Wednesday, May 26, 2021

On Medium: Enlightenment and Cosmic Horror

Read on about H.P. Lovecraft, existentialism, Eastern renunciation and escapism, and the dark side of modernity: the relevance of cosmic horror to philosophy.


  1. Very good essay.

    I wish I had an answer to your question. Retreating into our naive past -- whether that takes the form of religious fundamentalism, enlightenment era optimism, or new ageism -- is, as you said, off the table for any self-respecting person. But adopting some new myth like progress, imagining that we can use technology to radically alter human nature to usher in some Roddenberrian utopia would be quixotic & hence, a manifestation of insanity rather than enlightenment.

    Speaking for myself, I feel a lot like the characters of Candide did at the end of the story: you may as well be looking for water in a desert if you think you can find genuine happiness in this world; it's a mirage. Better to resign oneself to the facts & make the best of the cards you were dealt. Keep yourself busy with quotidian occupations until death comes for you. I'll admit it's a dreary, spiritless approach to life but I suspect it's the way most people really live regardless of what they profess to believe.

    The real horror isn't the inconceivable size & age our universe or it's indifference towards us. The real horror is humanity's egoism, self-righteousness, & pettiness in the face of that knowledge. Flat Earthers, Trumpists, SJWs, Creationists, Roman Catholics -- these are the gibbering abominations that rob me of sleep & threaten my sanity. I read Lovecraft to escape from all that madness.

    1. Your point about keeping busy reminds me of one of my articles that will be coming out soon on the frauds of religion and capitalism, which involve running out the clock and pushing back gratification until it's too late. Of course, if we lack health, wealth, and luck, we may have little choice but to distract ourselves until death. There's likely no secret shortcut or hacking of life, although religions often say otherwise.

      I don't know if the flaws in our reaction to nature are the greater horrors, since nature is largely "responsible" for them too. Creatures that emerge by accident couldn't be expected to act like saints. Besides, even saintly reactions are futile and absurd in the cosmic scheme.

      But certainly, human reactions have horrific psychological and sociological dimensions.