Every Thursday in LOL Interwebz, Luke T. Harrington ventures on a darksome quest to explore the Cyclopean abysses of Internet culture from a Gospel perspective.
I. A Horror in Pixels
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all the contents of the Internet. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of funny cat pictures, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, YouTube, and Kickstarter, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but someday the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
I knew at once what Chevalier did not, namely that the dark gods he sought to forge into pewter trinkets were entities not to be trifled with.Theologians have guessed at the awesome evil that lurks in the hearts of mankind, but it is not from them that came the single glimpse of forbidden aeons which chills me when I think of it and maddens me when I dream of it. That glimpse, like all dread glimpses of truth, flashed out from an accidental piecing together of separated things—in this instance, a Kickstarter campaign and some FTC charges. I hope that no one else will accomplish this piecing out; certainly, if I live, I shall never knowingly supply a link in so hideous a chain.
II. The Dark Tale of Erik Chevalier
Amid the ruins of the site the ancients call “Kickstarter,” I perchanced to come across an old campaign, scarcely decipherable, dusty as it was, and further, most of its updates were relegated to a realm only accessible to subscribers. And yet, the missives that remained visible at the top of the twisted thread, sparse though they were, told a lurid tale of a crowdfunding campaign gone horribly awry. Apology after apology flowed from the writhing pen of the author, yet still the responses cried for blood, evoking without effort some manner of dark sacrificial ritual.
The comments were written in an arcane and hideous language, dripping with rage and suggestive of repressed desires for unspeakable things—a speech pattern which from my studies I understand to be typical of the communication employed on the early-21st-century Internet.
“You know what?” one of them raged. “I’m going to go on record and say that Eric Chevaliers took our money, spent it on himself, and has no intention of refunding anyone else.” Most of them were more terrifying than this, as if they had been belched from the bowels of hell itself, the tortured cries of souls forever teetering on the precipice of accepting that their deepest and darkest desires would go thoroughly unfulfilled and in fact would be dangled in front of their visages for all of a maddening eternity.
III. A Madness Reborn in Pewter and Plastic
Confirming my immediate impression that I had stumbled upon an ancient, unfathomable evil was an investigation launched by the Federal Trade Commission on Erik Chevalier, the Old One behind the campaign himself. Said the Commission, after raising—by some dark and secret art, no doubt—nearly four times what he had sought in order to conjure his “lighthearted Lovecraftian game of urban destruction” into existence, Chevalier had instead spent the purse entirely on his own needs, such as rent for his quarters and a residential move to the terrifying realm of Oregon.
I knew at once what Chevalier did not, namely that the dark gods he sought to forge into pewter trinkets were entities not to be trifled with—that in seeking to make a “lighthearted” game about them, he had in fact awakened an ancient and unstoppable evil that would cease at nothing until all of New Jersey was laid to waste—a feat which could be readily accomplished prior to the evening repast. That once he had danced before the altar of the dark god Cthulhu, he would inevitably be drawn, one step at a time, into rank embezzlement of the funds he sought, ultimately etching his name into history as the first Kickstarter campaign to be investigated by the very federal government!
Or perhaps he had just become overwhelmed when he raised so much more money than he had needed and had thought to himself that no one would miss a thousand here, a thousand there. And then, before he knew it, all the money was gone, and he had nothing to show for it. Because as much as we’d all prefer to live in Lovecraft’s world, where evil is external, overwhelming, and no responsibility of ours to control, the reality is that most of us stumble into evil one innocent step at a time. Evil isn’t just a boogeyman or a metaphor; it’s mundane, and it lives in all of us.
And it’s imperceptible until you’re already neck-deep in it.
Y’know, sorta like Cthulhu’s tentacles.
Image from Shawn DeWolfe via Flickr.