The Old Ones and Our Old Ways.

The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.

One thing I find most interesting (and creepy) about H.P Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu, is the story within the story. The high priest, Cthulhu is said to be the one who’d rise up from the land of R’lyeh and rule the universe once more. Cthulhu and the tale of the Old Ones are interlocked. Though no one can really confirm what the Old Ones looked like, the cult believes that they are real and Cthulhu is the closest connection they have to the great powers. The tale of the Old Ones scare me. Just by the description above, I am fearful of their great power and malicious motives. The Old Ones as I interpret, are evil, relentless forces that seek to cause havoc all around the universe. They rule with brute force with no guidelines whatsoever. If the Old Ones really did exist and we’d live under their rule, we will definitely have a world full of chaos.

Lovecraft uses history to create fear because it points to the unknown. We can keep tracing back to our ancestors, old documents, and even memory, yet still find that there is a gap. History books can only talk about what we remember to have happened. However, what about everything that precedes us? Lovecraft takes this idea and shows readers that we don’t really have the answers to everything.

We are imperfect in telling our stories and proved in historical context, that evil can lurk the society we live in. Our history is not full of positive change. There were real horrors that people faced: wars, slavery, totalitarianism/dictatorship, etc. Lovecraft uses the story of the Old Ones to allude to that. We are not only oblivious to the past, but proved to make mistakes in how we run things. If we allow for the Old Ones to resurrect and walk the world we live in, we would be making a huge mistake once more. Nothing is scarier than going back to the past and reliving the horrors we so wish to erase from our history books. But it’s even scarier that we would be the key that opens that door.

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Cthulhu Who?

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.

I should have known from this opening statement that I would discover something I shouldn’t. H.P Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu, speaks of the unveiling of an old tale. The opening remark basically says that it is a good thing to have an “unknown.” If all humans were capable of knowing all truths, then it is subjected to a whole life of fear. This great amount of knowledge, should be freeing the individual, yet the narrator believes it to be the opposite. To “know too much” makes one a threat. So, the less you know, the better.

In the story, Francis Wayland Thurston reads all of his great-uncle’s work and discovers a hidden secret: the secret of the Cthulhu, a creature that was part of the legend of The Great Old Ones.  The land of R’lyeh was buried deep in the ocean and was rediscovered by Gustaf Johansen and his crew after it appeared to them during a trip.

The story is told in a very interesting way. It is clear that the point of view is of Thurston’s, yet in the very beginning it is noted that these are excerpts from his papers. Also, we are aware that he too is reading the papers of Professor George Gammell Angell. This is an account of another account! I couldn’t help but think that this is how legends are usually told. It’s the traditional way of developing stories and passing them down from generation to generation.

There are three sections to The Call of Cthulhu. “The Horror in Clay,” “The Tale of Inspector Legrasse,” and The Madness from the Sea.” Each section is a new account linked to the story of Cthulhu. First, it starts off with Professor Angell’s theory about the Cthulhu, then the story about the Cult of Cthulhu and the rediscovery, then finally the consequences to unlocking this story. The reason why Lovecraft uses this format, is to show a kind of detective/mystery element to his horror story. We are often spooked when reading such writing, but Lovecraft approaches this genre differently. The investigative process and close analysis’ taps into an even scarier idea: that reading all these secrets makes you a suspect, or even the next victim. We are put into the situation and read as if we too must figure out how all the information is linked together. At the end, we are left with the same worry of Thruston. Will knowing the story of Cthulhu leave us with the same fate as his great-uncle and Henry Anthony Wilcox?

The roles of the poet, artist, dreamer, and scholar are very important to the story. They signify the weaving together of the real and supernatural. In essence, they are those who can see both sides to the story. These individuals kind of have the “third eye” so to speak, because they see the in-between of what’s real and what isn’t, and is able to bridge the gap of both worlds. As people who are taught not to take things at face-value and really analyze what the situation is, they serve as those with the answer to many questions. They are the bodies that are here in the physical world with glasses that project images from the unseen.

Lucy is an example in which the character goes into the “otherworldly.” It might not be the supernatural in the sense that it is another world, but it is definitely touching upon the world we can’t see within our own. Scarlett Johansson’s character is able to unlock her mind’s full potential and see the world in a different light. She, just like Thurston “knows too much” and is the target of various groups who seek to find her. In the movie we are able to see how knowing too much can affect the individual as well as the world we live in. The immense amount of knowledge is literally too much for her to handle.

Project Pinterest

The assignment due for today is linked in the left hand side of my blog page.

If you’re interested, just click on the first link: “Project Pinterest” and see if you can guess whose Pinterest Board it is. Don’t forget to view it on Pinterest so all the pins are visible.

Then, kindly click the link right below that page, entitled “Did  you guess correctly?” to see if you got it right!  It includes the reasons to why I chose some of the pins and a little bit more of the analysis of the character.

I won’t spoil it. 🙂

So I hope you all enjoy my project!

Little Ones are the Scariest

Miles and Flora in Henry James’ Turn of The Screw are the oddest little children I’ve read about. They are perceived as very innocent, yet hold some dark secrets we as a reader have to figure out. I feel like James’ use of the ghosts seem to challenge the children’s innocence. The governess is paranoid about Flora and Miles’ relationship with the ghosts, and I feel like she has a reason for it. The ghosts can be a symbol of corruption. That the unseen is something we should fear and the fact that it’s seeping into the children’s lives shows how they are affected by these truths.

I do feel like the children are playing tricks on the governess. They are too sneaky and pretty well versed in their scenes with her. Miles and Flora definitely know that their governess loves them and in turn, abuse it. So, they play along with that image but still have mischievous thoughts. I think the most evident sections that show their mischievous acts are when they don’t talk. That small break of silence or just their body image, tells that they are thinking of something. Wether to play a trick or to just stir up some trouble outside the home.

If there’s one thing I absolutely dread whenever I do stumble on a horror film, is the children. They are always seen as either the victim or the evil. One example that I thought of in regards to corrupted children in horror, was Esther from the film The Orphan. She is seen as this loving child who is full of innocence, yet when no one is looking, she causes trouble. Really, really, BAD kind of trouble.

This play on innocence and contradicting it to what we associate with children, allows horror to heighten the emotion. I believe that the use of children in suspense films are to allude to the fact that evil is found even in the most innocent of creatures. We never question a child’s actions because we just write it of as, “Well, that’s what children do… they play around. But it’s all fun and games. They’re harmless.” Though when you watch this movie or read James’ story, you must question that ideal.

The Governess Wears Pink

The governess in Henry James’ Turn of the Screw is a character  I am not too fond of. I think that she definitely over-steps her boundaries as a professional by being touchy with the children. She embraces them tightly, kisses them, and even has these spasms in which she hurts them (the incident with Flora). Her concerns are far beyond the classroom. She is constantly thinking the children are angels, but then fears that they are being mischievous. This back and forth between perspectives make her all the more confusing. The governess wants to constantly protect them and voice that she is doing everything for the good of Flora and Miles, yet is not even capable of doing so because she is caught up in her own mind.

I think that the governess is trying to take on a motherly role to the children, rather than being their teacher. Since she is concerned about how she is perceived by her employer, their uncle, she finds it her duty to care for them like her own. The governess doesn’t want to be seen as lonesome or uncaring, so she pushes herself onto the children, smothering them. She forgets that she has the authority to correct the children as well. The governess doesn’t seem to be a good disciplinary figure. I remember my teachers being strict and making sure I knew how to do my assignments correctly. They weren’t mean, but they definitely weren’t soft. The governess doesn’t have that trait. She lacks in showing the children wrong from right, and instead lets their mischievous acts go. That would definitely not fly well with my teachers!

Even if I don’t think the governess is completely evil, she does have some darkness in her. When I think of an mean, dangerous, and evil teacher Dolores Umbridge comes to mind. She is crazy! I can see her and the governess share the trait of paranoia. Umbridge wants things her way because she feels like Hogwarts is not the place it should be. Her strict ways are smothering and definitely wrong. Umbridge, like the governess snaps and underestimates the endurance of her students.

Governing the Unspeakable

Henry James’, The Turn of the Screw was the scariest story we’ve read so far. It sent chills up my spine and gave me an unsettling feeling after reading and watching the story on-screen. I can handle vampires and monsters, but the paranormal? Not so much. It creeps me out!

The prologue had different voices speaking, which made it a bit difficult to follow. But it sets up Douglas as the one narrating the story to guests at a party; which was written down by his sister’s governess. When we get into the actual story, it is clear that it is in the governess’ perspective.

It makes me wonder if James’ prologue intentionally included different viewpoints or voices, before we are able to get into the novella. I want to say that he does this to prepare us for the run-around of emotions and trust-issues expressed in the story. Even though the perspective is of the governess, I don’t all that much believe it as truth. She shifts perspective about the children, from innocent to mischievous, and even sympathetic. She also doesn’t know who to believe anymore. Can she trust Mrs. Grove? The children? Herself? The highs and lows connect to the paranoia we see. It’s questionable, taunting, and one hell of a ride.

Earlier on we are told that the governess took the job because she was really fond of her employer. Actually, she had something I like to call “instalove.” I mean, she barely knew him and already there’s some emotions stirring up? Well, that escalated quickly! It is so common in governess’ stories to fall in love with their employers. Whether it was for the money, power, or love, governess’ stories always track back to the fairytale-like endings and wishful fantasies. I couldn’t help but connect it to the story of Jane Eyre. She answers the advertisement on the newspaper, just like Jane, and experiences “paranormal activity”(before we realize who the cause of all the events) as well.

The film captures the story and characters almost perfectly.  The one thing I felt that the movie adaptation conveyed really well is the mysteries each character has; the “unspeakable.” We don’t really get why Miles was expelled, or why Mrs. Grose can’t tell much about the previous employees of the house, or if we can really trust the governess’ paranormal experiences. Besides the “ghosts” of Peter Quint and Jessel that appear in the story, there’s a kind of “ghost” of the truth. It kind of makes the story even more frightening. Mysteries leave blank spaces for the audience to fill and there’s something about that which heightens the intensity of the novella. The paranoia that the governess feels is extremely evident in both the text and film. I even felt a bit of that paranoia transcended onto my own body. Horror films tend to do that to me. I’m a lightweight in that department, remember?

From the music to the way the shots were formed, The Innocents, definitely had me spooked. Having it in black and white really set the tone as well. I really appreciated how it stuck to the actual text and manifested even the slightest details. The scene that terrified me most was when the governess was in the attic. First of all, there was that horrendous clown doll popping its head back and forth. Then, the jewelry box started playing that awfully eerie song. It’s a lovely song, but… we’ve heard it before. When it plays, it rarely alludes to good things. Finally, Quint’s face pops up out of nowhere! I swore I had a mini heart attack. James’ story was an interesting read, but now I need to figure out how to sleep well tonight.

Eyes

Have you ever lain in bed, hopelessly wide awake, and tried to keep your eyes shut, knowing that if you opened ’em you’d see something you dreaded and loathed? It sounds easy, but it’s devilish hard. Those eyes hung there and drew me.

This experience speaks to me all too well.  I’m pretty sure it was after watching Insidious or every other horror film a friend of mine conned me into seeing. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve tucked my self in bed with the covers over my head, trying to tune out any negative vibes. Or how many “Plan B” tactics I went over, incase I wake up and Chucky was leaning over my head with a knife. What can I say? I’m a lightweight when it comes to scary movies. Some of us are just not cut out for it.

Edith Wharton’s “The Eyes,” reminded me of the paranoia that I go through after watching horror films. It’s not a severe case, but enough that I wouldn’t turn on all the lights in my bathroom before using it, because I was terrified of re-creating any scene from The Omen. I didn’t want any other reflection in the mirror, besides mine. Culwin’s ghost story about the eyes creeped me out more than it should have. It was described as having an “expression of vicious security” and undoubtedly scary. These eyes watched Culwin throughout different phases of his life and appeared out of nowhere. Wharton’s use of the eyes allude to the fact that in any decision we make, someone is watching. Some have their own argument to “who” that “person/agency” is. For example, your parents, the government… God.

Nowadays, people don’t need to see a horror film or read a scary story to feel like someone’s watching over them. There’s so many conspiracy theories out there saying that anything you own, think, or do, is not actually private. This drives people mad, literally. When paranoia kicks it, it becomes hard to stop it. No matter how well you hide under the covers, or check below your bed for the boogeyman, the thought of a pair of vicious eyes lingers. That’s because fear is every human’s weakness and often times, it’s something we make up in our minds.

A really interesting example of paranoia is National Geographic’s show Doomsday Preppers. The title itself is pretty self-explanatory. It’s about people who prepare for drastic changes in the world. From the downfall of the government, to apocalypses, these preppers are ready.

They are seen as well equipped, thoroughly planned individuals; however, I believe it to be very extreme. Some “preppers” spend millions on supplies and bunkers. They exert so much time and effort for something they can only theorize. My personal beliefs aside, I can rationalize why they do this.

We can shut our eyes and pretend like something does exist. We can shut our eyes and imagine something that doesn’t exist. We can ignore or substitute our thoughts. But as Wharton writes, “it’s devilish hard.” We fight with our own minds when in fear and in a case like paranoia, not everyone wins.