Rats, Mice, and Lovecraft

I completely geeked out when I saw an H.P. Lovecraft story referenced in our reading. I absolutely cannot pass up an opportunity to attempt a blog post with semi-legitimate academic merit that includes as much Lovecraft as I can fit.

Before I dive in, I’d like to put a disclaimer here: I had trouble  finding a topic to really hone in on. Our readings (and please correct me if I’m wrong) don’t seem to render much of an opinion. Ideas and themes are certainly examined, but I couldn’t really find many opinions to contest and disagree with. So I apologize if my post is a little haphazard and meandering; much like the readings, I have things to say, but I really don’t have a serious and defining opinion.

Let’s talk about aliens for a while. I’d like to discuss the theme that’s floated around in the readings that rats are more or less a foil of humanity, or that rats serve some equivalent or base analogy to human nature. And to piggyback on Burt’s Rats in the Walls example, here’s another Lovecraftian story – At the Mountains of Madness. For a quick summary, just think Ancient Aliens. Antarctic explorers discover the ruins of an alien civilization. Through a series of vague murals, the explorers discover that all current species of Earth, particularly humanity, were created as a joke, an afterthought. Humans were exploited by these aliens throughout deep history for labor and experimentation, while also being loathed and treated like vermin.

I’m not entirely sure how this fits in, but I feel there’s something to be said for a broader look at Lovecraft’s rat/human relationship, particularly in light of how Burt interprets such relationship: “It is intriguing to find scientists commenting that rodents will inherit the earth after humans have died out. This feels like the antithesis to Lovecraft’s devolutionary notion that the basest figure is the rat, the bottom of the animal pile as it were.” I would actually argue that science fits right in line with Lovecraft’s thesis. The Madness story continues with the alien creators dying out through foreign attack and self-destruction, and humanity picking up in the realm of factual history – sounds pretty similar to our reading predictions, right? Between Burt and Rader, we can kind of pick up on this idea of the rat being both the pinnacle and base of evolution, success, and morality through the lens of comparison between rats and humans. Lovecraft’s origin story firmly puts humanity in the position of a rodent – through extermination, adaption, and survival.




2 thoughts on “Rats, Mice, and Lovecraft

  1. I agree that these readings lacked opinion especially if you compare them to our previous Bulliet readings. Of the readings, I found that I could confirm or dispute some of Burt’s topics because they came across to me as more opinion than the other two passages. I can’t believe the Mountain of Madness story wasn’t referenced in any of the readings because it applies perfectly. I know this isn’t as academic as your reference but this view reminds me of a scene in Men in Black. In the scene Will Smith comments his pity for an alien race living within a locker to which Tommy Lee Jones opens a cool looking door to show that they too are in a locker in some alien place. This doesn’t really incorporate the ability of rats to inherit the human foothold or humans to inherit the alien foothold but I feel like it is close in that it shows our system can exist on a larger or smaller scale.

  2. I can also see why you’d say the readings lacked a clear opinion, I ended up just trying to make people laugh and going off on animal testing in mind because it was the most readily available topic.

    I think that we picked up on the same idea, that even though rats are vermin we often find a certain connection with them as parallels. This is so odd, isn’t it? I think it just goes to show that rats are our shadow in terms of our society.

    I like the Lovecraft connection you have here, I’ve found his works to be fascinating for a very long time. When you think about it, Lovecraft really was out of place in his own time and I think that’s why his writing persists as it has; I don’t think anybody else wrote about the sort of things Lovecraft did. I think it’d be so cool to go back in time and read a lot of these books as they were released to sort of get a feel for them in the context of their times. I wonder if people thought that Lovecraft’s work was subpar because it deviated from the norm? Arthur Conan Doyle thought that Sherlock Holmes was an inferior form of literature all his life and preferred to write historical documentaries but we all know which one he ended up being famous for. Agatha Christie, I imagine, would be a very different experience than it is today because of all of the war references she hides in her Poirot/Miss Marple stories, and just the different culture in general. I think Books a Million sells a very nice looking Lovecraft collection for ~$20, you should look for it if you’re ever there again.

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