Cosmic Fear|Apr. 29, 2019

This story was written on Apr. 29 by me.
Just days ago, a photo amazed the world. It is the first picture of a black hole human have ever captured. Since then, it has been everywhere. The photo is so popular and widely discussed that the world has gotten into the craze of space exploration, pretty much like the time when Armstrong first laid his feet onto the surface of the moon.

I have to admit, it is spectacular. It is so emotional and beautiful and it’s just fascinating that as a human, we are able to actually come this far and gaze at such a thing that’s pretty much beyond our very understanding, and be moved by it.

But besides the joyous feeling of discovering black hole in a photo, there is actually a stranger feeling embedded under the surface of my emotion, not exactly pleasant. This feeling becomes more pronounced when I read again “Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson. Emily depicted her feelings towards the coming death. The massive wheel of time that slowly rows forward, ultimately comes to the destination of eventual death. There’s no way to escape it, or unsee it. The unknown is what makes human being nervous. Eventually, we are all going to be sent down, down to the unknown. What happens after death? where do our spirits go? Do we actually have spirits within us? Wouldn’t it be terrifying if every life suffers after death? Wouldn’t it be more terrifying if they don’t, so they are long gone forever? Humans are far too naive to answer these questions. We observed that there is another galaxy out there millions and trillions of lightyears away from us, but no one in this generation would ever be able to get there. When the scope zooms out, we realize we are living in a delicate, fragile small world that is among a world that is so big, too big for us to even comprehend. When the scope zooms out, it seems that the planet we are living on, could cease to exist at any moment.

This ultimate uncomfortable feeling I have been experiencing is commonly called “cosmic horror” or “Lovecraftian horror.” Unlike gore or other elements of shock, this kind of horror questions audience with thoughts that challenge their perspective in this world, having the audience experience the fear and awe when confronted by phenomena beyond their comprehension, and so on to make them question their own existence. It is named after American author H. P. Lovecraft who is considered to be the pioneer of this genre. Both the universe and death, are the two great things that humans have little to no understanding with. We, naturally, fear the things that are mysterious and that we are not familiar.

Cosmic horror explains my unsettling feelings when thinking about these topics, but it also becomes my new hobby. A Netflix series, Annihilation, discusses a surreal concept of humans confronting a being that is beyond our understanding. Any existing rules do not apply to this being. Humans will have to find out a way to deal (perhaps fight) with these mysterious beings in order to rebuild their family. The ending? I don’t know yet. I will have to finish it, even though I am still super scared of this kind of stuff.

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