Monday, September 10, 2012

Guest Post: Dr. Bob Curran author of A Haunted Mind

Dr. Bob Curran, author of the book A Haunted Mind, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote.

H.P. Lovecraft's Dark Universe
by Dr. Bob Curran

As horror writers go, perhaps none is more mysterious or more intriguing than Howard Phillips Lovecraft who died in March 1937 and who created the dark cosmos which is now known as the Cthulhu Mythos. In life, Lovecraft was as strange as any of his creations – a gloomy, withdrawn and introverted man wholly dependent on other people ‐ indeed, so much so that many have suggested that he was in touch with things which we ourselves cannot see or sense and that they formed the basis of his macabre fiction. Much of his work centred round blasphemous tomes – the most famous being the “abhorred Necronomicon” – or remote and mysterious locations and this has prompted some to suggest that he was privy to occult and arcane knowledge that is denied to the rest of us and rightly so for it would send our minds crashing into madness. But is that the case?

There is no doubt that Lovecraft’s vision is vivid and intense and utterly terrifying. It has served as an inspiration for other fans and writers who have both expanded and developed it down the years in their own fiction, in films and in role playing and video games thus keeping the vision fresh and unique. The landscapes which the Mythos envisages are bizarre and dangerous in the extreme. Here great and monstrous beings which have existed since the dawn of time come and go between Earth and the stars with impunity, disregarding Mankind as being of little interest as they did so. All of these ancient beings, however, had some impact on our world and sometimes manipulated individuals for their own eerie and unfathomable purposes. Indeed, much of the history of the world has been clandestinely guided by them towards their undefined objectives. But are such ideas truly rooted in fact or are they, as some have argued, simply the horrific distillation of Lovecraft’s own fears and nightmares?

Certainly as a lonely and introverted boy Lovecraft had access to strange books on the travel and folklore of his great uncle Whipple Phillips’ library in the family home in Providence, Rhode Island and many of these writings may well have taken root in his steadily darkening mind. And some of the ancient houses of Providence itself, with their queer histories and curious traditions may also have intrigued him. In many respects he saw himself as an investigator of the unusual and the outrĂ© and this notion was to haunt him as he penned his ghostly fiction.

Part of the source of the dreadful Universe also lay in Lovecraft’s inability to fully integrate into society and into general friendships and relationships. He always considered himself as an “Outsider”. True, he did form friendships – some which lasted until his death – and he actually was briefly married, which hinted at a relationship of sorts but he always found human society difficult and often chose to retreat into his own dark cosmos which he had fashioned out of his peculiar dreams, ideas and nightmares. But he did find face to face relationships difficult and preferred to keep the world at a distance – maintaining his friendships through voluminous letters.

As a writer, Lovecraft was something of a failure in his own lifetime and indeed almost died in penury, having made very little from his imaginative fiction and reduced to “hackwork” and revisions. Nor did many of his friends or fans turn up to his funeral when he died, although there were disagreements over his estate afterward. And yet, the dark legacy which he has left behind has continued down to the present day – not only surviving but continuing to expand and grow like some mysterious seed planted in fertile ground – the minds of those who read them. Others too have taken up the mantle, placing their own stamp upon the Mythos – expanding it and taking it in new and even darker directions. In recent times, the followers of the Cthulhu across the world have never been more numerous. And in the background the shadowy influence of Lovecraft still lingers on. Did he really know things that we don’t and that we would be terrified to find out?


About the book:

Arguably no American writer has had more of an impact on the modern horror scene than Howard Phillips Lovecraft, the man who created the Cthulhu Mythos, with its strange gods, eerie places, and forbidden books. But what sort of a man was Lovecraft, how did he create such a terrible universe, and where did his inspiration come from? Was it, as some have argued, based on esoteric knowledge forgotten or even denied to all sane people?

In A Haunted Mind, Dr. Bob Curran explores what motivated Lovecraft--his personal life is just as strange as some of his creations--and drove him to create his terrible cosmos. Using both folklore and history, Dr Curran investigates a wide variety of Lovecraftian mysteries.

A word of warning: you may never look at Lovecraft--or the world--in exactly the same way again!

About the author:
Dr. Bob Curran was born and raised in a remote mountain area of the County Down in Northern Ireland. Leaving school at 14, he worked in a number of jobs including gravedigger, lorry driver, professional musician, journalist and even a scripter of comics. He traveled extensively in many countries before returning home to settle down and begin working in the Civil Service. Later, he went to college where he obtained degrees in education, history and educational psychology, graduating as a teacher.

Although he still teaches much of his work now concerns community development within Northern Ireland. In this capacity he acts as a consultant to a number of cultural bodies within the Province. He deals with cross‐ boarder matters with the Irish Republic, working for the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Sitting on a number of cultural committees, Curran has worked directly as a governmental advisor and as a consultant to several bodies which have been set up by other governments. He also acts as a consultant to a number of tourism companies, giving lectures and conducting tours on many topics of local and national Irish history.

As a writer, Curran has been extremely prolific and has approximately 38 books to his name, mainly on the subjects of history and culture. In addition, he has a number of works published in other languages including Japanese, Italian, French, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish (Spain and Mexico), German, Urdu and Latvian. He has also served as a contributor and consultant to various radio and television programs both for private companies and national networks.

Married and with a young family, Curran continues to live in Northern Ireland on the picturesque North Derry coast, not far from the celebrated Giant’s Causeway.


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