I have just finished reading Providence #12. It manages to tie a lot of threads together from the preceding issues, and also from Alan Moore’s The Courtyard and Neonomicon. It does this final wrap-up in a satisfying, but not mind-blowing way.

I liked the idea of all books and narratives as “spoors”, life from other worlds infiltrating our minds. Books and works of art are presented as not only mind-transforming but also world-changing devices, of a piece with dreams.

Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi is integrated into the cast of characters as the last remaining scientist, a “Lovecraft scientist”, which I suppose we all are as readers of Lovecraft and Moore.

The blog FACTS IN THE CASE OF ALAN MOORE’S PROVIDENCE suggests an interpretation of Joshi, Perlman and Brears as representing the three major responses to Lovecraft’s work (scholarly and philosophical, proactive and combative, existential and spiritual). Moore himself seems closest to the Brears response of enlightened fatalism.

In the debate over whether horror or the dream is primary in Lovecraft, Moore seems to come down on the side of the dream. On the question of free will, Brears declares that as far as they know it’s a deterministic universe, but Johnny Carcosa (Nyarlathotep) affirms that the world is a fiction that easily submits to a stronger fiction, so determinism may not be the last word.

The balancing act of entertaining both hypotheses (mechanistic determinism and oniric agency) is nicely stated in the coda, which is a citation from Lovecraft’s “Beyond The Wall of Sleep“:

We may guess that in dreams life, matter, and vitality, as the earth knows such things, are not necessarily constant; and that time and space do not exist as our waking selves comprehend them. Sometimes I believe that this less material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on the terraqueous globe is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon.

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