The Worst Filing System Known To Humans

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Reload the Canons!

This series of articles is an attempt to play through The Canon of videogames: your Metroids, your Marios, your Zeldas, your Pokemons, that kind of thing.

Except I'm not playing the original games. Instead, I'm playing only remakes, remixes, and weird fan projects. This is the canon of games as seen through the eyes of fans, and I'm going to treat fan games as what they are: legitimate works of art in their own right that deserve our analysis and respect.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Stars Are Wrong: Why Cthulhu Needs To Go Away


I was into Lovecraft before he got popular.

Ugh, sorry, that's a really bitchy way to start an article. And, you know, it wasn't really that no one knew about Lovecraft. His stories have been around since the early 20th century, for goodness sake, and he's a major source of inspiration for all sorts of important--nay, even scriptural--fantasy properties such as Dungeons and Dragons and horror properties such as Evil Dead or Reanimator. So, it's not really true, strictly speaking.

And yet...

I was into Lovecraft's works before the current craze for all things Cthulhu. I was into Cthulhu Madness back when it meant the mind-wrenching touch of the impossibly cosmic and humanly inconceivable... not an internet passion for plushies and the compulsory namedropping of Leng and R'lyeh into every horror fantasy tale.  Nearly a decade ago, when I first discovered his work, there wasn't really a huge, overt celebration of the man's icons. I simply happened to read a very old article on a book that miraculously--or diabolically?--happened to turn up at a local library.

It was called The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath.

And boy, was that a strange book.

Everything, from the overwrought page-long sentences, to the ritualistically intoned lists of impossible, inconceivable places, to the strange inhabitants of the dream world intruded upon by Randolph Carter, to that description, that maddeningly vague yet tantalizingly detailed description, of the void where Azathoth knaws hungrily amidst chaos and the stomping and piping of the mindless Outer Gods whose soul and messenger is Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos--all of it ripped open the simple material confines of my world and exposed me to the gaping maw that was Lovecraft's horribly empty yet terrifyingly occupied heavenly dome.

And although his prose was often a slog the ideas within were enough to keep me intrigued for the next few years... until the Cthulsplosion, when suddenly Lovecraft's skulking creatures that were better suited to dancing and piping beneath alien stars were thrust into the bright light of the Internet, and the vast, neon party that is Media Capitalism. The stars were right for the dead dreaming god to emerge from the sea, and suddenly all I wanted to do was ram a big honking yacht into the squidfaced fuck.

Ugh.

So, while I recognize how obnoxious the first sentence of this article was, I think it's worth laying exactly where I'm coming from on the line here: I kind of resent how suddenly the dark knowledge that I had to work to track down, and the weird writing style I had to get used to, is suddenly just being Wikipedia'd to the general public, with the result, as far as I can tell, that a lot of people know all sorts of things about Lovecraft but haven't bothered to read any of his books.

And you know, it's nothing really about Lovecraft in particular that makes the popularity so loathsome. His works are still great, don't get me wrong--I still get chills when I think of some of the more disturbing images and suggestions, especially in his lesser known works largely outside the main Cthulhu mythos. Lovecraft absolutely deserves attention (I mean, if the attention actually consisted of people bothering to read his books). But the thing is, Lovecraft's horror is not an inexhaustible resource when the creators tapping into it are using it without being conscious of the underlying power of the work. In short, if you just throw a bunch of freaky fish guys into your story, it's not going to make your work "Lovecraftian," no matter how much they shout "Ia! Ia! Cthulhu f'tagn!" And fish rape is just... ugh, way to miss the point completely, guys.

Actually, that's a good place to start. No, not with fish rape (uuugh) but with the problem of appearance vs core power--in other words, the problem of tangible details again. See, what makes Lovecraft so fundamentally compelling is the cosmic scope of his horror. There's a kind of earthy gutsyness to a lot of modern interpretations of Lovecraft that simply don't jive with what make his work so fascinating. And while I'm always in favor of reinterpretation, here it strikes me as fundamentally missing the point.

Like, consider The Whisperer in Darkness, where human beings have their brains scooped out and put in cases to allow their transport by the strange Mi-Go back across the aether to their home planets far distant. There's a definite horror from the thought of being separated from the physical so completely, able to interact with the world only through the meanest of mechanical apparatuses, and there is a deep loathing that comes from the image of the fungal, alien Mi-Go wearing their de-brained human minions as suits while attempting to convert further followers.

