Lovecraft, the American author and progenitor of Weird Fiction. So many of his works have been revered by horror fans wanting something different. Despite being virtually unknown as a writer when he was alive, he achieved widespread fame and his works are still relevant over 60 years after his death. His work can be glimpsed in many different media due to the amount of depth, but vagueness he put into the characters in the stories we now know as the Cthulu Mythos after the Great Old One of the same name. To put it into perspective for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll give you a fair enough example. Vilgax, the baddie from the original, and amazing Ben 10, was clearly modeled after Cthulu with the green skin and tentacles for a beard. In popular culture, Lovecraft’s influence can be seen in such works as Darkest Dungeon the Death Metal band Cradle of Filth, and surprisingly enough, TV shows like The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the popular show Supernatural. One of the reasons that Lovecraft hasn’t got much widespread fame despite my insistence is that it is called, weird fiction for a reason. It does not rely on gore, or flashy deaths to inpsire horror. Despite the fact that almost every story from the Cthulu Mythos was written by Lovecraft, there are very very few recurring characters despite the stories almost always taking place within the same or a similar time frame. The central characters are usually neither brave, nor wise, however most of the time, they are extremely curious. A trait that leads to their unfortunate demises, which is a very horrifying concept due to the fact that every human has a spark of curiosity within them which makes us all as susceptible to the fate that befalls Lovecraft’s characters. But more on what makes Lovecraftian fiction terrifying later.
Truth be told however, I have not yet completed a single Lovecraft novel or Novella by my own volition. I have listened to a few narrations, and I have read half of “At the Mountains of Madness”, and that should show you the full scope of Lovecraftian horror. One of my favourite pieces of Lovecraftian work, and the one that I first experienced, is From Software‘s Bloodborne. Bloodborne is a unique game, coming from the much lauded Dark Souls series as a spinoff title existing in the same universe it switches up the formula and changes some core mechanics to deliver a more aggressive, but equally difficult game. But for me, the game truly shines in its take on storytelling. As the player, silent and mysterious, it is up to you to discover as much of the world you inhabit. There are slivers of truth and lore, hints here and there, but many important story points are simply laid to the side for you to find on your own. This allows for a a very open game, as well as a willingness to explore Cosmicism, the literary philosphy of H.P. Lovecraft. To me, Cosmicism is truly horrifying, mainly because I struggle with an existential crisis at least every three days.
Cosmicism is the philosophy that in the grand scheme of things, humans are quintessentially useless. There s no divine presence, there is no manifest destiny, and when faced with the galactic terrors that exist in the galaxy, we are the smallest mite of dust in the intergalactic cog. This concept is especially terrifying to those of a religious fortitude due to the fact that it discredits god and presents us practically blind and weak. Lovecraft quintessentially believed in an uncaring, meaningless and mechanical universe that humans with our young age in the universe and limited senses could never fully comprehend. Which leads to our second point of Lovecraftian fiction and Cosmicism. Every one who has gleamed the truth, or even a small fragment of it ends up spiraling into insanity or suicide. The grand truth of the universe is much too grand to understand. Our preconceived notions of morality, karma and religion fall apart immediately. As horrifying as it may sound, it is also interesting to note that Lovecraft considered himself a man of science, being an atheist and antitheist as religous belief clearly contradicts with religious ideas of manifest destiny and grandiose ideas of god’s plans. This is perhaps one of the other reasons that Lovecraft’s works are not so widely known in a world dominated by religion. However, there is also the difficulty of adapting a Lovecraft novel into a full length film due to the immense skill required to successfully translate the cosmic horror of Lovecraft onto the big screen. The only person to even attempt this is the talented Guillermo Del Toro, who wrote a script for At the Mountains of Madness. however his script still lays on a shelf somewhere collecting dust.
In fact, aside from a few under the radar films with Lovecraft title’s, the latesr endeavour into Lovecraft is the game The Call of Cthulu, which will release later this year, and which I am genuinely interested in. All that being said, why is Lovecraft so lauded? I believe he is because he is one of those rare and genuine creatives who develop an almost unheard of philosophy and style. One that did not fit into the world when he was alive and only gained fame after his death.It goes to show that new ideas can become influential, even if they don’t follow the status quo, and that even simple concepts can cause abject fear in humans. Lovecraft was ahead of his time, that is clear, but like Isaac Asimov, his ideas have set humans thinking for generations, about space, the cosmos and the grand scheme of things. I think that is a positively wondrous concept despite the fear linked to it, and as humanity moves on in life, we may be forced to face some of Lovecraft’s ideas.
As Lovecraft so bluntly put it, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”