from our friends Tony Whitehead and Phil Smith
The Bonelines project and novel began in 2016/17 with our intention to walk in ‘The Lovecraft Triangle’, an area between the three towns of Newton Abbot, Ashburton and Totnes. This is a landscape of small villages, fields, hills and lanes in south Devon where the ancestors of American horror and fantasy writer Howard Philips Lovecraft lived prior to their departure for land stolen from the Native Americans across the Atlantic Ocean. In time our “search area” extended to the lower valley of the River Teign, the landscape on and to the west of the Exe Estuary, and to parts of Torquay.
We had noted how Lovecraft’s work had recently been channeled and finessed by philosophers, artists and critical theorists – including Michel Houellebecq’s somewhat anodyne literary critique, the ‘weird realism’ celebrated by Graham Harman of the Object Oriented Ontologists (OOO) and the dissident tentacular thinking of a highly critical Donna Haraway.
In the light of this recent elevation of Lovecraft’s weird fiction to critical-theoretical and cultural touchstone, we set out to use Lovecraft’s fictions as a sensory guide for unpicking the local landscape of his ancestors; which was part of our local landscape and which, we speculated, had continued through family traditions to play a part in Lovecraft’s art. Walking the lanes and fields, hills and odd architectures of this ‘Triangle’, we interpreted, finessed and rejected. We looked for his monsters.