Message from discussion [LONG] Log - "The Tree on the Hill" 11/01/98
From: box_n...@ix.NOSPAM.netcom.com (Steven Kaye)
Subject: [IRC][LONG] Log - "The Tree on the Hill" 11/01/98
X-NETCOM-Date: Sat Nov 14 10:29:07 PM CST 1998
Catching up on old logs, this is the first attempt at discussing "The Tree
on the Hill." Your humble narrator concedes that Sundays seem to be the
best in terms of turnout, a hypothesis regarding the origin of the Elder
Things is forwarded, similarities with "The Haunter of the Dark" are
analyzed, and more.
Kesler: I imagine that the turn out for yesterday was light.
Vheissu: Yes, and of those who'd shown up, hardly anyone had read the
story. Looks like Sunday's a keeper.
Kesler: A pity. I took the weekend off for Halloween, otherwise I
would not be here today.
Vheissu: Well, there's no law saying there can't be a second chat,
just that someone else would have to run it.
Kesler: Perhaps, many people, like me, had made plans for Halloween.
I attended a party.
Vheissu: Yes, but in general Sundays seem to be getting the higher
turnout. Still, we'll see how things go in the rest of November.
Kesler: How much work does this involve? If you send me some
information on the subject, I may very well be able to handle it.
Vheissu: Basically, just sending out announcements of chats, attending
and logging chats, and posting the logs of chats to ahc. It helps to do
some research before the chat, to help spur discussion on, but that's no
Kesler: Oh. Well, if this is the case then continue holding the
talks on Sundays.
Donovan: Steven: How did the discussion go yesterday? Did anyone else
Vheissu: Several people showed up, but almost none of them had read
Kesler: Well, I read it.
Vheissu: And I read it, and liked it (apart from the too-dense
narrator and his fondness for ellipses).
Kesler: I really wish Lovecraft had simply re-wrote the whole piece
instead of simply the latter third.
Kesler: His style is so different from that of Rimel's that I was
disconcerted in a bad way.
Kesler: Rimel's writing is crisp and concise, while Lovecraft tries
in vain to evoke mood and atmosphere at the last minute.
Vheissu: I will say that this story reminded me of "From Beyond"
(monstrosities lurk all around, and we should be grateful we can't see
them), as well as Fitz James O'Brien's "The Diamond Lens."
Kesler: Also, Rimel likes to place the action on center stage. It
was Lovecraft who removed the narrator from the action. This shift was
Kesler: I think if Lovecraft had rewritten the whole thing it would
have been an okay tale.
Kayven: After reading this week's story, I'm pretty much convinced
that Nath and the origin planet of the Elder Things is one and the same.
Kesler: Please elaborate.
Kayven: In Dreams in the Witch House, we are told that Gilman and
Mason visit Elder Things on a diferent planet. That planet is described
as having 3 suns.
Kayven: The same can be said for Nath in this week's story.
Vheissu: Ahoy. We're discussing how the Elder Things came from Nath.
Kesler: I had not noticed that. I was busily being distracted by the
"three flaming eyes."
Kayven: That being said, I hardly claim it is definite proof.
Kayven: But it isn't too far of a leap to make.
Kayven: The only problem is that the quote given from The Chronicles
of Nath imply that it is taking place on Earth
Kayven: Well, actually, maybe not.
Kayven: I suppose it depends on how you read it.
Azraelathoth: Using which story as source work?
Vheissu: And if Nath=the world of three suns from "The Dreams in the
Witch-House," then we also know Nath is between Hydra and Argo Navis
(which doesn't narrow things down much, admittedly - like saying we know
Coeur D'Alene is between New York City and San Francisco).
Kesler: Not at all. Of course, there is no way for us to know what
Rimel threw in when he rewrote the piece after Lovecraft had a hand in it.
Kayven: Not "how" but "if"
Kayven: Dreams and Tree.
Kesler: I don't know if this is a separate planet. I got the
impression it was an alternate reality or seperate dimension.
Kayven: As for the "how", I've always assumed it was through direct
physical travel, either flight or ship. Once they arrived and begain
colonization, they simply created gates (as implied by Copper's The Great
White Space) to allow for limited travel between Earth and other colonized
Azraelathoth: Where exactly is Nath mentioned in either of these stories?
Kayven: But that's a bit off topic.
