“Locally, interest was intensified by the obscurity of the cause of death…. Physicians were unable to find any visible disorder, but concluded after perplexed debate that some obscure lesion of the heart, induced by the brisk ascent of so steep a hill by so elderly a man, was responsible for the end. At the time I saw no reason to dissent from this dictum, but latterly I am inclined to wonder–and more than wonder.”
As a whole, the Cthulhu Mythos should not be taken at much deeper than face value. It is in many ways a fantastical and thoroughly fictional tale. However, I really identified with this passage in particular with regards to the Mythos because it gave introduction to the whole idea of Cthulhu. Somewhat familiar in this passage’s adaptation to the real world is the sense of paranoia that manifests itself and envelops in a society following an interesting occurrence. I have no doubt that plenty of cults or schools of thought in history, even modern-day, were founded and developed due to an inexplicable event. The unexplained is perhaps the most fearsome, and I believe that Lovecraft is commenting on the curious nature of humanity with juxtaposition to the mysterious.
Lovecraft, H.P. “The Call of Cthulhu.” The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. Ed. S.T. Joshi. New York: Penguin Books, 1999. 140. Kindle Edition.
While much of the Cthulhu mythos is based upon irrationality, the obtuse, and the strange, H.P. Lovecraft’s tales contain various messages, some of which are especially applicable to modern society.
One especially predominant example of this is featured when Lovecraft explains, “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 and safety of a new dark age” (Lovecraft 139).
The fascinating paradigm that Lovecraft explores in this section is a focal point predominant even in our culture today – that is to what extent ought science (no matter what kind) proceed before it goes “too far?” From genetically modified foods to cloning, this contentious topic arises in nearly every issue about bioethics. Some of the less progressively minded arguers of similar topics have similar perspectives to Lovecraft, that there is in fact a limit to where scientific progression ought go, and that surpassing it would lead to major social harms. While, granted, we as a society are not necessarily proselytizing for cultists in eldritch rituals, certainly in the minds of these more conservative members, the recent advent of technological booms have similar effects. To many, especially the elderly, the idea of a large winged tentacle creature is comparable to the “magic black box that accesses the Internet,” something modern generations see as both innocuous and essential parts of our lives. The only way to diffuse this culture of fear however is to force society forward, by driving our boat through the Cthulhus of modernity, grasping us in their flabby claws.
Lovecraft, H. P., and S. T. Joshi. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. New York: Penguin, 1999. Print.