ORACLE

11/13/2010

Counting Lovecraft's Tentacles

A recent blog post from another gamer who enjoys mixing Weird fictional influences with traditional fantasy gaming got me thinking. I totally agree with the opinion that tentacles in and of themselves do not make something "Lovecraftian". Not at all. But, how they are used, on the other hand, can add a Lovecraftian flavor to something, be it fiction, art, film, whatever.

It is a delicate thing all together though. The trick to achieving a sense of cosmicism or existential horror is to weave together a dark, mysterious atmosphere by combining various elements that are designed to unnerve us. There are a lot of things that can be called "Lovecraftian" (alien gods, blasphemous tomes, gibbous moons.... and yes, even tentacles), but none of them stand alone when trying to create a sense of foreboding doom. Woven together in the proper amounts though can result in a type of weird tapestry that Lovecraft could be proud.

The true Yog-Sothothery is to find those elements that unnerve us personally, and use those to weave our own unique mythologies of cosmic horror. As students of Lovecraft's genius we tend to lean too heavily upon the master's own personal nightmares and ignore his overall lesson, or to tap into our own unique and personal brand of darkness...

Now, back to my original point. The thing this post got me wondering about was just how many times H.P. Lovecraft used the word "tentacle" (or tentacles/tentacled) in his fiction? Through clever use of Dagonbytes.com and the Alt-f keyboard command I came up with these results:
  • "The Alchemist" = 0
  • At the Mountains of Madness = 9 (tentacle 1, tencacled 1, tentacles 7)
  • "Azathoth" = 0
  • "The Beast in the Cave" = 0
  • "Beyond the Wall of Sleep" = 0
  • "The Book" = 0
  • "The Call of Cthulhu" = 1 (tentacled 1)
  • The Case of Charles Dexter Ward = 0
  • "The Cats of Ulthar" = 0
  • "Celephaïs" = 0
  • "The Colour Out of Space" = 0
  • "Cool Air" = 0
  • "Dagon" = 0
  • "The Descendant" = 0
  • "The Doom That Came to Sarnath" = 0
  • The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath = 2 (tentacled 1, tentacles 1)
  • "Dreams in the Witch-House" = 1 (tentacled 1)
  • "The Dunwich Horror" = 2 (tentacles 2)
  • "The Evil Clergyman" = 0
  • "Ex Oblivione" = 0
  • "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" = 0
  • "The Festival" = 0
  • "From Beyond" = 0
  • "The Haunter Of The Dark" = 0
  • "He" = 0
  • "Herbert West: Reanimator" = 0
  • "The Horror at Red Hook" = 0
  • "The Hound" = 0
  • "Hypnos" = 0
  • "Ibid" = 0
  • "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs" = 1 (tentacles 1)
  • "In The Vault" = 0
  • "The Lurking Fear" = 4 (tentacles 4)
  • "Memory" = 0
  • "The Moon-Bog" = 0
  • "Nyarlathotep" = 0
  • "The Music of Erich Zann" = 0
  • "The Nameless City" = 0
  • "The Other Gods" = 0
  • "The Outsider" = 0
  • "Pickman's Model" = 0
  • "The Picture in the House" = 0
  • "Polaris" = 0
  • "The Quest of Iranon" = 0
  • "The Rats in the Walls" = 0
  • The Shadow Out of Time = 4 (tentacles 4)
  • The Shadow Over Innsmouth = 0
  • "The Shunned House" = 0
  • "The Silver Key" = 0
  • "The Statement of Randolph Carter" = 0
  • "The Strange High House in the Mist" = 0
  • "The Street" = 0
  • "The Temple" = 0
  • "The Terrible Old Man" = 0
  • "The Thing on the Doorstep" = 0
  • "The Tomb" = 0
  • "The Transition of Juan Romero" = 0
  • "The Tree" = 0
  • "The Unnamable" = 0
  • "The Very Old Folk" = 0
  • "What the Moon Brings" = 0
  • "The Whisperer in Darkness" = 0
  • "The White Ship" = 0
There are 63 fictional works listed, with 8 of those containing a variation on the word tentacle (i.e. tentacle, tentacles or tentacled) and the total number of times it was used is 24.

There you have it. More useless information to impress your friends and family with, courtesy of The Outer Dark.

Edit:
Thanks to Andrea Bonazzi for the assist on this one. Add these ghostwritten tales to the list ("Imprisoned with the Pharaohs" written for Houdini is already listed above):
  • "Out of the Aeons" (with Hazel Heald) = 3 (tentacled 1, tentacles 2)
  • "The Horror in the Museum" (with Hazel Heald) = 1 (tentacled 1)
  • "The Diary of Alonzo Typer" (with William Lumley) = 3 (tentacled 2, tentacles 1)
  • "Collapsing Cosmoses" (with Robert Barlow) = 2 (tentacles 2)
  • "Within the Walls of Eryx" (with Kenneth Sterling) = 9 (tentacled 1, tentacles 8)
  • "Medusa's Coil" (with Zealia Bishop) = 1 (tentacles 1)
  • "The Mound" (with Zealia Bishop) = 1 (tentacled 1)
Making the new totals 70 fictional works, 15 of those stories had the word "tentacle" (or variations there of) being used 44 times.
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