The King in Yellow Journalism: Lovecraft and the Tea Party

Cthulhu is Santa Claus... except he eats you.

Editor’s note: Sorry for the lack of artwork and links. Internet’s down at home and I don’t have a lot of time to upload this. Will update later, as well as post the video for funds I couldn’t do because I was talking to tech support all afternoon.

November 5, 2010

Maybe it’s because I used “The Call of Cthulhu” to teach an English as a Second Language (ESL) class. Maybe it’s a general nervousness about the future. I don’t know. Something unnatural, cosmic, grabbed at me. Its tendrils inched their way into my mind like the creatures of some Guillermo del Toro movie and I was faced with the utter terror of a single, inevitable conclusion.

The Tea Party is made up of H. P. Lovecraft fans.

At first, this revelation proved too much for my frail psyche. How could these people, these angry masses fighting against invisible horrors, ancient plots, and world-wide conspiracies be fans of one of the most influential writers of the 20th century?

It was then that I recalled one of the most recognizable passages in the great Lovecraft’s library of writings:

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far […] [S]ome day the piecing together of disassociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

There it was…

The Tea Party is not some group of bigoted, close-minded idiots who believe that willful ignorance is the key to our nation’s survival. They believe the Great Old Ones are coming. They believe that holding the line against the horrors of knowledge is a good thing because it will stop Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, and the other dark powers sleeping in forgotten tombs, ancient crypts, and underwater cities.

Books are evil things filled with dangerous quotes with strange words only evil, elite academics can understand. Beings from strange places are among us now and are slowly infiltrating our world, plotting its demise. The history of the world, the real history, has been hidden from us!

They are proud of this point of view. I mean, just look at Glenn “The Crawling Chaos” Beck proudly touting how little he knows about a subject he’s about to educate you on:

Knowledge is the enemy. It’s one Lovecraft’s most basic messages. We can’t know the truth because the truth will harm us. We won’t be able to accept reality so our minds will shatter. The Tea Party has come up with the best defense against this apocalypse: they’ve created their own reality to fight against the darkness.

It all makes sense now…

Of course, if you stop for a moment you realize that, as brilliant as Lovecraft was in some respects, he also got it wrong in many other areas. I am a complete and utter fan of his work, of the literary legacy he helped create, but he was a racist logophile who wouldn’t be able to pass a basic college writing course. The clutter alone would get him kicked out.

And the idea that knowledge, simply knowing something, will corrupt you is indeed terrifying to me and millions of other readers. Why? Because that means we cannot advance, we cannot make ourselves and the world better, and trying to learn about the world so we can NOT be afraid of it will cost us our lives.

That’s a frightening concept.

So there you have it. The Tea Party has taken a page from Lovecraft’s work and is a cult dedicated to what they perceive to be the forces of good. Too bad the forces of good have to be ignorant in Lovecraft’s world. The Tea Party simply added “stupidity” to the mix.

Cthulhu fhtagn!

And yes, I know Robert W. Chambers wrote “The King in Yellow,” not Lovecraft, but the mythology is so intertwined that I thought it still fit. Sue me.

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