Chthonic prose

Wed 19 Jun 2013 12:48 PM

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According to this silly widget, my academic prose most resembles the writing of HP Lovecraft. It was he, not I, who wrote:

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

I tested the widget's algorithm for robustness. It thought I was Lovecraftian more often than not, but it sometimes said Edgar Allen Poe instead. My blog posts about the internet it unfailingly compared to Cory Doctorow, and my posts about planets to Arthur C. Clark.

So the widget is a bit wobbly. It identifies the paragraph above (which is from the beginning of Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu) as being from Lovecraft. If asked to say something about the first three paragraphs of The Call of Cthulhu altogether, however, the widget indicates that it is in the style of Arthur C Clark.

This can be taken as harmless fun, but perhaps it suggests the deep and disturbing fact that my prose is precisely as much like Lovecraft's as Lovecraft's own prose. It is as if my literary output is just the continuation of his corpus.


...or perhaps...



from: Matt Brown

Thu 20 Jun 2013 10:31 AM

I am guessing this thing is keying in on word choice rather than "writing style." And thus the subject-matter of your writing is probably what's driving this.

My only repeated hit on a number of trials was also Lovecraft, three times.

I also got a variety of (broadly speaking) science fiction authors: Poe, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, Ursula K. Le Guin.

The one odd duck was Mario Puzo. This was on a paper on science and democracy which talked a lot about epistemic authority and autonomy, as well as expertise and representation. Go figure.