— H.P. Lovecraft American author 1890 - 1937
Letter to Frank Belknap Long (27 February 1931), in Selected Letters III, 1929-1931 edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, p. 300
Non-Fiction, Letters, to Frank Belknap Long
Kontext: All I want is to know things. The black gulph of the infinite is before me... I have no use for the machine age or any of its conceptions, methods, & ideals. I have use only for abstract cognition without social or utilitarian connotations; the thing which Thales & Anaxagoras & Heraclitus went after, & which was clearly definable by the word philosophy until those pragmatical puffballs Socrates & Plato threw a monkey-wrench into the works & crippled human thought for the next two millennia. Now it is a matter of perfect indifference to me whether or not baser interests cluster round the search for truth & lick the molasses-drops that ooze out of the fact-barrel. This apelike parasitism of the herd means nothing either for or against the abstract is-or-isn't quest which Thales began, Democritus continued, & Einstein prolongs. If machine-culture chooses to worship "science", that's its own business. It doesn't imply that the abstract process of cognition-craving turns about & reciprocally worships machine-culture!... Cognition, as such, is completely without social or aesthetic implications except so far as it places certain obvious contradictions of natural laws, & certain pointless exaltations of empty trivialities, in a light so unfavourable as to encourage obsolescence. It is nobody's tool or handmaiden—it is itself alone. Practically speaking, the mind likely to worship pure cognition most sincerely is that most of all opposed to industrialism & standardisation. Cognition is that branch of human desire & celebration most antipodally removed from anything envisaged or wished by Thomas A. Edison, Henry Ford, & the late Charles P. Steinmetz. It is the enemy of urban civilisation as it is the enemy of all handicaps which cripple the free individualistic excursions of the disinterested intellect into unknown cosmic space. It is the sworn ally of beauty because it is itself one of the supreme forms of beauty—the catharsis of a primal, titanic urge which links man to the uttermost gulfs of dramatic immensity. It is one with the greatest music & the loftiest poetry—being perhaps a glimpse of the liberating & expanding reality which both are blindly seeking.