And yet, the deepest horror in the story comes from the idea that these powerful, technologically advanced beings come to earth with their utterly alien moralities and have the power to essentially use us like playthings and curiosities.

Or consider the great sleeping god himself, mighty Cthulhu, rising from the deep! The horror there is not that he's a giant thing with a squid for a head, it's the fact that humanity is on some unknown, unknowable deadline, given a brief reprieve before we are wiped clean from the earth in the rise of forces that suffer us to live only while they dream beneath the sea.

The emphasis here, and I think it's a subtle but important one, is not upon the physical trauma endured but the philosophical and existential trauma, if that makes sense.

Basically, it's less, "Oh god, we're all going to be eaten!" and more, "Oh god, we are fundamentally powerless in the face of a vast, inconceivable, and psychotically hostile universe! The very underpinnings of reality are madness!"

And that fundamentally existential terror is lost when we focus on fish rape.

...Alright, fine, you want an explanation for the fish rape thing?

Well, don't say I didn't trigger warn you. (Er, oh, uh, trigger warning.)

So, nearly an entire issue of Alan Moore's recent comic Neonomicon depicts the repeated brutal rape of the female protagonist by one of the fish/human hybrids that feature in Lovecraft's Shadow Over Innsmouth. Which, alright, I can see some argument, perhaps, for the reinterpretation of Lovecraft in light of modern sensibilities, except... the protagonist then just sort of turns around after several days of that same treatment and escapes with the fish thing as her at least temporary ally. Because, fuck, why not, right?

Ugh.

It almost seems unfair to hold it up as emblematic of the problems I'm seeing, as the major flaw that I take issue with, as is probably evident from my summary, is the shitty characterization. I mean, remember when Alan Moore was one of the most respected writers in comics?

But I really do think it sums up my problem with the modern treatment from one perspective, at least, which is to reduce Lovecraft's horror to that level of "The fish monsters are going to eat and/or rape us!" And once you're at that level, why make them Lovecraftian monsters at all, when you can swipe at the even lower hanging fruit and just make them zombies, like everyone else and their grandmother is doing nowadays? There's just nothing interesting to say there that can't just as easily be said with any other randomly selected property, which makes the Lovecraftian horror window dressing.

Basically, even if you're consciously reinterpreting the material, if you're discarding core elements of the premise to do so, you've undermined your own purpose.

And, when it comes down to it, any kind of reduction of Lovecraft down to a few simple themes really does a disservice to the breadth and power of his works. Although Lovecraft is constantly captivated by the motif of incomprehensible forces on the edge of our awareness, that ultimately are outside our control, a motif is not a theme on its own, it's only a suggestion. You can't have a theme of "Justice," for example--that's too broad and simplified. But if you expand that into a theme of the struggle between the craving for justice and the need for certainty that paralyzes a man into inaction... well, you get Hamlet, don't you?

And that's true of Lovecraft's work as well:

The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath pits an obsession so indomitable that it demands bargains with the darkest of forces in order to go toe to toe with entities that would destroy other mortals.

Pickman's Model (a personal favorite of mine) examines the seductive and perverse power that hides within the simple act of painting.

And even The Call of Cthulhu explores its theme of madness from beyond space and time in terms of its caustic influence upon civilizations, and suggests, horrifyingly, that perhaps the only true celestial power in the universe is the dead god at the bottom of the sea.

There's a lot of variance in those themes, and there's quite a bit of variance in the scale of the stories, as well. Notice how they can talk about everything from the kind of End of Humanity stories that have become so common in recent years, to stories of a struggle within a single town (The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Haunter of the Dark), a single family (The Colour Out Of Space, The Rats in the Walls), or even the struggle or corruption of a single individual (Pickman's Model, The Music of Erich Zahn, The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath).

And you know, a lot of those more localized stories are Lovecraft's best, hands down! I've already mentioned that Pickman's Model is a favorite of mine, and it's not just because the titular character is an artist. No, it's also the closeness, the simplicity, the attentive detail used to convey a sense of the familiar contrasted with the alien, the debased.

It reminds me, actually, of the recent Internet phenomenon known simply as Slenderman. He's a character that draws his fundamental power from the intrusion of the horribly alien into the mundane. And in works such as Marble Hornets we are captivated primarily because the horror could be lurking anywhere. You start jumping at shadows when you watch those videos, because there's just no telling when something awful will materialize in the background. And some of Lovecraft's best material uses those sorts of closed sets to put the reader on edge as the world falls apart and disintegrates into incomprehensible hostility. That's something I think the big world-spanning conflicts, the visions of Cthulhu destroying Manhattan or whatever, lack.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of Cthulhu destroying cities...

