Today’s post is going up a bit late. Due to a faulty underground cable, more than 5,000 homes and businesses here in Albany lost power this morning. As a result of the outage, I had no power, no internet access, and no way to prepare a blog entry until power was restored this afternoon. Fortunately, however, the power came back on before the ice cream melted.
As you will recall, we’ve been discussing anti-Semitism and Nazism in conjunction with fringe history, so I thought it would be interesting to extend that to a discussion of where these concepts intersect with H. P. Lovecraft. The most obvious place was in Lovecraft’s support for Hitler and his hatred of the Jews, as he wrote in his letters, some of which were quoted by S. T. Joshi in his various books on Lovecraft. (Note: Lovecraft scholars, unlike fringe writers, acknowledge anti-Semitic and racist material.)
Here he is on Hitler, writing, it should be noted, in the early and mid-1930s, before Kristallnacht laid bare Hitler’s goals:
[Hitler’s] vision is of course romantic & immature, & coloured with a fact-ignoring emotionalism … There surely is an actual Hitler peril—yet that cannot blind us to the honest rightness of the man’s basic urge … I repeat that there is a great & pressing need behind every one of the major planks of Hitlerism—racial-cultural continuity, conservative cultural ideals, & an escape from the absurdities of Versailles. The crazy thing is not what Adolf wants, but the way he sees it & starts out to get it. I know he's a clown, but by God, I like the boy!
And now on the Jews:
As for New York—there is no question but that its overwhelming Semitism has totally removed it from the American stream. Regarding its influence on literary & dramatic expression—it is not so much that the country is flooded directly with Jewish authors, as that Jewish publishers determine just which of our Aryan writers shall achieve print & position. That means that those of us who least express our own people have the preference. Taste is insidiously moulded along non-Aryan lines—so that, no matter how intrinsically good the resulting body of literature may be, it is a special, rootless literature which does not represent us.
Lovecraft differed from Hitler—but prefigured Jan Van Helsing—in claiming that Jewish culture, not the Jewish race or people were responsible for the pollution of Aryan culture and could be opposed without violence: “Gawd knows I have no wish to injure any race under the sun, but I do think that something ought to be done to free American expression from the control of any element which seeks to curtail it, distort it, or remodel it in any direction other than its natural course.”
Lovecraft’s hatred of foreigners and foreign cultures is a well-established leitmotif of his horror fiction, and his anti-Semitic ideas manifest in his fiction’s frequent allusion to the way a small cult of worshipers of the “old” gods—echoing the Old Testament—are plotting in secret to overthrow Aryan-Christian culture and replace it with an alien other.
It is therefore no surprise that Lovecraft’s fiction is so closely intertwined with fringe culture and its conspiracies and anti-Semitic overtones.
That brings to a related but distinct bit of information I came across in researching Esoteric Nazism. I discovered the work of the occultist Peter Levenda, widely believed to be the author of the Simon Necronomicon. Levenda is famous as the author of books on conspiracies and Esoteric Nazism, including Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement With the Occult (1994). Levenda also asserts the existence of a Freemason conspiracy and apparently believes in 9/11 mysticism.
Last year Levenda took up the subject of H. P. Lovecraft again in The Dark Lord: H. P. Lovecraft, Kenneth Grant, and the Typhonian Tradition in Magic (2013). The book deals with “magick” and its supposed relation to imaginary versions of Lovecraft’s Necronomicon. This isn’t the interesting part. The interesting part is where Levenda attempts to argue that the Cthulhu Mythos has a reality beyond this world using the same arguments that Ancient Aliens uses to assert that Albert Einstein and Nikola Tesla obtained their ideas: telepathically, from space beings. Here Levenda seizes on the coincidence that Aleister Crowley used the word Tutulu while Lovecraft wrote of Cthulhu to propose telepathic communication from beyond:
In any event, to suggest that these two men cooperated or collaborated in any deliberate way would be the height (or depth!) of conspiracy theory. It may actually be more logical to suggest—as an explanation for some of these coincidences—that darker forces were at work. In fact, it is possible that the same forces of which Lovecraft himself writes—the telepathic communication between followers of Cthulhu and the Old Ones—was what prompted him to write these fictional accounts of real events.
The fact of the matter is that “tutulu” was a common enough verbalization before Crowley first used it in 1908, being one of many homophones in Samoan, Hawaiian, and other Polynesian tongues, usually used to mean weeping or leaking. This word occurs in countless travelogues and missionary books, many of which would have been known to Crowley or to Lovecraft. In Tonga, an octopus god named Tutula was known and written about in Western ethnography, and Plutarch wrote of a person named Tutula in his Life of Camillus. Given all this, it becomes more difficult to try to see a nefarious connection across space and time.
Levenda gently acknowledges racism in Crowley’s and Lovecraft’s work (in an endnote for Lovecraft), and he also takes a swipe and ancient astronaut writers. He notes that the tendency to see connections between widely scattered occurrences of occult symbols—proposed by Crowley and seen in fictional form in Lovecraft—was “taken to its logical extreme” by the Nazis in Himmler’s quest to find “Aryan” symbols around the world. He then notes the parallel to the ancient astronaut theory, which he sees as “close to Lovecraft’s idea than an ancient race from the stars once inhabited the Earth.” (No fooling: I think I’ve pretty much cornered the market on that idea.) Levenda, though, wants to throw out the racism and the cultural appropriation as corruption of a purer magical truth, not unlike the efforts of fringe writers to boil away the context of old fringe history claims to purify them of the racist, colonialist, and imperialist matrix in which they arose.
It’s rather astounding (well, maybe not really) that even in the world of “magick” we find the same combination of claims—psychic contact with the Beyond, a real truth beneath science fiction, and vague connections between the occult and the Nazis—that we also find in fringe history and ufology. There really are occult connections... just not the ones that the occultists go on about.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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