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Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: S.Zielinski (IP Logged)
Date: 14 January, 2011 07:10AM
Hello!

Recently, I'm researching the theme of cosmicism throughout XIX, XX and XXI century for the purpose of my BA paper. As a part of this dissertation, I want to include CAS's fiction, especially his poems. Thanks to S.T. Joshi's introduction to CAS literature, I know that particularly interesting for me would be The Hashish Eater, and The Star Treader. As a foreigner (Polish) I have a little difficulty in understanding Smith's almost Byzantine vocabulary, but sooner or later, I'll deal with these two. My question, or rather request - could you point out other examples of Smith's cosmicism in his fiction? I've got limited amount of time and have to work with other writers (Lovecraft, Niven etc), musicians, poets, graphics etc. I'll be grateful for any help! :)

Cheers!

Slawek



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 14 Jan 11 | 07:52AM by S.Zielinski.

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 14 January, 2011 02:23PM
"not altogether sleep" may serve you purposes - the issue being alternative eternity

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: NightHalo (IP Logged)
Date: 14 January, 2011 05:59PM
Though it does not answer your request, exploring George Sterling's "Testimony of the Suns" could be very helpful. That poem, published in 1903, influenced the young CAS to begin exploring more cosmic themes.

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 15 January, 2011 10:25AM
A significant portion of CAS's fiction has cosmic elements, but I really think that the poetry is where he expresses this theme most deeply. That said, I feel that "The Seven Geases" is a good allegory, among the tales, of "cosmic indifferentism".

Within the poetry itself, I would focus if I were you on the material contained in the volume The Star-Treader. In my view, CAS in his writing career veered away from cosmicism per se, at least to a degree, and towards a more general interest in the weird, the exotic, the fantastic, and the decadent. Perhaps Sterling's arguments against over-pursuing the subject of the stars registered with CAS, or perhaps he simply felt (as Sterling seems to have felt, regarding his own work) that he had exhausted the theme.

For more general thoughts on cosmicism in this forum, and a mention of other writers whose work, or aspects thereof, reflects cosmic themes, you might want to read this thread, as well.

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: S.Zielinski (IP Logged)
Date: 15 January, 2011 05:06PM
Thank you very much, lads!
I appreciate your help, which is really invaluable! :)
As quick as I deal with my semi-annual exams I’ll start reading stuff you pointed out! :)
Best wishes
Sławek

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: cathexis (IP Logged)
Date: 15 January, 2011 05:26PM
Slawek,

Best of luck in your exams!
Wouldn't your fellow Pole, S. Lem also fit in here
with, "Solaris" ? If the "etc." you used in your
list of sources included film as well than Tarkovsky
is an obvious choice. Besides his version of Solaris
there is also the excellent, "Stalker". Cosmic Indeed!

Success to You,

Cathexis

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 15 January, 2011 06:45PM
Yeah, Lem would be my choice too. Also Olaf Stapledon, HG Wells' Time Machine (not all together cosmic, I know, but the dying Earth chapter is, I'd argue) and War of the Worlds, William Hope Hodgeson... actually they're all in the above link, so I'll stop there. I'd make a case for some of the new wave authors (if you are going that late into the 20th C), especially Brian Aldiss' Hot House and JG Bllards Drowned World, if you like your cosmicness to be entropic.

I'd say a lot of CAS' fiction expresses its cosmicism inadvertently, usually with its fatalism and the utter insignificance of its protagonists (or non-protagonists). Yes, 'The Seven Geases' is an excellent example. I'd also suggest maybe something like 'Master of the Asteroid.' Not a classic maybe, but the final imagery is one I love.

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 16 January, 2011 04:57PM
Funny, I was thinking of "Master of the Asteroids", too, but decided just to go with the "Geases". That's a very good choice, though.