Kayven: 405 for the Arkham edition of Tree
Azraelathoth: I found it - the Yergler manuscript. Is Nath mentioned by
name in "Witch House" or are we going of the similarity of the three suns?
Kayven: Nath isn't mentioned by name in Dreams.
Kesler: "So in the year of the Black Goat there came unto Nath a
shadow that should not be on Earth" (HM, 405).
Azraelathoth: So it may not in fact be Nath from where the Old Ones came
Kayven: Just the similarity.
Kayven: BTW, what year is the events of Tree suppose to be taking place?
Vheissu: Eric: Because the three shadows appeared in the photographs?
Also,if we assume the Black Goat=Shub-Niggurath, perhaps her "function" is
to spawn the monsters from Outside, like Tiamat?
Kayven: And don't say, The Year of the Black Goat. :)
Kesler: What does everyone think about the similarities to the
Haunter of the Dark?
Kayven: Azrael: Yes, it might not be the fact.
Azraelathoth: In respect to looking into a crystal and henceforth going insane?
Vheissu: "My first excursion -- and my last, thank God! -- into those
hills occurred while Constantine Theunis and I were living in Hampden the
summer of 1938."
Kayven: Kesler: The use of a gem or jewel is certainly emphasized in
Kesler: I was also thinking of the three flaming eyes.
Vheissu: And the mention of Ka-Nefer in "Tree" - isn't Nephren-Ka
mentioned in "The Haunter of the Dark"?
Kesler: Not quite tri-lobed, but certainly similar.
Azraelathoth: Whilst we're on the subject - what exacly *is* a tri-lobed eye?
Kayven: That's interesting since Lovecraft wrote it years before 1938.
Kayven: tri-lobed eye is one with three pupils, I believe.
Vheissu: "The Pharaoh Nephren-Ka built around it a temple with a
windowless crypt, and did that which caused his name to be stricken from
all monuments and records." (Haunter)
Kesler: That's the reason I believe the tale was touched up by Rimel
after Lovecraft's death.
Kesler: Tri-lobed is often used to describe the arches found on
certain Islamic buildings. I can draw it, but it is awkward to describe.
Kayven: Vheissu: And in this story, the High Priest Ka-Nefer keeps
the gem safe within a temple
Kesler: Also, our hero feels a bond form between himself and the site
of the tree.
Vheissu: Yes, I think there are too many similarities to be
coincidental. Re: tri-lobed - I imagined something like the Martian's eye
in George Pal's WAR OF THE WORLDS.
Azraelathoth: There's also Theunis' reaserch into Ancient Egypt - the
last resting place of the Trapahezdron until it was exhumed in modern
Kayven: Kesler: I'd agree with the idea that Rimel touched up the
tale. Lovecraft usually didn't date things in the future since it was
openly admitting that the piece is a work of fiction and thus putting the
suspension of disbelief of the reader into jeopardy.
Vheissu: Dan! We're discussing the possibility that Rimel touched up
"The Tree on the Hill" to reflect elements in "The Haunter of the Dark."
Danharms: What have we theorized so far?
Vheissu: 1) That Nath=the world of the Elder Things, maybe 2) The
number of similar elements - an identification with the alien menace, a
jewel which shows strange sights kept in a temple, a creature with three
flaming eyes, etc. show there must be some connection between "The Tree on
the Hill" and "The Haunter of the Dark"
Kesler: I'm curious to do if this was added by Rimel at a later
date. After all, the evidence suggests Rimel touched up the piece after
Lovecraft's death. Note the date of 1938. This is well after Haunter
appeared in print.
Vheissu: There's also the Pharaoh Nephren-Ka in "Haunter" and Ka-Nefer
Vheissu: How much do we know about Rimel, besides the fact that he
wrote several stories with Lovecraft and lived in Washington state?
Kayven: Not much, apparently.
Danharms: Yes, a good piece of work. Of course, we'd have to figure
out how to separate the HPL elements from the Rimel additions. I pointed
out the similarities between "The Last Test" and "Charles Dexter Ward", so
HPL may have used the same material in different stories from the same
Kesler: He tried his hand at poetry. "The Dreams of Yid" which
Lovecraft changed to the "Dreams of Yith." (HPL:AL 555)
Kesler: But I don't think these were Lovecraft's additions. I am
pretty sure he only touched up the later third.
Danharms: I seem to have misplaced my copy of SL V, so I'll have to
wait to see what it says about Rimel.
