This is a site for discussing roleplaying games. Have fun doing so, but there is one major rule: do not discuss political issues that aren't directly and uniquely related to the subject of the thread and about gaming. While this site is dedicated to free speech, the following will not be tolerated: devolving a thread into unrelated political discussion, sockpuppeting (using multiple and/or bogus accounts), disrupting topics without contributing to them, and posting images that could get someone fired in the workplace (an external link is OK, but clearly mark it as Not Safe For Work, or NSFW). If you receive a warning, please take it seriously and either move on to another topic or steer the discussion back to its original RPG-related theme.
NOTICE: Some online security services are reporting that information for a limited number of users from this site is for sale on the "dark web." As of right now, there is no direct evidence of this, but change your password just to be safe.

Author Topic: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years  (Read 7484 times)

Omega

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • O
  • Posts: 15196
Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #195 on: June 16, 2021, 02:55:34 PM »
er. If recall right Lemurians were a slave race after the cataclysm and became the Hyrkanians of Conan's era while their former masters (Mu?) became the Stygians? Pre-cataclysm Lemurians were depicted fighting for Kull I believe. But of the Kull series I know about nil so could be wrong there.

tenbones

  • Poobah of the D.O.N.G.
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4835
Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #196 on: June 16, 2021, 02:56:47 PM »
The supernatural element and conceits of HPL's work immediately transcends transhumanism by default.

The very fundamental qualities about the fish-people of HPL's work have less to do with ichthyoid proclivities and their potential impact on human drives, as much as it has to do with Elder Gods from another dimension that have considerations so far beyond our imaginations that even the word "evil" doesn't begin to describe it.

Relying on that as a moral rallying point is precisely what would get you devoured - because "they" don't care. Which is not necessarily what I'd attribute to transhumanism (but it could go that way).

Ghostmaker

  • Chlorine trifluoride
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1897
Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #197 on: June 16, 2021, 02:57:08 PM »
There is an interesting (and thus often overlooked  :) ) passage that Lovecraft places right at the beginning of "The Shadow Over Innsmouth":

"There were vague statements about disease and concentration camps, and later about dispersal in various naval and military prisons, but nothing positive ever developed. [...] Complaints from many liberal organisations were met with long confidential discussions, and representatives were taken on trips to certain camps and prisons. As a result, these societies became surprisingly passive and reticent. Newspaper men were harder to manage, but seemed largely to coöperate with the government in the end."

It is, AFAIK, the only time that Lovecraft inserted a political element in one of his stories. It shows how the Government, while keeping the secrecy, it was actually quite open regarding the events concerning Innsmouth. Lovecraft doesn't write that the liberal organisations became passive "as usual", but "surprisingly". It is not a statement against liberalism or the free press, but the recognition that once one saw what was really happening in Innsmouth any partisanship was dropped. It immediately became a matter of "us vs. them".

I feel that there is a connection, here, between the tale and Lovecraft's famous quote "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown" (which is actually a recognised psychopathology). It doesn't matter if the "other" may actually be a tragic figure, like the Replicants in "Blade Runner" or a malevolent entity like the Pod People in the "Body Snatchers": once an unknown entity may mix with humans and become indistinguishable from them, fear kicks in; then containment, then destruction.
I'm not even sure that's political. More like 'okay, this is what you are defending'. And then they get to meet the Deep Ones and take a SAN hit.

Other media have tried to play this card with varying levels of success -- some less so than others.
Even with the SAN hit, I find it difficult to believe than modern leftists would just stand aside. I mean, The Shape of a Water is a thing. These are probably the same sort of people who would happily convert to Dagonism and marry fish people just to prove how anti-racist and anti-white they are. Some of them might even actually enjoy it.

And, to be entirely candid, I think the original story is quite comparable to anxieties surrounding transhumanism. The fish people are transhumans. They're genetically compatible with humans, which makes them human (and upsets our definition of what it means to be human). There is the implication that they may have been engineered (from humans) by the starfish heads. That is transhumanism.

Cyberpunk is a relatively recent genre, but I think there are at least a few stories which make transhumans look like cosmic horror monsters. I'd need to check.

But essentially, HPL's stories are a product of their time. Particularly the scientific knowledge of the time. Since then, we had cyberpunk and bioethics.

