If Lovecraft’s friends had clubbed together for a memorial clock in 1937, perhaps to hang over the entrance to Providence train station, this is what it might have looked like (perhaps add a few tentacle silhouette clock-hands)…
The hardback of the S.T. Joshi anthology A Mountain Walked is now on Amazon UK and USA, dated 18th March 2014 and with a list price of £157.48 ($254). Listed as $225 on the Amazon USA site.
“…over a dozen new stories inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos”
A long newspaper review by Michael Dirda, of S.T. Joshi’s history of supernatural fiction, Unutterable Horror.
“Let’s build that cool science-fiction idea, and make it work”, says a new MIT course MAS S95: Science Fiction to Science Fabrication…
“With a focus on the creation of functional prototypes, this class combines the analysis of classic and modern science fiction texts and films with physical fabrication or code-based interpretations of the technologies they depict.”
I nominate Tillinghast’s resonance wave machine (in “From Beyond”), perhaps in a cyber-goggles form that would enable one to safely see into and selectively merge the unseen wavelengths of light…
“Do you know what that is?” he whispered, “That is ultra-violet.” He chuckled oddly at my surprise. “You thought ultra-violet was invisible, and so it is – but you can see that and many other invisible things now.”
Visions of Enchantment is a two-day academic conference at the University of Cambridge, 17th-18th March 2014.
“…seeks to investigate the formative role that occultism and magic have played in Western and non-Western visual and material culture … the Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge and the Arts University Bournemouth and is organised in association with the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism”
Possibly relevant to Lovecraftians who are interested in the visual imagination of the 18th century, and how it might have influenced Lovecraft.
Short new article on the Innsmouth Free Press website, “Lovecraft’s Doorstep and Milton’s Chaos”, by Jarod K. Anderson.
Above: Gustave Dore illustration for Milton’s Paradise Lost.
As a follow-up to my recent “Lovecraft on a rollercoaster” post, I’ve come across an even more incongruous event, drawn from the man’s seemingly-bottomless life-story. Lovecraft once spent the evening at the Providence Jewish Community Center, in the company of his latest ‘grandson’ who appears to have been a boy-genius. Presumably he was surrounded by Jewish people. He was there to listen avidly to a lecture from a left-leaning Jewish psychiatrist. Amazing, when you consider Lovecraft’s rhetorical anti-Semitism, but true.
“I remember going with him one evening to some Jewish cultural center, to hear a talk by the Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler … Lovecraft was intensely interested in hearing Adler…” (Kenneth Sterling in Lovecraft Remembered, p.379)
Kenneth Sterling was the boy-genius and he lived in Providence for about a year from early 1935, so their trip to see Adler is likely to have been sometime between about late March 1935 and early 1936. Here is Lovecraft describing meeting the fourteen year-old Sterling at Lovecraft’s home in early March 1935…
“the important visitor appeared … a little Jew boy about as high as my waist, with unchanged childish treble [i.e.: voice] & swarthy cheeks innocent of the Gillete’s [razor’s] harsh strokes. He did have long trousers — which somehow looked grotesque upon so tender an infant” (Lovecraft in S.T. Joshi, I Am Providence, p.947)
The speaker that Sterling and Lovecraft went to hear was Alfred Adler. Adler was a leading psychiatrist of the early 1930s, at a time when the new Freudian psychiatry was struggling for acceptance in America. In the simplest terms: Adler tried to tone down the grotesqueries of Freud and the mysticism of Jung, and he was vilified for it by the Freudian faithful. Was Adler in Providence? Yes, very much so, and not simply as part of a whistle-stop national lecture tour…
“Adler assumed his duties in 1932 as visiting professor of medical psychology [at Long Island College of Medicine]”. [He] “gave lectures elsewhere in America from time to time” [… and his Marxist wife was found an appointment at Boston in 1934]. (Phyllis Bottome, Alfred Adler; a biography, pp.229-230).
“Dr. Dey and Miss Dey, the Principal of the Mary C. Wheeler School [on the East Side of] Providence, were among Adler’s special friends” […] “young and stimulating friends, and of great assistance to Adler, since they gave fortnightly meetings at their house to whomever they felt Adler would like to meet.” […and their school they] “gave him the opportunity he valued most of regular work among children” […] “he spoke of this school often to friends in Europe” (Phyllis Bottome, Alfred Adler; a portrait from life, p.203 and p.214).
It therefore seems quite likely that Adler would have accepted an invitation to speak at the city’s local Jewish cultural center. This Center was located just one mile from the Wheeler School in the East Side, where Alder did his work with children. It seems that he gave many talks in the city, from time to time…
“In Providence, Adler spoke at Brown University and the Providence Medical Association. He also addressed the parents and teachers of the Mary C. Wheeler School” (from introduction to Adler, Superiority and Social Interest: A Collection of Later Writings, 1965)
The Jewish Cultural Centre (JCC) had been located at 65 Benefit Street since 1914. It was named the Hebrew Education Institute from 1914-1925, then became known as the Jewish Community Center in 1925. This re-naming in 1925 marked a radical new mission — to appeal to any and all Jews in the city, secular or religious….
