Heeding the Call


I’ve recently begun reading the stories of H.P. Lovecraft. I’ve always been fascinated by the mythos, but never actually read anything by him. I love the dry, supernatural detective story style. I love the tension that he builds up – he does it so well that you’re never sure that the main character will make it out alive, even though the story is written in past tense – they obviously did survive. He is truly a master of suspense and horror.

Here is the beautifully written opening paragraph from The Call of Cthulhu:

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace of a new dark age.

It puts me in mind of modern scientific discoveries, and society’s reactions to them. Consider how much farther have we gone since he wrote that. I’m not saying we’ve reached the point of madness, nor that we ever will, but we are bombarded with so much information these days (scientific or otherwise) that we have to block much of it out in order to stay sane. I can’t contemplate what a three parent embryo means to me, or whether eating cloned hamburgers will cause cancer or birth defects. While purposeful ignorance is a far reach from madness, maybe we’re instinctively protecting ourselves. There are those in the world today whose beliefs imply that maybe a “new dark age” wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Leave a Reply