A giant dude with a squid for a head actually isn't that scary. In fact, it's downright cuddly, apparently, as the proliferation of Cthulhu plushies and the like suggests. It's not that surprising that people should think so, though--after all, Lovecraft is scary. But the problem is, people look at Cthulhu and think Lovecraft is scary because Cthulhu is scary.

And it's actually the other way around.

Lovecraft makes Innsmouth, Cthulhu, Dagon, &c. scary because Lovecraft is terrified of the Sea, and he conveys that terror and revulsion constantly in his stories. But they only work because Lovecraft is capable of convincing us that the sea itself, the benthic deep from whence Cthulhu rises, is truly something to fear. Without that conviction that the deep level metaphors are, themselves, entities of horror, the whole project falls flat.

So, here's my final recommendation.

Stop designing Lovecraftian monsters.

Design monsters that fit what YOU think is fundamentally scary.

I mean, that fish monster you're sticking in your film/comic/poem/whatever? It's meaningless to your audience, because they've seen a thousand fish monsters before, they've seen a thousand squid monsters before, they know how this stuff works, and worst of all they know that your monster doesn't convey anything meaningful about the story you're trying to tell.

Contrast that with something like Neon Genesis Evangelion, which emphasizes the idea that the Angels that the main characters are fighting are utterly alien in nature:



Yeah, they make them what we aren't--partly geometric, partly abstract.

But, the Angels, for all that they are alien, can be disturbingly close to humanity, which leads to some deeply disturbing, nightmare-inducing scenes later on in the series. But even Ramiel, the angel shown here, already gives a preview of that disturbing humanity when he screams like he's auditioning for an industrial metal band. And that scream in the clip above isn't the worst of it--if you think that's bad, you should hear the sound it makes when it actually gets hurt.

That's a very, very human sounding scream.

Brr.

See, the monster design is integrated into the story's themes, and what is ostensibly a giant fighting robot anime becomes a horror show simply due to the way those designs resonate with the audience.

And the worst part is, it's lazy, and it shows that you have disgustingly small reference pools if you just crib from Lovecraft's notes rather than exploring the staggering number of other potential sources of inspiration out there.

Like, look at this stuff:
My sister thinks this one is cute, actually...
My head is a cactus. Your argument is invalid.
This is the work of the late 19th century painter and printmaker Odilon Redon, and BOY is it weird--weird like Unknown Kadath was to me when I first discovered it way back in Middle School. This is honestly just the tip of the frozen crazyberg, the man's work is remarkably disturbing. And I've never seen these kind of designs used, save arguably in Carpenter's The Thing. (Look at the crying spider. Now think of the head sprouting legs and scuttling across the floor. Apparently those two guys were shipwrecked by the same crazyberg.)

And there's a whole lot more where that came from, too. Like, how about Fuseli's famous painting Nightmare:

AAAAAaaaaoh, hey Luna.

Er, wait, no, that's wrong...

Oh, here we go:


There's a reason that picture has been parodied from here to next Tuesday: it's frightening. It's a disturbing painting. And when confronted with terror, we giggle at the ghosties--we try to find ways to bring it back down to something manageable.

Which brings us back to Cthulhu one last time, I think. That's the state we're at with our tentacled friend--we've parodied him into something manageable. To some extent, I accept that more than I do the unironic use of the Mythos, because parody that shows that we're still afraid enough of the dead god to need to counteract our fears, whereas the mindless inclusion of Lovecraft into everything just shows a disrespect for the source material, and a cynical desire to cash in on a fad.

But we've reached the point now where enough is enough. I hate to think that for some kids their first exposure to the Lovecraftian mythos is just through the countless rehashings. That would be a shame; after all, Lovecraft's world is a dark and terrifying one, and there's something to be said for the discovery of that world in obscurity.

That's what I fear we've lost most of all--that sense of suddenly discovering the awful truth beneath the sea, the awful truth of a dark and hostile universe. It's the hushed conversations with friends as you describe in excited, faintly fearful tones the story you just read about the being that is dead but dreams all the same, the being that will return when the stars are finally right.

So, for now, let's start exploring other avenues. Let's explore where Evangelion, or Fuseli, or Redon--or the countless other myths and stories and paintings that now lay untouched by culture--can take us. Let's taste a different kind of terror for a while (preferably one that tastes a bit less like fish).

