Since the existence of humans, there has been an interrelationship between humans and the environment. We consider ourselves the grandest, smartest, and most resourceful creatures that ever scaled this planet. We have utilized every resource this planet could provide to fulfill the needs of the ever-growing population using our intelligence, memory, imaginary ability, skills which only we, humans possess. We pride ourselves on dominating this planet. But what if there is something stronger than us, something beyond humanity, something beyond our imagination? We as humans are a minuscule part of this vast universe. Humans always have had the fear of the unknown. From this fear sprung the genre of ‘horror'.
Horror is a tricky genre to work with, if done right, it can terrify people. When we think of horror, we imagine ghosts, murderers, monsters, home invasion, etc. Yes, those are a part of the horror genre, but they are not as terrifying as eldritch daemons trapped in fourth dimensions, drowning in the abyss, riddled with enough power to influence humans to worship them or worse, drive them insane.
‘The Call of the Cthulhu’ is a morbid short story written by H.P Lovecraft that details the origin of the ‘Cthulhu’. What is even more concerning is that the Cthulhu, who is powerful enough to land people in psychiatric wards just by reading descriptions of it or make their eyes bleed by simply gazing at its statue, is a mere priest who communicates with the other Gods. This cosmic, out-of-the-world makes Lovecraft’s work fascinating and terrifying. It proves that horror need not be scary- a myth spread by mainstream horror films with monsters chasing innocent people or a banshee screaming her lungs out. Lovecraftian horror makes you sick, your stomach twist with unease, and terror coils around your heart, your limbs turn cold, and you are sucked into this weird grotesque world of tentacles and insanity. It simply expresses the very foundation of every scary story-the fear of our insignificance. The fear that we may lose our minds. That we are not alone. That there is a greater force ready to dominate us. Some try to fight this force off but end up dying under mysterious circumstances or losing their sanity, while others worship it, submitting to its power. Lovecraft writes the tale of small men in a giant universe full of otherworldly things whom some call God, fervently worshiping it while others shudder and scream themselves to death at the sight of it. This illustrates real-life religion, whereas one community worships a certain being as the all-provider deity, the others shun it as the incarnation of the devil. We cannot comprehend them, predict their actions, or decipher their values. They do not want to murder, kill, or kidnap us but toy with our minds, and show us things unknown to us. We are but insects in their eyes, vermin, weak and pathetic. But these monsters are mere depictions of much more depressing themes such as loneliness, madness, and futility. This is simply a nihilistic story of everything wrong with humanity. Lovecraft simply uses vague words to describe this, leaving the rest to the reader’s imagination.
Lovecraft was inspired by surrealistic fiction such as ‘King in yellow’ and ‘The great god pan’. Lovecraft managed to strike a chord with a genre particular to the modern world. In an era where we are constantly expanding our knowledge and understanding of the universe and reality, Lovecraft wrote about an idea which we could never truly understand because it was so nonsensical and alien. He wrote about the uncomfortable, twisting the world around you into something you don’t understand. The story starts with the main character Thurston, sorting out his late uncle’s paper. Like Lovecraft’s most main characters, he is a gentleman who spent a good part of his life studying alone, until he found something alien, tried investigating it and well, this daemon investigation makes him insane. We meet another character, the uncle, who loses himself in his obsession with discovering the Cthulhu cult. The worshippers and the fearful set the stage and a poor man makes the biggest mistake of his life, releasing something that should have remained trapped. A danse macabre, a terrifying read but I do not proclaim H.P Lovecraft as the best writer. He is not without flaws.
The characters were unlikeable, with barely any nuance or substance to them, which is fine as this was never a character-driven story but a horrifying tale about cosmic creatures. This genre is not my cup of tea, but I highly recommend this to anyone wanting to dip their toes into the murky waters of Lovecraftian horrors.
A story is told and altered and told until no one knows what the original version was. Lovecraft crafted his story using this method by indulging in dialogue with his peers asking them to use his material, which in the end did benefit him. Lovecraft was pessimistic but a creative individual. He was also rather racist. Despite his personal vices, he is indeed an exquisite writer, so I urge all of you to check out his stories at least once.