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D&D 5E Existentialist Sword and Sorcery

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
@Remathilis @Composer99

I can certainly understand that position, and largely agree with it! Many S&S settings are very dour in their overall presentation. They tend to present a world where progress is largely hopeless outside of small steps of a single community or nation-state or something similar. Where we are alone in the universe as positive influences on the world, surrounded only by darkness. After all, the Gods of Crom's world were the same "Great Old Ones" of Lovecraft's work.

Because it was set on a Prehistoric Earth.

A world where Aquilonians would eventually become Romans. Where Poitain Knights would be chevaliers in a future age. Where the Stygians would build dazzling pyramids and rule Egypt.

Which is to say this: As dark as S&S feels in the moment, as much as it lacks that tangible "Relief" at the end of the story where the Status Quo is resumed and goodness reigns... It's still a hopeful setting. Harsh, yes. Cruel, yes. Unjust, yes. But one where the Hero rises up and defeats the Sorcerer. Or the Evil King. Or destroys the ancient Book of the Dead. Where the demon is banished to the pits of hell, and men might know a slight reprieve from the horrors beyond the gates.

We've hit on Conan a lot, and Dark Sun a bit... how about Beastmaster?

p6710_p_v10_ad.jpg


-Classic- Swords and Sorcery with the main character as a Ranger, essentially. Animal Companions, Melee Combat, a little range. Fighting against a cruel sorcerer, his horrid witches, his tormented monsters, and more. Aided, in the end, by inscrutable monstrous entities that devour humans in moments and discard their bones on the ground.

And at the end... the world is brighter for his intervention. The evil Sorcerer is dead. The Good King is also dead, but others will rise to take up the role of leadership.

And then there's the Sequel!

MV5BZmZlMDkxZTgtNTJiYS00NzBkLTllOTMtMjVkNzA5NTIxNTNkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjExODE1MDc@._V1_UY1200_CR88,0,630,1200_AL_.jpg


... of which we shall not speak.

But here's the other big thing to note about Swords and Sorcery: It does not have to happen in a Desert.

Krull? Swords and Sorcery. Ladyhawke? Swords and Sorcery.

WILLOW. Swords and Sorcery. Freaking -Willow-. Willow Ufgood, Mad Martigan, Fin Raziel, and even Sorsha, the daughter of the evil queen, Bavmorda.

p10814_p_v10_ab.jpg


The Existential Crisis comes in multiple forms. There's Fin Raziel realizing she's not a "Beautiful Young Woman". There's Sorsha realizing her loyalties lie with the cause of good. There's Mad Martigan realizing that there are things to fight for more important than the gold to line his pocket. There's Willow, who began the entire thing just trying to get rid of a Daikini Baby forced to become a "Great Sorcerer, Greater than You!" in order to achieve his goals. All of them battling against Bavmorda, whose Magic is so incredible she can turn an entire army into Swine! Who calls out to dark powers beyond mortals. Where Fin Raziel never cries out to the equivalent "Good Entities Beyond". The closest we get to that is a Fairy Queen setting a couple of Brownies on a quest.


You see that? That's the big cruel magic of the world used against an entire army without a single Gandalf among them. It's all Willow can do, using a powerful artifact, to keep himself from being turned into a tiny piglet, like the Brownies. And the great and terrible power that Bavmorda is calling on, something beyond all mortals, beyond our world, reaching down from the stars and the sacrifice to offer her insane and otherworldly power. And in the end Bavmorda is slain, a kingdom of statues are made human, again, and Elora Dannon will be raised as a Princess... Willow just goes home. Mad Martigan is becoming a general and Sorsha has to learn a whole new way of life. Fin Raziel has to become a Teacher and essentially a Grandma when she missed out on everything from 20-something to 70-something.

Yeah, with the Nelwyn and the Brownies you could certainly argue it's more "General Fantasy" than Sword and Sorcery. But if that's the case Dark Sun and Primeval Thule aren't Sword and Sorcery, either, 'cause they've got Elves and Dwarves and stuff. And it's definitely -way- lower Magic than either of those settings, as well.

Sometimes in S&S there's "No feeling of hope for a brighter tomorrow". Or hope only in a small way. But the big reason for that, the huge separator between Sword and Sorcery and High Fantasy is this: S&S Quests are generally -personal- rather than -global-.

When you run Tyranny of Dragons you're stopping Tiamat from Conquering the World. It's a big reality-altering horrible event that would end everything. When you watch the Mythica Movies you know that they're trying to stop Matt Mercer from killing the Gods and attaining Apotheosis for himself by killing everyone else on the planet as a Death-God. Lord of the Rings is all about keeping Sauron from reclaiming the One Ring and conquering all the world.

