Thursday, August 20, 2009

Call of Cthulhu

The scary looking fellow above is one Howard Phillips Lovecraft authour of the Cthulhu Mythos horror stories that sometimes make brave men whimper like school girls. Not particularly well read during his lifetime, he only gained a cult following for his stories after his death. Isn't that just great famous, but after I damn near starve to death. Anyone who has ever played the first "Alone in the Dark" video game has this fellow to thank. Not directly based on his stories, but still inspired by them. Playing that game in a dark room in the middle of the night was down right fucking scary. Also, it was no the brightest idea to play the game, or read one of Mr. Lovecraft stories before bedtime. Unless, of course, you like having nightmares. It seems Mr. Lovecraft was afflicted with night terrors as a child, and perhaps some of his stories are his revenge on the world. If he had to wake up screaming, might as well try to ensure that as many people as possible would do so as well. Here read this, and try to get a good night's rest. Not bloody likely. There was also a role playing game based on his Cthulhu, that myself,and my dork ass friends played back when the world was young (I know hard to believe I was that big of a goob when you see the sophisticated man of the world I became).His work was based on the idea of cosmic horror, that the world is generally incomprehensible, and unable to be understood by the human mind. There is much to be said for that idea, and who knows maybe all the shit we think we have a solid grip on is just so much illusion. Maybe good old H P was just born to write stuff that scared the dog crap out of people, both of his parents eventually would up in (the same) loony bin, and at the age of 18 he claimed to have a nervous breakdown. Sounds like a lovely family dinner with this group around, try not to drop the gravy, or who the hell knows what will happen. His works are deeply pessimistic (perhaps that is why I liked them), and his "heroes" usually have to face the horror of glimpsing the terrifying face of reality, or at least reality as Lovecraft envisioned it. Though I came to my deeply held agnostic belief via another channel, Lovecraft does an excellent job summing up his reasons in a letter to Robert E. Howard (the guy that created Conan the Barbarian).
"All I say is that I think it is damned unlikely that anything like a central cosmic will, a spirit world, or an eternal survival of personality exist. They are the most preposterous and unjustified of all the guesses which can be made about the universe, and I am not enough of a hair-splitter to pretend that I don't regard them as arrant and negligible moonshine. In theory I am an agnostic, but pending the appearance of radical evidence I must be classed, practically and provisionally, as an atheist."
Well said, well written, and well thought out. I wish I could encapsulate my believes so easily, and so simply, but I guess that is part of the wide gulf between a professional writer, and my goofy ass. Maybe that will narrow one day, and maybe it will be soon. I can only hope, but for the beautiful verse above, and for writing stories that can still scare the ever loving dog shit out of me, H P Lovecraft (August 20th, 1890- March 15th, 1937 of intestine cancer), you are my hero of the day.

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

Nice. As the wife of a man who writes horror fiction, I'm less than thrilled to hear how things went for our hero above. And though I am not an agnostic or an atheist, I'm married to one and think your hero's reasoning on the subject the best I've heard yet.