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Truth and the Mythos

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Truth and the nature of the Mythos do not sit easily together, fictionally or in reality. Within the fiction, the truth is always just out of grasp and even the slightest flicker of understanding generally brings madness not enlightenment (unless the two are counted as identical). In reality, neither Lovecraft, Bierce nor Chambers established the definitive 'truth' behind their stories and few subsequent writers have attempted to do so (and those who have are often in conflict with other writers). In addition, there is no agreement over the Canon of stories that are regarded as 'true', that form the basis of the Yellow Mythos. Thus, there can be no appeal to truth when dealing with the Mythos, except, perhaps, a 'consensus truth' reflecting the assumptions of the majority of writers - a 'truth' that is useful for understanding general trends, but which has no deeper meaning and may be overturned by a stroke of a pen.

It should also be remembered that just because something is referred to in the fiction and may even be believed to be true by the protagonists, it does not mean that it is objectively true in the fictional reality, nor that it is what the writer intended as the truth, nor that subsequent authors must be bound by such an interpretation. For example, the notorious Elemental Theory has received a lot of condemnation, yet is exactly the sort of thing one would expect to find a mouldy old tome of muddled Mythos lore - that an occultist believed it to be true, that it is seemingly true in a given story, does not mean that it is actually true. It is perfectly legitimate to have characters hold or consider such a theory, even if they prove wrong or the truth remains ambiguous.

The 'Consensus Truth'Edit

Some examples of the 'consensus truth' could include :

  • The Migo are at war with the Brothers of the Yellow Sign.
    • Although this is accepted as true by many subsequent writers, a close reading of The Whisperer in Darkness hints that this might be a lie and that either there is no connection at all between the two, that the Brotherhood is actually fictional or, even, that the Brotherhood and the Migo are actually allies. Lovecraft left the truth vague and it is the literal reading that has most often been followed. However, it is equally valid for a writer to adopt one of the alternative premises.
  • The King In Yellow is an avatar of Hastur.
    • This actually has no real support in the source material, although many later writers (following Derleth) have taken this route. In fact, the nature of Hastur is so fluid that it is unclear whether it is an entity. (Of course, it could easily be an entity and a place in ways mortal minds cannot comprehend.) The King In Yellow could equally be an entity in its own right or an avatar of Nyarlathotep.
  • The Play exists.
    • Most writers assume that the Play really does exist, although there is every chance that it is actually the imaginary creation of a delusional maniac.

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