One of the ends of the Yeatsian work is the end of idolatry, but it is does not seek the end of idols. In that lies part of its distinctive character. This is where the Yeatsian material may find a proper complement in the Lovecraftian, because there, too, we find the image raised up even as idolatry is made into a figure of utter monstrosity. They are thinking through a similar thought, albeit from rather different ends.
What happens once you differentiate the person from the Mask? Well, for one, you cease identifying the person with the appearance of the person, the person with the human Mask that they manifest in life. While W. B. seems capable of imagining those capacities in a positive light, e.g.:
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.
—”Sailing to Byzantium”
old H. P. had a bit harder of a time seeing that alien form of life as anything but horrific. Hence, whereas W. B.’s work will explore the severing of self-awareness into rhythmic and melodious becomings of all sorts, H. P.’s will attempt to return, again and again, to the production of novel and more monstrous Masks in which it might hope to discover itself. Lovecraft’s presentations tend to break down into paralytic horror, because he keeps attempting to transform the Intellect and the Will into a Mask.
The repulsive plasticity of many of his monstrosities reflects this. Their grotesque mutations, their refusal to remain still, bears witness to the active capacity that Lovecraft has bound up within its visage. What makes Lovecraft’s monsters demonic is not their connection to the daemonic, but their connection to the human.
From the perspective of the Yeatsian system, Lovecraft’s failures make a lot of sense because his writerly limitation mirrors his personal failure to realize the crises offered by his romantic relationship. Instead of a breakdown and breakthrough, Lovecraft realizes only a decline and failure.
But I wonder if we can go further than that. I wonder if it might make sense to talk about Lovecraft’s work as a case of victimage for the dead, as the result of his being on the receiving end of a human spirit in need of purification. The human at the heart of the material may be an alien humanity, not the one proper to Lovecraft himself.
And if the Lovecraftian material might form the basis for an arconic force nourished in the fevered and city-mad mind of Lovecraft.
Just thinking out loud.