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I should have Cthulhu teach my classes

Now you too can grasp the great Lovecraftian insights into biology. They’re pretty simple: you’re going to die, and the universe doesn’t care.

By the way, the article is from the makers of Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land, which happens to be one of only three games that I have on my iPad. It’s grim and bloody and horrible, and I’ve made it through every level except the last one, where the Leng Spiders and Cthulhoids turn my team into a rotting smear of decaying jellied flesh. Which seems fitting.

Comments

  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    Now you too can grasp the great Lovecraftian insights into biology. They’re pretty simple: you’re going to die, and the universe doesn’t care.

    That pretty much sums up my perspective of history, philosophy, morality, economics, sociology, romance, dessert recipes…

    See kids! Accepting the that your life is a meaningless cosmic joke told by no one to an audience that isn’t there can be fun! Now, who is up for a starring contest with The Abyss?

  2. Anthony K says

    Now, who is up for a staring contest with The Abyss?

    Count me out. As much as I love the film, I find Ed Harris’ eyes…unsettling.

  3. Anthony K says

    @4: I pretend to mark off a day’s water and food rations and memorize Audible Glamour.

  4. Alex says

    They’re pretty simple: you’re going to die, and the universe doesn’t care.

    But then, we knew that already. I thought being devoured by unthinkable horrors was the innovation there….

  5. Seize says

    PZ, this is one of the few posts I’ve been able to forward directly to my (nominally Hindi) principal investigator…I think she’ll finally importance of my beliefs in our research!

  6. brett says

    It’s never really bothered me that the only meanings-of-life that exist for humanity are the ones we choose to create and embrace.

    I liked this article, and I thought it was fascinating that Shostak thinks the first radio signal from an alien civilization will be from an AI. I’m tempted to ask why an AI would care enough about the possibility of other civilizations to broadcast the type of powerful, narrowband radio signals that are the only thing we could pick up from them, but who knows what an alien AI might be thinking.

  7. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    If Cthulu can’t make a personal appearance in your class, you could get largely the same effect by scheduling Mary’s friend here as a guest speaker.

    Lecture title:
    The textures and flavors of biology: A remipede’s perspective on the pre-digestion of human tissue.

    With demonstration, of course.

  8. Rey Fox says

    I wouldn’t want the universe to care about me. It’d probably be pretty disappointed.

  9. gijoel says

    Speaking of Cthulu, I’m thinking of writing a story based on this article. But I worried it might come off anti-transexual. Any suggestions to avoid that conumdrum?

  10. Anthony K says

    I wouldn’t want the universe to care about me. It’d probably be pretty disappointed.

    If the universe did care, it probably wouldn’t do so on the basis of any particular human culture’s concept of a life well lived.

  11. Lofty says

    AnthonyK, the universe probably “cares” that humans have facilitated the evolution of MRSA
    Who doesn’t adore superbugs? Kneel to the single celled overlords.

  12. Anthony K says

    Maybe Lofty, but isn’t the evolution of MRSA simply a solution (by bacteria) to a problem we created (for bacteria) in the first place?

    If the universe is against such meddling, it’s probably still pissed at the cyanobacteria for fucking up the nice, carbon-dioxide rich atmosphere it had spent billions of years producing. Hell, maybe it’s happy with us for partially righting life’s original wrong.

  13. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @gijoel:

    Well, the animals in the article have nothing to do with humanity. Take the part where it says, “You now believe you are female.” Bullshit. There’s no evidence that crabs “believe” anything.

    It’s the anthropomorphizing that gets you into trouble. If the animals aren’t anthropomorphized, then there’s no problem.

    However I’m worried you’re talking about a magical, demonic parasite with a human host. In that case, I can only say the pitfalls are innumerable, and will mostly crop up when you attempt to use metaphor and analogy.

    Have you thought, if you’re writing a Lovecraftian fiction, about doing something nearly clinical? Perhaps the story is narrated by a doctor sought ought as an obstetrician? Some Mengelian USPHS-Tuskeegee type, willing to watch the destruction of a life for curiosity’s sake might chronicle the happenings without actually ascribing feelings or motivations.

    Then you wouldn’t run afoul of the problems I suspect you want to avoid. And: creepy.

  14. theoreticalgrrrl says

    As an ex-christian, “you’re going to die, and the universe doesn’t care” is an incredibly comforting idea after spending your life believing God knows and cares enough about your every thought and action so much so that he will torture you forever and ever in hell for getting it wrong.

  15. Dunc says

    @brett, #9:

    I’m tempted to ask why an AI would care enough about the possibility of other civilizations to broadcast the type of powerful, narrowband radio signals that are the only thing we could pick up from them, but who knows what an […] AI might be thinking.

    Notice that it makes absolutely no difference whether the “A” stands for “artificial” or “alien”. Indeed, it’s not immediately obvious how you would tell the difference, should we ever encounter any.

    Your original phrasing implies that you think it’s less likely that an alien AI would be interested in communicating with other civilizations that “ordinary” intelligent aliens would. Any particular reason for that?

  16. jnorris says

    Now you too can grasp the great Lovecraftian insights into biology. They’re pretty simple: you’re going to die, and the universe doesn’t care.

    One of the Iron Laws of Economics: In the long term, we’re all dead.

  17. Azuma Hazuki says

    Why is there any despair in a view like that? No ending is a bad ending, in that it IS an ending. Far, far worse are the beliefs of any of a number of religions, especially the Abrahamic ones.. I wish I were an atheist; oblivion is a very comforting prospect.

    Yahweh makes Cthulhu seem as beneficient as Sailor Moon hopped up on a big dose of the Imperium Silver Crystal.

  18. unclefrogy says

    If an AI is the first contact we have of any extra terrestrial intelligence it will be an inadvertent contact. The AI would be looking for another AI to make contact with obviously and not some primitive meat doll intelligence.
    uncle frogy

  19. Alex says

    If an AI is the first contact we have of any extra terrestrial intelligence it will be an inadvertent contact. The AI would be looking for another AI to make contact with obviously and not some primitive meat doll intelligence.
    uncle frogy

    Huh, so maybe the true prime directive isn’t “let’s wait till they got warp drive, we don’t want to mess up their civilization”, but rather “let’s wait till they hit the singularity, we don’t want to get bored, do we”

    Maybe we should not go entirely singularity but just have an AI minister for extraterrestrial affairs to do all the 10 dimensional smooth talking.

  20. says

    Anthony K @6:

    @4: I pretend to mark off a day’s water and food rations and memorize Audible Glamour.

    Audible Glamour? I don’t remember that one, how much sanity does it cost to cast?

  21. Dunc says

    I’m fascinated by how certain people are about the motivations and interests of AIs. Obviously an intelligence would never be interested in a “lesser” species, which explains why we don’t have any interest in other animals, right?

    Seriously folks, where are you getting this from?

  22. unclefrogy says

    well we through SETI are not listening nor expecting communications from dogs, cows, chimps or dolphins are we.
    Who else would you expect to have the patience and persistence to successfully pursue such a long term search for an intelligence in distance space?
    uncle frogy .