5 Reasons Why You NEED To Let H.P. Lovecraft Corrupt Your Brain
Who’s ready to have their brain defiled by eons of unmentionable gods?
“Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places.” — H. P. Lovecraft
I’m pretty sure that line applies to readers of The Snickering Skull, but that’s neither here nor there.
If you consider yourself a connoisseur of the macabre and haven’t included the works of Howard Phillips Lovecraft in your reading diet, then show yourself out of the horror community, please. The door’s right there.
You’re ready to have your mind thoroughly blown by the cosmic madness of a singular terror talent, that of H.P. Lovecraft.
Hold on to your sanity as I walk you through five reasons why you need to become haunted by the monstrous words of Lovey-Dovey himself.
1. He’ll Force You Into Hyper-Literacy With His Esoteric Vocables (i.e old-timey words)
I am currently of the belief that Lovecraft was possessed by a nameless, very scholarly demon that was hellbent on enslaving the minds of readers with an expansive vocabulary.
Even during his time, Lovecraft’s writing was considered that of a fuddy-duddy; dense, antiquated, and far too ornate for the ultra modern readers of the…1920s?
However, as the trend du jour is excavating fads of the past and giving them new life, now is the perfect time to dig up some of the antiquarian terminology that speckled Lovecraft’s writing and dilute them into annoying text-speak.
Below are just a few of the delightful fossilized words that could be creeping around in your vocabulary if you dabbled in HPL:
2. He’s Probably Infected Your Favorite Artists & Works And You Don’t Even Know It
Uncountable musicians, writers, and other creators have been touched (non-sexually) by the tentacles of H.P. Lovecraft’s accursed originality, and his influence can be directly and indirectly felt in plenty of popular movies, music, TV shows, and other media. HPL died in 1937, but his work still haunts pop culture like some kind of big-word-loving phantom.
Below are some famous authors, musicians, and filmmakers who’ve been directly influenced by my homeboy:
- Clive Barker
- Stephen King
- John Carpenter
- Guillermo Del Toro
- Neil Gaiman
- Black Sabbath
And below are some famous media that have been indirectly influenced by my homeboy:
- Rick and Morty
- The Evil Dead movies (the Necronomicon)
- Batman (Arkham Asylum)
- The 1979 film Alien
- The 2012 film The Cabin in the Woods
- TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel
- The 2018 film Annihilation
Who knows how many more creators and creations will be tainted by Lovecraft’s diseased opera omnia? Hell, even this article you’re reading right now has his mark on it, if you can believe it!
3. He Didn’t Write About Garden Variety Monsters Like Everyone Else Did — And Still Do
In a time when horror authors wrote about ghosts, vampires, aliens, and other entities that were clichéd even then, Lovecraft bucked the trend and created a whole pantheon of unspeakable, indescribable, and really yucky monstrosities that are still frighteningly original to this day.
Here are some of the adorable abominations Lovecraft’s brain birthed:
Lovecraft’s most famous creation, Cthulhu is a salad bar of the outlandish, often described as looking like an octopus, a dragon, and a caricature of human form. Aquatic animal-influenced features are prominent in his work; Lovecraft must’ve dated a girl who loved seafood and subsequently broke his heart.
Shub-Niggurath is an entity whose description is unknown, even to Lovecraft himself. Described as an “evil cloud-like entity” and “the All-Mother and wife of the Not-to-Be-Named-One” whose “worship struck the pious Catholic as supremely obnoxious”. So Shub-Niggurath is hated by meteorologists, is loved by a guy in the witness protection program, and is really annoying to Jesuits. Got it?
The Mi-Go are large, pinkish, fungoid, crustacean-like creatures with a “convoluted ellipsoid” (you know, an ellipsoid that’s convoluted?), instead of a head, that’s composed of pyramided, fleshy rings and covered in antennae. Before reading Lovecraft’s descriptions of monsters, make sure your mind is in good and limber.
