for two weeks - I had such a lovely time last year.  I'm not quite bald yet, but I think my hair is now about half the thickness it was two years ago.  Fortunately, I had very thick hair, but it's still somewhat distressing to have it come out in handfuls in the shower.

I haven't been completely idle, but a lot of time has been spent reading fiction on the sofa, something I rarely used to do, but tiredness has made it more of a thing these days (instead of working on sewing, which is what I should be doing).  I've been reading (and re-reading some) Lovecraft; I had forgotten how much I enjoyed his work, even if he was a racist bigot who had his characters describe women (when they rarely appeared in his stories) as "not fully human".  Some people find his writing style tough going, but I grew up reading 19th-century writers, so it's not unfamiliar territory, even if his vocabulary can kindly be described as "archaic". 

(I love Jane Austen, can't stand George Eliot, and agree with Cleolinda Jones that Emily Bronte did not write Wuthering Heights as a love story, but a cautionary tale about two completely self-centered narcissists who laid waste to the lives of everyone around them.)

Actually, I've been on a Cthulhu (hah, spell check recognizes that name!) binge lately; I've been doing light projects in a Steampunk vein for a Halloween party (I don't really care for Steampunk fiction, but I love the objects), and the whole Cthulhu mythos seems to fit very well into the Steampunk genre, even though the books weren't written until the 1920s (and weren't published until quite a bit later).  I don't know why the two go so well together in my mind, except that the mad alchemists in Lovecraft's works seem to build laboratories that would do a Steampunk scientist proud, and it all just fits together in my mind.  It does in some other minds, too, but not many; searching the intarwebs for "Steampunk Cthulhu" doesn't turn up much at all, though a couple of minor things are amusing.

Really, Lovecraft is a bit of a nihilist, albeit one with a decided leaning towards scenes of unearthly beauty; his The Lost City of Unknown Kadath is quite intense in its condemnation of people who dismiss the beauty of fantasy as ridiculous, and prize what they call reality above all.  I can imagine, though, for someone who grasped in fantasy form the vast, indifferent universe long before modern physicists, the idea of "reality" as seen from a strictly human-centric worldview would be somewhat ridiculous. 

In a way, I understand Lovecraft's defense of beauty and unexplored dreamlands; I felt tremendous disappointment as a child that the Earth had been fully mapped, and that there were no unknown places left (not strictly true, but the nuance inherent in the statement "explored" was not understood by a bright, sheltered child of ten); it probably strongly fed my desire to find Narnia in the back of some old wardrobe - which led to the frustration of several years of fruitless searching, and the sense that the world was small, and without wonder (also not true at all, but one needs to be able to understand what beauty is and means to be able to appreciate the stunning beauty of the physical world).

Now, though, I'm rather glad I didn't find C.S. Lewis' rather prim fantasy land; I like Elder Gods and an indifferent universe much more.  I've never been comforted by the idea that "everything has a purpose under heaven"; it seems too cruel.  Much better to know that bad and good things happen randomly, and that there is not some hidden score board judged by an old man in white robes who appears to have a vendetta against everyone except certain white men (Lewis even denied Susan entrance to heaven because she liked lipstick and boys!).  I feel much more comfortable with a random universe that doesn't give a damn whether I live or die.  I know it seems like I'm thinking of it the wrong way around, but in a random universe, good things are as likely to happen as bad things.  In a random universe, I could win the lottery; in an ordered universe, the money would go to someone far more deserving (the fact that huge lottery payments often seem to go to people on their last dime is a factor of "news" reporting, rather than divine design; just as often, someone reasonably well-off wins, but that's not a human interest story to fill a slow news day).

I've also been reading some non-Lovecraft written Cthulhu stories; I highly recommend Cthulhu:  The Recent Weird.  Some of the other anthologies have been hit or miss, though I'm rather enjoying the one I'm ploughing (spell check will not recognize that, but it's not English, and I am) through right now, which posits that the Elder Gods have already won, and we're all completely hosed.  It's immensely cheering, when one is temporarily flattened by physical woes, to read of fictional people who have it much, much, worse.

And now, since I think every second sentence in this post has been laden with a semi-colon, and I'm liable to use "eldritch" at any moment, I'd better stop and go back to reading.