Sunday, October 18, 2015

Lovecraftian horror, take 2 (does it even work without the racism?)

Why do I even want to write this?

Is it only because I like the word "eldritch"? Eldritch eldritch eldritch! And the repeating of random garbled phrases! Ia! Ia!

So re-reading a few H. P. Lovecraft stories this week, I am again struck by how much of the "horror" is actually simply racism. The narrator of the tale is terrified and aghast because...

OMG! Those ... things... look different from me! Their facial features are not like mine! Their eyes are weird! They remind me of frogs/fish/whatever!

Shock! Horror! They are speaking... in a different language from me! I can't understand what they are saying. It must be evil! EVIL! EVIL!!!

Their voices sound funny. Inhuman! They sound... different from me! Oh noes!

They eat... different food from me! Maybe they like seafood... a little too much! It smells funny! Maybe it's not... cooked!

Their jewelry is weird! It depicts creatures that I find ugly!

I'd better buy a pack of vicious dogs in case they try to visit me! Also a gun. Maybe lots of guns.

This is all depressingly similar to the kinds of things that, for example, white Americans have said/thought about, for example, Chinese immigrants in the U.S. Aliens are inherently horrifying just by being different from the narrator. Ok, so it's a colony of fungoid crustaceans from Pluto, or a bunch of amphibious sea-dwellers who have married into a few human families, so what?

I personally cannot bring myself to be horrified at the thought.

So if I'm going to attempt this genre, it comes down to "bad geometry", images that happen to trigger human brains into feeling fear, some kind of projective telepathy that affects humans badly, a chemical associated with the "aliens", or some mystical (eldritch!) residue, or something. This would be the "horror" bit where the humans are scary when afraid. They think you just don't belong, and everywhere you go people are calling the cops on you or putting your picture into their "suspicious people" apps. You "threaten" them simply by standing there while they walk past. God forbid you hold a door open for a human: they'd be weak-kneed and shaking for the rest of the day. Don't even bother trying to buy any Girl Scout cookies: those terrified glares from the parents aren't worth it.

On the other hand, eldritch horrors do have the advantage of actually having supernatural powers, unlike human minorities who are discriminated against. Ha ha.

And let's emphasize the actual horrible things they do (all that murdering and sacrificing, for instance) rather than their appearance, gait, language, music, art, religion, or dietary preferences. But then again, that could be said to be "justifying" the racism. No, no, no. The problem is the "they". Eldritch horrors are at least as diverse as humans. Why should they be super-organized? Aaaaand... we're back in "humanized vampire" land. Ah well. I guess the version I'm using is that the "gods" are the gardeners, humans are among the crops, and the prophets (modified human agents) are their sentient gardening tools. So whatever the problematic elements, it is what it is.

Never mind. I'm not really attempting this genre. It's just me using Lovecraft as a source of inspiration. I'm actually writing a Doctor Who Doctor/Master fanfic. Just kidding. No, I'm finally going to use the local music school as a setting. We're going to hunt demons and play violin and visit alien worlds as prophets of the eldritch (you can tell because no one can pronounce their names) gods.

For at least 50000 words during November.

Yep. That's the plan.

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