Kesler: Got it handy. I'll be back.
Vheissu: Joshi seems content with Rimel's claims that Lovecraft wrote
the third section and the citation from the Chronicle.
Danharms: I'd say we need a copy of the MS. to do this properly. I'd
say he did a little more than that - the Chronicles of Nath passage reads
as straight HPL.
Danharms: But given the confusion that HPL's other revision clients
Kesler: Price suggests that he also worked on the second half, but I
don't buy it.
Kesler: Excuse me, the second third.
Danharms: As for Rimel, this is what the letters suggest: 1) he had a
cat named Crom who vanished, 2) he had at least one story in WT that
wasn't a collaboration, and 3) HPL only wrote parts of his work.
Vheissu: Hello, Peter! We're discussing the possibility that Rimel
touched up "Tree," incorporating elements from Lovecraft's "Haunter of the
Dark." The alternative being that Lovecraft recycled elements from "Tree"
to use in "Haunter."
Kayven: Maybe Rimel actually wrote "Haunter" :)
Vheissu: Was anybody else reminded of Clark Ashton Smith when reading
about Constantine Theunis?
Kesler: Lovecraft sent a letter to Rimel two days after he had
finished writing "Haunter of the Dark." Unfortunately, it is heavily
edited. SL V, pg. 207 for those who are curious.
Danharms: Eric: It's possible. Some of the letters in the database
are still based on the AH transcripts, which often include annoying
lacunae at the most interesting places.
Danharms: V: It did strike me as Smithian in tone, yes.
Danharms: Eric: Ah yes, a letter with all those annoying dots. Ugh.
Danharms: There are almost as many dots in it as letters.
Vheissu: Dan: Sorry, I was unclear. I meant to suggest Constantine
Theunis=Clark Ashton Smith
Danharms: I learned of this problem with the database when I asked
Donovan about the Aleister Crowley quote in SL V. Not only does the quote
in the book have the middle part cut, but so does the AH transcript.
Evidently there was some editing of HPL's letters going on at AH.
Kesler: I think Constantine would have been Rimel's addition.
Danharms: From Lovecraft at Last: Rimel seems to have managed a fan
magazine called the Phantagraph (?), and also drew portraits of some of
his correspondents (including HPL) on linoleum (!).
Danharms: We thought it would be helpful to have you around to see if
you knew more about Duane Rimel than the name of his cat or his penchant
for linoleum art.
Kesler: Lovecraft sent a letter to Rimel two days after he had
finished writing "Haunter of the Dark." Unfortunately, it is heavily
edited. SL V, pg. 207. Can you provide more information, Mr. Loucks?
Donovan: I personally don't, but there's always them letters.
Donovan: Eric: I have the letter here in its entirety.
Donovan: Unfortunately, it's pretty long. Let me scan it...
Donovan: Interesting opening paragraph:
Donovan: "Very glad to receive your communication of Sabbat-Eve, & to
digest all the interesting enclosures. I had seen brief press notices of
that Salmon River expedition, & was quite fascinated by it --"
Donovan: "-- not only because of the Idaho locale, but because of the
mysterious & little-known nature of the country traversed. It is curious
how many relatively unexplored spots exist in the United States today,
despite the general spread of settlement."
Donovan: "You'll recall that I corrected the last name of your Greek
detective to Theunis. Well -- upon further research I don't think that is
much better Greek than what you had originally!"
Kesler: Excellent. Lovecraft was continuing to revise Rimel's work
while working on "Haunter of the Dark." Friends, we have made an
important discovery. Who writes the paper?
Vheissu: It's your discovery by rights, Eric.
Donovan: Man, this letter was edited! It goes on for pages and pages and
pages. I can't imagine why they even bothered to include those two
shortened paragraphs in _Selected Letters_.
Donovan: What did I miss?
Vheissu: There are a number of similarities between "The Tree on the
Hill" and "The Haunter of the Dark," too many to be coincidental.
Kayven: And I suggested the controversial, but no doubt
groundbreaking, theory that Rimel is the true author of "Haunter"
Donovan: Here's something vaguely interesting from a letter Lovecraft
wrote to Rimel on 30 October 1934:
Kesler: The connection between "Haunter" and "Tree" exist because
Lovecraft was working on the two tales at the same time.
