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Journal of No. 118

February 13th, 2009

a particular centre of emptiness & pretense @ 04:38 pm

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An HPL letter to CAS on ebay offers Lovecraft's opinion of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles appears to be a particular centre of emptiness & pretense—a nest of crazy cults & lopsided Babbitry & realtorism out of which nothing good can be expected for many mellowing generations...
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Date:February 14th, 2009 05:00 pm (UTC)
I was going to ask Donovan if HPL mentioned LA in any of his letters, good timing.
Date:February 16th, 2009 09:04 pm (UTC)
Lovecraft's main reason for mentioning Los Angeles in his letters is because it was the home of Harold S. Farnese. Farnese set two of Lovecraft's Fungi from Yuggoth sonnets ("Mirage" and "The Elder Pharos") to music. Lovecraft gives his address as 4001 S. Harvard Blvd., though this was almost certainly that of the Institute of Musical Education where Farnese was Assistant Dean. Another address given for Farnese is 715 S. Park View St., but I suspect this was simply another address for the Institute.

Here's a great quote from a letter to Clark Ashton Smith: "I never think of the Los Angeles region as really California -- the name signifying to me the historic north-central part of the state with its traditions of 1849 & gold & redwoods & the Sierras & Ambrose Bierce & Bret Harte & San Francisco & Golden Gate shipping & everything of that sort. This, it would seem to me, forms a sort of separate world poles apart from the tawdry huddle of real-estate booms & Rosicrucian temples & cinema centres & crazy evangelists & proletarian prophets whose tom-toms resound faintly & distantly, leagues toward the south."

Here's another one to Helen Sully: "Your trip to Los Angeles sounds like a highly entertaining event, even though the climate & psychological atmosphere proved uncongenial. I have always fancied that I would dislike southern California, since it is such a backgroundless, traditionless jumble of heterogeneous elements with no roots in the soil. It seems to be a sort of catch-all for odds & ends of the bourgeoisie & for every type of cheap philosophical & aesthetic extravagance -- a region of omnipresent & incurable mediocrity & immaturity. And I doubt whether the climate has anything approaching the steady, dependable mildness of Florida. Architecture -- judging from photographs & descriptions -- tends to be garish & decadent . . . pseudo-Hispanic stuff which would make the Conquistadores turn in their graves . . . . while the scenery would seem to lack the mellowness & richness characteristic of northern California."
Date:February 16th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
I guess I should've signed that...

Donovan K. Loucks
Webmaster, The H.P. Lovecraft Archive
Date:February 15th, 2009 12:03 pm (UTC)
I was like "I want this!" until I saw the price tag.

So true.
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Date:February 15th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
You and me both, though I knew what the pricetag was gonna be.

Journal of No. 118