Wednesday, April 28, 2010

H.P. Lovecraft

This spring I've made a pro-active war campaign against existentialism. What that basically means is I'm going to have lots of purposeful things to do instead of playing Freecell and allowing my brain to think depressing thoughts while my hands and eyes are busy. Being home when your family is gone from 7-3 and your best friends are in different countries makes me want to consider life. But life is for living, not considering. Anyways, I started reading again.

I picked up a collection of stories written by H.P. Lovecraft, who has been hailed as one of the greatest horror writers of the 20th century. He's most famous for emphasizing the grimness of the unknown. I was only able to read five of the stories before I got weirded out, but his prose is gorgeous and his themes are eloquently (and grotesquely) presented.

In "The Music of Erich Zann," a man in a boarding house hears beautiful yet frantic viol playing from the highest room in the building. He seeks out the player, who is named Erich Zann and is both mentally unstable and mute. He "befriends" the old man and begins to visit him. He notices that Erich has his curtains drawn over a window, which, the narrator surmises, would be the only one in the whole boarding house that would allow a view of the city. Erich refuses to let anyone touch anything in his house, so the narrator doesn't get to see. As time goes by, Erich's music grows more intense and otherworldly. The story ends when the narrator sees why his music is so frenetically played: his window is a portal to an abyss, and the foul creatures that live there are entrapped only by his viol playing.

Lovecraft's stories almost always involve some frightening element of something incomprehensible. In another story he created a monstrous demon called Clthulhu, who is so sinisterly alien that its name isn't even meant to be pronounced by humans (and that's the closest we'll ever get to accurately saying it). And it looks hecka freaky:

Lovecraft's writing reminds me of a paper I wrote about Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. My paper was about how the dual-natured main character acted as an invitation to introspection. One assertion I made revolved around the fact that Stevenson never explicitly describe Hyde's visage; the author merely describes everyone's unease towards him. This lack of imagery forces the reader to delve into his or her own dark nature to find a decent representation of a being so crooked as Edward Hyde. Lovecraft, however, uses under-explicit imagery to evoke fear of the unknown. Despite the foulest depths of human nature, there are forces in this world (and far beyond) that we could never understand or even begin to illustrate with words.

So much for fighting existentialism.

I personally have few qualms about the things I don't understand. I love learning more about things, but I know that there are concepts that are beyond human comprehension. And I'm okay with that. I know that God created man and woman in His own image, and I'm also convinced that evolution is a valid scientific principle. How they coincide, I'm unsure; I leave that to the Creator. As for the abyss of the unknowable, my testimony puts everything in perspective. Our Father in Heaven created everything that exists in the universe. We cannot know all that He has made, but we can know Him. He is all-loving, so we shouldn't fear what we don't understand. That's what faith is for.

-Locked in a kiss / Outsiders cease to exist

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Grand Canyon

After finishing a tough semester, my dad rewarded me with a trip to the Grand Canyon. I'd implanted a false memory in my head that I'd been there before, so it was incredible to go there for the first time.

We left Provo on Friday and spent the night in Kanab, Utah, in preparation to hike the North Rim. Of course, the morning we were ready to head out, we learned that the North Rim doesn't even open until May, thanks to snow. So we made a makeshift ramp out of snow, floored it, and launched ourselves across the canyon to the South Rim. 100% factual. Even better, we unknowingly caught the tail end of National Park Week, which led to a waived $25 parking fee. Nice.

We hiked the popular Bright Angel Trail down 3 miles, which meant a 2112 foot drop in elevation. It's certainly different from hiking a mountain, where the hardest part of the hike is done first. I was unnerved when we were going down the trail and seeing so many exhausted people struggling to make it back up. However, I'm apparently in better shape than I thought; we scaled that bad boy in record time (remember, you always set a record when it's your first time). We spent the night and Flagstaff and arrived home to New Mexico today.

Seeing such spectacular natural formations made me grateful that God cares for us. He could very well have made a boring world with gray earth, ocean, and skies; His purposes would still be accomplished with an earth devoid of beauty. The aestheticism of places like the Grand Canyon arouses an innate sense of splendor and joy, and our Father in Heaven smiles every time we intake the gorgeousness of the planet He made especially for us.

It was also great to spend time with my dad. It's a blessing to have a father who truly understands the concepts I just illustrated and takes plentiful opportunities to quench his thirst for nature. It's an even greater blessing to have a father who loves his son enough to bring him along.

Well, I'm home now. The duration of my stay is still indeterminate, but I have a feeling I'll be back in Provo for Summer semester.

-Soy un disco quebrado / Yo tengo chicle en el cerebro

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Heaven help me.

After some consideration--two, three minutes' worth?--I decided to start a blog. Now, I've run a blog before, back when I was hormonally charged and fooling with politics. These days, I tend to avoid politics where possible, and I try to deny I even have emotions. I am also more mature (theoretically) and have more insights and maybe even more to write about than I did before. This blog will probably be filled with life updates, thoughts on LDS doctrine, music reviews, my musical history, poetry, and, heck, whatever I feel like. This is Web 2.0. I own this place.

And my first act of business is wrapping up this post. All those wonderful things I could write about aren't very concrete in my mind right now. But I'll leave a tasty teaser: the Grand Canyon and how I managed to survive Winter 2010 at BYU.