Howard Philips Lovecraft created an alternate universe populated by malevolent sea-creatures and gods whereupon multiple artists have been expanding. Although he died in poverty, Lovecraft is now heralded as one of the greatest horror and fantasy writers of his time.
In modern fiction and art, his work is frequently referred to as “The Cthulhu Mythos,” which is a name coined by August Derleth, who was the first to publish Lovecraft’s work, and the founder of Arkham House Publishing. Cthulhu is described as a composite of an “octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature…. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings.” In a previous post of January 30th, 2019 (Inspired by Lovecraft), I’ve described some convergences between the work of some musicians and my own creative processes related to the Cthulhu Mythos.
Many people see HPL fearing or detesting science, particularly due to his opening paragraph in “The Call of Cthulhu” that includes the line:
“…but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”
This fragment refers to a postulation whereupon much of his work was based – that delving into forbidden lore will only result in horrible outcomes – which may be a sublimation of HPL’s love for pure science, counterbalanced by his aversion to new technology and progress. It’s a well known fact that HPL frequently adapted his texts to accommodate new scientific insights.
Many authors, writers and philosophers impacted HPL throughout his life including Haeckel and Schopenhauer; however, it appears that Hugh Elliot’s (1881-1930) principles of mechanistic materialism, outlined in his book Modern Science and Materialism, lays the foundation for HPL’s view of the cosmos and reality. A statement made by Elliot that influenced HPL immensely was, “We cannot assume that the Universe has only five qualities because we have only five senses. We must assume, on the contrary, that the number of its qualities may be infinite, and that the more senses we had, the more we should discover about it.”
Some parts of the action in The Maharajagar play in an alternate reality, a 7-dimensional Labyrinth Dimension, whose dynamical processes interact with our reality. For naming locations in this dimension, I’ve been taking inspiration of Lovecraft’s Dreamland Cycle, although its layout and functioning is based upon more modern cosmological insights into the structure of the reality, and of course adapted and adjusted by amendments that sprouted from the needs of my own storytelling. Contrary to Lovecraft’s organic method, my world building is more rigidly constructed in an attempt to create a more cohesive alternate universe.
My most important breach with the Lovecraftian universe is probably the assertion that chaos isn’t necessarily a negative force, a subject I’ve covered in my post of October 9th (When Order vs Chaos doesn’t equal Good vs Bad).
In a next post I would like to elaborate about how some of the fundamental characteristics of the main protagonists have their roots in literary history.
To be honest, The Maharajagar is an amalgam of what I judged to be some of the best elements of literary history, filtered through my own perception, mixed with some contemporary views, and forged into a very subjective synthesis.
I hope you’ll enjoy It.