Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Donald Tyson, author of The 13 Gates of the Necromicon.
Ask most fans of H. P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos (as it is generally but erroneously called) who Lovecraft was, and chances are they will say he was a science fiction writer. While it is undeniably true that Lovecraft wrote science fiction, thatâ€™s not all he wrote. Many of his stories are fantasies patterned after the model of the Arabian Nights, or outright occult horror stories. Even his science fiction is very unlike the science fiction of Clarke and Heinlein. In Lovecraft, science and the stars are both regarded as realms of unutterable horror, and those who delve too deeply into either of them go mad.
Science is not the answer in Lovecraftâ€™s stories, it is the problem. Anyone who looks beneath the surface of our reality will inevitably discover truths with which the human mind cannot cope. It doesnâ€™t matter who does the seekingâ€”no human mind can withstand the truth that lies behind the comforting illusion of our daily lives. Stronger and more courageous minds can endure to look upon reality for a little longer, can bear to delve a little deeper, but they too must always disintegrate in the naked face of the ultimate horror of the real.
This is why the Necronomicon drives men mad. It strips away too much of the comforting illusion that cushions our lives from the shock of truth. In Lovecraftâ€™s stories, truth is a kind of burning angel, the mere touch of which sears flesh from the bone and ultimately transforms everything to ashes. This was not a fictional posture for Lovecraftâ€”this is what he genuinely believed to be so. Lovecraft held that mankind is able to survive only by clinging to illusion the way a drowning man clings to a piece of jetsam.
Not surprisingly, he denied with a tenacious determination reality in his own life. But the reality denied by Lovecraft was not what is commonly thought of as realâ€”the material world, and the laws of science. These fictions Lovecraft embraced and exalted with desperation. He needed them in his life in order to cling to his fragile sanity.
No, the reality Lovecraft denied was what he saw in his dreams, and what he copied from those dreams into his stories. It was the reality of the Necronomicon from which Lovecraft fled his entire life with single-minded, fanatical devotion. He did not reject the occult because he felt contempt for it, although this was his public posture on the subject, he rejected it because it terrified him. And the reason it terrified him was because he sensed, with the deeply buried, unconscious part of his mind, that on some non-material level, it must be the higher truth that would drive him mad.
Our thanks to Donald Tyson for his guest post! For more from Donald, read his article, “Lovecraft and the 13 Gates of the Necronomicon.”