Macrohorror – germs

Sean responds to my question about macro/micro horror. Take a peek.

Aw heck, here:

Matt Maxwell asks, in essence, does that which is horror in micro become science fiction in macro? Really good question, Matt. Brainwave: Thinking about it with this in mind, I think what sticks with me about Cloverfield is that it goes macro but yet it still feels “horror” to me. Perhaps this is a specific feature of Lovecraftian horror?

Perhaps. Lovecraftian horror, at least Lovecraft himself, only hinted and suggested at what would come should the Great Old Ones reassume their rightful position (or perhaps they already have, just that humans haven’t figured it out yet). Lovecraft himself never wrote of a post-Cthulhoid-invasion/awakening scenario. That’s largely been the purview of today’s writers. Lovecraft’s protagonists suffer through personal apocalypses and shuddering revelations that are cosmic in origin, but society doesn’t. Indeed, society survives and only has meaning *because* such an ocurrence is beyond the pale, at least for ordinary humans. So I’d say that Lovecraft double-dips here (and I’ve always maintained that Lovecraft was a science fiction author — there’s that silly distinction again — in his imagining of monsters driven by existential indifference.)

Aside, if humans are so insignificant, then why do the agents and cultists of the Great Old Ones plot against them? Does it matter to Cthulhu whether he sleeps or wakes?

CLOVERFIELD is an interesting case, as like GOJIRA, it was trying (successfully at times, though I had issues with it) to elicit horrific reactions. Whatever else GOJIRA was, it wasn’t a cuddly cottage industry in the first movie. The monster was terrifying, unstoppable but for mad science. CLOVERFIELD uses the same kind of monster, only a different scale, focusing on the micro, though on a greater tapestry than just the clutch of doomed characters. Would CLOVERFIELD feel more like a science fiction movie if the army had been able to send the monster back to the sea, thus preserving humanity (or at least staving off imminent destruction?)

Does LAND OF THE DEAD feel like a horror movie or something else? The zombies are horrible, but they’re also sympathetic and exploited. The humans have successfully rebuilt a normality in the dead land. Outside the walls, zombiepocalypse. Inside the walls, the Village Green (mall writ large). I suppose when one transmits itself within the second, then there’s horror, or is it simply recognition?

Golly, I’ve never done this blog back and forth stuff. Am I doing this right?

2 comments to Macrohorror – germs

  • rev'D

    I’ll go you one better: beyond helping to propel the plot, why do the Great Old Ones need us at all? I know there were some vague mechanics about stars being right and C’thulhu being ‘imprisioned’, etc., but to my mind the regularity with which these things were knocking at the walls suggests that the walls were pretty porous to begin with. Imagine a Lovecraftian scenario where human life was truly surplus to the story, where we possessed no bargaining power and the ‘necessary rituals’ were only ineffectual nursery whispers that happened to coincide with the great awakening… That pretty much puts us in the tall grass with THEM-scale red & black ants warring all around us (a la Lynch’s ‘Peaks). Bleak, but pretty much in tune with Lovecraft’s misanthropic views.

    Maybe I’m deconstructing these things too much. Possibly. Still, it amuses me to think that maybe Lovecraft’s loathing for man was overstated and that he was holding back– not from some nameless existential angst over the meaninglessness of it all (a sentiment nicely stated, if melodramatically overwrought, by Lars von Trier’s ANTICHRIST) but because he couldn’t really see how to get a story out of starbeasts just eating & pooping universes. To which I say the nihilistic torture-porn of the Noughties would’ve made Lovecraft blush.

  • Of all the things HPL was concerned with, story wasn’t one of them. Well, that’s not fair. But he certainly erred on delivering cosmic horror and man’s place in the universe over characters and stories. That said, it’s hard to get much of a story out of eldritch star gods eating and pooping universes. And really, HPL wasn’t concerned with cosmic forces battling one another (that was mostly Derleth and Lumley adding to the mythos) as titans stomping through the universe and sometimes humans got in the way. Quite a bold statement, and upending a lot of expectations as to literature that came before him, but more a philosophy writ large than stories.