Cute Cthulhu and the Kawaii-cultists

Erik Davis earlier this year wrote a great article about Cthulhu. More specifically, about the appeal of cute Cthulhu toys.

Part of the appeal is in taming the terror, creating a playable-with version without entirely losing the power of the original. Cute Cthulhu has a something in common with Mornington Crescent; they’re respectively vaccinations against the fears evoked by Lovecraft and Kafka. And they get extra fun and power by combining the opposites of terror and cuteness

Then again, maybe cuteness is all part of Cthulhu’s plan. Suppose you’re an ancient intellect, vast and unsympathetic, aiming to drive humans crazy and bend them to your will. What better method than a cuckoo strategy? Impersonate a baby or kitten, and quickly gain a devoted entourage of kawaii-cultists:

here is the great secret, my fellow mortals: cute is the true horror, the ultimate obscenity. Part of this horrible obscenity lies in the ability of cute to undermine human reason and agency. The return of the Great Old Ones will reduce every human being unlucky enough to be alive to utter helplessness. But so too do we all become drooling sock-puppets of mammalian algorithms when confronted with furry exteriors, chirpy voices, disproportionately large eyes and heads, charming reductions of scale, and goofy facial expressions.

* Davis is a writer in the style I love, and I suspect everybody else hates: dense, flowery, packed with extended analogies between very different areas. I adored his book Techgnosis, loosely based around comparisons between how we related to gods and to computers. I’d recommend it vigorously, but it doubtless infuriates as many people as it enraptures.

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