Donovan: "The tale about the pirate in Hampden sounds promising. Of
course the general theme is not new -- Bierce has something, I believe, of
the same approximate cast -- but it is always capable of fresh treatment."
Danharms: Eric: To play Devil's Advocate - perhaps HPL wasn't
_revising_ it at the time, but providing suggestions to Rimel for
Danharms: I'm still not sure what a pirate is doing in western
Washington, but that's just me.
Kesler: Valid point.
Donovan: Daniel: Perhaps it was a reference to a different Hampden...
Vheissu: Possibly the preying on the
Vheissu: Whoops. Possibly the pirates were preying on Russian and
other ships carrying furs?
Danharms: Don: I'd think so, but the pirate's mentioned in "The Tree
on the Hill".
Danharms: Still, your discovery does illuminate why the pirate's
mentioned in that story.
Vheissu: How did we get from Idaho to western Washington, anyway? The
Salmon River's in Idaho.
Danharms: The story states that the "torturous Salmon River gorge" is
"southeast of Hampden". If you take a look at the atlas, you'll see that
if you go a little ways northwest of the Salmon River, you end up in
Washington. Add the fact that Rimel lived in Washington...
Danharms: BTW, Donovan, do you have an address for Rimel?
Donovan: Lemme see...
Donovan: Unfortunately it's just Box 100, Asotin, WA.
Kayven: Here in Central Ohio, there is a story about a pirate who,
after retiring from his naval pursuits, moved here with a Spainish wife.
So it wasn't too uncommon for pirates to go land lubber (or, at least, the
"urban legends" of the time of the past weren't uncommon.)
Danharms: Don: That's enough. YES! I was right. I thought that
Hampden was probably in the area of Lewiston, and Asotin is just south of
there. So Hampden may be a fictionalized Asotin.
Kayven: Vheissu: Would you care to sum up briefly what we have found
out so far?
Vheissu: The summary: Lovecraft was at the very least researching ways
to improve "The Tree on the Hill" while writing "The Haunter in the Dark,"
which may well explain the common elements (jewel which allows one to see
the hidden terrors of the cosmos, hidden in a temple; things with three
flaming eyes; the protagonist sharing the mind of the monster, etc.).
Vheissu: The summary cont': Hampden (from "Tree") may be a fictional
version of Rimel's native Asotin, Washington state.
Vheissu: More of the summary: Nath, the Land of Three Suns ("Tree")
may be identical with the Elder Thing's world of three suns ("Dreams in
Ahasver: Vheissu - Well, thanks!
Donovan: Daniel: The Blue Mountains are in Oregon and the Salmon River
twists all over central Idaho. I don't know if Asotin's the answer after
Donovan: Daniel: However, Rimel does refer to the "tortuous Salmon River
gorge", which is probably the portion of the river that empties into the
Snake River. The confluence of the two rivers _is_ near Asotin.
Danharms: Don: It also depends on how large this "Blue Mountain Forest
Reserve" is. Any luck on Hell's Acres?
Donovan: Daniel: Well, the portion of the Snake River south of its
confluence with the Salmon River is calld Hells Canyon.
Danharms: There's a Hell's Canyon on the Snake River, and a He-Devil
(?) a little to the east of that, though it's a bit far south for my
Vheissu: Hell's Canyon is a canyon of the Snake River on the Idaho
Donovan: I suppose the Blue Mountain Forest Reserve could have extended
that far east since the story opens by saying that "the region...was part
of the Blue mountain Forest Reserve", implying it no longer is.
Danharms: Don: There's a Hell's Half-Acre in Idaho, but that's all the
way on the other side of the state.
Donovan: There's a Hell's Half-Acre right here in Arizona that I've hiked
before and let me tell you -- it's aptly named.
Danharms: Donovan, check this out:
Donovan: Daniel: Roger that. Checking co-ordinates now.
Vheissu: So it's on the borders of Idaho, Washington and Oregon (not
too far from Asotin, it looks like). Interesting.
Donovan: Daniel: Actually, I've been looking at my National Geographic
"Close-Up: U.S.A." map of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and
Wyoming. It has loads of detail -- I see He-Devil Mountain.
Donovan: It looks as if "Blue Mountain" on the GNIS page is the same as
He Devil Mountain.
