Ed. A. Trumbo
Chalk-white Nordicks, Imperial Romans, and Hercynian Woods, are but a few of the topics touched upon in this Lovecraft letter. It contains a collection of thoughts founded more on fantasy than fact, but very interesting thoughts nonetheless. The letter does, however, contain enough racialist diatribe to send the average lemming, or “conventionally limited” Lovecraft fan into a pallid state of shock. For those of you who have already attained racial enlightenment, and are Lovecraft fans as well, our journey into the arcane depth of Lovecraft’s worldview continues.–A Trumbo
Dec. 11, 1923
. . . I do not claim to be 100% Teuton. My dark hair and eyes forbid me that honour. But when I reflect on the fact that hair and eyes are the first things to be chang’d in a blond race upon the least infusion of southern blood, and gold-and-blue scheme being very unstable and liable to revert to the more primitive and deeply hereditary brown or black scheme; I am content to survey my ample height and pallid complexion ( bleach’d by the deep Saxon forests and Scandinavian snows) and pronounce myself 99.9% Teutonick. This supposition is borne out by my coarse features–the rough-hewn physiognomy of a Viking warrior–and by my enthusiastick response to warlike and imperious stimuli. . . .
As to the artistick capacity of the Nordick in general, I will freely admit that it does not take the most obvious and characteristick forms. The masses of a Nordick race are not so aesthetically responsive as the Mediterranean masses–though even here we have to reckon with the acute musical sensibility of the Germans. But having made all concessions, I now pause to inquire why artistick capacity is any proper measure of value for race-stock? To my simple old mind, art is merely a more or less unsatisfactory substitute for real life; and when we consider life and action, deeds and conquests, governments and administrations, what race since the Romans can compare with us? Did we not pour down out of our native forests and reclaim a degenerate Europe where civilisation, under effete Mediterranean dregs, was dying out? My God! The very name of France comes from our huge yellow-bearded Franks, and in Spain they call a gentleman a hidalgo–hijo del goda–son of the Goth–the huge blue-eyed, conquering Nordick! Fancy a world without Clovis–or its Charlemagne–the Teuton Karlomann, and the Vikings and the Norsemen . . . ho for the frozen seas and the epick* of sleet and blood, strange lands and far wonders! Greenland, Iceland, Normandy, England, Sicily–the world was ours, and the mountainous billows heaved with the Cyclopean rhythm of our barbarick chants and shouts of mastery! Art? By Woden, were not our deeds and battles, our victories and empires, all parts of a poem more wonderful then aught which Homer cou’d strike from a Grecian lyre? Ho! Yaah! We are men! We are big men! We are strong men, for we make men do what we want! Let no man balk us, for our gods are big gods, and our arms and our swords are tough! Hrrrr! The stones of towns fall down when we come, and crows love us for the feast of dead men we give them. The lands shake with the thump of our feet, and hills grow flat when we stride up and down them. The floods are dry when we have drunk them, and no beasts are left when we have killed and gorged. By day we kill and seize, at dusk we feast and drink, by nights we snore and dream big dreams of strange seas we shall sail, old towns we shall burn, stout men we shall slay, wild beasts we shall hunt, deep cups we shall drain, fat boars we shall tear limb from limb with our hands, and gnaw with our sharp teeth. Great Thor, but this is life! We ask no more! We know the cool of deep woods, and the spell of their gloom and the things void of name that lurk or may lurk in them. Bards sing them to us in the dark with great hoarse voices when the fire burns low and we have drunk our mead. Bards sing them to us, and we hear. Great, gaunt bards with white beards and the old scars of good fights. And they sing things that none else have dreamed of; strange, dim, weird things that they learn in the woods, deep woods, the thick woods. There are no woods like our woods, no bards like our bards.
Puritanism? I am by no means dispos’d to condemn it utterly in the pageant of the world, for it is not life an art, and art a selection? The Puritans unconsciously sought to do a supremely artistic thing–to mould all life into a dark poem; a macabre tapestry with quaint arabesques and patterns from the plains of antique Palaestina . . . antique Palaestina with her bearded prophets, many gated walls, and flattened domes. The fatuous floundering of the ape and the Neanderthaler they rejected–this and the graceful forms into which that floundering had aimlessly blunder’d–and in place of slovenly Nature set up a life in Gothick design, with formal arches and precise traceries, austere spires and three interesting little gargoyles with solemn grimaces, call’d the father, the son, and the holy ghost. On shifting humanity they imposed a refreshing technique, and an aimless and futile cosmos supply’d artificial values which had real authority because they were not true. Verily, the Puritans were the only really effective diabolists and decadents the world has known; because they hated life and scorned the platitude that it is worth living. Can you imagine anything more magnificent than the wholesale slaughter of the Indians–a very epick–by our New-England ancestors in the name of the lamb? But all aside from that–these Puritans were truly marvelous. They did not invent, but substantially developed the colonial doorway; and incidentally created a simple standard of life and conduct which is, no apart from some extravagant and inessential details and a few aesthetic and intellectual fallacies in all truth the most healthy and practical way of securing happiness and tranquillity which we have had since the early days of Republican Rome. I am myself very partial to it–it is so quaint and wholesome. But not alone in Puritanism is the Nordic’s beneficent influence to be found. Who else could, after the decay of Rome, have revived the aesthetic of strength which in antique days reared to the heavens the colonnades of the Capitolium, the dome of Vesta, the splendours of the Palantine, the walls of the Colisseum, the balconies of the Septizonium, the altitudes of the Pantheon, the colossi and arches of conquering despots, and countless other stone and marble ecstasies of ebullient domination? True, we have never equalled those breathless marvels, for we own ourselves no match for the world-overtopping ROMAN CITIZEN; but alone of all races we have revived–in our master-achievement ENGLAND–that that resistless sway which gave them birth, and have enabled the modern world to share in that delirium of artistic excitement and surging pride which must fill’d every true ROMAN when, looking back from some crest in the road at sunset, he saw limned in flame the gold the domes and columns, vast, prodigious, multitudinous and induplicable, of earth’s supreme apotheosis of dominion — THE IMPERIAL CITY.
“Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento; Hae tibi erunt artes: pacisque imponere marem,
Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos.”
So, Sonny, your old Grandpa is pretty well satisfied to be a Nordick, chalk white from the Hercynian wood and the Polar mists, and stout arm’d to wield the mace, the broadsword, and the javelin. Nordics can buy dark foreign slaves cheap in the market-place–sharp, clever little Greeks and Alexandrians who will decorate our walls and chisel our friezes well enough when tickled with the lash of a Nordic overseer. Our province is to found the cities and conquer the wilderness and people the waste lands–that, and to assemble and drive the slaves, who tell us stories and sing us songs and paint us pretty pictures. WE ARE THE MASTERS.
VNN, August 13, 2002