In a typical cyberpunk setting, I don't think the fish people would raise any eyebrows. They'd probably come across as quaint in a setting like Transhuman Space or Eclipse Phase.

Given even a fraction of the shit I've seen just reading anything by Chris A. Fields, "The Shadow over Innsmouth" and derivatives like "The Doom that Came to Innsmouth" don't hit very hard in the horror factor anymore. Maybe I'm just jaded by being on the internet too long and watching too many horror movies.
The Shape of Water isn't Lovecraft.

You've made this error before. Just because there's a fishman doesn't make it a Deep One. The whole point of the Deep Ones is that they venerate Dagon (and other nasties) and do not even view humans as, well, sapients. Humans are food and breeding stock, to be used and discarded as need be.

To misquote a better man, I'm not judging them by the scales on their skin but by the content of their character.

The Asset in The Shape of Water does not mistreat Elisa. He does not take advantage of her. He does not use her to his own ends.

GeekyBugle

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3039
  • Now even more Toxic
Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #198 on: June 16, 2021, 03:19:16 PM »
er. If recall right Lemurians were a slave race after the cataclysm and became the Hyrkanians of Conan's era while their former masters (Mu?) became the Stygians? Pre-cataclysm Lemurians were depicted fighting for Kull I believe. But of the Kull series I know about nil so could be wrong there.

Kull is an Atlantean, enslaved by the Lemurians, the Picts his allies, Lemurians ARE enslaved by Khitai after the Cataclism, but not before they were enslaved by the Lemurians.

Quote from: Rhedyn

Here is why this forum tends to be so stupid. Many people here think Joe Biden is "The Left", when he is actually Far Right and every US republican is just an idiot.

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

― George Orwell

DocJones

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 538
Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #199 on: June 16, 2021, 04:49:27 PM »
...or a malevolent entity like the Pod People in the "Body Snatchers": once an unknown entity may mix with humans and become indistinguishable from them, fear kicks in; then containment, then destruction.
I've always likened the Innsmouth tale to "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" or "Invaders from Mars". 
It doesn't make sense to confuse human racism with the fear of the unhuman or fear of possession.


Valatar

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • V
  • Posts: 117
Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #200 on: June 16, 2021, 05:08:03 PM »
I don't think anyone in Lovecraft's writings are "good".  The protagonists aren't hosting any charities, they're just going through life, doing their job, looking for a place to stay, etc, stumble across some crazy shit going down, then are primarily concerned with survival or escape.  I think the better dichotomy would be human vs inhuman rather than good vs evil, because Lovecraft himself often made a point of mentioning that the inhuman horrors weren't evil per se, but had goals at odds with humanity.  There wasn't malice involved for many of the old ones and species involved, but their activities would still lead to a terrible fate.  Nyarlathothep, on the other hand, probably the most human-like of Lovecraft's creations, was also the most actively malicious, who would go out of his way to fuck with people.  That probably says a thing or two about Lovecraft's opinion of humans.

jhkim

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9162
Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #201 on: June 16, 2021, 06:21:51 PM »
...or a malevolent entity like the Pod People in the "Body Snatchers": once an unknown entity may mix with humans and become indistinguishable from them, fear kicks in; then containment, then destruction.
I've always likened the Innsmouth tale to "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" or "Invaders from Mars". 
It doesn't make sense to confuse human racism with the fear of the unhuman or fear of possession.

I think Lovecraft is very different from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" or "Invaders from Mars" -- because the Deep Ones aren't invaders. The implication is that they've lived alongside humans for thousands of years. Instead, they are mostly quietly living in their communities. They were actively brought to Innsmouth by Obed Marsh for his own gain, and haven't been spreading from there. They aren't good - they will selfishly look after their own interests without consideration of morals, but then, Lovecraft thinks the same thing about humans.

In typical alien invasion stories, the aliens are malicious new evil - and are actively trying to conquer and/or destroy humanity - and they are opposed by stalwart strong-jawed soldiers who believe in Mom and apple pie, and innocent young people help in the cause. In Lovecraft, it is vastly different than this. The inhuman creatures have always been around, and humans are a blight on what was their planet just as they are opposed to humans.

I'd be interested to run an alien invasion game - but the tone and structure of it would be vastly different than Lovecraft, as I picture it.


