The Beating Heart of the Metropolis

Lovecraft and cyberpunk intersect through a few key themes. These exist as more of a web than a list, so I’ll do my best to explain my thoughts on them as I go.

> Cosmic Horror

The idea of nihilism – that nothing you do could possibly matter – is the first one I would tackle in order to build an atmospheric foundation for my work. Lovecraft’s cosmic horror plays on our fear of the unknown, the unknowable, and the universe’s indifference. This is the core of weird fiction, when applied subtly. The most straightforward way to transpose this onto a cyberpunk setting is through a metropolis which functions as a microcosm of Lovecraft’s universe-spanning horror. Manifestations of the nihilism that comes with cosmic horror in cyberpunk include rampant drug culture and escapism, as well as human redundancy with androids and AI.

> Magic and Technology

The second issue to look at is a balance between magic and technology – or fantasy and science fiction. This is a particularly cyberpunk theme that has parallels in Lovecraft. The futuristic technologies that exist in cyberpunk spaces act as a necronomicon of sorts – a technology with fundamental importance yet unknown breadth.

> The City’s Beating Heart

beating_heart_of_the_metropolis

I dove into the idea of a “living city” as a starting point for my visual experiments with intersecting cyberpunk and Lovecraft. Though it’s a lot more straightforward than much of Lovecraft’s nuanced weird fiction, which relies far more on uncertainty, this kind of visualisation is an important part of the experimentation process. The top of the image is obscured in smog and darkness – it is distant, crowded, and cold. The closer you get to the bottom, the more vibrant it becomes – and more disorganised and slum-like. This is where the life is; the warm bodies on cold ground. Up the top exist the people with a voice but no ears, and down the bottom exist the people with ears but no voice.

Original post on Data Eater: The Beating Heart of the Metropolis

3 thoughts on “The Beating Heart of the Metropolis

  1. After reading this post, it made me more interested in the culture of cyberpunk and the works of Lovecraft. I’ve briefly heard of Lovecraft due to the show Warehouse 13. I like how you break down a few of the key crossover themes, so simpletons like me can better understand! What really got me interested and thinking was your last key theme: The city’s beating heart. I like how you described it, how the top is full of smog with people who have a voice, but don’t listen while the bottom is full of life and those who don’t have a voice. I think it accurately depicts today’s modern cities. What happens when someone from the bottom tries to reach the top? How does that affect the culture and ways of life? If one person were to try, it might not make a difference or go unnoticed. But a mass of people try to overthrow the top, what happens?

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    1. You’ve touched on one of the greatest and most pervasive themes in a lot of cyberpunk stories – rebellion. Glad I could get someone new to the genres to engage with them!

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  2. Thinking of your description of the similarities between Lovecraftian and Cyberpunk texts, I’d love to see a Prezi laying out more of a web-like structure of connections. Just an idea I think would be cool, not something you NEED to do by any means.

    It’s interesting, reading through this, and particularly your last point (GORGEOUS image by the way, I adore the colours you’ve chosen, can’t wait to see more) reminded me of ‘Ulysses Dies at Dawn’, an album by The Mechanisms re-imagining the Iliad as a Cyberpunk epic:
    https://themechanisms.bandcamp.com/album/ulysses-dies-at-dawn
    Not all the music is completely up my alley, but the story is well told and it seems like something you might be interested in giving a listen to – gets into kind of that same place of the past, present and future and associated anxieties converging in Cyberpunk. I used to put it on in the background while drawing cartoons for my mythology vlog.

    Looking forward to more of this!

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