As for Tarkovsky and cosmicism, I would not recommend his work with regard to that theme, at all. Lem and the Strugatsky brothers both hated Tarkovsky's (mis) adaptations of their work, precisely because Tarkovsky drained all the cosmicism out of the stories, and instead, as is his wont, turned them into Ingmar Bergman-esque talk-fests about Human Relationships and The Meaning of Life--all well confined to the social aquarium. Tarkovsky was a humanist to the core. Unless one counts traditional religious sentiments, Tarkovsky did not have a cosmic thought in his head, in the sense that we mean the term as applied to the work of Lovecraft. Sterling, and CAS.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 16 Jan 11 | 05:01PM by Absquatch.

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: S.Zielinski (IP Logged)
Date: 16 January, 2011 05:28PM
Thanks again for all the replies!
To be perfectly honest, I planned my work as follows:
Chapter 1
Genesis of cosmicism on the example of Lovecraft fiction and non fiction
(mainly:
-astrology columns,
-essay Time and Space,
fiction:
-Beyond The Wall of Sleep,
-At The Mountains of Madness,
-Memory,
-The Silver Key,
-The Call of Cthulhu,
-The Shadow Out of Time,
-The Colour Out of Space,
-The Music of Erich Zann)
Chapter 2
Examples of cosmicism and its development in literature of other authors
-Arthur C. Clarke - 2001: A Space Odyssey
-Larry Niven - Bordered in Black
-Clark Ashton Smith - The Star-Treader & The Hashish Eater
-Douglas Adams - The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy
-Stanislaw Lem - Solaris
-H.G. Wells - The War of Worlds
Chapter 3
Examples of Cosmicism and its development in other media
film:
-The X Files Series,
-2001: A Space Odyssey,
Graphic novels:
-"The Kingdom of Ants" from Cthulhu Tales,
-adaptations of The Call of Cthulhu, At the Mountains of Madness and Beyond The Wall of Sleep,
-The Invisibles,
-maybe Hellboy
music:
-The Sound of Planets (actually, it's not music, but sound of electric and magnetic particles recorded by the Voyager space probe)

As for now it's all that I was thinking of. I'm going to watch Solaris and find out whether it deals with cosmicism. I hope that I’ll fit to the 35 pages that I'm supposed to :)
Nevertheless, any of your comments will be appreciated! :)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 16 Jan 11 | 05:30PM by S.Zielinski.

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 16 January, 2011 08:44PM
Good choice, re. the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Although its theme is ultimately Nietzschean, it is infinitely (pardon the pun) more cosmic-minded than Tarkovsky and his talky Solaris, whom the book's author, Stanislaw Lem, accused of re-writing as a cinematic version of Crime and Punishment!

George Sterling and his Testimony of the Suns really deserve at least a passing mention in your work. He antedated both CAS and Lovecraft.

Anyway, good luck with your thesis. It's a great idea. Such a study is long overdue, and I wish that I could read the final result. If I were starting over in academia, then I'd explore the subject, myself. (NightHalo, if you happen to be reading this... hint, hint
;-) )



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 16 Jan 11 | 08:54PM by Absquatch.

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: walrus (IP Logged)
Date: 17 January, 2011 03:24PM
William Hope Hodgson: The House on the Borderland

Juha-Matti

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: S.Zielinski (IP Logged)
Date: 17 January, 2011 04:28PM
@ Absquatch - there will be no problem, I will send you full thesis when I finish it, if you want :)

@ walrus - you're right! The idea of end of earth and solar system will excellently fit my thesis :) thanks!

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 January, 2011 04:17PM
I might also add The Genocides by Thomas Disch as another good example of new wave cosmic indifference.

