Notes on the Career of Henry Armitage

by Erik Davis (images courtesy of Craig Baldwin)

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[The following was a brief text by Dr. Ashton Grant, assistant professor of film studies and hermetic semiotics at Arkham Community College, Arkham, Mass. It was prepared to accompany a brief film sent to him anonymously by persons once associated with Larry Armitage.]

This is Larry Armitage, son of Henry Armitage, Miskatonic University's great librarian and occult scholar. Larry's career proved not to be as distinguished as his fathers, as his researches into ancient linguistics, not to mention his reactionary politics, led him so far afield that even before he succumbed to madness, shortly after this film was shot, he was already written off as a crack-pot.

Armitage was obsessed with the notion that, behind all the languages, alphabets and occult symbologies, lurks a primal sign, at once a glyph and a sound. There is nothing new about this notion, which reaches back through Renaissance angel magic, Kabbalistic theosophy, and other nonsense. Armitage, however, was equipped with his father's brilliant associational mind - not to mention his library -- and he mixed his occult studies with solid linguistic hunchs that later came to fruition in the work of Noam Chomsky. Armitage believed that his primal sign, which he called Aglo Prime, would directly access the mechanistic foundations of consciousness, thereby allowing man to deconstruct and rewrite his perceptions and personality at will. He also argued that Aglo Prime would intensify the neural electric fields of the brain in the pineal gland, allowing individual mind to enter into resonance with the undifferentiated primal forces of the cosmos -- forces he identified, with prescient trendiness, with quantum indeterminacy and the fractured resonance of atomic particles.

Here we see Armitage on an archeological expedition funded by a European society associated with the tantric fascist Baron Julius Evola. The notes claim the site is the necropololist of Nephren Ka, the so-called Black Pharoah, which lie near the famous village of Nag Hammadi, where the largest cache of Gnostic fragments were discovered shortly after Armitage left the area. Here is a fragment from his notes, already displaying the wild flights of fancy that would soon land him in the Arkham asylum:

"Am sure I am near to sounding Aglo Prime, the Voorish sign spoken of in the mad Arab's tome. They were all wrong, the prattling fools, no imagination. The alphabet is a ruse. The answer lies in the superimposition of sound and image, their fusion in time, which can only happen in a properly animated mind. You must see, and hear! The best papyrus was always harvested where the loudest insects gathered to mate."

Here I believe is the sign in question, which as you can see resembles the hieroglyphic Monad of Dr. John Dee. There are also distinct similarities with the early, untranslatable glyphs in the Pnakotic Manuscripts. But Armitage animates the sign, using the moving image to reproduce the process he believed happened in a mind that submitted itself to Aglo Prime.

This last sign, which you can see is vaguely directional, somehow led Armitage to the island of Derlet Moss off of Greenland, which he identified with Hyperborea. What the connection was is unclear, though to judge from his nearly incomprehensible notes, this enfolded spiral form found in the ruins plays a key role - an "triune non-Euclidian amplifier" he calls it, which somehow operates on the dissonant inverse to the famous St. Michael ley lines. What he means by this is, needless to say, unclear. Most of his notes actually consist of attempts to transcribe the sounds of the insects that surrounded the hill, which one can only suppose, account for these hellish sarrabands that now assault our ears.

The rest of this strange little film I leave to you.

Epilogue (from an e-mail sent to Erik Davis shortly after screening the film at Other Cinema)

Greetings, Erik Davis

I am one of the co-founders and co-chairs of NecronomiCon: The Chthulu Mythos Convention, which "celebrates H.P. Lovecraft and the Chthulu Mythos in all its forms." and is held in Providence, Rhode Island every two years. Our website is at I recently read a posting the on the Usenet newsgroup alt.horror.cthulhu about a talk you gave at Other Cinema in San Francisco by a person who attended.

I did a web search and located this e-mail address for you, which I hope is current. I am curious about a film you showed there which the Usenet poster described as "...a short, apparently amateur presented "straight" as the work of Professor Armitage, paleolinguist son of the famous Dr. Armitage, show exploring the ruins of the temple complex of Nephren-Ka (which looked convincingly Egyptian and quite ancient).

The footage itself has a definite thirties feel -whether simulated or authentic I could not tell. The lecturer, seeming increasingly skeptical and apprehensive at once, described Armitage's research on a hypothetical protolanguage called Aklo Prime, represented by a mysterious glyph which somewhat resembled Dee's Hieroglyphic Monad. The soundtrack began to be dominated by the shrilling sounds of some insect or insects.

Part of NecronomicCon's programming is an Audio-Visual Room, so we are always interested in any Lovecraftian-related film. Working with Andrew Milgore, who chairs the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon (and who co-authored the book THE LURKER IN THE LOBBY, about such movies), I have been doing a great deal of research for over a year now trying to llocate any and all Lovecraftian and Mythos films, video, and television productions. Thus, I would be VERY interested in learning more about the above film nad if it would be possible to obtain a copy of it from you for review and film my research.

If it would be also be agreeable with the filmmaker, we might like to show it at a future NecronomiCon. If it is possible to get a video of this from you, I could trade it with you for some rare and uncommon videos I have found over the years. For example I have a Japanese (unsubtitled, alas) early 90's 55 min. television production called "INNSMOUTH WO OOU KAGE" or "The Shadow Over Innsmouth". If it would not be possible to acquire a copy, I would still appreciate title and acting and production details about the film, for my research.

I hope you are well. Thanks!

Franklin Hummel, Boston, MA