Something about the scene reminded me of the strange and disturbing Asian paintings of Nicholas Roerich… Lovecraft, At The Mountains Of Madness. In which an expedition to Antarctica discovers the remains of a lost civilisation. A civilisation that predated the rise of Man by many millions of years.
The icy southern end of the world was still a vast unexplored territory when Lovecraft wrote in 1931, and he took full advantage of its mystery in this tale of huge cities hidden behind mountain ranges that dwarf Everest. Cleverly, Lovecraft anchored the tale with a few points of authenticity and thus brought the unreal closer to reality. I’ve been to Hobart, where Lovecraft’s expedition stopped over to resupply, but by story’s end the evilly fabled plateau of Leng seemed more solid than Tasmania’s capital.
Some of Lovecraft’s creations have been absorbed so thoroughly into the culture that they are now generally accepted as real. The Necronomicon, I hate to reveal, was not written by the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazared a thousand and more years ago… I assumed at first that Nicholas Roerich was another of Lovecraft’s inventions. Not so: Roerich was born in St Petersburg in 1874 and died in India in 1947.
It’s easy to see why Lovecraft found inspiration in Roerich for his vision of the South Pole.
But snowy mountain landscapes were only one element in Roerich’s subject matter.
Click on all images for a much larger view.
Visit the website of the Roerich Musuem to see more of his artworks. Roerich’s other major legacy is the Roerich Pact, which sounds like great in theory but possibly rather impractical. Roerich was inspired in part by Dostoyevsky’s belief that Beauty will save the world. Maybe one day it will be so…