Sunday, June 20, 2010

Some seriously creepy shit

I find it amazing that literature can frighten us. That words on a page can create fear. It's as if prose is a spell that reacts when read, and unleashes it's intended and dormant effect of the unwitting reader.

I always get surprised when I get creeped out by literature. Recently, I'm seriously into some H.P. Lovecraft. I've written about the humorous side of his greatest horror creation, Cthulu. Now, here's the undiluted scary part:

In Lovecraft's world, human beings live in a delusion. They see themselves as the top of the biological food chain, and as masters and avid students of the true reality - science, through which they comfortably understand the order of things.

The truth, however, is, far more disturbing: Human beings are actually on the bottom of the evolutionary ladder. There are beings out in space (and on earth) who are old, incredibly powerful, and who are not held by science. They can move through space, melt matter, spontaneously regenerate and are often immortal. Their visages are terrible - huge balls of flesh covered in eyes, tentacled pools of rotting slime, or geometric, shifting crystal towers whose true form cannot be perceived by beings of the three dimensions. They warp space and time around them. In short, we are ants, and they are gods.

But it gets worse. These beings are so other-wordly, and so powerful, that sometimes they are what we would call evil, but othertimes are so beyond our understanding that they react with no clear motive at all. The most powerful are described as "blind and idiotic," giant and floating in deep space, waiting for a hapless demented worshiper to summon them to earth. These drooling gods are the top of the food chain. There is no heaven or hell, no cosmic order, no good to balance the evil. Just these awful things.

And that is the worst part of it all. When characters in Lovecraft's work witness these beings, they begin understand their actual part in the universe, and they go mad. Like, crazy. Sometimes fast, and sometimes slowly, but in the end all of the characters lose control of their faculties as they understand the true, chaotic meaning of the universe. The truth itself drives you crazy.

And that's pretty damn scary. Nightlights, anyone?


Pharaohmagnetic said...

Cool! Back in my blogging days, I also posted about H.P. Lovecraft, native son of Providence, here.

Don't forget the accompanying discussion to catch the ultra-important recommendation for the horror fiction of Charles Stross, namely "The Atrocity Archives."

Jonathan Rubin said...

Thanks, Dan! I'm gonna check this out right now.