When Conan stands at the top of the pyramid and tosses the head of Thulsa Doom down the steps, much to the dismay of his acolytes, the world is not saved. Only the people who Thulsa Doom would have killed. (Okay, we all know that James Earl Jones was really playing Thoth-Amon and they gave him the name of Kull's Lich antagonist for no apparent reason, but the point stands).

Dar the Beastmaster saves the village, saves the princess, ends the threat of the evil sorcerer... but what does that -do- for the world that still has the no-mouth bat-wing people-digesting monsters? Not a whole lot. The status quo has been restored for the little village with no more human sacrifices... but that's all.

That doesn't mean that Dar and Conan have done nothing that matters. It just means that the scale of the good that they have done is -personal-. On a human level rather than a cosmic level. Because like Existentialist Nihilism that pushes us to re-evaluate our existence not on a Cosmic Scale, or a Geologic Scale, or even a Global scale... Their actions, their heroism, is only measured against themselves and the world they live in. The people around them, and the good or evil that is done to them, "deserved" or otherwise.
 
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Yora

Legend
I also want to count The Last Unicorn, though I'm not going to fight anyone who thinks that's a ridiculous claim.

Conan's world is deliberately called the Hyborian Age and not the Hyborian Lands. The Hyborians (generally Europeans) are culturally and politically dominant now, but that's inevitably only a temporary phase in the world's history. There is an endless cycle of great civilizations that fall into barbarism to be replaced by a new civilization, like the Atlanteans, Valusians, and Picts before the Hyboreans. And Howard felt certain that it would continue to do so.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I also want to count The Last Unicorn, though I'm not going to fight anyone who thinks that's a ridiculous claim.

Conan's world is deliberately called the Hyborian Age and not the Hyborian Lands. The Hyborians (generally Europeans) are culturally and politically dominant now, but that's inevitably only a temporary phase in the world's history. There is an endless cycle of great civilizations that fall into barbarism to be replaced by a new civilization, like the Atlanteans, Valusians, and Picts before the Hyboreans. And Howard felt certain that it would continue to do so.
The Last Unicorn -absolutely- is Swords and Sorcery.
 

Scribe

Hero
@Remathilis @Composer99

I can certainly understand that position, and largely agree with it! Many S&S settings are very dour in their overall presentation. They tend to present a world where progress is largely hopeless outside of small steps of a single community or nation-state or something similar. Where we are alone in the universe as positive influences on the world, surrounded only by darkness. After all, the Gods of Crom's world were the same "Great Old Ones" of Lovecraft's work.

Because it was set on a Prehistoric Earth.

A world where Aquilonians would eventually become Romans. Where Poitain Knights would be chevaliers in a future age. Where the Stygians would build dazzling pyramids and rule Egypt.

Which is to say this: As dark as S&S feels in the moment, as much as it lacks that tangible "Relief" at the end of the story where the Status Quo is resumed and goodness reigns... It's still a hopeful setting. Harsh, yes. Cruel, yes. Unjust, yes. But one where the Hero rises up and defeats the Sorcerer. Or the Evil King. Or destroys the ancient Book of the Dead. Where the demon is banished to the pits of hell, and men might know a slight reprieve from the horrors beyond the gates.

We've hit on Conan a lot, and Dark Sun a bit... how about Beastmaster?

p6710_p_v10_ad.jpg


-Classic- Swords and Sorcery with the main character as a Ranger, essentially. Animal Companions, Melee Combat, a little range. Fighting against a cruel sorcerer, his horrid witches, his tormented monsters, and more. Aided, in the end, by inscrutable monstrous entities that devour humans in moments and discard their bones on the ground.

And at the end... the world is brighter for his intervention. The evil Sorcerer is dead. The Good King is also dead, but others will rise to take up the role of leadership.

And then there's the Sequel!

MV5BZmZlMDkxZTgtNTJiYS00NzBkLTllOTMtMjVkNzA5NTIxNTNkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjExODE1MDc@._V1_UY1200_CR88,0,630,1200_AL_.jpg


... of which we shall not speak.

But here's the other big thing to note about Swords and Sorcery: It does not have to happen in a Desert.

Krull? Swords and Sorcery. Ladyhawke? Swords and Sorcery.

