“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. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; 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 deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”
That’s the opening paragraph to The Call of Cthulhu. H.P. Lovecraft wrote it in 1926.
Of course, when he wrote that, he was just trying to be scary. And he did make some other “scary” predictions about the future that were pretty far off-base. For example, the Yellow Peril hasn’t taken over New York City yet.
Yes, he was a racist prick.
But that doesn’t mean he was wrong about everything. And that first paragraph of that one story…for that one paragraph, the man was a prophet.
You see, I’m one of those straining scientists, and while you do have to be a specialist to really accomplish anything, we aren’t “straining in our own direction” nearly as much as Lovecraft thought. There’s a lot of overlap between disciplines, and even if there wasn’t, we’re all stuck together at the same end of campus. Usually the same building. You hear things.
Here’s the trick: in this day and age, you don’t try to hide information.
Wait, that’s no true. Not entirely. After all, I’ve seen the pictures from the Hubble and the assorted data from the Mars Rovers that they don’t release to the public. We only wish something as human as Cthulhu was flying between the stars. If people ever find out about the Void Locusts…
They’d think it was a bad photoshop, is what they’d do. That’s the point. Yes, it’s mostly the dimensional distortion that makes them look like that, but people would see bad photoshop anyway, because that’s what people have been trained to see! That’s the secret! That’s the trick!
You don’t hide information anymore these days. You don’t kill witnesses and lock microfilm away in a vault. For information to be useful, it has to be available, which makes it vulnerable. If you give people a reason to look for something, they will find it.
So you bury the information you want to hide under other information. You give a reasonable-sounding “scientific” explanation; then no one wants to be the “stupid” or “gullible” one who still believes the “non-scientific” explanation. Everyone wants to be the saying “Well, actually”, not the one hearing it.
Take the Bloop. Everyone had all sorts of fun with that one for years. Horror and sci-fi novels, jokes about the location of R’lyeh, all that great nerd stuff. Then some website where nerds make up urban legends for fun gets too close, and suddenly the Bloop is icebergs calving, or glaciers scraping along the sea bottom.
Let me tell you something. You ever heard of Tiamat? The Midgard Serpent? The Leviathan?
They’re all just different reports of the same creature. And we know where it is. Maybe you’ve taken a vacation on his back.
Or how about this?
Interstellar plasma my ass. There’s something out past Pluto that causes interference in everything we try to point at it. We don’t know what it is. We know that it’s big – like Ceres big – and that it varies its speed in ways that are inconsistent with an orbiting hunk of rock. And that’s it.
And what about the Great Attractor? I sure would like to know what all of those galaxies are falling toward, there outside the observable universe.
Actually, no, I wouldn’t. And it’s kind of a moot point anyway. Because of this:
They say it’s a sunspot. Something we see all the time.
That’s because they’re afraid of a panic. Like that makes a difference.
Here’s what we know:
This thing is big. Like, Jupiter big. It could run right over our planet and not even notice it had bumped into something.
We know that it came from…beneath our solar system, and that it then fed on the Sun for a while.
And we know that it’s headed for Earth.
We have no idea what it is. We have no idea what it wants. But it’s coming for us.
Hell with it. Let the peasants panic a bit, if that’s what they want to do. Let them rage against the darkness in the time they have left.
Me? I’m retreating into the safety of my own little dark age.
(Sound of gunshot; recording ends)