Elder God’s Eye

Elder God's Eye Peering ObscenelyToday’s lesson requires no reading, just a willingness to remember the crafts most common amongst children at summer camp.  Just to maintain the spirit of our enterprise, I felt we needed to include one “camp classic” — and in the end it was either this or weaving a lanyard key chain, and this seemed more appropriate as a wink to the Lovecraftian mythos.

You simply need two sticks, some scraps of yarn, and the patience to make a repetitive weaving motion.  You may use craft sticks, or even reclaimed popsicle sticks, but you’ll have greater luck at achieving asymmetry if you use the fallen detritus of trees, as I have in the example pictured here.

As you weave the eye, meditate on the Elder Things themselves — both the ones easy to picture, and the ones which almost defy visual recognition.  Try to hold these images in your mind as the coarse wooden sticks scrape against your hands, as the itchy wool binds them in place and constructs the abomination before you.  Weave until you are finished and admire the results.  Maddening, isn’t it?  The eye leers at you from the junction point of the two sticks, the unholy center of it all — the place, I daresay, where our dimensions collide.

Shudder at what you have wrought.

(I think I will use mine to guard my bookshelf, which seems a fitting literary end to me.)

Today’s alternate non-craft assignment is to explain which story you would recommend to someone unfamiliar with Lovecraft’s work (other than the glimpses seen in pop culture).  Which story seems most accessible to the new reader?  Which do you think makes a good introduction, and why?  Explain in 200 words or less.

The only thing remaining is our final assignment: your own composition.  The time has come to finish and polish, for they are due tomorrow.  I will set up a separate page for those who wish to share their works with others — and will post these over the weekend as I receive them.

I truly hope each of you has enjoyed our time here as much as I have.

Class dismissed.

Leering and jeering from beyond space and time.

Note: I apologize for posting this lesson in such a tardy manner; it must be heat delirium setting in.

  • Assignment: Weave an Elder God’s Eye; complete your final composition
  • Alternate assignment: Explain which Lovecraft story you’d recommend first — 200 words or less
  • More information: Ojo de Dios (Clear instructions with photographs)

About Headmistress

Sarah L. Crowder, current headmistress of Vacation Necronomicon School, was once a pupil at the prestigious Miskatonic Academy for Girls -- though she did not graduate, as the school closed under mysterious circumstances shortly before her studies were completed. She spent many years contemplating both the arcane arts and hidden dimensions of commonplace life, and now lends her talents to our little online haven for workaday scholars.
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10 Responses to Elder God’s Eye

  1. Pitch313 says:

    When you accidently peek into The Mythos, The Mythos uncaringly glares back at you…until you descend into blind, disarranged, pustulescent, soul shriveling, chaos bound madness…and then, under Their eyes, it gets worse. Worse! WORSE!!!

  2. Headmistress says:

    @Pitch313 It’s true! And terrifying!

  3. Borrowind says:

    I would probably recommend the short story “The Cats of Ulthar”, if the person was a newcomer to Lovecraft and to “weird horror”. This perfectly-formed early tale is in Lovecraft’s dream-cycle, and was one of his personal favourites. And can one possibly be a Lovecraft reader if one dislikes or detests cats? Affinity for the Felidae is surely the litmus-test Lovecraft himself would have applied to his readers — had Weird Tales ever been printed on a sort of “psychic paper” or somesuch. The story’s geography has a faint Tolkien flavour, and the medieval swamp-gothic atmosphere is somewhat akin to the fantasy RPG videogame The Witcher (PC, 2008). These are surely factors which might encourage a new reader coming to Lovecraft from a diet of quality fantasy media. The story is also short, the language is vivid and clear, and the ending is memorable. And did I mention it features cats? Lots of cats. The mountain-sized unspeakable mountains of slime and wings, and the tentacle-tangles of eldritch language, can all come later on in a reader’s encounter with Lovecraft. Bring on the kitties!

