There he is. In the middle of the ocean, arising from his tomb in the bottom of the sea, the almighty Old One, Cthulhu, has risen to wreak his rule of madness and insanity on our world. One look at the anthropomorphic mixture of a man, a squid, and a dragon, and all logic and rationality escapes one’s mind as they are plunged into the deepest pits of fear and madness that only one look at him can provide. A bubbling figure with a kind of look that only death can bring calmness to with a physique that would make anyone question how such a horrifying deity could have been brought into existence. Everything about his being and others like him lay completely outside of our rationality, words fail us in describing his true state, and all we can do when one looks at him is relish in our own insignificance as his own appearance is terrifying on its own. There is no way to understand, no way to comprehend, and the knowledge that creatures like this can exist have been the foundations of our fears since all of human existence. This is exactly what H.P. Lovecraft wanted us to think.
As humans, we want to perceive the world around us in a logical, orderly, and rational manner–hence why we establish so many rules, laws, and institutions to ensure that everything stays in check. As often as we claim that we are bored with our schedules, our routines make us feel safe, and secured in our daily lives. No matter how randomized a person may come off as, they still utilize rules and logic to guide their lives; there are no two ways about it. Of course, some people may choose to disregard certain laws, but they still live on the rules that they–as an individual–have come to accept, even if it is not agreeable with the rest of society. But it’s not only for the purposes of safety that we institute rules and laws, it’s also for control.
Of course people want to feel safe within society, but more often than not, they want to be the ones to reap the most benefits from it, they want power in addition to safety. Rarely, do the two go hand in hand, but when it does, it’s a match made in heaven and an ideal to strive for, however, when one has power, it cannot last forever, and there would be an abundance of people or groups who seek it. Nonetheless, power and safety are amongst the two ways we categorize against the unknown, whether it is different cultures, new developments, or ways that could change our lives. As we know it, there have always been ways to categorize what we don’t know. And then there’s H.P. Lovecraft…
Lovecraft was the man who brought our fears to levels unseen before–levels that could provide the fear and insignificance that we truly felt as humans. What made his works so terrifying was that they hit way too close to our normal lives, and they used the most ordinary people imaginable. Whether it was horrific, satanic experiments, an expedition to Antarctica gone terribly wrong, or nightmares that invalidates everything we once held dear in, these kinds of things never happened to people with superhuman abilities. On the contrary, these can happen to people as ordinary as you or I.
Another big factor to Lovecraft’s new level of fear is how insignificant we are in our existence. We like to think that we are the top tier species and that nothing is above us, however, Lovecraft’s stories say that not only are we not the highest species, but that we are nothing more than dirt to some of these creatures above us. Whether it was Cthulhu arising from his grave in R’Lyeh or coming face to face with a Shoggoth in the mountains of Antarctica, we are not as great as we think we are, and when we lose that sense of control in our lives, then we are immediately fearful of what these higher beings will do to us. Of course, many people believe that our existence isn’t even a drop in the bucket, but when one comes to face the truth of the situation, then the results could leave one claustrophobic; trapped in a tight space of fear, insignificance and helplessness, with no way out.
Lovecraft’s stories communicate those same feelings to the best extent that they could by not only having us feel insignificant, but by having our creators and gods be something of (to us) unimaginable horror. We may not know exactly what they are, or how to classify them, but should we one day come across beings such as these, fear would be the only logical response at first. As smart, proper, and powerful as we think we may be, there is always that lurking sense of paranoia, telling us that our existence means absolutely nothing, and for all we know, we are but a cosmic mistake.
So, dear reader, the next time you think about how much our existence is worth, just remember that it is a big universe, and that there is a lot we don’t know…and, thanks to Lovecraft, a lot we should never know.