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Author Topic: Question About the Short Story The Call of Cthulhu.  (Read 5706 times)

roebeast

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on: February 05, 2015, 02:49:39 AM
I've been listening to the HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast's reading of The Call of Cthulhu and had a question come to mind. When LeGrasse and his officers enter the swamp we are given this description of what seems to be another elder god:

"There were legends of a hidden lake unglimpsed by mortal sight, in which dwelt a huge, formless white polypous thing with luminous eyes; and squatters whispered that bat-winged devils flew up out of caverns in inner earth to worship it at midnight."

Does anyone know of any other fiction that has explained what this being might be? It seems likely that with HPL's work being mined time and again for ideas that someone would have covered this one but I am currently unaware of it.

Thanks in advance.



Fenrix

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Reply #1 on: February 05, 2015, 01:39:38 PM
I'm not sure the creature mentioned in the first half was ever used again to great effect. The second half smacks of night gaunts, which show up again in several places in HPL's work (such as the Dream Quest) and have leaked out into other works as well.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Sgarre1

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Reply #2 on: February 05, 2015, 01:45:10 PM
considering their shape-shifting abilities, isn't almost any white pulpy thing a shoggoth?



Fenrix

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Reply #3 on: February 06, 2015, 12:43:47 AM
considering their shape-shifting abilities, isn't almost any white pulpy thing a shoggoth?

Good call. For some reason I always pictured something batrachian, but a shoggoth would make a lot more sense.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Scattercat

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Reply #4 on: February 06, 2015, 04:09:42 PM
I thought Shoggoths were more petroleum-colored?



Fenrix

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Reply #5 on: February 06, 2015, 07:15:49 PM
Here's the description of one.

"But we were not on a station platform. We were on the track ahead as the nightmare, plastic column of fetid black iridescence oozed tightly onward through its fifteen-foot sinus, gathering unholy speed and driving before it a spiral, re-thickening cloud of the pallid abyss-vapor. It was a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train—a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down upon us, crushing the frantic penguins and slithering over the glistening floor that it and its kind had swept so evilly free of all litter. Still came that eldritch, mocking cry—"Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" and at last we remembered that the demoniac Shoggoths—given life, thought, and plastic organ patterns solely by the Old Ones, and having no language save that which the dot-groups expressed—had likewise no voice save the imitated accents of their bygone masters."

ETA: At the end, Danforth raves about "the primal white jelly" likely meaning the shoggoths that drove him mad. So we have black iridescence (like petroleum), greenish luminocity, and white jelly. Both of these stories are from the more rigorous portion of his career, so I think the evidence points to shoggoth.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2015, 07:24:46 PM by Fenrix »

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Sgarre1

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Reply #6 on: February 06, 2015, 10:01:01 PM
I would imagine anything that could change shape could also change its color quite easily. I always think of Shoggoths in "resting state" as white because of my playwright-friend's observation, back in the early 1980s, that they were obviously stand-ins for gobs of semen...



Scattercat

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Reply #7 on: February 07, 2015, 04:54:44 AM
I uh.

Well okay.

Gotta say that's never really occurred to me.  They never seemed particularly vital or sexual to me; always remnants or unintended leavings.  They seemed more like the monster you'd get if you tried to imagine an angry mob of peasants as one creature.



Sgarre1

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Reply #8 on: February 07, 2015, 03:05:40 PM
Quote
remnants or unintended leavings.

He was big on a "Lovecraft as repressed homosexual" reading.



Scattercat

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Reply #9 on: February 08, 2015, 04:44:57 AM
I dunno.  Ol' Howie seemed closer to asexual than anything else.



roebeast

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Reply #10 on: February 08, 2015, 05:43:43 PM
Interesting idea about it being a shoggoth. I've always thought of it more like a lost alien god like Glaaki but a lone shoggoth trapped in a southern swamp also has a nice appeal to it.

The dark versus light shoggoth thing also points to the idea of the "proto-shoggoth" and the idea that shoggoths were developed through eons by the Elder Things, early ones couldn't exist on land for example, so maybe there are various breeds of them. Or perhaps HPL was an early user of the "overpowered albino" trope.