Oh dear. Is it that time of month already?
Apparently this month it’s going to be weepy PMS, because I’m choking up repeatedly while reading The World Without Us, a book on exactly what would become of the world if humans vanished tomorrow, which is fascinating and oddly hopeful–the rather astonishing speed which with nature would proceed to whomp our cities flat is, in a bizarre sense, reassuring. I’m not one of those people who think the world would be better without people in it, I think humans do fantastic, wonderful, incredible things, and yet even the most mellow humanist occasionally getings into one of those grim "O what have we wrought?!" moods. So it’s oddly comforting to realize that sans humans, even downtown Manhattan would be serious bear-and-moose style wilderness in under five hundred years–and it wouldn’t all be tree-of-frickin’-heaven, either. (Other areas would take a lot less time, even the deserts, which are notoriously slow to recover from anything.)
Now, this is occasionally emotionally tricky territory, I grant you, even on my best days, I could get a little choked up about such matters, but even so, I don’t generally have to fight back tears at the knowledge that they pump something like 13 million gallons of water a day out of the New York subway system. (I grant you, it’s a big number, but I have no real concept of how big it is–I understand gallons in nano-tank terms. 6 gallons is manageable. 125 gallons, not so much.) I get emotional about my ecology, but not THAT emotional.
Still, possibly I should be reading something else for the next few days…Diane Wynne Jones, say. China Mieville. (Un Lun Dun, not…y’know…one of the others, which are all kind of like a tour of the coolest scenery ever, with a guide who keeps showing you marvels and then punching you in the kidneys.) Lovecraft, maybe. I find Lovecraft strangely soothing, and you can tell me I’m a total fruitcake for that, but the horrors are all comfortingly huge and far away and hard to get at, and I am anyway entirely the wrong person to be a Lovecraft protagonist. (Being female and all, and even leaving that aside, I am cynical in entirely the wrong sort of way.) Aged relatives do not die and leave me their crumbling houses and cryptic journals. My aged relatives, the few I ever had, tended to leave mobile homes and piles of tacky knick-knacks, and Yog-Sothoth wouldn’t be caught dead in a mobile home, even a double-wide with a nice yard.
Even assuming that I was driving in the middle of the backwoods of somewhere, and my car broke down, I would most likely find myself in the middle of a slasher movie, not a scene of Lovecraftian horror. (I’m female and have fairly large breasts–c’mon, you do the math.) Should I accidentally decide that the Arkham Bed & Breakfast would be a great weekend getaway, when warned to avoid the hideous nightly rituals of the local inbred populace, I will happily spend the night seeing what’s on cable; when the shrill piping of hideous flutes skirls through the night, my increasingly hard-of-hearing self will sleep through it; and when an ancient folklorist begins to tell me about the horrifying truth lurking behind local Indian myths, I’ll bring up that one Blackfoot myth with the lodge where the walls were covered in savage vaginas.*
The only risk I really run is hearing the cacaodemonaical cackle of whipporwhils, grabbing my binoculars and running out of the house, whereupon I will be accidentally stepped on by something eldritch and non-Euclidean. This will probably be embarassing for both of us.
(I think it’s the writing style, honestly–Stephen King’s Lovecraftian work, From A Buick 8, scared the ever-loving crap outta me, and I loved it. )
Yes, perhaps Lovecraft is a good choice. I never choke up reading Lovecraft. I wanted to re-read The Last Unicorn, but I think I’ll save that one for a few days.
*I think it was Blackfoot. It’s been a few years, and google is treacherous on the topic. Still, this is my favorite myth to mention when people start going on about how some fragment in native myths has to refer to some REAL EVENT lost in antiquity. I’ll believe you as soon as I get my house of angry vaginas, and not before.