“It counted within its membership persons from all walks of life and every part of the city. […] it had over 100 organized activities catering to many human needs and desires. [One of its declarations was…] ‘NOT a partisan in discussion — BUT the home of discussion’.” (Horvitz, “The Jewish Community Center of R.I.”, Rhode Island Jewish Historical Notes, Nov 1972, pp.157-158).
It’s also interesting to note that Lovecraft would perhaps have seen the Adler lecture introduced by one Jacob I. Cohen. J.I. Cohen was the Jewish Community Center’s Director from 1926 to 1948. Not only was Cohen a Jew, but — judging by Cohen’s photograph — Lovecraft’s horrified eyes may well have detected a partial black ancestry. One wonders quite how tightly Lovecraft was gripping his chair-arms at that point…
An interesting addendum to my recent dive into Orville Livingstone Leach. Parallel to Leach, and probably giving tacit credence to Leach’s quackery, there was another and more high-class purveyor of medical electricity in Providence. This was Dr. William F. Channing (1820-1901), a Providence doctor who was also a free-thinking scientist and inventor. He was the author of the book Notes on the Medical Application of Electricity (1849) which went through six editions. In the back of this book there is a fearsome list of electrical ‘medical’ apparatus for purchase…
Dr. Channing was also Sarah Helen Whitman’s literary executor, Whitman being of course well known to Lovecraft as a romantic interest of Poe.
What immediately struck me is the name Dr. William F. Channing. It is very similar to that of William Channing Webb, the anthropologist found in “The Call of Cthulhu”. Note that I don’t say that Lovecraft’s Webb was based on Dr. Channing. I’ve already established in Walking with Cthulhu what I think is a good case that William Channing Webb was based on the career and activities of the anthropologist Franz Boas.
There seem to have been several William Channings around at that time, seemingly from branches of the same family. Dr. William F.’s relation William Ellery Channing (1817–1901), for instance… “was a Transcendentalist poet and member of the Transcendental Club” and was a bosom friend of Henry David Thoreau. There was also a William Henry Channing (1810-1884) in the family, who was a Fourier socialist and emancipationist. But it is the scientific aspects of Dr. William F. Channing, and his role in Providence life, which mark him as the most likely member of the clan to have had his name borrowed by Lovecraft.
Dr. William F. Channing also had a Charlotte Perkins Gilman connection…
“Charlotte [of “The Yellow Wallpaper” fame] was a frequent visitor at the Providence home of the family of Dr. William F. Channing… [and became a lifelong closer-than-sisters friend of one of the daughters of the house]” (Ann J. Lane, To Herland and Beyond: The Life and Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, p.137).
Presumably her husband Charles Walter Stetson accompanied her on the Channing visits. Stetson was Providence’s pagan visionary artist, and co-designer with Burleigh of the Fleur de Lys building. I have previously suggested Stetson as the model for Wilcox in “The Call of Cthulhu”, the Providence pagan artist who Lovecraft describes as a… “thin, dark young man of neurotic and excited aspect”.
Like the quack doctor Leach, Dr. William F. Channing also tinkered with inventions as well as medical electricity. Like Leach, he also happened to strike it rich with one of these inventions. He was fascinated by the telegraph, and patented a telegraphic fire alarm which was taken up by a manufacturer and sold widely. At the time some called him the inventor of the fire alarm, although today there are half-a-dozen contenders for that title in the United States alone.
In the 1870s he corresponded with Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), who lived in Boston and who was the inventor of the telephone system. Popular Science Monthly (1877) wrote of…
“Dr. William F. Channing, of Providence, who, with other gentlemen of that city, have taken an active interest in the telephone from the outset, and contributed valuable aid to Prof. Bell in perfecting his invention.”
Channing later seems to have fallen out with Bell. Since he wrote a popular article in 1883 claiming another man had invented the telephone.
Given Lovecraft’s interest in electricity (“From Beyond”), and the telephone (“Randolph Carter”) in some of his stories, and his interest in the history of science and free-thinking in Providence, Dr. Channing seems to be of possible interest to Lovecraftians. There is also the previously mentioned residence in Providence, and connection with Poe.
Finally, I note that in 1869 Dr. Channing was Secretary and Treasurer of Rhode Island Society for the Encouragement of Domestic Industry, and was the Secretary of their Fine Arts committee. Possibly he was also involved with Providence societies for the arts in later decades. One wonders if, in this and similar offices, he was known to some of Lovecraft’s older relatives?
Part two of Fred Lubnow’s essay The Biology of the Old Ones. This section looks at Robert M. Price’s discussion of the general taxonomy, which Price figured out from Lovecraft’s slitherous pantheon.