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: S.Zielinski (IP Logged)
Date: 31 January, 2011 09:04AM
Recently, I've seen a film entitled Sunshine by Danny Boyle, and found it pretty interesting in the context of cosmicism.
According to IMDB:
”50 years into the future, the Sun begins to die, and Earth is dying as a result. A team of astronauts are sent to revive the Sun - but the mission fails. Seven years later, a new team is sent to finish the mission as they are Earth's last hope.”
The very idea of darkening or dying of the Sun is what Lovecraft depicted in his astronomical articles, but, what is even more in the context, is the message form leader of first mission:
” I am Pinbacker. Commander of the Icarus I. We have abandoned our mission. Our star is dying. All our science... all our hopes... our dreams, are foolish. In the face of this...we are... dust. Nothing more. And to this dust, we will return. When he chooses for us to die. It is not our place... to challenge God.”
Although he is fanatic Christian and believes that all what is happening is the will of God, I think that it really doesn’t change anything. Probably, any human being exposed to such an issue, which for him/her is of the cosmic vastness, while for the Universe it is barely noticeable, would gone mad and could blame any imaginable entity of such course of action. Additionally, I admire the idea of comparing everything, what was made by man, to the stardust. It will be good example of cosmicism in my diploma work :)

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 31 January, 2011 05:58PM
S.Zielinski Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Recently, I've seen a film entitled Sunshine by
> Danny Boyle, and found it pretty interesting in
> the context of cosmicism.
> According to IMDB:
> ”50 years into the future, the Sun begins to
> die, and Earth is dying as a result. A team of
> astronauts are sent to revive the Sun - but the
> mission fails. Seven years later, a new team is
> sent to finish the mission as they are Earth's
> last hope.”
> The very idea of darkening or dying of the Sun is
> what Lovecraft depicted in his astronomical
> articles, but, what is even more in the context,
> is the message form leader of first mission:
> ” I am Pinbacker. Commander of the Icarus I. We
> have abandoned our mission. Our star is dying. All
> our science... all our hopes... our dreams, are
> foolish. In the face of this...we are... dust.
> Nothing more. And to this dust, we will return.
> When he chooses for us to die. It is not our
> place... to challenge God.”
> Although he is fanatic Christian and believes that
> all what is happening is the will of God, I think
> that it really doesn’t change anything.
> Probably, any human being exposed to such an
> issue, which for him/her is of the cosmic
> vastness, while for the Universe it is barely
> noticeable, would gone mad and could blame any
> imaginable entity of such course of action.
> Additionally, I admire the idea of comparing
> everything, what was made by man, to the stardust.
> It will be good example of cosmicism in my diploma
> work :)

While personally I passionately hated Sunshine (I have big problems with all Danny Boyle's films), I can see why you might choose it for the subject of your essay. In which case you might wish to read CAS' short SF story 'Phoenix' which I think it is fair to say that Sunshine more than slightly resembles. Not my favourite CAS story tho, hence it didn't initially occur to me... but I think it might be worthwhile checking out. Also, maybe The Dark Age might suit your essay as an example of the cosmic insignificance of civilization...

Also, I wouldn't rule out Algernon Blackwood, who while not be cosmic in a spacey way, certainly has a cosmic perspective IMO.

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 31 January, 2011 06:21PM
Quote:
I wouldn't rule out Algernon Blackwood, who while not be cosmic in a spacey way, certainly has a cosmic perspective.

Not always--a lot of Blackwood is run-of-the-mill pantheism and spiritualism--but "The Willows" and "The Man Who Found Out" are very cosmic works, albeit in quite different ways.

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: S.Zielinski (IP Logged)
Date: 30 October, 2012 01:12PM
Hello!

If anybody is interested in looking over my BA paper - just give me a sign :)
Happily I defended it more than a year ago scoring an A grade :)

regards

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 30 October, 2012 06:08PM
I'd be interested. My email is star-treader@outlook.com

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: El'Khestor (IP Logged)
Date: 30 October, 2012 07:05PM
I'd also be interested in having a look. My email is elivings@optusnet.com.au. Thanks.

Re: Cosmicism in CAS's fiction
Posted by: JRod (IP Logged)
Date: 13 October, 2014 06:22AM
I'd like to see your paper, jrwarlock@gmail.com

Thanks!!!



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