Posts tagged sex
I couldn’t tell you what I was expecting from Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos, because I honestly did not know at the time I opened the book. I mean, ever since my first teenage daydreams in which I imagined myself as Lavinia Whately waiting up there on the mountaintop for her extra-dimensional paramour/sire, I’ve known (in that way that a girl always knows what’s a turn-on and what’s not) that the fiction of Lovecraft had some pretty deep currents of sexuality running through it. You’d have to have industrial-strength blinkers welded to your temples to not see it… though I’ve since learned that those devices must come as part of the standard issues HPL Fan Kit, if sales of our own NECRONOMICUM magazine are anything to go by.
And I guess it was those blinkers that I expected to be part of the package with this book. (Okay, I did expect something, I guess.) I expected that it would read as a dry, scholarly, “yes, but actually…” sort of half-examination of Lovecraft’s use of sexuality in his work, maybe somewhat like the limp-wristed wave-it-away analysis of his (and let’s just face it already!) crazy-virulent racism.
Well! I am very happy to report that this is not the case! Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos goes deep, and then deeper still. No dirty stone is left unturned. The level of Mr Derie’s research here is, charitably, exhaustive. So exhaustive, in fact, that even I (a mere toiler in the smut vineyards myself, though with a special focus on the niche of Lovecraftian weird-erotica) was pleased to learn of new authors to read, new books and magazines to check out. I’m overjoyed to know how strange this niche is, and that I’m not alone in pulling what I do from Howie’s miscegenating Mythos!
Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos is broken up into four sections. The first examines Howard himself: his sexual life as revealed in his personal writings and correspondences with members of his writer’s circle and the women in his life, including Sonia Greene, who he was married to briefly. Is this part juicy? Not really… but! it reveals that HPL was not necessarily the prim asexual being that his fan club would like to have us believe. Sure, the old boy was a late bloomer, but given time and experience (and had he not died so young, of course) we would have possibly seen a much enlightened person in matters sexual (and otherwise) in his later years. I’ve never been all that into reading about Lovecraft the Man, but this was an enjoyable trip into his letters and life.
The second part of the book deals next with the works themselves with an early focus on the obvious choices (like Dunwich Horror and Shadow Over Innsmouth) before having some interesting fun with more the more obscure stuff. Just as a for-instance: I’d not twigged to the homosexual implications of the relationship between Edward and his wife Asenath in The Thing on the Doorstep but Derie has, namely, that’s not really Asenath at all. It’s her dad, possessing her body! Probably there was no Asenath at all, which brings up all kinds of weird stuff dealing with gender and presentation and so on. Very cool (not to say Freudian!), and there’s a lot of this kind of in-depth insight into the stories here, which I really appreciate. After reading this, I feel like I should carry the book around with me, to open up and shove under the eyes of tut-tutting doubters when I encounter them. “See?!” I’ll say. “Sure, sometimes a tentacle is just a tentacle, but come on.”
Third part examines how the sexuality of the Mythos has been interpreted and exploded and remixed over the decades by other writers. Easily, this is my favourite section, with examinations of Ramsey Campbell (the Master!), McNaughton and Pugmire and Caitlin Kiernan (I love her stuff!) and names I hadn’t heard of but will now seek out, like Stanley Sargent and Edward Lee. Really, if you’ve been trawling through the bookstores despairing of finding decent horror/weird erotic work, this is your guidebook, right here. It could easily be marketed as Best Weird Erotica of the 20th Century (a book I hope Derie decided to write or edit at some point)!
(I should mention that my own Blackstone Erotica series gets a thumbs-up in the chapter on the recent surge of Lovecraftian erotica that’s been made possible by the rise of the electronic book. I could brag here and say that obviously Mr Derie has good taste, but honestly, I’m just too humbled to be mentioned in the same pages as some of my own idols to go that far. It’s a thrill, and certainly won’t help put me off my delusional goals of writing stardom!)
Derie uses the ebook revolution to tip the book into the fourth and final section, in which he delves into the truly seedy underbellies of the wider pop culture to examine some strange artifacts: the films, the comic books (again, I had no idea so much material had been, and continues to be, produced in this niche), the marital aids (yup!) and so on. The beautiful thing about this chapter, and indeed everything before it, is that Derie’s tone is never nudge-nudge-wink-wink… it’s a serious examination, and though not without a certain humour, it never devolves into snickering. I think that’s important, and I’m glad he went that route with his presentation.
