31 March 2016
Review and Event Photos by Sabrina Selkis
I do have a confession to make: I have never read “The Call of Cthulhu”. Am I sorry? No. Am I ashamed? Not really. I don’t pretend to be a Lovecraft expert, you know.
So it is with an open (or empty) mind and definitely not expecting anything that I walk through the streets of London city centre and end up at The Bell pub. The 1880s building is the only surviving Victorian pub in the area known as Petticoat Lane of Square Mile and The City. It has become the home of the London Fortean Society, which very often uses the upstairs dining area for their conferences and talks.
This Society defines itself as being for “the open-minded discussion and investigation of paranormal, cultural and fortean phenomena online, at monthly meetings and other one-off events and talks.”
Tonight’s event has sold out online in a few hours, I feel quite lucky to have been allowed in, even though they did forget about me reviewing. I go and grab a seat and after a few minutes we are around 40 people seating in the room.
The talk of tonight is about Cthulhu and Contemporary Occultures. Lovecraft ‘s Chtulhu Mythos has increasingly invaded popular media, novels, comics, films and TV series.
This is presented by two specialists on the subject:
-Writer Phil Hine, who is an occultist. He became known through his three books “Pseudonomicon”, “Condensed Chaos” and “Prime Chaos”. He also wrote essays on Chaos Magic and the Cthulhu Mythos.
-Dr Justin Woodman is an anthropologist specialising in Lovecraftian occultures.
But first let’s have a short introduction about H.P.Lovecraft. Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in 1890. He was an American author of fantasy, horror and science fiction. He reached fame after his death through his influential works of Horror fiction, one in particular being “The Call Of Cthulhu”. He created his own style of storytelling, also called Mythos, that involved supernatural , pre-human and extra-terrestrial elements. He stated that there is no recognizable divine presence, and Humans are insignificant in the larger scheme of intergalactic existence. His work was very pessimistic, fabricating a mythos that challenged the values of Enlightenment, Christianity and Romanticism.
Hine and Woodman take turns during the one hour talk, presenting their points of views.
It is undeniable that H.P.Lovecraft has a profound influence on magical cultures and countercultures. He tried to mediate the scientific views of the Cosmos with the natural way of humans seeing Religion and Magic.
The first few images we are presented are…well they don t need more explanation…Chtulhu is a brand in itself!
There has been an obvious popularisation of the Cthulhu Mythos. The appeal of Lovecraft could be that he gave a form and a tangible history of the “unknown”,he gave it life. Occult and Science Fiction share similar themes and ideas, for example reimagining alternative futures, worlds and ways of being.
Nick Redfern is a conspiracy theorist writer who explicitly used Lovecraft’s work in all kind of ways.
A significant influence of Lovecraft in contemporary Ufology can be seen in the books by Barker and Bender.
Also another sign that Lovecraft has ultimately reached pop culture is that a certain fashion house has used the cover of Eugene Thacker on t-shirts as a fashion statement, and also in a Beyonce and JayZ video “Run”.
”If that doesn’t really display the ultimate horror of Lovecraft,we don’t know what else does”.
The one hour talk has been well presented with lots of different examples.The crowd seems very happy and after a quick break to get some beverages, it is time for their questions to the two experts.
There are many talks of this sort in London, I did find myself intrigued and motivated to come back for more on different subjects presented by the London Fortean Society. Once a month they gather at The Bell pub and Conway Hall, so check out their website and Facebook for more information on dates and subjects.
In the meantime…Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn…