Σάββατο, 18 Αυγούστου 2012

What I think About Stuff- Zalgo VS Azathoth


Azathoth Beckoning (but also bitchin' metal cover) by xlegendariumx
Zalgo VS Azathoth Or Internet Body Horror VS Idiot Sultan

The universe is a cold, unfeeling place, filled with a multitude of horrors. It is a dark, mostly empty space that threatens to kill us or harm us in a myriad ways that you can’t even begin to comprehend. 

Trust me son, you look into it deep enough, you’ll wish bug aliens actually existed.

When it’s not bombarding us with deadly radiation, it chugs meteors against our atmosphere in the hope some might get through. When meteors don’t work, it charges up its quasars, so it doesn’t have to aim. When quasars fail, I guess it will just run out of time. And if that doesn’t stop us, well, I guess it can always die, making sure it takes us with it now, doesn’t it?

You tenacious bitch.
Let’s face it: despite our propaganda and constant attempts (religious or otherwise) to convince ourselves that we’re the one true species and future inheritors of the cosmos, we’re little more than spoiled brats in the greater scheme of things.

Pictured: Humanity’s collective self-importance, given form.
What you need to understand is this: we’re not a mass of universal bad-asses. We’re not the force that keeps the universe in motion. Our observations and achievements are merely stepping stones toward our little trek across the great lake full of ‘gators that is the universe we inhabit.

We’re just a lucky, self-perpetuating chemical accident that took place in the dawn of time, on a planet in an impossibly perfect and ideal position in relation to our sun. Our intelligence is the result of eons of evolution, also brought about by accident.

In short, we are an accident that’s been going for a while now.

It’s only a matter of time before the universe goes to check what that weird smell behind the fridge is and comes back with a mop and cosmic chlorine.
Depressing, isn’t it? Don’t you find yourself feeling suddenly so terribly small and unimportant?  So utterly goddamn insignificant? Good. Because that is exactly the kind of mindset that back in the roaring 20’s, helped Howard Philips Lovecraft come up with his Great Old Ones and his terrifying cosmic mythos.


Then pop culture came along and ruined everything.

Way back in the time when I was a pimply-faced boy, I wrote a short fiction piece called Cthulhu’s Rant. It was essentially an angry letter by Cthulhu himself, upon realizing how humanity had turned him and his kind into plushies, posters and t-shirts. I used to think this was mostly because of our kind’s adaptability but I’ve found out that this, sadly, isn’t the case.

You see, it’s not about us being adaptable hard bastards.

It’s about us being denial experts.

“You know, maybe we aren’t the absolute center of Exist-” “LALALALALA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” “Know what we should do? We should turn our existential terrors into toys for kids.”
In case you just climbed out of your cave and recently joined the internet, the Lovecraft Mythos (no, I’m not calling it Cthulhu Mythos, that’s like calling DisneyLand Mickeyworld) is a series of loosely connected stories that deal with cosmic entities with unknowable intents and purposes, who will one day devour mankind.

The idea you see, is that humankind is just a cosmic accident, an infection six billion strong, that is just in their way (not that we can in any way oppose them). One day, the Elder Gods and every horror imaginable will wake up and reclaim what is theirs and well, we’ll be gone, like every other race before us or after us. The most important thing is this: we’re not the sole victims of this tragedy.

I know that feel, bro.
But the leitmotif of the Lovecraft Mythos isn’t just about planet-eating space monsters. It’s also about people. About everyday bastards, academics, adventurers and inventors, fighting those forces of evil and sacrificing themselves, dying horrible deaths, going insane

Or d), all of the above.
And keeping the cosmic forces of evil at bay, if only for just one more day. Little specks of this mass we call mankind protect us from the entities that probably don’t know we’re there.
This is what I like to call a serious case of the Vonneguts, or Depressoptimism.

Known in literary circles as “Lovecraft’s Subliminal”
These stories are the singular most hopeful examples of humanity and they make me feel like even if we are stupid, insignificant fucking specs, we’re at least specs that will go down fighting.
We’re gonna give those cosmic fucks hell.

But we’re gonna need bigger, non-Neutonian guns for that.
That said, let’s use our imaginations and have our two cosmic contestants beat the everliving shit out of each other today, shall we?

WHO OR WHAT THE HELL IS ZALGO, ANYWAY?

What better way to know a man than through his work.
Zalgo is what the internet likes to call a Great Young One. He is essentially a meme that works very much like the gods of the Lovecraft Mythos and is part of a greater whole of message board monsters, like Candlejack or Slender Man.


Horror’s most passive-aggressive agent since the Saw Killer.

Zalgo first showed up as a malevolent entity that warped webcomic pages and old comic strips in horrible ways upon uttering his name or speaking one of his incantations, warping the protagonists and the space around them in terrible shapes that defied logic or common sense. 

A couple of them were honest-to-god scary.
Zalgo is said to be an entity that is all mouths without eyes, a creature that Dwells Beyond the Walls.

