Cosmicism

Cosmicism is the literary philosophy developed and used by the American writer H. P. Lovecraft in his weird fiction.[1] Lovecraft was a writer of philosophically intense horror stories that involve occult phenomena like astral possession and alien miscegenation, and the themes of his fiction over time contributed to the development of this philosophy.

Principles

The philosophy of cosmicism states that there is no recognizable divine presence, such as a god, in the universe, and that humans are particularly insignificant in the larger scheme of intergalactic existence, and perhaps are just a small species projecting their own mental idolatries onto the vast cosmos.[2] This also suggests that the majority of undiscerning humanity are creatures with the relative significance of insects and plants, when compared to the universe.

The most prominent theme in cosmicism is the insignificance of humanity. Cosmicism shares many characteristics with nihilism, though one important difference is that cosmicism tends to emphasize the insignificance of humanity and its doings, rather than summarily rejecting the possible existence of some higher purpose (or purposes). For example, in Lovecraft's Cthulhu stories, it is not the absence of meaning that causes terror for the protagonists, as it is their discovery that they have absolutely no power to change anything in the vast, indifferent universe that surrounds them. In Lovecraft's stories, whatever meaning or purpose may be invested in the actions of the cosmic beings is completely inaccessible to the human characters.

Lovecraft's cosmicism was a result of his complete disdain for all things religious, his feeling of humanity's existential helplessness in the face of what he called the "infinite spaces" opened up by scientific thought, and his belief that humanity was fundamentally at the mercy of the vastness and emptiness of the cosmos.[3] In his fictional works, these ideas are often explored humorously ("Herbert West–Reanimator," 1922), through fantastic dream-like narratives ("The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath," 1927), or through his well-known Cthulhu Mythos ("The Call of Cthulhu," 1928, and others). Common themes related to cosmicism in Lovecraft's fiction are the insignificance of humanity in the universe[4] and the search for knowledge ending in disaster.[5]

Cosmic indifferentism

Though cosmicism appears deeply pessimistic, H.P. Lovecraft thought of himself as neither a pessimist nor an optimist but rather a "scientific" or "cosmic" indifferentist,[6] a theme expressed in his fiction. In Lovecraft's work, human beings are often subject to powerful beings and other cosmic forces, but these forces are not so much malevolent as they are indifferent toward humanity.[7] This indifference is an important theme in cosmicism. The noted Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi asserts that "Lovecraft constantly engaged in (more or less) genial debates on religion with several colleagues, notably the pious writer and teacher Maurice W. Moe. Lovecraft was a strong and antireligious atheist; he considered religion not merely false but dangerous to social and political progress."[8] As such, Lovecraft's cosmicism is not religious at all, but rather a version of his mechanistic materialism. Lovecraft thus embraced a philosophy of cosmic indifferentism. He believed in a meaningless, mechanical, and uncaring universe that human beings, with their naturally limited faculties, could never fully understand. His viewpoint made no allowance for religious beliefs which could not be supported scientifically. The incomprehensible, cosmic forces of his tales have as little regard for humanity as humans have for insects.[9]

Though personally irreligious, Lovecraft used various "gods" in his stories, particularly the Cthulhu-related tales, to expound cosmicism. However, Lovecraft never conceived of them as supernatural; but extraterrestrials who understand and obey a set of natural laws, which to human understanding seem magical. These beings (the Great Old Ones, Outer Gods and others) — though dangerous to humankind — are portrayed as neither good nor evil, and human notions of morality have no significance for these beings. Indeed, they exist in cosmic realms beyond human understanding. As a symbol, this is representative of the kind of universe that Lovecraft believed in.[10] Though some of these beings have - and in some cases create - cults to honor them, to the vast majority of these beings the human race is so insignificant that they aren't given any consideration whatsoever.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Joshi, The Annotated H. P. Lovecraft, p. 12.
  2. ^ https://www.gradesaver.com/selected-stories-of-hp-lovecraft/wikipedia/themes
  3. ^ Fritz Leiber "A Literary Copernicus,"Discovering H. P. Lovecraft, ed. Darrell Schweitzer (1987).
  4. ^ Price, "Lovecraft's 'Artificial Mythology'", An Epicure in the Terrible, p. 247.
  5. ^ Price, "Introduction", The New Lovecraft Circle, pp. xviii–xix. Price writes: "One seeks forbidden knowledge, whether wittingly or, more likely, unwittingly, but one may not know till it is too late... The knowledge, once gained, is too great for the mind of man. It is Promethean, Faustian knowledge. Knowledge that destroys in the moment of enlightenment, a Gnosis of damnation, not of salvation."
  6. ^ William F. Touponce (2013). Lord Dunsany, H.P. Lovecraft, and Ray Bradbury: Spectral Journeys. Scarecrow Press. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-8108-9220-0.
  7. ^ Price, "Lovecraft's 'Artificial Mythology'", p. 249.
  8. ^ S.T. Joshi Interview - Acid Logic e-zine
  9. ^ Mariconda, "Lovecraft's Concept of 'Background'", pp. 22–3, On the Emergence of "Cthulhu" & Other Observations.
  10. ^ Burleson, "The Lovecraft Mythos", Survey of Science Fiction Literature, p. 1284.

References

  • Joshi, S. T. (August 1997). "Introduction". The Annotated H. P. Lovecraft. New York, NY: Dell. ISBN 0-440-50660-3.
  • Houellebecq, Michel (1999). H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life. Brooklyn, NY: McSweeny. ISBN 1-932416-18-8.
  • Fossemò, Sandro D. (2010). Cosmic Terror from Poe to Lovecraft. Italy.
Civil Aviation Museum (Armenia)

The Civil Aviation Museum of Armenia (Armenian: Հայկական ավիացիայի պատմության թանգարան) was founded in 1998, on the 65th anniversary of civil aviation in Armenia. Located in Zvartnots, Armenia, the museum contains documents, collections, photographs, books and other valuable items that reflect the history of civil aviation.

Cosmism

Cosmism can refer to:

A religious philosophical position from the writings of Hugo de Garis

Russian cosmism, a philosophical and cultural movement in Russia in the early 20th centurySee alsoCosmicism

Cosmos

The cosmos (UK: , US: ) is the universe. Using the word cosmos rather than the word universe implies viewing the universe as a complex and orderly system or entity; the opposite of chaos.

The cosmos, and our understanding of the reasons for its existence and significance, are studied in cosmology – a very broad discipline covering any scientific, religious, or philosophical contemplation of the cosmos and its nature, or reasons for existing. Religious and philosophical approaches may include in their concepts of the cosmos various spiritual entities or other matters deemed to exist outside our physical universe.

Cthulhu

Cthulhu ( kə-THOO-loo) is a fictional cosmic entity created by writer H. P. Lovecraft and first introduced in the short story "The Call of Cthulhu", published in the American pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928. Considered a Great Old One within the pantheon of Lovecraftian cosmic entities, the creature has since been featured in numerous popular culture references. Lovecraft depicts Cthulhu as a gigantic entity worshipped by cultists. Cthulhu's appearance is described as looking like an octopus, a dragon, and a caricature of human form. Its name was given to the Lovecraft-inspired universe where it and its fellow entities existed, the Cthulhu Mythos.

Cthulhu Mythos

The Cthulhu Mythos is a shared fictional universe, originating in the works of American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. The term was coined by August Derleth, a contemporary correspondent and protégé of Lovecraft, to identify the settings, tropes, and lore that were employed by Lovecraft and his literary successors. The name Cthulhu derives from the central creature in Lovecraft's seminal short story, "The Call of Cthulhu", first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928.Richard L. Tierney, a writer who also wrote Mythos tales, later applied the term "Derleth Mythos" to distinguish Lovecraft's works from Derleth's later stories, which modify key tenets of the Mythos. Authors of Lovecraftian horror in particular frequently use elements of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Existential nihilism

Existential nihilism is the philosophical theory that life has no intrinsic meaning or value. With respect to the universe, existential nihilism suggests that a single human or even the entire human species is insignificant, without purpose and unlikely to change in the totality of existence. According to the theory, each individual is an isolated being born into the universe, barred from knowing "why", yet compelled to invent meaning. The inherent meaninglessness of life is largely explored in the philosophical school of existentialism, where one can potentially create their own subjective "meaning" or "purpose". Of all types of nihilism, existential nihilism has received the most literary and philosophical attention.

Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family

"Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" is a short story in the horror fiction genre, written by American author H. P. Lovecraft in 1920. The themes of the story are tainted ancestry, knowledge that it would be best to remain unaware of, and a reality which human understanding finds intolerable.

Fire vampire

Fire vampires are fictional characters in the Cthulhu Mythos. The term refers to two distinct types of beings: the Flame Creatures of Cthugha, created by August Derleth, and the Fire Vampires of Fthaggua, created by Donald Wandrei.

H. P. Lovecraft

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (US: ; August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American writer who achieved posthumous fame through his influential works of horror fiction. He was virtually unknown during his lifetime and published only in pulp magazines before he died in poverty, but he is now regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors of horror and weird fiction.Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island, where he spent most of his life. Among his most celebrated tales are "The Rats in the Walls," "The Call of Cthulhu," At the Mountains of Madness, The Shadow over Innsmouth, and The Shadow Out of Time, all canonical to the Cthulhu Mythos. Lovecraft was never able to support himself from earnings as an author and editor. He saw commercial success increasingly elude him in this latter period, partly because he lacked the confidence and drive to promote himself. He subsisted in progressively strained circumstances in his last years; an inheritance was completely spent by the time he died of cancer, at age 46.

H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society

The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society or HPLHS is the organization that hosts Cthulhu Lives!, a group of live-action roleplayers for the Cthulhu Live version of Call of Cthulhu. Founded in Colorado in 1984, it is now based in Glendale, California. Their motto is Ludo Fore Putavimus ("We thought it would be fun").HPLHS produces a number of Cthulhu Mythos films and sound recordings, under its Mythoscope and Mythophone labels, respectively. They also offer props, both for sale and for free download.

Insignificance

People may face feelings of insignificance due to a number of causes, including having low self-esteem, being depressed, living in a huge, impersonal city, comparing themselves to wealthy celebrity success stories, working in a huge bureaucracy, or being in awe of a natural wonder.

Kingsport (Lovecraft)

Kingsport is a fictional town in the writings of H. P. Lovecraft and used by subsequent writers in his tradition. The town first appeared in Lovecraft's short story "The Terrible Old Man" (1921).

Lovecraftian horror

Lovecraftian horror is a subgenre of horror fiction that emphasizes the cosmic horror of the unknown (or unknowable) more than gore or other elements of shock. It is named after American author H. P. Lovecraft (1890–1937), who is largely credited as the first author to pioneer the genre.

Mediocrity principle

The mediocrity principle is the philosophical notion that "if an item is drawn at random from one of several sets or categories, it's likelier to come from the most numerous category than from any one of the less numerous categories". The principle has been taken to suggest that there is nothing very unusual about the evolution of the Solar System, Earth's history, the evolution of biological complexity, human evolution, or any one nation. It is a heuristic in the vein of the Copernican principle, and is sometimes used as a philosophical statement about the place of humanity. The idea is to assume mediocrity, rather than starting with the assumption that a phenomenon is special, privileged, exceptional, or even superior.

Psychological horror

Psychological horror is a subgenre of horror and psychological fiction that relies on mental, emotional and psychological states to frighten, disturb, or unsettle readers, viewers, or players. The subgenre frequently overlaps with the related subgenre of psychological thriller, and it often uses mystery elements and characters with unstable, unreliable, or disturbed psychological states to enhance the suspense, drama, action, and paranoia of the setting and plot and to provide an overall unpleasant, unsettling, or distressing atmosphere.

R'lyeh

R'lyeh is a fictional lost city that first appeared in the H. P. Lovecraft short story "The Call of Cthulhu", first published in Weird Tales in June 1928. In the story, R'lyeh is a sunken city in the South Pacific and the prison of the entity called Cthulhu.

The nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh…was built in measureless eons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults.

Sonia Greene

Sonia Haft Greene Lovecraft Davis (16 March 1883 – 26 December 1972) was an American one-time pulp fiction writer and amateur publisher, a single mother, business woman and milliner who bankrolled several fanzines in the early twentieth century. She is best known for her two-year marriage to American weird fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft. She was a president of the United Amateur Press Association.

Supernatural Horror in Literature

"Supernatural Horror in Literature" is a long essay by American writer H. P. Lovecraft, surveying the topic of horror fiction. It was written between November 1925 and May 1927 and revised during 1933–1934. It was first published in 1927 in the one-issue magazine The Recluse. More recently, it was included in the collection Dagon and Other Macabre Tales (1965).

Lovecraft examines the beginnings of weird fiction in the gothic novel (relying greatly on Edith Birkhead's 1921 survey The Tale of Terror) and traces its development through such writers as Ambrose Bierce, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe (who merits his own chapter). Lovecraft names as the four "modern masters" of horror: Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, M. R. James, and Arthur Machen.

An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia terms the work "HPL's most significant literary essay and one of the finest historical analyses of horror literature." Upon reading the essay, M. R. James proclaimed Lovecraft's style "most offensive". However,

Edmund Wilson, who was not an admirer of Lovecraft's fiction, praised the essay as a "really able piece of

work...he had read comprehensively in this field—he was strong on the Gothic novelists—and

writes about it with much intelligence". David G. Hartwell has called "Supernatural Horror in Literature", "the most important essay on horror literature".

Whipple Van Buren Phillips

Whipple Van Buren Phillips (November 22, 1833 – March 28, 1904) was an American businessman from Providence, Rhode Island who also had mining interests in Idaho. He was most notable as the grandfather of H. P. Lovecraft, whom he raised with his daughters and encouraged to have an appreciation of literature, especially classical literature and English poetry.

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