I read H.P. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness” in preparation for a book review I’m doing of Gabriel Blackwell’s new book, The Natural Dissolution of Fleeting Men. It’s a fascinating take on Lovecraft and I’ve been poring over it with my highlighter as I marvel at the level of research that must have gone into writing it. As a funny note, I got in the elevator and was reading from the book. There were five others on the elevator, and they were all on their smart phones, checking email, surfing the web, texting messages. I was the only one with an actual book and slowly, I saw everyone peer over at me, amused by the ‘quaintness’ of me holding a physical book. I felt like an alien, ha ha. I’ll post more on Lovecraft later, but I always found it funny that he writes such macabre horror that is gruesome, and yet his name sounds like someone who would be part of a spiritual movement or some new age movement encouraging liberation of the soul.
I’m continuing my reading of Lu Xun and last night, I read his, “A Madman’s Diary.” He was said to have really enjoyed Gogol and he took the original story by Gogol as his inspiration to weave his own tale. In this case, the ‘madman’ believes everyone around him wants to eat him. A cabal, led by his brother, are cannibalizing all of those in his village. At least that’s what he believes as his paranoia seizes and consumes him. “I know their way: they are not prepared to kill outright, nor would they dare, for fear of the consequences. Instead, they have banded together and set traps everywhere, to force me to kill myself. The behavior of the men and women in the streets a few days ago and my elder brother’s attitude these last few days make it quite obvious.” On a deeper level, it’s an attack on society and a culture that devours the children with antiquated thinking. It’s an interesting tale, a very fast read at that, and a short story I’d recommend checking out. I like Gogol’s original better for being more pithy and wittier, even in its insanity, but this is certainly an interesting take.
Finally, I wanted to come up to speed on my The Last of Us playthrough. We wrapped up the sewers and the university. Some of the fights in the Sewer were excruciatingly difficult. But I’ve gotten adept with the molotovs as well as using the Shorty. The final sequence in the Sewers was really tragic with Henry and Sam. I won’t spoil it here, but it was terrifying. The one thing I wished for was after the stuff goes down was I really wanted to see Ellie’s reaction to it all. It also would have made the next sequence at the dam more poignant as we would have seen Ellie in her most vulnerable spot- losing someone she started to care about. Then again, not showing it has its dramatic strengths as well.
All three of these works are tied together by madness. All three of them have different commentaries on humanity. Even if you don’t agree with their messages, they are all elucidating. Or is maddening the right word?