Alain Badiou (“Matters of Appearance” 322)
The Lovecraft event is the result of a singular knotting of art, science, and politics that produces a new materialist fiction of chaos. Lovecraft writes:
The time has come when the normal revolt against time, space and matter must assume a form not overtly incompatible with what is known of reality – when it must be ratified by images forming supplements rather than contradictions of the visible and mensurable universe. And what, if not a form of non-supernatural cosmic art, is to pacify this sense of revolt – as well as to gratify the cognate sense of curiosity? (Lovecraft xvi)
Without knowing what futurism is like, Johansen achieved something very close to it when he spoke of the city; for instead of describing any definite structure or building, he dwells only on broad impressions of vast angles and stone surfaces – surfaces too great to belong to any thing right or proper for this earth, and impious with horrible images and hieroglyphs. I mention this talk about angles because it suggests something Wilcox had told me of his awful dreams. He has said that the geometry of the dream-place he saw was abnormal, non-Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours. (Lovecraft 165-6)
In the case of Futurism Lovecraft could not be further from the Italian Futurists enthusiastic endorsement of the new machine age and longing for a new type of “biomechanical man,” which can be found in a work like that of the second-generation Futurist Tullio Crali’s “Nose Dive on the City” (1939). While Lovecraft does not share this machine aesthetic he does share the Futurists’ anti-humanism and materialism. This link is most evident in the Futurists’ more cubist fragmentation of the body, such as in Severini’s self-portrait of 1912. In this image the figure of the face and body is broken down into multiple perceptual planes that disrupt the coherence of the face in particular – exploding it. This rupturing or expansion of human perception is typical of Lovecraft’s own references to alien realms “crowded with indescribably angled masses of alien-hued substance” and composed of “clusters of cubes and planes” (“Dreams” 118).
Possibly Gilman ought not to have studied so hard. Non-Euclidean calculus and quantum physics are enough to stretch any brain; and when one mixes them with folklore and tries to trace a strange background of multi-dimensional reality behind the ghoulish hints of the Gothic tales and the wild whispers of the chimney-corner, one can hardly expect to be wholly free from mental tension.
References (Part 1)
Alain Badiou, “Matters of Appearance: Interview with Lauren Sedofsky.” Artforum XLIV 9 (2006): 246-253, 322.
Morris Kline, Mathematics in Western Culture (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987)
H. P. Lovecraft. “The Dreams in the Witch-House.” In At the Mountains of Madness (St. Albans, Panther: 1968), pp.113-148
H. P. Lovecraft. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. Ed. and Intro. S. T. Joshi (London: Penguin. 1999).