VNS – Howard Himself
HP Lovecraft was no believer in the supernatural and the occult. Whilst these elements appear to permeate his stories, in reality Lovecraft’s entities are higher dimensional beings. Aliens, essentially. And Lovecraft the man gave no credence to claims of the supernatural, writing in 1925 that
I am, indeed, an absolute materialist so far as actual belief goes; with not a shred of credence in any form of supernaturalism – religion, spiritualism, transcendentalism, metempsychosis, or immortality.
Today’s lesson asks us to consider what aspects of modern culture would have influenced Lovecraft.
I think Howard would have been bemused, possibly appalled that as culture has increasingly secularised, as scientific advances have increased our understanding of the world, that credulous and superstitious beliefs appear to have grown stronger. Organised religion may have weakened its hold, but quackery, pseudoscience, occult-influenced conspiracy theories et al are growing.
Lovecraft latched on to early work in quantum physics and multidimensionality. He attempts a scientific rationale for his supernatural terrors. The work of physicists now, the search for the elusive Higgs-Boson, and devices like the Large Hadron Collider would have Lovecraft reaching for pen and paper (or possibly tapping away at an iPad) to write about the eldritch terrors locked away in the sub-atomic world. Gibbering insanities composed of mesons and baryons, tentacled monsters physically holding the fabric of reality together. And of course, the LHC as a gateway through which dread Cthulhu could pass.
The incredible discoveries about the very nature of reality itself would have been a new fount of inspiration for Lovecraft, and combined with a public that seems at times hell-bent on disowning rationality, Lovecraft would have been a very happy, very disturbing man.
And I would kill to see Brian Cox hosting Wonders of the R’lyehverse…