Just because there's a fishman doesn't make it a Deep One. The whole point of the Deep Ones is that they venerate Dagon (and other nasties) and do not even view humans as, well, sapients. Humans are food and breeding stock, to be used and discarded as need be.

To misquote a better man, I'm not judging them by the scales on their skin but by the content of their character.

The Asset in The Shape of Water does not mistreat Elisa. He does not take advantage of her. He does not use her to his own ends.

I agree that Lovecraft's Deep Ones care nothing for human lives except as help to their own, and would kill them off for their own gain. But Lovecraft would also say that humans care nothing about Deep One lives, and would only use them for their own ends at best, and massacre them at worst.

Reckall

  • Junghian alchemist
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1265
Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #202 on: June 16, 2021, 06:55:55 PM »
I think that the best example of "destruction by otherness" in Lovecraft is "The Color Out of Space" (a tale that terrified me when I was a kid, and for all good reasons). It was Lovecraft's favourite among his own works, and his attempt to "finally describe a truly alien entity" (an intent that gives a strange context to the rest of his creations...)

In the story, a "Color not from this Earth" mercilessly destroys a family of innocent, hard working farmers. The story has a strange structure: it is told to us by an unnamed character who hears it from an old farmer, young when the facts happened; this farmer, in turn, got fragments of these events from the victims, thus creating an almost clinical detachment from us to the "strange days" when the Color came to Earth.

IMHO, Lovecraft succeeded in his objective, showing us sheer... "evil"? permeating the earth, the bodies of any living thing in the stricken area, and ultimately the minds of the innocent victims. There is no "screaming realisation at the end", fade to black (well, a bit). Nothing is spared to them (and to us): the utter devastation is almost told "live", with a sort of unblinking stare uncommon for Lovecraft.

And yet, we are told "It was just a Color", only to be reminded "A Color out of space." If you don't look for them, they will come for you anyway. Was it an accident? Was this entity even intelligent? Can we really speak of "intelligence" (or "evilness") thinking that the word has for "it" the same meaning that it has for us? For all the detail that Lovecraft puts in this story, we are not told. It happened, pray that it will not happen to you.

To me TCOoS is the "ultimate Lovecraft". He doesn't need bad seafood or mercifully lost cities to make his point. It is something not even hidden to the World: the Color is unbothered by acting in plain sight, it the presence of common people, scientists and policemen. You can imprison or kill a Deep One, or cause a setback to Cthulhu itself, but here there is, literally, nothing we can go against: it is not even a form of energy (that we can understand at least). It is a Color.

This story does seem to be "isolated" by the rest of the Mythos, almost stand-alone (except for the fact that it is set in the hinterlands of Arkham) - but there is a totally throwaway reference to the Color at the end of "At the Mountains of Madness". If, by then, Lovecraft was having fun at throwing the kitchen sink into his "magnum opus" or if he had plans to clarify the reference that were cut short by his untimely death, I guess we will never know.
For every idiot who denounces Ayn Rand as "intellectualism" there is an excellent DM who creates a "Bioshock" adventure.

shuddemell

  • Wondering Taoist
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 621
Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #203 on: June 17, 2021, 02:10:24 PM »
The supernatural element and conceits of HPL's work immediately transcends transhumanism by default.

The very fundamental qualities about the fish-people of HPL's work have less to do with ichthyoid proclivities and their potential impact on human drives, as much as it has to do with Elder Gods from another dimension that have considerations so far beyond our imaginations that even the word "evil" doesn't begin to describe it.

Relying on that as a moral rallying point is precisely what would get you devoured - because "they" don't care. Which is not necessarily what I'd attribute to transhumanism (but it could go that way).

This is largely how I see his work. One of the points he made about his "horror" wasn't regarding evil, it regarded the notion of how the cosmos and beings within it are vastly indifferent to the condition of mankind. If anything we are an afterthought and don't largely figure into their calculations. In other words, the terror came from describing their absolute indifference to mankind and the horrible consequences of this point of view.
Science is the belief in the ignorance of the expertsRichard Feynman

Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more.Nikola Tesla

A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.Bruce Lee

He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.Marcus Aurelius

For you see we are aimless hate filled animals scampering away into the night.Skwisgaar Skwigelf