Saturday, February 19, 2011

Brief notes on 'Disciple of Dagon - a short study of Clark Ashton Smith'

I just finished reading Disciple of Dagon: Clark Ashton Smith and the Cthulhu Mythos by Frater Tenebrous XIII°, a.k.a. Peter Smith. This work, originally published in 1987 by Miskatonic University Press and limited to 123 copies, is now freely available on the internet.

After a brief introduction to Smith's early poetry, the work goes on to discuss those short stories that may be considered part of the larger Lovecraftian mythos. Although the discussion of each story is very brief, it provides those not familiar with Smith's 'Cthulhu Mythos' tales with a useful checklist for future reading.

Following an equally short description of Smith's weird sculpture, Tenebrous gets to the meat of the matter: a discussion of CAS from an occult perspective. It is here that I find what is perhaps the most interesting idea of the paper: why Smith cut back on his literary work after around 1934:

In the same way as an Occult lodge may be established in order to transmit a particular magical current over a particular period of time (perhaps determined by astrological considerations), it appears that the 'Lovecraftian Circle' of writers provided, in the late Twenties and early Thirties, a focal point or 'receiver' for the elements of the Mythos. The fact that this process was largely a subconscious one, merely demonstrates that it is when the imagination is operating most strongly, and helping to block the rational, conscious mind, that the transmissions of 'magical' knowledge is likely to occur...

I'm not sure I buy it, but it's an interesting idea.

Canby Depot Museum