  4. Borrowind says:

    Should participants want an entertaining break from working on their final assignment, by final short story is now available here, as a PDF and 35-minute audio-book reading:-

    http://tentaclii.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/vacation-necronomicon-school-final-assignment/

  5. acrasis says:

    “At the Mountains of Madness” is the greatest piece of literature ever written. You don’t need to read anything else: it has explorers and scientists, it has dog sleds, it has aliens, it has albino cave penguins, it has abandoned cities, mountains, Shoggoths, and the star-spawn of Cthulhu. True, no women. So you also need to read Jane Austen.

  6. Resa says:

    It seems like madness, but I think I would suggest “Shadow out of Time” to a new Lovecraft reader. Too many people think they know what Lovecraft is like before they ever read him–that it’s all blood and guts and tentacle beasts and dictionary words. Give them anything with fishmen or tentacle beasts, and they’re likely to blow you off rather than actually read.

    “Shadow out of Time” is long, but I think its narrator is an engaging character, and it shows the psychological and geeky side of Lovecraft’s writing quite well. In some ways it’s closer to SF than Horror, but it still has the delicious, subtle creepiness that Lovecraft delivers so well.

  7. TheSinkingSpell says:

    I have been mulling this over for a while and have still come to no conclusion. Do I recommend the classic encounter and desperate escape of The Shadow Over Innsmouth? The bizarre and terrifying Colour Out Of Space? The fantastic adventure to the edge of darkness in The Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath? And how could I leave out the Dunwich Horror? Or the incomplete but brilliant Case of Charles Dexter Ward? And I ponder and ponder while avoiding anything even remotely resembling knitting… before eventually coming to the conclusion that I would never and have never recommended any one story to a new reader. The notion doesn’t apply at all to Lovecraft’s work; it is best absorbed as a whole and even more complimentary in such a way. I always grab whatever collection is closest at hand, flip to the table of contents saying, “While you should read ALL these stories, my personal favorites are…” and usually rattle off one third to a half of the titles. And that’s how I recommend Lovecraft – in heavy doses!

  8. Cobalt says:

    I went with a three-lobed burning eye. It’s not on fire, of course, but the twig did stab me and draw blood before breaking unexpectedly. I suppose that comes with the territory.

    Day’s entry.

  9. infinitywaltz says:

    I’d have to suggest “The Colour Out of Space” as the best introduction to Lovecraft. It presents all the best of his cosmic horror in a way that’s easy to grasp and legitimately frightening; while a lot of Lovecraft’s work frightens me on a more or less intellectual level, this one’s the only one that’s every truly chilled me on a visceral level, to the point where I had to pull the covers over my head before falling asleep.

    Perhaps equally important, it has few of the author’s flaws in evidence. There’s none of the overt racism or cultural xenophobia of stories like “He” or “The Horror at Red Hook.” There’s little of the overly ornate or repetitious language or preoccupation with architectural detail like in “The Shadow Out of Space.” There’s none of the overly affected wistfulness and romance of his Dunsanian and Dreamlands work. It’s just a chilling science fiction story about a horror from space, simply and effectively told, and a perfect introduction to Lovecraft’s strengths that also plays down his weaknesses.

  10. Headmistress says:

    @Borrowind Interesting choice! I think “The Cats of Ulthar” is a forgotten gem — and it’s always nice when cats get a little revenge against wrongdoers…

    @acrasis Very true! I’ve often wondered what sort of weird fiction the Bronte sisters would have written had they lived some years later, too…

    @Resa Madness is a given when Lovecraft is at hand — but I don’t think your choice mad at all. In fact, I think it’s quite time I re-read “The Shadow Out of Time.” Those expeditions from Miskatonic University never end well, it seems.

    @TheSinkingSpell I confess I have the same problem — that’s one of the reasons I posed the question!

    @Cobalt Wonderful work! So very…non-Euclidean. Very creative!

    @infinitywaltz Good points all around — and I have to admit that “The Colour Out of Space” always gets to me, too.

    Thanks, everyone! Food for thought, as usual.

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