I note that there’s an interesting piece included in the new Lovecraft Annual, although I have yet to receive a copy. This is… “Letters between H.P. Lovecraft and Orville L. Leach”, edited by Donovan K. Loucks.
Here’s what I can dig up online about Orville Livingston Leach (1859-1921), inventor, successful patent medicine purveyor, Rhode Island pleasure park owner, and a truly cosmic loon who believed the earth was hollow and the Millennium was near. In his dotage he had a cranky book to prepare, and he sounds like a prime candidate to have been a Lovecraft revision client c.1919-1921.
He was the youngest son of Elihu Leach and Sarah Lovisa Leach, and was born at Raynham, Mass. In 1886 he married Theresa Walsh but had no children. In the 1896 Providence Directory he was a seller of patent medicines via a remedy company. He was living at Prairie Avenue, Providence — about a mile south of College Hill. He seems to have moved around a lot around the turn of the century, but he is in one genealogy book with a note that he kept… “the Emory House in Providence”.
This house either took or gave the name to the Order of Emorians, which he founded. This order was originally the Evergreens, a “Life & Longevity League”, and was probably founded in the early or mid 1890s to promote his patent remedies and health regimens? He later became the… “Secretary of the Order of Emorians, Providence Lodge”. There was also an English branch of the Emorians, possibly a franchise for his patent medicines.
He was also President of the Emorian Marching Band aka Bartlett’s Emorian Concert Band. This band presumably paraded in Emery Park, of which he was the owner from c.1896-1921. Emery Park was a popular recreation ground some four miles SW of Providence, near the New London Turnpike. This Park is mentioned many times as the location for field days and annual outings of local trades federations, employee groups, and the like, in the early decades of the 20th century. Presumably it was landscaped and equipped as a sort of picnic gardens with a parade field, and perhaps with ‘medicinal’ springs and baths etc, serving as a free introduction to his patent cures?
He was also an inventor, patenting a new type of tyre, an “electrocardiographic electrode device”, and a “medicinal electrode” in 1901…
“This invention relates to improvements in electrodes for applying electric treatment to increase the vitality in animal bodies to cure diseases, and by supplying force which is adapted for the use of organized bodies to give strength and eradicate microbes and germs by subjecting them to the force which while beneficial to the higher types of organisms will overpower and destroy the disease germs. It is known to scientists that the filaments of nerves are tubular and that the nerve impressions travel with a spiral motion…”
In 1907 he patented a “Hair growth method and apparatus”, and then a storage battery in 1918. His tyre may have actually had some genuine commercial success, and was at least notable in the industry…
“THE Boston Herald devotes a page to stating the theory of Orville Livingston Leach, of Auburn, Rhode Island, that the earth is inhabitable in the interior. The name of Mr. Leach, by the way, doubtless is familiar to many of our readers as the inventor of a bicycle tire and of a solid rubber automobile tire, but it would appear that he is no less interested in making his cosmic theory known than in developing his tires.” (India Rubber World, Dec 1907).
Here’s a similar report from The New Enterprise (Florida) June 04, 1908…
Although some of the tire profits may have been taken in legal costs…
“The Emery Tire Co. (Providence, Rhode Island) have filed a suit for $20,000 damages against Orville L. Leach, the inventor of the cushion vehicle tire which they are exploiting, on the ground that, contrary to his agreement with the company, he has not admitted them to an interest in a patent for an improvement of the tire…” (India Rubber World, 1902)
In his final years he aspired to publish his fringe beliefs. Here is the cover of his loon-tastic 84-page “handbook of the Millennium” The White Spark (1920)…
A “Books Received” notice in Reedy’s Mirror suggests The White Spark was circulated to newspapers with additional pamphlets…
“The White Spark and Two Pamphlets by Orville Livingston Leach. Providence, Rhode Island : Rhode Island Scientific Research Association . A new philosophy which claims to give a key to the universe.”
It’s a hilariously loony book, and if Lovecraft did revise it he may have been chuckling to himself the whole time.
The Rhode Island Scientific Research Association seems to have been incorporated c.1912, presumably by Leach, and has left almost no trace. I’d suspect it was just a pamphlet imprint for his patent medicine promotional materials and cranky pamphlets?
“a corporation, under the name of Rhode Island Scientific Research Association, for the purpose of the investigation, discovery, elucidation, and dissemination of science…” etc.
Leach died in late 1921, and his Emery Park died with him…
“…on December 31, 1921 the local papers announced the death of Orville L. Leach, owner and operator of Emery Park for over a quarter of a century, and Emery Park seems not to have been able to survive him.” (Gladys W. Brayton, Other ways and other days, p.103).
Lovely illustration (2012) by UK-based artist Nicolas Schram (Nico Illustration) for “The Cats of Ulthar”…