Now, judging how the internet sometimes goes meta (and how Zalgo originated in the Something Awful Forums, the internet capital of overthinking things), this probably means that Zalgo is essentially the average internet user, perverting every scrap of information in new and horrible ways. 

Zalgo is, essentially, the collective horrible of every one of us on the internet right now.

Including you, dear reader.
Interpretations aside, Zalgo is a creature that warps and perverts reality. He has his own incantations, his own weird language, text warping and all that. He is, in everything but a name, a Mythos Monster.
But he’s not a Lovecraft creation. Instead, he is a pop culture creature that serves to pit the Old Vs the New idea, which is why I chose to pit him against the greatest cosmic foe imagined by the 20th century.

Oh I’m sorry, you thought I was talking about this sad bitch over there?
Powers and Abilities:

·         Moore’s Inconstant: That’s pretty much all you need to know. Zalgo warps all it touches and that’s about it. Sure, he lacks experience but at least he’s...

·         Intelligent: Zalgo appear to be an intelligent, malevolent entity, a sure plus in the upcoming battle.

·         Freedom of Movement: Like the 5th level wizard spell, Zalgo can move at will across the cosmos, but not across time.

And now for our next contestant, Azathoth.

WHO OR WHAT THE HELL IS AZATHOTH, ANYWAY?

Pictured: Azathoth’s (possible) asshole.
Azathoth is the ultimate deity of the Lovecraft Mythos. He is the Idiot God, the Nuclear Sultan at the Center of the Universe. It is a thing of immense size and power, a creature that babbles and hungers.

He is essentially the God of the gods in the Lovecraft Mythos.

No, no go ahead! Tell me all about how terrible your non-interfering God is.

His massive corpus is surrounded by a mass of Lesser Outer Gods, who are trapped in Azathoth’s event Horizon, madly dancing and piping in order to please their mindless master.

His sole agent in the universe is Nyarlathotep, his voice and terrible hand, the Crawling Horror.

*Sigh* “It’s a living”.
But no matter his terrible power and the myriad of his agents, Azathoth has one glaring characteristic:
He’s an idiot. And not in the cutesy herp-derp sense. He’s a bona-fide, official idiot who can play chess with a sack of potatoes and lose in three moves. Azathoth has absolutely no goddamn will of his own, no idea. He is just…well…like a force of nature.

The kind that destroys nature in the process.

Powers and Abilities:

·         What are you fucking kidding me you want a goddamn definition?: Azathoth is God in the Lovecraft mythos. He can do fucking anything, only he doesn’t know how. Matter of fact, he doesn’t even know he can do it.

·         Idiot: Azathoth is a doddering idiot.

·         Locked in place: Azathoth cannot move from his position. In fact, even when summoned, only his appendages or servitors may appear in his place.

·         Agents: Azathoth works through his agents. He may lash out at some points, but he’s helpless otherwise.

Why are those two fighting? Fuck if I know

Move along, three-dimensional being.
That said, let’s get down to the fighting.

Oh I’m sorry you thought there were gonna be pretty ladies Involved?
In the center of the Universe, the Idiot God swoons and croons, his terrible voice echoing across light-years, in synch with the piping of his desperate servitors. Drooling from one of its mouths, Azathoth calls out to his agent, Nyarlathotep and wishes for a great fire so he can observe tiny civilizations burn.
 
Across the cosmos, the being known as Zalgo pushes into reality, his body constructed out of the stuff the universe is made of. It opens its mouths and tastes reality, finding Azathoth’s position and savoring the taste of its brain. Extending pseudopods made out of Dark matter, Zalgo crawls across real-space toward his opponent.

The New God and the Great Old one meet on Azathoth’s turf. Zalgo looks at the piping, screaming court and reaches out, suddenly realizing that Azathoth himself begins to drag him toward it unconsciously. Zalgo fight back and tears himself away, choosing instead to attack in a different manner:

Warping the shit out of the space around Azathoth.
The manipulation warps and distorts the Nuclear Sultan’s court, breaking it apart. Azathoth is wakened violently from his reverie, as the piping ceases, feeling very much uncomfortable for a moment.


Imagine it as the cosmic equivalent of getting kicked in the balls.
Screaming like a baby roused from its sleep by hunger, Azathoth lashes out at Zalgo with a tentacle millions of kilometers long. Zalgo takes the hit and is tossed into a lifeless planet, smashing it.
 
The lesser Gods scatter all around, trying to get away, when Azathoth flexes his mind and orders them to attack. Unable to escape his hold on their minds, the beings attack Zalgo en masse and swarm him, clawing at his form, biting and choking him.

Round one goes to Azathoth.

Round two: where the kid gloves are taken off and everybody is fucked.
Zalgo retreats and warps the Lesser gods, twisting their minds and shapes, turning them into a legion under his command. At this point, Azathoth has pretty much forgotten about his enemy and slipped back into his idiotic reverie.

He’s kind of like a chipmunk in that regard, only he doesn’t acknowledge that anything else beyond him exists except when he’s hungry.

Using his new-found legion, Zalgo attacks azathoth with a swarm of gods. Many of their number get trapped in his event horizon, but a few slip past it, along with Zalgo and reach the corpus of Azathoth.