And soon, after a time, we will forget again. R'lyeh will sink beneath the waves once more and we will become complacent and content with the knowledge that we are masters of our world.

And on that day, the stars shall align.

On that day, he shall return.

For that is not dead which can eternal lie...

And with strange aeons even death may die.

Ia! Ia!

You can follow me on Google+ at gplus.to/SamKeeper or on Twitter @SamFateKeeper. As always, you can e-mail me at KeeperofManyNames@gmail.com. If you liked this piece please share it on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Reddit, Equestria Daily, Xanga, MySpace, or whathaveyou, and leave some thoughts in the comments below.



EDIT: It has been pointed out to me that I repeatedly misspelled "Kadath." I sure feel like a chump now. I did, however, correctly spell "R'lyeh" from memory, so I can at least take some solace in that. It has also been pointed out to me that I am insufferable and pretentious. That one's going to take a bit longer to fix, but we're working on it, folks, we're working on it.

27 comments:

  1. I'll admit I was a little late in discovering Lovecraft, but I definitely jumped on before all the plushies and stuff. And, to date, I don't think I've ever really taken part in any of the mindless Cthulhu stuff.

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    1. There's a certain point where all Cthulhu stuff becomes mindless... (Ia! Ia!)

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    2. I'm going to counter your statement. If your first discovery of Lovecraft is in obscurity, no matter how "mainstream" the mindless derivatives are, then you can say you "jumped on before all the plushies and stuff." If the plushies came out in 2001, you discovered Lovecraft in 2007, and you only first saw the plushies in 2009, then Lovecraft was a horror author before a plush line to you. You can join the club :p

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  2. This is a good article, which I very much agree with... But you keep misspelling the title of The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath! Sorry to bust your balls.

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    1. FFFFFFFFFFFRRRRAAA I thought I checked that. Dammit. There goes my credibility.

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  3. Really interesting and thoughtful.

    What do you think of the work of Thomas Ligotti?

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    1. I hadn't actually heard of him until you mentioned the name, but his work sounds marvelous. Would you recommend him?

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  4. As someone who is writing a book series that's meant to appeal to old and new Lovecraft fans, I jumped on reading this to see how the real Howard fans feel about the surge of pop-fandom. I strive to retain the themes in my book that Lovecraft approached in his stories and in all cases I avoid reducing the pantheon to something a Megazord would battle in Tokyo, Wisconsin. Thank you for re-assuring me that I'm on the right track.

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    1. I'm glad an actual writer agrees with me. :P

      But yeah, sounds like you're on the right track, in my estimation, anyway. It's all about the themes, not just the motifs or the visuals.

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  5. I agree. It also tells a tale that Lovecraft didn't want his creatures to be painted, and many of them are described so that a mere glimpse would drive you insane. That's what's scary, the unknowable.

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    1. Did he really not want his works illustrated? That's fascinating.

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  6. I started reading HPL back in the 80s, and I was amazed at how intense every paragraph was. For being written at the turn of the century, I was amazed at how well he described madness. The detail in insanity was .. Lovecraftian. I agree with Matti, that just the sight of He Who Must Not Be Named would tear your mind into little pieces. Today, they try to push a dumbed down version of his creations. Sad, pathetic pretenders to the throne. No one could create creatures like HPL, and no one will.

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    1. Sometimes the grammar was pretty crazy, too. :P

      But yeah, sometimes his style was a bit of a weakness, I think, but when he really got going his work was downright terrifying...

      This is a guy that made a color into a terrible, corrupting, alien threat. A freaking color! That's impressive.

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    2. I remember when I first picked up a Call of Cthulhu sourcebook when I was 15 (How I first found out about HPL long ago.) I saw the Color Out of Space in the monster section and I thought to myself. "One of the monsters is a rainbow? Gay."

      5 years later I'm mired in HPL writing/fiction and I'm Game Mastering CoC when we pick up a prefab campaign that stars the Color in soviet Russia. It is the scariest damn campaign I ever ran.

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    3. How do you run a campaign staring the Colour? I'm trying to imagine how that would actually work in terms of gameplay...

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    4. The entire premise of the Colours being creatures just irks me. It's a colour! It's an evil horrible alien presence, not an intelligent and sentient creature!

      Good Call of Cthulhu roleplaying adventures, though, so long as they actually use the source material correctly, can be downright horrifying.

