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  • Many Eldritch Abominations are said to cause madness to anyone who sees their true forms. How does THAT work?
    • Imagine that Impossible cube floating near you, without gaps and breaks. Are you still sane?
      • Yes. Or else all artists and math teachers would be in asylums.
    • They're just that weird-looking.
    • I know that. I mean, why would you go insane just because you saw something really insane? People usually go "That's one ugly sonuvabitch", "Eww", or "Well, that's gonna show up in my nightmare for a while", not freaking go insane!
      • They're that weird-looking. Yes, the response most people have to something horrible-looking in real life is revulsion and disgust, but Eldritch Abominations that inflict madness by merely looking upon them are so completely, absolutely, mind-breakingly wrong compared to our senses that it fundamentally breaks our perceptions of reality.
      • The original Eldritch Abominations (Lovecraft's earlier ones) weren't so much madness inducing due to looks as much as it was the revelation at how insignificant humanity as a whole is in comparison to them. Some of them were due to the noises they made or if you came in physical contact with them. Some made you go crazy in realizing how easy they could wipe out humanity, or their sheer size.
    • This particular silly concept is more based in folk monsters that would kill anyone who looked upon them or caused them to go blind. The most famous is Medusa, who was so ugly that people would subconsciously turn themselves to stone to protect themselves; insanity is weak sauce next to that. This is also why most writers make Medusa have eye beams or give her a more elaborate curse because they realize how stupid such a concept is in visual mediums unless you go for an unseen Ultimate Evil and say Take Our Word for It, which Lovecraft did so he could have used this a lot better than his imitators if he decided to implement it--he didn't use the trope, contrary to popular belief.
    • Also, they could be of a dimension that we should not be able to see.
    • I think that somehow, our minds can't comprehend what we see, and we go insane because our brains are occupied trying to figure out what the hell just happened.
      • Who came up with THAT one? I'm pretty sure our brains do not work that way.
    • Justified in the Cthulhu Mythos: Cthulhu and most of the other eldritch abominations from there are psychic and could probably break someones mind.
    • And why do people keep drawing artwork of them? That only makes it feel more like an Informed Ability.
      • Artist's impressions. Also, not really Lovecraft's fault.
      • Materials in artwork at least tends to be made of the things that don't drive you nuts upon seeing them. Either that, or the artwork is of the parts that can actually be seen and recorded into the medium. The incomprehensible bits don't make it to the medium, and therefore we get a look at the monster without getting a faceful bloogity-bloogity.
          • People draw pictures all the time, often of things that they have never personally seen or don't even actually exist. When they do so of Eldritch Abominations, even if the artist has actually seen it and is thus insane, no one will believe the scrawlings of this madman. It is far too easy to dismiss a picture; after all, such a creature could never really exist, right? The fact that the artist is insane only makes it easier for all but the Dangerously Genre Savvy to ignore. To have one standing before you, however, is another matter entirely. To see a thing that you know logically should not be able to exist, and yet it clearly does as it is right in front of you, clearly alive and eminating a terrible presence of utter wrongness.
    • The thing is that anyone who can accurately imagine the appearance of something that drives you mad is too crazy to be able to describe it, due to having imagined something that drives them mad. As a result, if you don't have any idea what they could look like, that's a good sign.
    • Also (and I can't believe nobody's mentioned it), this works as a Brown Note or a Logic Bomb on human brains - of course, neither trope really applies to humans in Real Life (not that way, anyway), but if that bothers you as well, then maybe you should consider reading stuff that doesn't have such things (and you'll probably want to pass on an awful lot of other speculative fiction works).
    • Perhaps encountering such an entity face-to-face is simply so disturbing that it rapidly causes traumatic stress. It's not just the way it looks or the knowledge that it shouldn't exist, but also the fact that it's physically present and the way it's acting. Sort of like how playing Counter-Strike is fun but being in a war generally isn't.
    • Because, bottom line, Lovecraft was a xenophobe, and one of his protagonists went mad just knowing that the Deep Ones EXIST, and they're just ugly Fish People. Some things just affect people differently. Not to mention, he was trying to capture the scope of what gods and demons must truly be like if they were to exist. The idea is that they're so alien and different from us that it shatters our notions of reality and makes us rethink everything - not because they're especially ugly or psychic.
    • I always thought it was because they realized that the universe was so cruel that it would allow such an awful thing to exist in the first place. We view it through the lens of fiction, but if one were to see something "too horrific to describe", they'd have their faith shattered because a supposedly kind and loving deity lets something so vile and horrific exist and lets it run around free rather than at least trying to seal it away.
    • It isn't seeing the Abomination that causes people to go mad, but the realization that such things are real, which breaks the only thing that keeps you sane: a flawed understanding of the universe.
  • Am I the only one who thinks that these stories are simply a lazy trope? How easy is it to say "And this was the biggest, scariest thing ever! Imagine a planet, now it's a monster! And anyone who sees it dies!" There really is a lack of originality in this genre.
