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Lovecraftian Theology; or, Holmes in the Hammam

… Illustration from David Urquhart’s 1865 Manual of the Turkish Bath: Heat, a Mode of Cure and a Source of Strength for Men and Animals

This is a nice summary of the Lovecraftian worldview from James Lovegrove’s Sherlock Homes and the Miskatonic Monstrosities, to compare and contrast with your own.

Holmes and Watson are discussing their latest case in a London hammam:

“… the more intriguing and challenging aspect of all this is, of course, how he came to be as he is.”

“There must be some connection between his state of mind and the R’lyehian he wrote on his cell walls.”

“Indubitably,” said Holmes. “Only too often do the two things go hand-in-hand: mental derangement and the mother tongue of the elder gods.”

“Unless you happen to be one of those gods yourself.”

“Even then, are they mentally deranged, or sane? How do we know? How can we mere mortals with our limited faculties and circumscribed perceptions measure those fathomless minds of theirs? How can we hope to divine the motivations, the emotions of star-spawned beings from beyond?

Everything about them is utterly alien. Perhaps they are all quite mad. Perhaps the aeons spent in the gulfs of space and depths of the earth have driven them over the brink of rationality, and there is nothing within them now but howling chaos.”

“And evil.”

“Or something we only call evil, because we cannot interpret it any other way. To them it might be necessity or whim or expedience.”

“The will to subjugate and eliminate the human race surely cannot be considered any of those things,” I said.

“Really? Imagine you are a wasp and I swat you with a rolled-up newspaper. Does that make me evil? I was only ridding myself of a nuisance. Or let’s say you are a sheep and I shear you for your wool, then send you to the abattoir to become mutton. I’m not a thief or a murderer – I’m a farmer.”

“A fair point, I suppose.”

“What if, by believing the outer gods and the Great Old Ones hate us, we are exalting our own importance unduly? What if they harbour nothing for us but at best, a mild disdain? So great is their power compared with ours that they have no real cause to fear us. It is, contrarywise, our fear of them that leads us to interpret their actions as evil.

Why should Azathoth give a fig about me or you? Why should Shub-Niggurath? Yog-Sothoth? Yig? Cthulhu?”

I could not help but feel a prickle up my spine as Holmes intoned this rollcall of names…

James Lovegrove – Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadow

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