Danharms: More info: The forest is
Danharms: part of the
old Blue Mountain Forest
Danharms: Reserve, which
was established in 1906 by
Theodore Roosevelt. The Reserve
Danharms: was divided
into four smaller, more
units in 1908 - the Deschutes,
Whitman and Umatilla National
Danharms: Argh. Sorry; that didn't work well.
Danharms: I'm trying to narrow it down between those four forests.
Danharms: Unfortunately, I can't find information on the Blue Mountain
Forest Reserve's boundaries.
Danharms: At least some of it's in Oregon.
Vheissu: Well, all the names you give except Whitman are the names of
counties in Oregon, if that helps. Malheur County is in the southeast
corner of Oregon, and Whitman is in SE Washington state (next to Asotin
Donovan: According to my National Geographic map, it looks like almost
all of this preserve is in Oregon. I can see the Malheur National Forest,
the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, and two separate areas called the
Umatilla National Forest. Must be the four.
Donovan: In fact, the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is in two portions
-- one is west of the Oregon Trail and one is northeast of it.
Danharms: Then again, it could have been broken up and some sections
Donovan: It looks as if the northeastern portion of the Wallowa Whitman
National Forest is the best bet, although it doesn't actually extend
across the Salmon River. However, it does come close near the Riggins and
He Devil Mountain area.
Danharms: Oddly, the narrator refers to the Blue Mountain Forest
Reserve being around during his visit to Hell's Acres, even though he
didn't visit there until 1938.
Donovan: I still can't find the Deschutes...
Danharms: Here's at least part of it: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/ochoco/
Donovan: Wait a second. The Deschutes National Forest is much further
west near Bend.
Donovan: I see the Ochoco National Forest between the Malheur National
Forest and the Deschutes National Forest.
Danharms: This further makes a later revision of the story possible -
perhaps the original was set between 1906-08, and Rimel changed it later
while forgetting about that detail.
Donovan: The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest it is.
Donovan: No, he said that "The last time I visited Hampden the
region...was part of the Blue Mountain Forest Reserve." Therefore, his
first visit was prior to 1908, but his second visit -- during the story --
was in 1938.
Danharms: But if we take "last" to mean "previous", it would imply that
the narrator is still living in Hampden, though I interpret the first
sentence of the second paragraph to mean he doesn't live there any more.
Donovan: Yes, you're right. Johnny just can't read...
Donovan: Daniel: I misread that opening. Rimel must have made an error.
Danharms: Which suggests that the story was revised later...
Donovan: What probably suggests this more strongly is this: "...Theunis
and I were living in Hampden the summer of 1938."
Donovan: The 1938 may have been changed from an earlier date and the
reference to the Blue Mountain Forest Reserve may have been overlooked.
Danharms: Fascinating. I think we've really made some progress here.
Donovan: The comment, "Then we'll both go home," at the end of the second
section has me puzzled. The implication is that both Single and Theunis
will return home to Croydon, but only Theunis goes.
Danharms: That is odd. Perhaps this story was touched up but never
completely worked out. Then after HPL died, Rimel decided to have it
published, so he changed the date to 1938 and had it published.
Donovan: Perhaps. Theunis apparently returns home, and over two weeks
later the hospital in Croydon calls Single, at which time he returns to
Croydon "within half an hour".
Vheissu: Which means within 60 miles or less of the cabin, I'm guessing.
Danharms: That deals with my own tenuous theory of Croydon being Spokane.
Vheissu: Well, Croydon could be based on Spokane, just as Arkham and
Innsmouth were based on real towns even though not all the geography
Donovan: I think Spokane's too far. Lewiston's better.
Donovan: It's only 10 miles away, which I can see taking half an hour in
the early portion of the century.
Vheissu: Speed of 20 mph? That sounds possible.
Donovan: Especially over dirt roads.
Danharms: Though that might mean we have to bring Hell's Acres a wee
bit closer, to account for it being a day-long hiking trip.
Vheissu: Not having hiked much, how far away would a day's hike be?
Donovan: Steven K.: It totally depends upon the terrain. Based on what
the terrain in western Idaho sounds like, I'm guessing 15 miles at the
Danharms: In Scouts, I think we managed about 20 miles or so per day.
Donovan: The terrain was probably somewhat easier.
Danharms: Agreed, but we were in the foothills of the Appalachians, so
it probably wasn't too much easier.
Danharms: So we are probably talking about 15 miles - less since he
slept for so long.
Danharms: Maybe around 5 miles each way?