    • Or you're taking an overly broad view of it, which isn't really fair because everything looks overly simplistic when you boil it down to the base components. Comedy looks stupid or awful if you just say "and she hit him in the face after he said something she didn't like" or "he said something that didn't make sense." Horror, in particular, relies a lot on building a mood or highlighting the disturbing aspects of a thing. If you don't bother to do the setup then of course it's lazy, but that isn't proof that the trope as a whole is bad any more than a tent is proven to be a shitty way to keep out of the rain if you neglected to put the poles up.
    • Then I recommend you read Hellstar Remina. Its bare-bones concept is exactly what you said, except, of course, it's much more fleshed out. If you still think that way afterwards, that just means you're not the kind who enjoys the trope.
    • The problem is less a lack of imagination and more a lack of proper description. How would an author properly describe something so alien and unnatural that it would essentially cause Mind Rape to anyone who imagined it? How could a TV show or a movie show something like that? The difference between a very powerful Starfish Alien and an Eldritch Abomination is that the Starfish Alien just looks weird, but it could conceivably exist and it would be more like discovering a highly intelligent octopus. Strange, but not brain-breakingly impossible. The Eldritch Abomination, on the other hand, is something that should not exist; perhaps it exists through multiple dimensions, or warps its environment into Alien Geometries, or causes impossible levels of Mind Rape to anyone who looks directly at it. It might not even be concerned with humanity at all; think about how we humans percieve ants, or Mooks in a video game, and you might have an idea of what an Eldritch Abomination would think of us, assuming it even noticed us.
  • If the Eldritch Abomination is supposed to be Inconceivable to humans, how come we can write about them?
    • While certain aspects of the creatures themselves aren't understandable by humans, enough of the events surrounding them are.
      • But...if they really are Inconceivable, then Lovecraft shouldn't be able to describe the abominations, or else he would have driven himself into schizophrenia the moment he tried to describe Them.
    • The human mind is notorious for having difficulties understanding that Space Is Big, as well as precisely how big. Yet we can describe this issue. The average human does not actually understand what "forever" means. Yet we can describe this issue. The average insect cannot do long-form calculus with a pencil. Yet we can describe this issue. Just because you don't know for certain what it is doesn't mean you can't make a run at it.
  • For folks who haven't read Lovecraft:
    • Lovecraft never thoroughly describes his monsters. Elements of them are left intentionally vague for a couple of reasons. First, the human mind is extraordinary when it comes to making up images horrifying to it. Second, by their nature, they are incomprehensible, so to fully describe them in first-person narrative (as Lovecraft generally writes) would be impossible.
    • 'Going mad' isn't always the right term for what happens when a protagonist encounters these monsters. It appears that they go mad, but sometimes, they begin functioning in a new way cognitively as they grasp the true nature of reality. They start communicating with inhuman psychic powers or seeing things that no one else can see. This appears to be madness to the rest of us, but they can really perceive things that we don't.
    • To approximate why seeing one of these creatures can drive one insane, keep in mind that they are frequently extra-spatial (from other 'dimensions' or functioning outside of our reference of time). Imagine that, quite suddenly, you see something that forces you to shift your comprehension away from your reference of time. Suddenly, you comprehend every moment of your life as if it was happening all at once, and as if you were there at all points in time. How would your mind react?
    • Finally, you know that whole idea of reality you have? The one where you go to work, sleep at night, eat food, etc, etc? It's horribly ordered. What if you saw something that made you realize that you, humanity, Earth, etc, were totally meaningless and in danger of being consumed for no reason whatsoever at any point in time. How would you react?
      • Me? I will react annoyed that everyone is taking so long to catch up to the fact that the Earth is no longer the center of the universe like if Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler didn't exist and that they aren't super special awesome snowflakes. The mindbogglingly question here isn't if we can survive an uncaring universe, but instead what does humanity need to grow a pair and accept that adopting fetal position for everything they find too difficult to comprehend isn't going to make it go away. This whole existential horror has the side effect of make me believe that this is just like Moviebob's The Big Pigture episode of "Relics" where the old European explorers couldn't grasp the idea that those ruins aren't from some ancient WHITE civilization, but instead belonged to the "primitives" natives.
        • You're kind of missing the point. This isn't like discovering another civilization, where they're basically on the same level as you, but very different. This isn't like looking up one day as you scurry on the anthill, seeing something looming over you. This makes you realize that everything that your species has done in its thousands of years of living and building is more like a colony of microbes, scurrying about with no idea of the true scale of the universe around you, and then mashed in with the fact that reality itself is vastly different from anything you've ever experienced (glimpsing the full scope of reality would probably rape your soul anyway), and the inhabitants of this "true" reality would probably react the same way as us disinfecting a surface: they barely know we're there, but they massacre (with little effort) anyway, because we're mildly gross to them.
      • What about the people who are too insane to have a grasp of reality strong enough to be shaken by the revelation? Or any Anti-Nihilistic that knows that reality plain sucks but still go for the best intentions for his fellows even if everything return to the ashes? Are you suggesting that the effect is absolute for every creature who encounter this Abominations? There are no examples in fiction of a believable scenario where humans can cope with such a thing? Is there even a work of literature that analyzes this?
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