“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature
The game Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth opens in an asylum where the player’s character, Jack Walters, has gone mad. “Now, at my end, I can fully see,” says Jack. He sits rocking on the floor of his cell. Red pentagrams and glyphs (presumably in his blood) cover the floor and his mattress. “All that I was is now lost.” He hears an asylum attendant arrive at the end of the ward and stands on a chair next to the window of his cell and rocks the chair side to side until it falls and his legs flail about against the wall.
And then we begin. Six years earlier.
What drove Jack to madness?
In ‘Supernatural Horror in Literature’ Lovecraft speaks of “the hidden and fathomless worlds of strange life which may pulsate in the gulfs beyond the stars, or press hideously upon our own globe in unholy dimensions which only the dead and the moonstruck can glimpse”. The unknown and what lurks in it is the monster. The Wikipedia page on Cosmicism, a term for Lovecraft’s literary (and likely personal) philosophy, describes his work as “philosophically intense” which I think explains why I’m still drawn to his work all these years later.
The first season of HBO’s True Detective comes to mind when I think of philosophical intensity. McConaughey’s Rust Cohle begins that story a nihilist and a pessimist and I found his beliefs more disturbing than any tentacled monster or serial killer because monsters can die and killers arrested but beliefs like that can follow you your entire life.
And some people just worry about paying off their mortgages.