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  7. Cthulhu never did it for me, not most of Lovecraft. The way he writes his prose always felt weird and stiff to me. When I could understand at all what he's trying to tell me, it was always more funny than scary. Look, man, I don't care if it's a god, or a squid, or both, if it's coming to my house and trying to kill me, I'm gonna shoot it in the damn face.

    If you ask me, where Lovecraft made a mistake was when he started to describe his creatures. Nothing is scarier than that which you can't perceive. As soon as Cthulhu became a winged squidman, he immediately stopped being scary because you could describe him and capture his identity with words. If words can describe it, it can be stopped or even destroyed.

    Those things are why I enjoy the modern Cthulhumania more than the old-timey Lovecraft fandom. The particular brand of cosmic horror Lovecraft practiced... I always felt numb and indifferent about it. Or maybe I'm just born with mind that can defeat Cthulhu because it can't truly perceive his horrible-ness, hah! ;)

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  8. For all the craze, there *is* still good, Lovecraftian, media being produced. In particular, there's the movie "Cthulhu," which I think you would like (although it operates at a higher level both emotionally and intellectually if you're going to understand just how genius it is... here's the trailer, which captured exactly that fear of the sea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_Lr4dLaRx0&list=FLWTDW4TnsafOq985j38w9yA&index=19&feature=plpp_video).

    There's also the HP Lovecraft Historical Society's new movie, "The Whisperer in Darkness," which absolutely works as a horror film. When I realized that the twist from the short story was being revealed a third of the way through the film, and the rest was uncharted territory, "shit got real." The almost cheesy 1930's style didn't temper it at all.

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  9. I got into Lovecraft after the plushie rush, but as soon as I started actually reading his stuff, I recognized most of the more recent derivatives as shallow in precisely the way you described. Your essay here is precisely what I wanted to have written a million times before, sans the first line, and that's important: the debasement of Lovecraft isn't a hipster problem but a legitimate one.

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  10. I feel old now.

    Lovecraft has had several waves of resurgence since I first read the stories, although not quite like the current craze. But that is more of a function of websites like Etsy, the Maker community and the ease of creating multimedia with worldwide distribution.

    Debasement? Welcome to the second law of thermodynamics.

    Not scary enough? Go to a remote cabin in the wooded coast and read Lovecraft by candlelight at midnight.

    Meanwhile be thankful Lovecraft is being kept alive and well by people who would otherwise buy the latest celebrity endorsed accessory.

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  11. I completely agree with everything you say here except the part about Alan Moore missing the point in Neonomicon. He doesn't. He gets it exactly.

    The common repetition on the Internet is that Cthulhu is going to eat everyone, an idea that doesn't appear at all in the original story. Lovecraft writes:

    "The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom. Meanwhile the cult, by appropriate rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient ways and shadow forth the prophecy of their return."

    The sex cult that the two FBI agents discover go about their orgy and murder and rape with a blasé attitude. Their evil is banal. They are the foreshadowing of the beyond good and evil, amoral "holocaust of ecstasy and freedom."

    Beyond this, swapping out Lovecraft's monsters with zombies wouldn't have worked in the Neonomicon because the entire 4 issue comic is a commentary on sex and the lack thereof in Lovecraft's writings. Lovecraft talks about nameless rituals containing unspeakable acts. The byproducts of these acts are things like Lavinia Whateley becoming pregnant with the Dunwich Horror twins. In "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," we're directly told that the Deep Ones mate with humans to produce immortal offspring. How consenting do you think the residents of Innsmouth were when faced with a Deep One? Moore said in interviews that the nature of the unspeakable rituals is obvious and he wanted to show them.

    The major idea of the Neonomicon is that the monsters Lovecraft wrote about were real and he stumbled upon the sex cults, which made him horrified of sex and thus explaining why he never kissed someone until Sonia Greene in his 30s; and why there's a strong lack of romance in his writings while horror authors that he admired portrayed romantic relationships.

    The Neonomicon doesn't miss the point completely. It portrays events directly implied in "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" and provides a fictional analysis of Lovecraft's writings and influences. As for existential dread, look at the situation Brears and Aldo Sax from the previous story (The Courtyard) are in at the end of the series. They're viewing reality independent of time, seeing the higher dimension that humanity exists in (Leng), and it's a cold, empty expanse. Brears has seen the worst of humanity and takes a cynical comfort in the fact that she will birth the entity that ends the species. The horror in the Neonomicon isn't just fish rape. It's the amorality that humanity is capable of. Humans are portrayed as the monsters, their lives worthless and meaningless.

