Monday, June 20, 2011

The Prophet Lovecraft

My vision of the religion of the future has been influenced by many thinkers and currents of thought, but none more so than the man I consider to be the greatest prophet of the 20th century: Howard Phillips Lovecraft.  Here is a video discussion of the prophet Lovecraft, and of my idea of a "Cosmist Brotherhood," which could become the prototype for the cosmic religion of the future.  (I have previously blogged on this subject here and here).


  1. Some of what you say is reminiscent of the Temple of Set's line on paganism. Pagans love Earth and the cycles of life, but there are larger dark forces - et cetera.

    Kenneth Grant is another occultist who managed to talk about bizarre cosmic immensities "outside the circles of time", in between the voodoo and the sex rituals.

    But despite Susskind's comments about "reality", this is an odd time to be talking about incomprehensibility. I was just thinking that, if Lovecraft is a 20th-century prophet, maybe Nima Arkani-Hamed is a 21st-century prophet. And being a theoretical physicist, he stands for the exact opposite attitude: reducing the universe to comprehensibility. We don't want to fool ourselves, of course. But you know, all those galaxies in your picture are, we think, crystallizations of primordial fluctuations that we can write equations for, and see confirmed in deep-space observations.

    Have you read Stapledon? He's an interesting counterpoint to Lovecraft.

  2. Thank you for your interesting comments. Well, what I'm hearing from many leading scientists these days is growing doubt that the universe is governed by simple laws, or that it can be understood by humans at all. Susskind and Hawking are saying this, and Martin Rees said:

    "Just as a fish may be barely aware of the medium in which it lives and swims, so the microstructure of empty space could be far too complex for unaided human brains."

    Yes, those galaxies follow some known laws of physics, but at this point we can't account for 96% of the matter in the universe, so it seems preposterous to say that we know what's going on out there. And the fact that all that stuff exists in the first place is really the mystery for me, the source of my mysticism and religious awe.

    The problem with science is that if you use it to tear down all religions and competing belief systems, only to discover that science doesn’t have a clue what this universe is about, you’ve put yourself in a difficult spot intellectually and spiritually. I believe frail human minds need protection from the “cosmic shock” of this vast universe, but science just keeps piling on the shocks and offers little in return. This is a problem Lovecraft and Stapledon understood 80 years ago, and maybe the rest of us are starting to catch up with them.

    Like it or not, science has entered religious territory and needs to start speaking its language. If not, people may decide that science is just too horrific and may start rejecting its findings altogether – they may decide to, in the prophetic words of Lovecraft, “flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

    I've read Star Maker and thought it was brilliant. I'm starting to think of Stapledon, Clarke, Sagan, etc. as "Right Hand-Path" Cosmists, while Lovecraft, myself and maybe Grant are Left Hand-Path or Dark Cosmists. :)


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