- “Ex Oblivione“
- Prose poem (910 words); probably written in late 1920 or early 1921. First published (as by “Ward Phillips”) in the United Amateur(March 1921); rpt. Phantagraph(July 1937); first collected in BWS; corrected text in MW.A depressed and embittered narrator seeks various exotic worlds in dream as an antidote to the grinding prosiness of daily life; later, when “the days of waking became less and less bearable from their greyness and sameness,” he begins to take drugs to augment his nightly visions. In the “dream-city of Zakarion” he comes upon a papyrus containing the thoughts of the dream-sages who once dwelt there, he reads of a “high wall pierced by a little bronze gate,” which may or may not be the entrance to untold wonders. Realizing that “no new horror can be more terrible than the daily torture of the commonplace,” the narrator takes more and more drugs in an effort to find this gate. Finally he seems to come upon it—the door is ajar. As he enters, he finds to his ecstasy that the realm he is entering is nothing other than “native infinity of crystal oblivion from which the daemon Life had called me for one brief and desolate hour.”The story reiterates the topos (“Life is more horrible than death”) that was the apparent theme of the lost story “Life and Death”; the notion is probably derived from HPL’s reading of Schopenhauer at this time. Compare, for example, In Defence ofDagon:“There is nothing better than oblivion, since in oblivion there is no wish unfulfilled” ( MW166).See Paul Montelone, “‘Ex Oblivione’: The Contemplative Lovecraft,” LSNo. 33 (Fall 1995): 2–14
An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz.