SOAR Into Horror: Review of "The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft" edited by S.T. Joshi

The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft is a collection of loss. Two stories — The Rats in the Walls and At the Mountains of Madness — described failed attempts to return home while the other two — The Dunwich Horror and The Colour Out of Space — tell of fathers unable to provide for their sons. Each story is carefully concealed in archaic vocabulary and fantastic imagery, but the gut-wrenching sadness of lost inheritance is everywhere in these pages. The alternate reality they paint, including fantastic amalgamations of previous mythologies and religions, would doubtless be familiar to that other fantastic horror writer, Mohammed ibn Abdullah. Indeed, that absurdly named character constantly referenced yet never featured, Abdul Alhazred (Abdullah [who] all has read?), may be a conscious homage to ‘s predecessor.

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Yet this post is only have about that and half about the brilliant editing of S.T. Joshi. His helpful footnotes are the perfect implementation to that educational methodology I learned at UNL — . So now let us SOAR into Horror in this blog review…


Dr. Ken Kiewra of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln described the SOAR learning methodology as a four-step process.

  1. Selection highlights major and minor points from a lecture. This is the first step of any hermeneutical process, but most learning will stop here.
  2. Organization ties selections within a lecture together. This term describes building internal connections in a text. The building of these connections mimic the building of the human mind, tying together information to give it a semantic meaning.
  3. Association involves creating external connections between a lecture and analogous information. To associate means that information is not just internally coherent within some context, but goes along with other texts. If you imagine a text as a domain, organization is vertical learning while association is horizontal learning.
  4. Regulation involves challenging one’s knowledge, forcing one to actively construct again the learning structures. A well designed question can do this. Regulation exploits the brain’s complex adaptive system ability to reform in a way most useful. Make recall of learning useful, and one will recall better

The difference between these stage is not always solid — merely selecting a term, for example, defines it as important within the context of a text and immediately makes the learner think of what it means outside the text — but the methodologies is. The upcoming tdaxp special feature on Coming Anarchy (part of SummerBlog ’06) SOARs mightily, and I now recognize the academic use of my blogging as intellectual SOARing. I have also become annoyed when I see other instructors willfully violate SOAR principles, and thus delighted when educators use them.

Joshi’s brilliant footnotes illustrate all four SOAR stages. I will use examples from the final pages of the novella At the Mountains of Madness, though I promise known of the quotes give away any plot points. When necessarily, I will edit or slightly reword the sentence, to further prevent any loss of freshness if you read this volume. Each of the passages contains a selection from Lovecraft followed by a use of SOAR by Joshi.

Selection – highlight key passages

Lovecraft: The inner antarctic is a waste as utterly and irrevocably devoid of every vestige of normal life as is the sterile disc of the moon.

Joshi: The sentence is printed as per Lovecraft’s manuscript. In the original published version, it reads “waste utterly and irrevocably devoid of normal life.” Lovecraft has failed to correct this reading, but it may be an oversight.

Organization – tie a text to itself

Lovecraft: We could soon reconstruct in fancy the whole stupendous thing as it was a million or ten million or fifty million years ago.

Joshi: Cf. a similar usage in “The rats in the Walls”: “… the events which must have taken place there three hundred, or a thousand, or two thousand, or ten thousand years ago.”

Association – tie a text to another text

Lovecraft: run back, before we had seen what we did see, and before our minds were burned with something which will never let us breathe easily again!

Joshi: A frequently expressed sentiment in Lovecraft’s fiction. Cf. “The Call of Cthulhu”: “I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me” (The Dunwich Horror and Others, 154).

Regulation – force active construction by the learner

Lovecraft: “the nameless cylinder,” “the elder pharos,” “Yog-Sothoth” …

Joshi: See note 42 to “The Dunwhich Horror”

Joshi’s use of SOAR is extremely effective. I had read all of these stories before, yet I understood each better with Joshi’s method. Lovecraft described The Dunwhich Horror, one of his most successful stories, as a juvenile blunder and now I see why. The atmospheres of The Rats in the Walls and The Colour out of Space is infinitely distinct now, while before they blended together. And At the Mountains of Madness, which I previously enjoyed as an imaginitive fantasy, now speaks to me its sadness, and loss, and lonliness, as it never did before.

Joshi accomplishes this not be insisting on a certain perspective, or by force-feeding his interpretation, but by Selecting, Organizing, Associating, and Regulating the reader. His work is marvelous, and nearly every academic text could be improved with a hand such as his. I doubt that Joshi has learned the SOAR methodology under that name, and his learning may have been practical and not at all academic, yet The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft provides the best use of SOAR in book form that I have ever seen. Previously, SOAR (with its natural application to the world of presentations) appeared to be a way to make “Powerpoint better than Powerpoint.” It is now a way to make books better than books.

Besides the four stories, Joshi provides an introduction, a selection of letters, and an overview of Lovecraft in the media. I purchased my copy for $13.50 from Barnes and Noble, thought it is also available from Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

Redefining the Gap 12, Bibliography

Note: This is a selection from Redefining the Gap, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

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Below is the bibliography for this project. Many of the documents cited can be obtained from JSTOR.


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Barnett, Thomas P.M. 2004. The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

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Barnett, Thomas P.M. 2006. Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Barone, Michael. 2005, August 27. Fall Reading. U.S. News & World Report. Stable URL: http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/baroneblog/columns/barone_050827a.htm.

Beckstrom, John H. 1974. Handicaps of Legal-Social Engineering in a Developing Nation. The American Journal of Comparative Law 22: 697-712.

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Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 2006c. Rank Order – GDP – per capita (PPP). The World Factbook. Stable URL: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2004rank.txt.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 2006d. Rank Order – Life Expectancy at Birth. The World Factbook. Stable URL: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2102rank.txt.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 2006e. Rank Order – Population. The World Factbook. Stable URL: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2119rank.txt.

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Eisenstein, Zillah. 1997. Women’s Publics and the Search for New Democracies. Feminist Review 57:140-167.

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Froehling, Oliver. 1997. The Cyberspace “War of Ink and Internet” in Chiapas, Mexico. Geographical Review 87: 291-307.

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Goldstein, Joshua S., Huang, Xiaoming, and Akan, Burcu. 1997. Energy in the World Economy, 1950-1992. International Studies Quarterly 41: 241-266.

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Harkavy, R. 2001. Strategic Geography and the Greater Middle East. Naval War College Review August 54:37-54. Stable URL: http://www.nwc.navy.mil/press/review/2001/autumn/pdfs/art2-au1.pdf.

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Hentz, James J. 1997. Economic Stagnation in Sub-Sahara Africa and Breaking the “Implicit Bargain”. Issue: A Journal of Opinion 25: 32-34.

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Horowitz, Irving Louis. 1985-1986. The “Rashomon” Effect: Ideological Proclivities and Political Dilemmas of the International Monetary Fund. Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 27: 37-55.

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Ignatius, David. 2004, December 14. Winning a War for the Disconnected. Washington Post, p. A27. Stable URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A62351-2004Dec13.html.

Ignatius, David. 2005, May 18. A Quiet Transformation. Washington Post, p. A17. Stable URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/17/AR2005051701327.html.

Israel, Jerry. 1978. Rule Americana: America Rules the Waves. Reviews in American History 6:370-372.
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Kearns, Gerry. 1997. The Imperial Subject: Geography and Travel in the Work of Mary Kingsley and Halford Mackinder. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 22:450-472.

Keddie, Nikki R. 1998. The New Religious Politics: Where, When, and Why Do “Fundamentalisms” Appear?. Comparative Studies in Society and History 40: 696-723.

Kiss, George. 1942. Political Geography into Geopolitics: Recent Trends in Germany. Geographical Review 32: 632-645.

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LaFeber, Walter. A Note on the “Mercantilistic Imperialism” of Alfred Thayer Mahan. The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 48:674-685.

Lennox, Malissia. 1993. Refugees, Racism, and Reparations: A Crique of the United States’ Haitian Immigration Policy. Stanford Law Review 45:687-724.

Mayell, Peter. 2004. Beyond the ‘Outer Crescent': The Mackinder Century in New Zealand Politics. The Geographical Journal 170:386. Stable URL: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.0016-7398.2004.00138.x.

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Mazzetti, Mark. 2003, October 6. Pax Americana: Dispatched to Distant Outposts, U.S. Forces Confront the Perils of an Unruly World. U.S. News & World Report. Stable URL: http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/media/PaxAm.htm.

Meinig, Donald W. 1956. Heartland and Rimland in Eurasian History. The Western Political Quarterly 9: 553-569.

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Moon, Graham, and Brown, Tim. 2000. Governmentality and the Spatialized Discourse of Policy: The Consolidation of the Post-1989 NHS Reforms. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 25: 65-76.

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Redefining the Gap, a tdaxp series:
Redefining the Gap 1. Prologue
Redefining the Gap 2. Summary
Redefining the Gap 3. Introduction to Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 4. First Geopolitical Theories
Redefining the Gap 5. The North and the South
Redefining the Gap 6. Critical Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 7. The Pentagon’s New Map
Redefining the Gap 8. The Research Design
Redefining the Gap 9. Methods and Operationalizations
Redefining the Gap 10. Limitations and Conclusion
Redefining the Gap 11. Results
Redefining the Gap 12. Bibliography
Redefining the Gap 13. Appendix: Computer Code
Redefining the Gap 14. Appendix: National Codes

Chinese Breakfast Cereals

Today was a day of rest. Instead of seeing the Forbidden City, the Heavenly Temple, or even the Great Wall, I read a good book and recuperated from the choking pollution of Beijing. So instead of the broad coverage tdaxp fans are used to, an in-depth report on eating cereal.

Here… we… go!


At Walmart, I purchased three Chinese-packaged cereals: Trix, Milk & Egg Stars, and Cheerios. Trix was in homage to tdaxp-reviewer Rob, whose love of children’s cereal is well known. Milk & Egg Stars was my bit or morning exploration. Cheerios was the old-reliable, in case of disaster.

I began with Trix, and was immediately surprised that the box is composed of smaller packages. Each is large enough for one serving. This initially surprised me, as it limits the amount of delicious Trix a hungry eater can have at once, but if Trix is being eaten largely as a dry snack it makes sense.

Trix may or may not be just for kids, but it certainly is delicious. It is surprisingly edible with chopsticks…

… but a spoon proved the most productive method of consumption. Happily, it also came with a cartoon to amuse and bemuse me as I ate my first bowl of the morning.

Next up was Milk & Egg Stars. Like Trix, Milk & Egg Stars came in little bags. A cup of Nestle instant coffee in hand, I settled in for an authentic Chinese breakfast.

Like Trix, Milk & Egg Stars proved easily liftable with chopsticks. Now hungry from my first bowl, I also prepared a spoon to enjoy a delicious helping of this oddly sweet food.

If you ever tasted cherry bars, you know exactly what this tastes like. Mix flour, eggs, and sugar together and try to eat it for breakfast. Chinese food is rarely sweet, but when it is it goes far overboard. I eyed the rest of my bowl suspiciously…

… and opted not to continue.

Last was Cheerios, a brand I prayed would not betray me.

Like Trix and Milk & Egg Stars, Cheerios came in little packages. However, the Cheerios mini-bags were clearly larger than single serving, and the box only contained too. I poured milk, readied my utensils, and prepared to eat..

Delicious! “Cheerios” is actually multi-grain Cheerios, a solid and reliable choice for any breakfast. I had two bowls, and in the end felt quite full. As with the other foods, Cheerios was malleable with chopsticks but best eaten with spoons.

Yumm!