The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

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The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

Postby Pedro I Rengel » Sun Oct 03, 2021 9:58 am

Eventually, being sufficiently impressed by his cult status in the unlikeliest of the underworlds, which is far higher than Aleister Crowley, I decided to finally read some HP Lovecraft. The first thing to understand is that he was as well versed and studied in traditional masonic magic as any member of the Golden Dawn. He kept up with all the main figures of the day and had informed opinions, but he had more interest in the poetic nuance of the whole thing than the actual practice, which he probably felt gave too modest results, at least compared to its ambitions. But even if the thing had lived up, he would have probably have found a place as a chronicler sooner than a renowned practitioner.

With this in mind, I of course first read The Call of Cthulu. I was seriously underwhelmed, and it is famous for all the wrong reasons that you might imagine. A mixture of "omg big monster!" and sadly racist world outlook of an insulated first worlder. It is not easy to overstate just how much first worlders tend to believe, actually in their bones, that they belong to a different metaphysical category. Today, admittedly, it mostly takes the form of going on safari and designing humane zoos for the poor animals. In any case, it was a bit of a boring read. I figured I could give him a bit more of a go, as this experience didn't explain enough to me the phenomenon of the guy. I mean there is no reason to add another after Poe for 2-D monster porn. Most of his other short stories are actually pretty fun, both based solidly on actual magical tradition and appealing to those places of the mind that belong in fiction stories, a bonafide poetic sense. So I decided to read a whole novel, the only one he ever wrote, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.

Forget Cthulu. That is a masterpiece of creepy plausible wizard terror. All of his expertise on the subject goes into it, and it is a really truly fun ride. And does sort of make justice of his fame and renown. It is a great book. It doesn't make all the stops that a Crowley might make in trying to justify some very modern sensibilities with old dark art lore, but goes straight into projecting, painting with all the colors of actual historical fact of how this tradition has existed and been practiced, what one feels such an anachronistic tradition might have looked like. All the racism, for example, is still there, but takes life as an actual view-point of an actual believable sorcerer, doesn't seem anymore like some author injecting his feelings. And the whole thing is fucking great, satisfying down to the balls in how well he manages to capture what your imagination of such an event might be, satisfying all the more because it follows history. You know when you go see a movie, maybe a fantasy movie, and you leave frustrated with an empty feeling that they just didn't capture what you were expecting? That doesn't happen here.

Great guy, Lovecraft, great writer. I was impressed.
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