The Nuclear Sultan feels myriads of mouths and other horrible appendages rip into his flesh, causing great geyzers of blood and nuclear fire to erupt all over him. Feeling pain and anger for the first time, the Sultan responds  with great panicked motions, crushing, spewing fire, seeking to clutch and destroy all those around and inside him.

Zalgo slips inside his flesh, warping it to allow him access and seeks to cause the greatest possible damage, sliding inside the solar-system sized innards of his enemy. He warps his hearts, twists his intestines and wreaks havoc inside him.

Cancer for the gods.

Azathoth roars and whimpers, screaming at the void and at the thing eating him from the inside out. Zalgo moves upward, crossing the distances toward Azathoth’s brain, so he can finish the job.

But the idiot Sultan knows that this is a bug and bugs can be swatted. Collapsing the space around his brain, he cuts off Zalgo, who falls back and tries another venue of attack:

Spawning Minions from his enemy’s own flesh.
Azathoth bleeds from everywhere, beset by creatures that are part of him. The malevolent bug that is Zalgo has managed to land a considerable blow.

Round Two goes to Zalgo.

EXTINCTION ROUND.
A hazard is required to break the tie? But what could possibly hurt two malevolent, invincible deities? 

What could hurt Azathoth, who is the center of the Universe and Zalgo, the thing beyond Space?

OOOH! Here’s an idea:

How about the entire goddamn universe collapsing all around them?
Think about it: Azathoth writhing, his mind sending strange signals, his corpus wounded, cracking the stuff of existence around it. The clash of the gods causes cracks in Time, causing moments and continua to spill out in real-time, rewriting and overlapping histories, before they tumble down into holes in space, places where they mass and grow.

All around the two Gods, the Universal Membrane is cracking and tearing. The Universe is about to unravel around them and the victor is the only one who can do it.

Azathoth feels suns tearing down and Zalgo knows his time is short. Bth Gods need to strike soon. Nyarlathotep, realizing the destruction, slides into a neighbouring universe, in order to avoid the catastrophe.


“And I…am…outta here!”

Azathoth collapses his form to crush the bug. Zalgo pushes out and attacks with his remaining flesh golems, slashing at the Idiot God, who realizes he doesn’t have time for this. Relesaing his eldritch power in a burst light-eons wide, he destroys Zalgo’s army.

Annihilating any surviving nearby civilizations ina  glorious burst of solar flame.

The two gods stand alone. Azathtoth reaches his tentacles and grabs Zalgo, tearing at his form. Zalgo slips away by manipulating space and Azathoth comes right after him. The wall of nothing that has become the Universe closes in, as the two toss and turn across light-years.

Zalgo decides to play it as rough as he can. He warps a number of neighboring suns and tosses them at Azathtoth, who takes the blow and screams in pain. His purpose wasn’t the blow, however. It was to move behind his enemy and warp him when he had let his guard down.

Azathoth reacts reflexively when he bgins to feel the warp and expands his corpus back to its original size, disrupting Zalgo’s attack.


That’s not to say the blow dealt by his enemy was ineffectual. Azathoth felt it, but now he’s above harm. Zalgo doesn’t have the time to take him apart once again, which means that he needs to cut his losses, only he can’t. This is the universe collapsing, you see. There’s no place to run.

Zalgo tries to give up his body and slide back behind the Walls of Being, when Azathoth grabs him and crushes him in his mouth, devouring his very essence. Zalgo is destroyed. He losat not due to lack of power, but due to lack of time, since he went against an enemy in his own turf. 

Addendum:

Horror is a subject that has puzzled me for many years. Even though I was genuinely scared by some examples of it, others seemed redundant, or incomprehensible and unnecessary. It took me a decade of trying to figure it out, when suddenly it hit me, as I was halfway through re-reading the Dunwich Horror:

A good horror story is one that details the pyrrhic victory of good over evil.

Western horror is mostly based on this. It’s in our mindset to not let the threat go and convince ourselves that no matter how horrible the enemy or how great the obstacle, we will overcome it. 
Unfortunately, most horror writers/producers/whathaveyou have misinterpreted this as: scary things are allergic to mcguffins and chainsaws to the face.

You see, Horror is about something terrible that disrupts normalcy and turns the lives or ordinary (or less than ordinary) men and women into a nightmare. Good horror is when those people suffer and are picked off one by one, until a handful (or one remains) to dispel the evil and restore normalcy.

Great horror is when the victory isn’t quite clear. Awesome horror is when you realize that the victory was pyrrhic and epic in scale, but it was more of a personal victory that went unnoticed by the rest of the world.

Horror is, at its root, the battle of good vs evil. Any attempts to deviate from that form have failed miserably. And let’s not forget that no one wants a story where Good loses. Which is why Stephen King, despite his terrible endings, is a ridiculously successful man, while John Carpenter’s Mouth of Madness mostly gets a ‘meh’ reaction by most audiences.

It’s because no one wants to see Evil win.

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