Pharyngula

Connections

So, what does the promotion of jazz have to do with HP Lovecraft? (This isn’t a raven and a writing desk non-connection — there really is a link.)

Comments

  1. #1 Amber Culbertson-Faegre
    June 30, 2008

    What a crazy little article.

    I had no idea that the movement of federal troops into Little Rock had anything to do with Armstrong.

    Sounds like the program did inadvertent good in the States, as well as abroad.

    Assuming that any of this is, well, documented. =P

  2. #2 Olaf Davis
    June 30, 2008

    Of course ravens and writing desks are connected: there’s a b in both.

  3. #3 MissPrism
    June 30, 2008

    I thought Carroll eventually explained that a raven and writing-desk both produce flat notes.

  4. #4 Benjamin Franklin
    June 30, 2008

    I have been noodleing for some time on the correlation between jazz greats and religious fundamentalism, or the lack thereof.

    As with comedians and modern artists, it seems that most jazz musicians do not seem to be highly religious. Could this be due to an inherant 2 dimensional thinking process of religiousness? Or could it be that religiousness imparts a higher commitment to structure and authority, thus limiting freer expression and creativity?

    Any sociologists out there with info or opinions?

    Just thinking.

  5. #5 Numenaster
    June 30, 2008

    Not sure if this answer came from Carroll, but I’ve heard “Because Poe wrote on both”.

  6. #6 Jon H
    June 30, 2008

    Of course, Lovecraft probably would have freaked right the hell out if he found himself at the Cotton Club, surrounded by swarthy men of foreign birth, pounding rhythmic beats, and intricate intertwining alien melodies.

    Creature of his time, after all. Or, really, a creature of a time before his.

  7. #7 uncle frogy
    June 30, 2008

    I have no proof just some idle thoughts about the relation of American Jazz and religiousness.
    Jazz in every era even from the beginning was not played in places of worship but in its beginnings in whore houses and saloons not places where conventional authority had very much influence. In modern times today more likely in night clubs and concert clubs that usually serve alcoholic beverages, even outdoor concerts often offer drinks and food and will over look what people bring with there picnics not what happens at very many churches I am told.
    the influence of spiritual thinking though is not lacking in jazz nor is musical expression of a “spiritual nature or feeling” uncommon.

    The expression though tends to be highly abstract and very individual thinking of people like John Coltrane here.

    Jazz also has developed along the lines of individual expression.
    so history, the night life and individual expression are not the kinds of elements that would foster success of music with conventional religious themes though the musical forms from the Black church are widely used.
    my thoughts and understanding
    uncle frogy

  8. #8 Epikt
    June 30, 2008

    Benjamin Franklin:

    I have been noodleing for some time on the correlation between jazz greats and religious fundamentalism, or the lack thereof.
    As with comedians and modern artists, it seems that most jazz musicians do not seem to be highly religious. Could this be due to an inherant 2 dimensional thinking process of religiousness? Or could it be that religiousness imparts a higher commitment to structure and authority, thus limiting freer expression and creativity? Any sociologists out there with info or opinions?

    I’m not sure how true that is. It would be hard to make the case that, say, John Coltrane was an atheist, with album titles like A Love Supreme, Om, Ascension, and Dear Lord. At that time, there was a whole crowd of avant-gardists–people like Pharaoh Sanders, Albert Ayler, Leon Thomas, etc.–that seemed to be into a loose spirituality of some kind.

    I always found the finger-in-the-eye goofy spirituality of Sun Ra to be a lot more fun. “Intergalactic Myth-Science Arkestra?” Wonderful.

    It might be relevant to see which players came from rural backgrounds. I suspect you’d find pretty much the same correlation with that and religiosity that you find in the general population.

  9. #9 Holbach
    June 30, 2008

    Benjamin Franklin @ # 4 Yes, there were quite a few jazz greats who were not religious as you suggest, but offhand I cannot recall who they are. I’ll have to do some searching on that topic. As I mentioned in the post at the “Bill from Bogalusa” topic, I have an affinity for American Jazz from the 1920′s and 1930′s, and even though it is not my generation, I sort of latched on to it and am into this great music. I know the majority of you posters are rock fans, and though I will not say you don’t know what you are missing, I have sloughed off rock completely and consider Jazz from that era to be the most incredible music our great country has ever given to the world. I listened to it, I liked it, and I only wish I had grown up with it!

  10. #10 bartkid
    June 30, 2008

    So, what does the promotion of jazz have to do with HP Lovecraft?

    I dunno.
    Does it have anything to do with all those Ornette Cthulhu lp’s I keep in my sub-basement?

  11. #11 moonwatcher
    June 30, 2008

    And both have quills dipped in ink.

  12. #12 Brian
    June 30, 2008

    There are several answers to the raven-like-a-writing-desk riddle, but they were all invented by readers after the publication of Alice in Wonderland, and Carroll explicitly stated that his original intention was that the riddle had no answer.

  13. #13 Patricia
    June 30, 2008

    I grew up listening to 1920′s jazz and blues. My grandmother was a flapper. Then I got into it again watching Jeeves & Wooster. Now I listen to Free Thought Radio Network. I love hillbilly music too “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” was a sing-a-long for me *rolls eyes at self*.

