I am reading an anthology entitled Black Wings: Tales of Lovecraftian Horror. It was published in 2010, by PS Publishing, and it was edited by S.T. Joshi. It is prefaced by the following quotation.
“The one test of the really weird is simply this – whether or not there be excited in the reader a profound sense of dread, and of contact with unknown spheres and powers; a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes and entities on the known universe’s utmost rim.” H.P. Lovecraft, ‘Supernatural Horror in Literature’
I like this a lot. I think I like the idea of somebody testing the weirdness of things – the idea that weirdness is important enough to be tested for. Also, I like the way that it applies to both the the macro and the micro – the ‘universe’ in a very literal, massive sense, and also stories very personal and internal. The ‘known universe’s utmost rim’ is, I think, as much to do with the extent and limitation of individual perception as it is to do with the extent and limitation of the sum total of scientific understanding. And so the ‘really weird’ could be fiction about the chaos and dread of ordinary day to day thinking as much as fiction about unspeakable alien gods worming their way up through the ocean floor.
It’s a very good anthology, by the way.