One of the scariest aspects of life is knowing that, in the grand scheme of things, we are insignificant, but maybe even scarier is the fact that we will never know what these grand schemes are. We are curious creatures, and this had driven us forward as a species, yet we face an insurmountable wall, a limit to what is knowable. H.P. Lovecraft was someone whose fear of what lay beyond was coupled with his miserable life, allowing him to write masterful works of fiction that spawned decades of literature under the new brand of Lovecraftian horror.
When we read his stories now, it would seem to be riddled with racist tones, poor understanding of science, and some serious white savior complex. Considering how most of these were written at the turn of the 1900s, this doesn’t seem that bad; keeping in view that he was constantly fighting poverty and health problems, I doubt he ever had time to consider these matters. In fact, these were probably projections of his fears, which – surprisingly – was almost anything.
I would like to imagine him being the kind of person who loses it when he sees anything he hasn’t seen before, most notably from a story where the horror lies in air conditioners. What makes his stories great were not just the sources of the horror which could easily be stated as the unknown, but the descriptions of it. Reading them brings across true terror because they weren’t written by someone who was trying to write a horror story, but someone who was truly afraid of what he wrote about.
They were the manifestations of what his deepest fears were, which in some sense we all still resonate with because the unknown still bothers us. It may not be the cosmic kind like Cthulhu (a squid-like ruler of the earth that can influence people’s dreams) but it may be the day-to-day kind. We don’t know what the future holds for us; when tragedy will strike, when our dreams will come true – if ever. Authors, unknowingly or knowingly, often incorporate much of their lives into a book; when looked at side by side, we can almost see why it was written in such a way.
Maybe we read horror stories because we like being entertained, or maybe we just like having the hairs on the back of our necks stand up, which is interesting because it alludes to a strange kind of acceptance that we will never not be afraid, and maybe we just like being afraid. So, embrace the fears you have and do write them down as Lovecraft did…maybe it helps!