  14. #14 travc
    June 30, 2008

    Kindof gives an interesting spin to ‘The Music of Erich Zann’.

    Between the wars, a lot of very interesting and influential ideas were floating around among the Sci-Fi authors and their sometimes surprisingly influential friends. Olaf Stapledon is my favorite example, but by no means is he a special case.

  15. #15 Big Bonobo
    June 30, 2008

    Listening to Duke Ellington as I read this, he certainly was into rather conventional religion, at least in some of his music. My late friend Percy Heath didn’t have much use for religion, but wasn’t an atheist. And the Marsalis family seems pretty religious, especially Delfeayo. I think that most jazz folks are about as diverse an the society they live in, just like most other folks.

  16. #16 Holbach
    June 30, 2008

    Patricia @ 13 Wow, you listened to 1920′s Jazz when you were growing up! And your grandma was a 1920′s jazz flapper! I’m liking you more and more Patricia with each little thing you disclose. I often wonder that if I had grown up with that early jazz like you, would I somehow take it for granted and not be enthused about it as I am now? As I posted earlier, I only latched onto it about ten years ago and it really ensconced in my bones. It is incredible how a bunch of guys playing a hot jazz number can go right to my marrow, and as I stand listening to this incomparable music, I wonder how the hell they achieve that pure rhythmic sensation. And I fantasize about being in front of them at the time they are playing without amplification! Pure rhythmic jazz coming at you unsullied by speakers! Oh, to have been there live! And of course Jeeves and Wooster have that jazz soundtrack to keep that music up front today. Better stop or I’ll start listing those bands that really tingle my spine!

  17. #17 Holbach
    June 30, 2008

    Big Bonobo @ 15 Duke Ellington is one of my favorite bands, and while it is true that he has written religious music, this was not until the 1940′s when he was undergoing a personal transition as well as a musical one. But Duke in the 1920′s and 1930′s is a master of the jazz idiom! I have everything he recorded in these two decades and it is an aural treasurehouse! Duke did it all: he composed the music, wrote the lyrics, arranged it, and conducted it; he will always be counted among my top ten jazz musicians of all time. Just a few other greats: Louis of course(need I say his last name?), Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke, Joe Oliver, Bennie Moten, Fletcher Henderson, and just too many to list here! Man, that music is the most incomparable sound from our great country!

  18. #18 Epikt
    June 30, 2008

    Holbach:

    Duke Ellington is one of my favorite bands,

    There’s a story about Lawrence Welk announcing that his band was going to play the famous Duke Ellington hit, “Take a Train.”

  19. #19 Holbach
    June 30, 2008

    Epikt @ 18 Yes, I know that one, and it sort of makes the”A” Train in Manhattan nondescript!

  20. #20 Holbach
    June 30, 2008

    Patricia Follow up @ 16 You may already know it, but I’ll drop it here anyway. Go to YouTube and type in “1920′s Jazz” and a whole bunch of great stuff will come up to tickle your flapper beginnings! “1930′s Jazz” too!

  21. #21 Epikt
    June 30, 2008

    Holbach:

    Yes, I know that one, and it sort of makes the”A” Train in Manhattan nondescript!

    In college, I was lucky enough to play under the direction of Herb Pomeroy, a wonderful jazz educator and trumpet player, and one of my favorite people on the planet. Herb played in Ellington’s band at some point, and had some great stories. I last played under his direction three years ago. We were going retro and doing some Ellington pieces, and he worked to get us to play with the same fat, slightly-behind-the-beat sound that Ellington’s sax section got. Great fun.

    It was really nice to re-acquaint with Ellington’s music. Some of it is almost eerily forward-looking–you can listen to some of Maria Schneider’s contemporary pieces, and clearly hear the lineage back to Ellington, seventy years prior.

  22. #22 The MadPanda
    June 30, 2008

    Well, don’t that beat all? HP Lovecraft and Jazz?

    (gamer geekery follows)

    Maybe somebody at Chaosium remembered this connection. One of the supplements for their Call of Cthulhu game (based on the works of Mister Lovecraft, among others) features the always-fun Outer God Nyarlathotep playing sax as a guest artist on a rock album.

    (end gamer geekery)

    Thanks for the link, PZ! That’s some interesting connecting-of-the-dots…

    The MadPanda, FCD

  23. #23 John Morales
    July 1, 2008

    Jon H @#6: Best comment so far, for mine.

  24. #24 Benjamin Franklin
    July 1, 2008

    Epikt,

    I can relate. When I was in college, I had to fill up a time slot with an elective & the one that looked the most interesting to me was “A history of Jazz”. When I arrived at the first class, I found out that the course was being taught by John Lewis, of the Modern Jazz Quartet.

    Needless to say, it was a fun and amazing class that I will always remember.

  25. #25 Longtime Lurker
    July 1, 2008

    The message I took away from the article was the importance of soft power in America’s ascendence. I knew that the GWOT would never be “won” by the Bushistas when I heard of pro-Ayatollah kids staging a demonstration in Toronto. When a guy in his twenties thinks a bearded mullah is cooler than Eminem, rapproachment is pretty damn difficult.

    Too bad HPL was such an inveterate racialist… you’d think a guy who was obsessed with humanity’s insignificance in a hostile universe would be more likely to put superficial differences in their proper perspective.

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