Sunday, August 3, 2008

2 ’Av 5768: The Nine Days/Sisters’ Day/National Watermelon Day


Today’s news and commentary:Today’s H. P. Lovecraft story, in lieu of a weird thing due to the Nine Days, is “The Shadow out of Time”. Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Theological review of “The Shadow Out of Time”:

This story combines a lot of the themes in previously reviewed Lovecraft stories, such as paleocontact, multiple civilization throughout Terran history, and various murky things, along with the story-within-a-story technique, insufficient quantities of artifacts from past civilizations, an interesting variation on mind-swapping, and some future Terran history.

What we learn of the theology of the Cthulhu Mythos in this story is:
  1. The past deeds of many races—including the stars of this story, the mind-swapping time-traveling Great Race of Yith—are recorded in the Necronomicon and other occult works.
  2. Mythology contains fragments of the deeds of past races.
  3. Yithian mind-swapping, which works without swapping physical brains as well, suggests the soul is a matterless or low-matter entity independent of the brain.
  4. Humanity is destined to go extinct, to be followed by a race of beetle people. Some would say this says something about the importance of humanity in the grand scheme of things, assuming there is a grand scheme at all.
The first two of these are highly unlikely in the real world, given the total absence of pre-hominid artifacts on Earth; one would think that at least a few Mesozoic toasters might survive in the fossil record. The third is also unlikely, given that brain damage can affect memory and change behaviors, indicating that who one is is dependent on the physical brain. As for the fourth, intelligent insects are highly unlikely, but the long-term fate of humanity is an open question. Even if we escape extinction, as humanity spreads out across the galaxy, it is expected that adaptation to local conditions and genetic drift will lead to changes and speciation; as such, we can expect Homo sapiens as we know it to eventually cease to exist.

Theological rating: D.

Scariness rating: My pants yawned and remained on.

Coming up tomorrow: “The Haunter of the Dark”.

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