05 May 2009

Revelation

There were geometrical forms for which an Euclid would scarcely find a name - cones of all degrees of irregularity and truncation, terraces of every sort of provocative disproportion, shafts with odd bulbous enlargements, broken columns in curious groups, and five-pointed or five-ridged arrangements of mad grotesqueness.

- At the Mountains of Madness, 1936
He said that the geometry of the dream-place he saw was abnormal, non-Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours.

- The Call of Cthulhu, 1928
So, “The Non-Euclidean Blog.” What in the name of Cthulhu does that mean? I’m glad you asked.

Author H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) believed Western civilization was headed in one direction—straight into the newly-patented vortex-flushing toilet bowl. From his vantage point, the Anglo-Saxon West was cheerfully wrapping itself in chains of dehumanizing progress while a rising tide of non-Anglos threatened to drown the only half-decent civilizaton on the planet. Meanwhile, the human race sat on a conveyor belt to nowhere, grinding along on the gears of a mindless universe that would sooner or later obliterate the accident we call humanity and scatter its dust on the cosmic winds.

Lovecraft pounded out story after story reflecting this bleak outlook on life, the universe, and everything. The thing is, his stuff was good.

Take, for instance, his personalization of a mechanistic and pitiless universe. A mindless cosmos we don’t understand and from which we’ll eventually perish? Eh, okay. Malevolent creatures from the stars, so much older and greater than us, so beyond our science, that glimpsing them or their reality invites insanity or death, and which slumber until the inevitable alignment of the stars unleashes them to reestablish their ancient dominion on Earth? Now you’ve got my attention.

This was Lovecraft’s genius. He took the abstract fears and paranoia of his time and place, and transformed them into concrete monstrosities against which we would be helpless when our time was up. Granted, he did it long-windedly and with more than a hint of racism—but he captured a generation’s fear of progress and ultimate extinction.

So what does this have to do with my blog’s title?

Well, a common theme in Lovecraft’s stories is the non-Euclidean geometry of neighboring realities. Characters who glimpse these parallel dimensions or stumble across ancient ruins built by its inhabitants are struck with the general wrongness of perspective. Walls connect without ever quite meeting. Doorways loom toward you and away from you at the same time. Domed ceilings curve, but somehow never stop curving—or do they ever start?

It’s enough to drive anyone batty.

Taking a chapter from Lovecraft, the bizarre little imp I call my sense of humor thought it would be hilarious to identify my blog as a place where perspective is always slightly askew, where things never quite add up, and which drives you crazy if you spend too much time there. Yep—I really am that much of a geek.

If you must have a semi-serious purpose for the title, you’ll find it in the reworked Lovecraft quote directly beneath the header. I believe the blogosphere is a tremendous tool for spreading and confirming ignorance, usually with the greatest of confidence. Blogger and reader alike need to remember that perspective can skew easily when you’re online, and that lines of thought don’t always run straight on the Internet.

Identifying my blog as a place where things aren’t quite right is my light-hearted way of reminding everyone—starting with myself—that all blogs should come with a surgeon general’s warning: “Product may contain lethal amounts of faulty logic and unwarranted dogma. Proceed with caution.”

6 comments:

Sabrina said...

from genesis to revelation? what about all that other stuff in the middle? hehe.

Nathan said...

It's there. Only the most holy can see it. Is it not showing up your browser? Hm?

Sabrina said...

i suppose i am dead in trespasses and sin, for i perceive nothing but a line in between. ha. tell me, how do i acquire this holiness?

Nathan said...

With Sabrina this is impossible. With gifts of Phish Phood, all things are possible.

Ebeth said...

How do I sign on as an official follower of this blog?

Nathan said...

Ebeth: http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=104226