I think with all the things that I’ve talked about and professed an expertise or an opinion on it would only be fair for me to comment on that which I don’t know and as a result, be forced to research it, the overall themes thereof and see if I can reconcile my differences with it.
Conversely that’s sort of how I ended up back into Pokémon. You don’t know what that first draft looked like.
So with that said I took a look at the most infamous of HP Lovecraft’s works otherwise known as the Cthulhu Mythos.
Before I begin though, I won’t speak of HP Lovecraft beyond his involvement in this work as I have come to understand he was something of a profound racist. Conversely I can’t conclude that definitively he even was one considering conflicting details about his life which disprove that belief. So, for now, I’ll leave this part where it belongs, not in this journal.
So what are the Cthulhu Mythos?
Well this is a bit of a hard label as many often use the Cthulhu Mythos as a label for anything that uses anything resembling either the characters or the themes of HP Lovecraft’s core works . The entire concept is underscored in the short story by HP Lovecraft The Call of Cthulhu. In it you have many of the themes that are pervasive in all subsequent works based on the concept.
The idea is that there are a race of beings known as the Elder Gods who’s existence causes humanity to thrive or decline without its consent. Typically some young man (or woman, whatever) will discover hints or an inheritance or a library full of really old books or just one old book that’s scary…
You know what book that is, don’t play that game.
And learn about the existence of the Elder Gods. At which point there’s usually a cult worshipping a Elder God (probably Cthulhu) and trying to bring them into the world. The idea is composite of several themes. One being that humanity, despite its evolution and technical superiority is not the most advanced form of life and that the mere presence of another, superior organism is enough to throw the human experience into a radical shift. Thus the idea of us being inconsequential is introduced.
The thing that makes the Cthulhu Mythos stories distinct (according to fans) is that unlike other stories where one fights an evil monstrosity, the idea is that not only is the evil not defeated for good, it might only be abated for a time. Even more the idea that by fighting this evil, a hero is often left in a ruined or worse state for trying.
Now a problem with going heavily into the Cthulhu Mythos is that after a certain point one leaves the body of work crafted by Lovecraft and into a vast canon expanded and formalized by August Derleth who published Lovecraft’s work and helped with several novels. As such there’s some debate by experts as to how to properly label stories involved in the Cthulhu Mythos as some argue that for much of Lovecraft’s stories, the Elder Gods were less a formal structured mythology and more a plot device, giving cause as to how such things might happen and not an enemy to defeat, per se.
My problem with the entire concept is simply that whenever it’s been presented to me it’s usually through stories about Call of Cthulhu the pen and paper RPG game. The first thing anyone says about Call of Cthulhu if you have any kind of relaxed discussion, is how the only way to really win, is not to play.
That would immediately discourage anyone from playing the game and certainly from experiencing the universe. The idea that you’re character, no matter how they are stated will slowly go crazy and fail to accomplish anything that matters. Most assuredly that’s what kept me from it from the longest time.
What a lot of people leave out is that, in most cases of Call of Cthulhu a proper game isn’t about winning in the sense of the big picture but pushing back a bit of the darkness that is hurting a small group of people. They also leave out how several Cthulhu Mythos stories (not written by Lovecraft mind you) often have the heroes doing lasting damage to the success of the Elder Gods. Typically by defeating the local cult worshiping them. So bang goes that theory that you can’t win.
I suppose that’s what’s kept me from reading the stories or the like. I’m not a fan of no win scenarios in literature unless it’s a tragedy. Tragedy as in the protagonist makes the wrong choices and thusly suffers for them. Not tragedy where the moral is “Life sucks and now you die.”
And yes I do consider Game of Thrones to be in the former category. No I don`t care if the internet doesn’t agree with me.
But I certainly can`t say that I hate the majority of works inspired or based off the Cthulhu Mythos as that would clearly be a lie. I enjoy Eternal Darkness and that is a pure Cthulhu Mythos story to the core.
I`ve also had a pass of a few of Lovecraft`s works and I’ve enjoyed them as well, though I have no interest to read much further onto the subject.
So I think the issue comes not from the nature of the Mythos but more the perception of them. I think a lot of people, who at least aren’t horror fans in a strong way, require a resolution that brings closure or the happy ending. As we are trained by the typical flow of narrative though we might not be aware. So to go into a story with the full knowledge that no character within will end up better or at least the same as they did in the beginning and will befall a terrible fate at no fault of their own will throw them off.
Especially if that’s the same case in every iteration of the story. Then the only variance is the form that terrible fate takes. That is probably the reason why I like others shy away from the Cthulhu Mythos.
But if I say that I don’t want to read the story because I know everyone dies in the end, I might as well say I don’t want to watch Hamlet. And I freaking love Hamlet. So if that’s the case, perhaps it isn’t that the story ends in tragedy, or that I know it’s coming, it might just be that the thing that holds me back from the Cthulhu Mythos is that all that’s there is the tragedy and that it will always be the same tragedy.
And if that is the case then it isn’t fear, that’s just an avoidance of boredom.
But again, that’s the perception. But who knows? If there’s at last one last thing out there I can claim to not have a strong opinion or expertise in I’m happy with that. I’m happy to never have the Cthulhu Mythos solidly understood in my mind.
Hell by time I post this I’ll probably get fifty (more like two) comments explaining to me exactly what the Mythos really are and what I’ve said is wrong.
And that’s perfectly fine too.
So long as people aren’t being dicks about it.
And so too does this work exist.