Decades before “Forbidden Planet’”s theatrical run, Howard Phillips Lovecraft broke new imaginative grounds in “At the Mountains of Madness” (1931). Set in Antarctica, remote as the surface of the Moon in HPL’s day, he rewrote the deep history of the Earth in terms that disturbed our already crumbling anthropomorphic view of our prominence in the universe. There, he traced the irrational history of the primal world, often shrouded in religious myths and shamanic legends, in rational terms.
Lovecraft wrote: “I expect nothing of man, and disown the race. The only folly is expecting what is never attained; man is most contemptible when compared with his own pretensions. It is better to laugh at man from outside the universe, than to weep for him within.”
Evolution has led humanity to a tipping point. Unlike other animals, there is a fundamental conflict between what human beings want from the universe (whether it be meaning, order, or reasonableness) and what they find in the universe (indifference and formless chaos).
As Ishmael floats helplessly atop the ocean deep, he becomes the stuff of Cosmicism – a strikingly lonely image of humanity adrift in a universe neither good nor evil. Death ends their misunderstanding, and negates their madness. The true madness of man is that of trying to apply a reasonableness to an unreasonable cosmos.
This post is by John A. DeLaughter, a Lovecraft eZine contributor. Is modern humanity one-step removed from hairy apedom? Have human beings crept that far from the primal ooze that […]