A shoggoth is described as “a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light”. Basically a walking acid trip.
Elder Things were the first extraterrestrials to arrive on Earth and colonize it. Think of them as intergalactic Christopher Columbuses. The funny thing about them is that they’re eight feet tall, have the appearance of a huge, oval-shaped barrel with starfish-like appendages at both ends, with the top appendage serving as a head adorned with five eyes, five eating tubes, and a set of cilia for “seeing” without light. Heh.
4. Nobody Concocts Opening Lines Quite Like Him
Lovecraft’s writerly alchemy is always on full display in his opening lines, plucking you from your prosaic world into that of darkness, decay, and overlong descriptions.
If you enjoy authors who take making good first impressions in their work way too seriously, then make sure to inject some Lovecraft into your reading veins.
Check out a few of the choice introductory sentences from H.P.L.’s cacodaemoniacal corpus:
from “At the Mountains of Madness”
I am forced into speech because men of science have refused to follow my advice without knowing why.
What’s your advice? Limit your carbs? Be thankful for what you have? Never feed Gizmo after midnight? Tell us, dammit!
from “The Haunter of the Dark”
Cautious investigators will hesitate to challenge the common belief that Robert Blake was killed by lightning, or by some profound nervous shock derived from an electrical discharge.
Unfortunately, this sentence is not followed by this: “Local electricians were called in to examine Blake’s body, but they were all on strike. Lousy unions.”
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.
Man, doesn’t this totally make you want to find out why Lovecraft hates forbidden knowledge so much?
from “The Thing on the Doorstep”
It is true that I have sent six bullets through the head of my best friend, and yet I hope to shew by this statement that I am not his murderer.
“Hi, I’d like a story introduction sandwich with melodrama, irony, and plenty of foreshadowing, please.”
I am writing this under an appreciable mental strain, since by tonight I shall be no more.
“In fact, I’m so mentally strained that I’m going to spend my last moments on this earth writing about it!”
5. Despite Writing About Evil Seafood, His Work Is Pretty Philosophical
Lovecraft is the father of the literary philosophy known as “cosmicism”, which is based on the absence of a divine deity in the universe, and the idea that humans are completely inconsequential in the grand scheme of existence. Think of it as nihilism but for people who love annoyingly obscure words.
The following quote from Mr. Emo himself sums this doctrine up quite nicely:
“The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind.”
Cosmicism lends itself well to the horror genre because it often deals with characters facing the most terrifying truth of all: your life and inevitable death mean absolutely nothing in the face of an indifferent universe, and nothing will save you from your worthless fate.
While Lovecaft’s bleak atheism may at first seem at odds with his inclusion of poisonous gods and wretched deities, these entities are actually symbols for everything we don’t know about the abomination this reality, forwarding the concept that everything we know and love could be wiped out by something we can’t comprehend and it will have no impact whatsoever.
I know this is all pretty grim, so here’s a darling portrait of baby Cthulhu that I conceived in a blasphemous community college art class:
Bonus: You Can Read All Of HPL’s Tales Online For FREE (ok, you might have to sacrifice your sanity) So You Have No Excuse To Not Have Your Psyche Contaminated By His Spectral Fiction
I’m sure you’re exhaustively convinced of Eych-Pee’s infinite imagination. As to how his creations can still provoke, terrify, and confuse decades after his death, that’s between Howie and his sinister muse.
And perhaps it’s best that we remain ignorant as to how this prudish New Englander’s genius worked, as that may be what keeps his work so vital today. As Lovecraft once said:
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.
But if there’s one reason not to invite Lovecraft to violate your existence, it’s his views on dogs:
A dog is a pitiful thing, depending wholly on companionship, and utterly lost except in packs or by the side of his master. Leave him alone, and he does not know what to do except bark and howl and trot about until sheer exhaustion forces him to sleep.
That’s it. I take back this whole article on you, Howie. I hope you enjoy your obscurity.
For some more forbidden pleasures, check out these articles: