Monday, January 16, 2017

In Defense of Eldritch Tomes

I bet you weren't aware that Jane Austen was a staunch defender of the Necronomicon. Now you know.

Yes, eldritch tomes; for I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom so common with tome–writers, of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances, to the number of which they are themselves adding — joining with their greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, and scarcely ever permitting them to be read by their own scholar, who, if she accidentally take up a tome, is sure to turn over its insipid pages with disgust. Alas! If the scholar of one tome be not patronized by the scholar of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it. Let us leave it to the reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new tome to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans. Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected madness than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers. And while the abilities of the nine–hundredth abridger of the Collected Works of David Foster Wallace, or of the man who collects and publishes in a volume some dozen quotes of Joyce, Hemingway, and Faulkner, with a paper from the New Yorker, and a chapter from Franzen, are eulogized by a thousand pens — there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the tome writer, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them. “I am no tome–reader — I seldom look into eldritch tomes — Do not imagine that I often read tomes — It is really very well for a tome.” Such is the common cant. “And what are you reading, Miss — ?” “Oh! It is only a tome!” replies the young sacrifice, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. “It is only the Necronomicon, or the Book of Eibon, or the Pnakotic Manuscripts”; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of eldritch beings, the mind-blasting delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of insanity and horror, are conveyed to the world in the best–chosen language. Now, had the same young lady been engaged with a volume of The Atlantic, instead of such a work, how proudly would she have produced the book, and told its name; though the chances must be against her being occupied by any part of that mundane publication, of which either the matter or manner would not disgust a young cultist of taste: the substance of its papers so often consisting in the statement of probable circumstances, natural characters, and topics of conversation which concern anyone not living in the shadow of Kadath; and their language, too, frequently so dull as to give no very favourable idea of the world, unconscious to the threat of eldritch invasion, that could endure it.

She was truly eloquent on the plight of mad scholars.

All this to say I have a cold, I'm sleep deprived, and I need to start blogging again.

Note: All names chosen for their connection to so-called "high brow culture", not for any personal opinion about them, and also because they might possibly be devoured first when Cthulhu next awakens. By all means, enjoy these thoroughly mundane tales not connected to the problem of vast, unknowable beings that will one day cleanse the earth of humanity and drag it off to their dimension, presumably to use it for an eldritch tea party.

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