Sex and sexuality in the Mythos is a deep and rich vein that continues to be mined for dark treasures, and if you’re at all disposed to digging for gems, or maybe crafting a few of your own from the raw materials, then this book needs to be on your shelf, ladies and ghouls!
(the following is an excerpt from the chapter ‘The Unbearable Strangeness of Being: Sex and the R’lyehian’ which may be found in When The Stars Are Right: Towards An Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality by Scott R Jones. There are only 2 PRINT COPIES of this provocative title left to order, though the ebook version is always available. Details on how to obtain your copy may be found here… )
Sex is weird. Let’s be honest here: when you get right down into the squelchy, heaving, multi-limbed mass of the thing, sex is very weird indeed. Sex is weird, because just being is weird. The fact that we are conscious entities parading around in flesh, flesh that occasionally comes together to please itself and, when conditions are right, produce more flesh for other conscious entities to parade around in? Completely weird.
Most of the time, we simply don’t notice how odd this is, how utterly strange our existence as a species on this planet has become. We are long past the simple days of our animal bruting-about, and each moment we are engaging more and more with the thing that we are to become. For now, we are strange, soft, pulpy creatures moving about the surface of this rock in our cloths and armours, cloaked in ideas and studded over with glowing memes, parasitical hoardings of belief and faith, ignorance and obsession. Can we truly claim that our behaviours, our proclivities and preferences, are even our own? Our society itself, an epiphenomenal entity sprouting from the fevered bios of its fleshy host if ever there was one, has its own obsessions. In regards to sex, society’s primary obsession is with normative behaviour, and this is a symptom of that not-noticing, that willful ignorance of the outré nature of the human experiment. Of the life experiment.
Sex sells and is sold. Ecstasy and anxiety are its products. It cages even as it frees. Look to the multitude of labels given to gender expression, sexual preference, and lifestyle choice: we are given to understand that the current LGBQT-MNOP alphabet soup of possible roles and modes of sexual being is a progressive movement, a real step forward. And yet this proliferation of labels, each with their staunch and strident defenders and detractors, has contributed little towards any reasonable increase in sexual freedom, and resulted in no real decrease in the level of sexual anxiety in our increasingly fractured society. Labels are for the marketplace, and the marketplace is primarily concerned with cost, supply, demand, brand loyalty, and the act of consuming. Each brand merely serves to define what it is not: by their very existence they shore up and validate the sexualities they set themselves against, reinforcing the standardized behaviours of every other brand. Sexual ghettos are the result, cages in which individuals imagine themselves free.
The R’lyehian, then, sees through this commodification of our sexual nature, to the inherent Being-Strangeness at the core of our existence, and the attendant weird-tantra of the sexual act as an expression of that strangeness. Labels and gender roles flow from the R’lyehian’s skin like water: though they may enjoy and even prefer a primary sexual orientation (heterosexual, homosexual, bi-, queer, and yes, even asexual[i]), they are not fixed there, pinned to the board like a common moth to be gawked at and then forgotten. The R’lyehian way is, again, one of camouflage and stealth, and so, as far as sex is concerned, the R’lyehian is, at her core, an omni-sexual being.
[i] In truth, ones preference here is an entirely surface presentation, as much a stealth cloak as the so-called personality: all modes of sexual expression are open to the R’lyehian and can and should be accessed at any time, should the situation call for it. That being said, the R’lyehian is not “in the closet”, so to speak, or, if they are, that closet is effectively infinite, and the multitude of personalities, ideations, and modes of sexual gratification within it are similarly endless. The R’lyehian is a thousand white-hot compartments. He makes no judgments regarding the modes of being within himself (the very definition of a Sisyphean task!) and extends that openness outwards to others as well. If there is a criteria of judgment at all vis a vis R’lyehian omni-sexual practice, it comes down to one thing: the bare wiring of the nervous system. To wit: all beings, if they are wired up at all, move towards pleasure and away from pain (a basic polymorphic approach), and the means by which this pleasure is attained is inconsequential, merely epiphenomenal. As far as the R’lyehian is concerned, sex is whatever turns you on, and this literally so. The wires must fire.
I write weird erotica because sex? Sex is weird. Let’s be honest here: when you get right down into the squelchy, heaving, multi-limbed mass of the thing, sex is weird. Hell, just being is weird. The fact that we are conscious entities parading around in flesh, and that flesh occasionally comes together to please itself and, when conditions are right, produce more flesh for other conscious entities to parade around in? Completely weird.
