H. P. Lovecraft was a writer who remained unappreciated during his life but who has become a very influential literary figure after his death. So it is with artists. Known mostly for his short stories, one of the novellas he wrote, “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” carries immense religious implications. Those familiar with Lovecraft’s fictional world know of the god Cthulhu and the “Other Gods” that he places in outer space. In “Dream-Quest” Lovecraft states that these Other Gods, “are good gods to shun.” While mere fiction, the concept of divinity has become pliable in the hands of its human author. Mortals are those who describe gods, those who decide what their deities will be like. The dream of the titular quest involves the earth gods having been removed from their shining city to leave the dark and dangerous other gods in charge.
While some would dismiss Lovecraft as overly inventive, his view of the earth being clouded by the crawling chaos Nyarlathotep strangely matches what we see playing out in the headlines. Those who are supposed to protect the masses, their leaders – elected or otherwise – have shown themselves to be interested in personal gain above all sense of duty. Throughout the world, and increasingly clearly in the United States, the working poor are seen as simple commodities easily manipulated and programmed to support those who would exploit them. Crawling chaos has landed.
Lovecraft’s “Dream-Quest” has a host of unlikely heroes, among them the cats of Ulthar. These cats maintain a true divinity appropriate for the descendents of Bastet. Feline divinity represents hope to Randolph Carter, Lovecraft’s protagonist. They also represent the tendency of the earth gods only to appear when most sorely needed, otherwise simply to set their own agenda. Where are the cats of Ulthar now? The problem with gods is they don’t always show up when you need them. Many dismiss Lovecraft as just another overly imaginative writer of cheap fiction, but to those will to listen carefully he was an author that could hear a very faint pulse. Even if that pulse was coming from under the floorboards to haunt a reality where the earth gods had gone away.