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    1. Mmmm....

      /mulls it over

      Nah. It's just misogynistic nihilistic vomit put out by Moore when he was feeling exploitationist and lazy. And he *says* he's a feminist, so he gets away with it. Somehow.

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  12. A little pretentious, maybe, but I like what you have to say. You make a great point, and I think that the pretentiousness can be forgiven in that aspect. Don't be so hard on yourself. It was a great blog post.

    I will admit, I haven't read any of Lovecraft's books, I learned about him by playing the RPG Call of Cthulhu (not suggested if you don't understand the context. The point of the game WILL be lost to you.), and reading a few of the online comics that play around with the Mythos a bit (Such as Lovecraft is Missing). In my opinion, they do a really good job, but I guess I should read the actual stories before I make that judgement.

    However what you say resonates within me as truth. A lot of the culture gets it wrong by over popularizing it, and that happens with a lot of things these days. It's like hearing a person say "I love (insert name of a music artist)" but they only want to hear the most popular song in their anthology. This post renewed my resolve to find copies of Lovecraft's original stories and read them.

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  13. I understand what you're saying here and, for the most part, I agree with it. I can't, however, say that I completely do, because…well let me just put down how I got to know good ol' Howard's work (I'll be brief, I promise).

    I'm 26 now. When I was probably 12-13, I'd first heard, in passing, of Lovecraft and was intrigued. I always had eccentric and varied interests and from what I'd heard his kind of terror was right up my alley. I later, at around 13 to 17, found that a lot of the more modern horror writers and directors that I really like were themselves inspired by Lovecraft (including more amateur ones, like the writers at the SCP website, this was about 20). At none of these points did I every take the time (much to my later regret) to go find his work and read it.

    Then started the Internet Lovecraft boom that you're talking about. Finally, about 4 or 5 years ago I did a huge read up on his work on Wikipedia and other sites. Still interested I went out and got a complete collection of his fiction. I was and still am hooked.

    If any of this, including the bad mass market work and Internet obsessiveness, didn't happen, I may have left his work on my (very long) list of authors, books, movies, TV shows, etc. to get to "eventually" and may never have actually got to it. So, I guess I'm saying that I see it both ways. The cheap rip-off versions give many the wrong idea and may turn people off. But it may bring these incredible works to a larger, very accepting audience.

    Sorry, I guess I wasn't so brief.

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  14. The most merciful thing in the world is the human mind's inability to correlate all it's contents, or rather for the human mind to incorporate and domesticate its greatest fears. Turning Cthulhu into plush is an almost inevitable consequence of a horror becoming accommodated into mainstream culture and entertainment. Nazis are great fun - ask Indy, or the players of Castle Wolfenstein. Spend a day walking around Auschwitz, go back to the root of it all, and you're sick with the horror of it. Nazis=real and Cthulhu=not real, obviously, but our cultural processes are the same. Lazy Lovecraftian tropes in contemporary horror fiction is just Attack of the Giant Sushi, and what's scary about that? But read writers like Robert M Price for highly intelligent reworkings of the old themes, or Laird Barron for visceral, carnal developments of the weird tale. Thomas Ligotti, a fine post-Lovecraftian writer, is being cited as the unacknowledged source for the more compelling elements in 'True Detective' (aka plagiarism. Alan Moore gets copied too.) But the sensation around that HBO series shows how Lovecraft-derived weird fiction has finally come out of the niche. That some fluffy Cthulhu toys get dragged out with it is a small price to pay.

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  15. Completely disagree. I understand the point you're trying to make, but . . . it seems to me that some of these people will be eventually led to reading his works by exposure to the Mythos, regardless of whether it's true to Lovecraft's writings or not.

    Having people not create Mythos based on this would probably shrink the people who have heard of Lovecraft and reduce future influence he may have on other young authors.

    Beyond that, Lovecraft himself encouraged other authors, such as Howard and Bloch, and indeed, all the writers he knew to build on his Mythos, which means that he understood that every single writer would not have the same point of view that he did, so I'm not sure your argument is credible from the get-go. My two cents.

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  16. I agree with the commenter a few spaces above me who sees the cutesy Cthulhu collectible craze as, like, a logical consequence of people's ability to take what scares them and turn it into something non-threatening or funny.

    Rather than consider this a bad thing, I find it admirable.

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