Have you ever heard of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon? Probably not, but almost for sure you’ve experienced it: it’s when you come upon a piece of (usually unfamiliar) information and very soon after you encounter that same information again, often more than once. Yes, there is a name for it! And you’ll soon might hear it again…

There are some theories about why this happens, but for the sake of my romantic streak, I assume that the Universe is trying to tell me something. Recently, it told me to read H.P. Lovecraft. The evidence:

  1. I’d vaguely heard of Lovecraft before, but knew only that he was (probably) a classic. In early November, three things happened in quick succession:
  2. Day 1 – For the first time ever I do one of those online quizzes to find out which famous author has a writing style similar to mine. H.P. Lovecraft is the answer.
  3. Day 2 AM – On gtalk and out of the blue my brother tells me “The works of H.P.Lovecraft are all available online for free. Never read anything by him but would like to try. I think it’s almost all horror, right? Do you know him?
  4. Day 2 evening – A friend of mine is visiting and while we’re chatting she’s browsing my 1001 Novels You Must Read Before You Die. She distractedly turns the pages while I tell her about this H.P. Lovecraft coincidence. She stops for a moment while I finish my tale and when she looks again at the book, it’s open on the page of At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft…

*cue creepy violins*

So I obediently went over to audible.com and downloaded At the Mountains of Madness, apparently Lovecraft’s most famous horror novella.

It about an unfortunate group of explorers who travel to Antarctica for scientific purposes. They soon discover the dead remains of an earlier group, apparently attacked by some unknown creature.

The explorers begin traveling inland to discover the reasons behind the attack and eventually come to a city of ice, tens of millions of years old. This city looks abandoned and they reach the conclusion that the remains could only have originated in ancient things coming from out-of-space… but are they really all dead?

*cue creepy violins*

To this day I have no idea what the Universe was trying to tell me. Lovecraft is a master at creating a doom-and-gloom atmosphere (he completely freaked me out with his 6-foot blind albino penguin), but in general the book did little for me.

He clearly likes to tell his story slowly and dramatically, constantly talking about The Unspeakable Horror and reveling in minute details of… basically everything, but especially “the icy, mountainous, eerie, tunneled landscape” and all sorts of measurements. He really like those measurements, Lovecraft did, but they’re not the best thing for pushing a story forward.

I found his writing style very old-fashioned and Gothic (is it really like mine?!), and kept thinking of Frankenstein, and its similar “forbidden knowledge” themes. Although this book was written in 1931, I would have guessed Lovecraft was a Victorian. It’s almost unthinkable that he was writing at the same time as, for instance, Fitzgerald or Hemingway.

Thenceforward the ten of us — but the student Danforth and myself above all others — were to face a hideously amplified world of lurking horrors which nothing can erase from our emotions, and which we would refrain from sharing with mankind in general if we could.

All this to say, dear Universe, that you need to be a bit more specific about what you mean with this Lovecraft connection. I’ll be on the look out for further clues.

(photo credit)

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Other thoughts: Boston Book Bums, The Indextrious Reader (yours?)

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