5260 Harold Way, off Western, between Hollywood & Sunset. Where Bela Lugosi died.
Proof that you see the same places on the way down.
Like any feller under the influence & sway of our main man Howard P. Lovecraft, I’ve had my Arthur Machen phases– one in the mid 90s, one in early 00s– and though I remembered his work fondly, esp. that amusing trifle “The Great God Pan”, I had no lingering impressions of its depth. Genre, or pre-genre, work rarely strikes a chord beyond big monsters eating people. Lovecraft is the exception, though you’d never know it from the cottage industry spawned by his most famous creations, but I defy anyone to read, in particular, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (featuring Lovecraft’s old address, and my former abode, 10 Barnes St. as the home of the family doctor) or “The Shadow over Innsmouth” and tell me there ain’t something else going on.
In my memory, Machen was all fairy people sprinkling pixie dust on each other and looking backwards through time at Angels killing Huns. I had read The Hill of Dreams– I distinctly recall sitting around LaGuardia waiting for a flight whilst I did– but re-reading it last week, I was surprised how different it is from my recollection.
Perhaps it was the circumstances of the first reading, or my own lack of facile appreciation for the real deal, but whatever the cause, I somehow missed the meat. The Hill of Dreams is above & beyond the rest of Machen’s work– an entirely real book, a brazenly erotic marriage of life’s daily burdens with the author’s trademark embrace of the Fantastick & Weird. You can easily categorise “The Great God Pan” as pre-Genre Horror and Fantasy, but The Hill of Dreams is an example of British visionary literature. This tradition starts, more or less, with our main man John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress and constitutes a series of distinct works that layer The Other World atop The Present. Some of its current manifestations can be found amongst those grimy 80s & 90s peoples that Iain Sinclair is always on about.
A few of Machen’s other works attempt a similar approach with varying degrees of success, but by-and-large his biography, memorably treated in Alan Moore and (our other main man) Eddie Campbell’s Snakes and Ladders, fascinates more than his writing. With my new knowledge of The Hill of Dreams, I wonder if Machen wasn’t a guy who, through choice or circumstance, wrote too god damned much and threw off the static-to-noise ratio. Typically, time sorts these things out, but it requires that people care in the first place. Thus Lovecraft returns– damning A.M. with “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” a groundbreaking overview of weird fiction that retroactively damned centuries of writers to genre consideration, thereby precluding them from the purview of taste makers.
Drudge in Hollywood
On Steve Ditko
From Sunset Blvd
Welcome to Kurdistan