Q. What is the philosophy of cosmicism and how is it used to convey a sense of dread in both The Shadow Over Innsmouth and The Void?
According to Wiley (2017), the concept of “Cosmicism” was derived from the H.P. Lovecraft’s idea that the human beings are nothing at all if they are compared with the infinite universe. The author also added the quote that “the cosmos is wholly indifferent to us”. (Wiley, 2017). Therefore, I believe that those kind of fear that emerged from imagining what is happening on the unexplored space has created the horror genre of cosmicism.
Then, what are the features of cosmicism? Mesick (2015) stated that the cosmic horror are often emphasized from not telling the reason why the unknown terror had happened which remains mystery. In addition, the cosmic horror makes our lives meaningless and describes the gods that exist as the uncaring or even dangerous beings (Mesick, 2015). In other words, the humanity can be easily trampled by indescribable, and “supernatural” power of gods (Stableford, 2007, p.66). The mental status of human characters can, therefore, be easily broken down. The monsters and the story that only can be described with pseudoscience are also the features of the cosmic horror (Mesick, 2015).
To summarize, cosmicism makes us feel panic and the fear of death. In other words, the fear that occurs by losing a mediocre life as a human and butchered or distorted human body are commonly described in the cosmic horror. By setting the basic plot line that the fate of humankind is to be doomed by unknown creatures which have similar or better intelligence than human species that we have not seen yet, the readers or the audiences could find the weird subtlety of reading or watching the cosmic horror stories.
Now I am going to analyse how these features have been set in “The Shadow Over Innsmouth’ and “The Void”.
The Shadow Over Innsmouth:
Lovecraft (1939) described the fictional town, ‘Innsmouth’ as “Devil Reef” (p. 12). From the beginning of the story, eerie and ominous atmosphere have been created through these kinds of word choices. Moreover, the protagonist depicts the driver who helped (or in another word, neglected) him to arrive to Innsmouth as this following quotes:
“He was a thin, stoop– shouldered man not much under six feet tall, dressed in shabby blue civilian clothes and wearing a frayed golf cap. His age was perhaps thirty–five, but the odd, deep creases in the sides of his neck made him seem older when one did not study his dull, expressionless face. He had a narrow head, bulging, watery–blue eyes that seemed never to wink, a flat nose, a receding forehead and chin, and singularly undeveloped ears. His long thick lip and coarse–pored, grayish cheeks seemed almost beardless except for some sparse yellow hairs that straggled and curled in irregular patches; and in places the surface seemed queerly irregular, as if peeling from some cutaneous disease. His hands were large and heavily veined, and had a very unusual grayish–blue tinge. The fingers were strikingly short in proportion to the rest of the structure, and seemed to have a tendency to curl closely into the huge palm. As he walked toward the bus I observed his peculiarly shambling gait and saw that his feet were inordinately immense” (p. 10)
As can be seen, even the bus driver of Innsmouth has creepy appearance which reminds me of stinky, fishy monster. Through reading this whole story, I was obviously overwhelmed by the atmosphere of Innsmouth and those fish-faced monsters. I felt myself as meaningless while I asked myself; in this universe, does the town, ‘Innsmouth’ truly exist?; if I am the descendants of the Deep Ones, what shall I do? – I will definitely lose my mind if I am in these situations. Apparently, I can tell Lovecraft’s cosmic horror got me insane.
‘The Void’ is the supernatural horror film (Gillespie & Kostanski, 2016). Since I consider myself a horror fan, I thought this film will jump scare me, and I personally think jump scare content in the horror film is juvenile. Because mostly, I can predict when the monsters will pop up. Apparently, this film jump scared me.
However, it went against my expectation, as well as the characters who have been possessed by the devil are nauseous. I enjoyed this film but at the same time, I felt disgusted. Although this film is a B grade film, it made my skin crawl and I could not get away from the ending scene for a while.
The monsters appear here have Cthulhu myth’s ‘tentacles’, and just like other horror films, it shows a lot of blood. The fear of death, unknown devils from mysterious world which have been appeared and destroying people’s lives for no reason are showing that this is the cosmic horror.
Gillespie, J., & Kostanski, S. (Directors). (2016). The void [Motion picture]. Cave Painting Pictures.
Lovecraft, H. P. (1939). The shadow over Innsmouth. Everett, PA: Visionary Publishing Co.
Mesick, D. (2015, November 29). How to use Lovecraftian horrors in your stories. Retrieved August 3, 2019, from https://mythcreants.com/blog/how-to-use-lovecraftian-horrors-in-your-stories/
Stableford, B. (2007). The Cosmic Horror. In Icons of Horror and the Supernatural. (Vol. 2, p. 66). Wesport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group
Wiley, C. R. (2017, August 24). Lovecraft’s cosmicism: What it is, how it works, and why it fails. Retrieved August 3, 2019, from https://www.patheos.com/blogs/gloryseed/2017/08/lovecrafts-cosmicism-works-fails/