Most of the time, we simply don’t notice how odd this is, how utterly strange our existence has become. It’s my belief that our society and its obsession with normative behaviour is a symptom of that not-noticing, that willful ignorance of the outré nature of the human experiment. Of the life experiment.
So why does so much of what passes as erotica celebrate the normal? That’s the question I’m constantly asking with my stuff, ladies and gentlemen and assorted entities. Even the current crop of billionaire/fetish/BDSM/paranormal material does nothing but reinforce bland retreads of standard behaviours. I don’t get it.
You can’t spell paranormal without normal. And that’s the freaking truth.
It’s why I prefer the term weird erotica.
Weird erotica speaks to the inherent strangeness of the sexual act. It speaks to the attendant being-strangeness of that act in all it’s varied and multiple forms. Weird erotica points the way to something beyond standard sexualities and gender norms, and by norms I am including the queer norms that by their very existence shore up and validate the very sexualities they set themselves against.
Weird erotica points the way to the sex-practices of the future: an omni-sexual practice that recalls the Sufi’s ecstatic connection to something as basic and simple as, say, a glass of water. The omni-sexual being is drunk on significance. Beyond mere fetish attachment, the omni-sexual is turned on by conceptual items, ideas of transcendence, mutation, severe body modifications, soul-tweaking tantra. Omni-sexuality is transhumanist and transformative. Transformation through sex, and sex with whoever and whatever will trigger such transformation.
Dagon’s Teeth! Why else does anyone fuck? Sure, pleasure, I guess. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m weird.
Well, if you’ve read any of my Blackstone series, you know I’m weird. And getting weirder. Hell, if I could somehow fuck the Amazon algorithm, literally, then you know I would. Mathematical-styles.
But for those who haven’t, here are some of my tropes and themes. This stuff just keeps coming up, and again, it all comes down to transformation…
Dominance, often cruel, of that which should be dominated. I get the back-and-forth interplay of a good, respectful sub/Dom arrangement, sure, but strength is strength, and weakness, weakness, and I’m not sure we’re doing each other any favours by playing at something when it’s clearly not.
Consciousness alteration, through magic or sex or drugs, often at the same time.
The pure “this is it, you’ll never be the same again” ecstasy of body-horror, especially as it can occur during the sexual act. This can make for some icky stuff, but it’s down there in the muck that humans change the most, so I like to go there, see how far I can take it.
Synesthesia! This is the mapping of one or more sets of senses onto the others: hearing colors, tasting music, all that classic trippy stuff. Seeing frequencies of light outside the normal range, auditory extensions into the subsonic (where the real growling happens!) and levels of mental cognition that we just don’t hit during normal vanilla couplin’! My thematic code for this is the term “seawater and stars”: brine and burning hydrogen, black waters and solar winds, hot and cold… basically? Fire. Water. All that good elemental shit. Seawater and stars shows up in everything I write. You can hunt for it, if you like.
Monsters. Oh yeah. Leave your lycans and vamps and sad succubi at home, ladies. I’ve got no interest in that only-just-inhuman sphere of influence. I mean, c’mon! We are living nearly a century after Lovecraft (the Copernicus of modern horror) blew that paranormal junk out of the sky! How is it that we are still deigning to get off on these weak metaphors on two legs? Ha! Two legs. Please. I could go on and on and on, but that’s less interesting than this awesome panel from Brandon Graham’s (Prophet, Multiple Warheads) Perverts of the Unknown which sums up what I like about monsters way better…
Who doesn’t want to see the levels in their bedroom/orgy cavern/ritual altar atop a mountain jump by 300 points?! Transcend! Transform! If you’re going to do it, get it DONE. If you’re only worrying about how to get him/her out of your bed so you can sleep because you’ve got work in the morning, then you’re doing it wrong! You should be worrying about how much cosmic energy you’re going to have to channel through your ajna chakra as you come, because nothing less than ALL OF IT is going to keep the portal open long enough to get that extra-dimensional beastie you just fucked back through it!
ANGRY SEX MONSTERS! Bam.
And goodnight! Justine out! xoxoxo my lovely weirdos!
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Editor’s Note: Justine G is the author of the BLACKSTONE Erotica series from Martian Migraine Press, as well as the gonzo sci-fi erotica novella ORGY IN THE VALLEY OF THE LUST LARVAE and (with fellow MMP author S R Jones) the experimental steampunk Victorian erotica and marine-engineering mash-up novella/manual Seawater & Stars: The Last Novel of Gideon Stargrave. She’s exactly what she seems: fucking terrifying. We love her. Buy her stuff.