WILLOW. Swords and Sorcery. Freaking -Willow-. Willow Ufgood, Mad Martigan, Fin Raziel, and even Sorsha, the daughter of the evil queen, Bavmorda.

p10814_p_v10_ab.jpg


The Existential Crisis comes in multiple forms. There's Fin Raziel realizing she's not a "Beautiful Young Woman". There's Sorsha realizing her loyalties lie with the cause of good. There's Mad Martigan realizing that there are things to fight for more important than the gold to line his pocket. There's Willow, who began the entire thing just trying to get rid of a Daikini Baby forced to become a "Great Sorcerer, Greater than You!" in order to achieve his goals. All of them battling against Bavmorda, whose Magic is so incredible she can turn an entire army into Swine! Who calls out to dark powers beyond mortals. Where Fin Raziel never cries out to the equivalent "Good Entities Beyond". The closest we get to that is a Fairy Queen setting a couple of Brownies on a quest.


You see that? That's the big cruel magic of the world used against an entire army without a single Gandalf among them. It's all Willow can do, using a powerful artifact, to keep himself from being turned into a tiny piglet, like the Brownies. And the great and terrible power that Bavmorda is calling on, something beyond all mortals, beyond our world, reaching down from the stars and the sacrifice to offer her insane and otherworldly power. And in the end Bavmorda is slain, a kingdom of statues are made human, again, and Elora Dannon will be raised as a Princess... Willow just goes home. Mad Martigan is becoming a general and Sorsha has to learn a whole new way of life. Fin Raziel has to become a Teacher and essentially a Grandma when she missed out on everything from 20-something to 70-something.

Yeah, with the Nelwyn and the Brownies you could certainly argue it's more "General Fantasy" than Sword and Sorcery. But if that's the case Dark Sun and Primeval Thule aren't Sword and Sorcery, either, 'cause they've got Elves and Dwarves and stuff. And it's definitely -way- lower Magic than either of those settings, as well.

Sometimes in S&S there's "No feeling of hope for a brighter tomorrow". Or hope only in a small way. But the big reason for that, the huge separator between Sword and Sorcery and High Fantasy is this: S&S Quests are generally -personal- rather than -global-.

When you run Tyranny of Dragons you're stopping Tiamat from Conquering the World. It's a big reality-altering horrible event that would end everything. When you watch the Mythica Movies you know that they're trying to stop Matt Mercer from killing the Gods and attaining Apotheosis for himself by killing everyone else on the planet as a Death-God. Lord of the Rings is all about keeping Sauron from reclaiming the One Ring and conquering all the world.

When Conan stands at the top of the pyramid and tosses the head of Thulsa Doom down the steps, much to the dismay of his acolytes, the world is not saved. Only the people who Thulsa Doom would have killed. (Okay, we all know that James Earl Jones was really playing Thoth-Amon and they gave him the name of Kull's Lich antagonist for no apparent reason, but the point stands).

Dar the Beastmaster saves the village, saves the princess, ends the threat of the evil sorcerer... but what does that -do- for the world that still has the no-mouth bat-wing people-digesting monsters? Not a whole lot. The status quo has been restored for the little village with no more human sacrifices... but that's all.

That doesn't mean that Dar and Conan have done nothing that matters. It just means that the scale of the good that they have done is -personal-. On a human level rather than a cosmic level. Because like Existentialist Nihilism that pushes us to re-evaluate our existence not on a Cosmic Scale, or a Geologic Scale, or even a Global scale... Their actions, their heroism, is only measured against themselves and the world they live in. The people around them, and the good or evil that is done to them, "deserved" or otherwise.
I get the feeling that with this view we are a step or two away from grimdark, and that works well enough for me.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I get the feeling that with this view we are a step or two away from grimdark, and that works well enough for me.
Grimdark can be fun... But S&S isn't Grimdark by default. It's just a different form of fantasy to which Grimdark can be applied.

Honestly... It's a -vastly- easier target. Because S&S has the hero as the underdogs facing off against great and terrible powers, or things beyond mortal ken, or has soldiers battling sorcerers against whom they are woefully undermatched... It's easy to add the Grimdark on top. Things like Solomon Kane are a -real- good target for Grimdark, hence the movie even though the stories (By Howard!) were -way- less Grimdark.

Meanwhile when you try to make something "High Fantasy" into Grimdark you've gotta change up the fantasy races, rewrite how magic works, change the whole baseline presumptions of what Fantasy contains and go from there. Like Midnight.

Even for 3e, which still had the Arcane/Divine split, Midnight rewrote magic to be a Feat-System that only one Channeler Class that really took full advantage of it because the only source of Divine Magic was Izrador the Evil God who conquered the world before you even rolled your character. The Channeler Class, and players who took the right feats, were arcane, divine, primal, every kind of caster there is.
 

Yora

Legend
There is actual classic Sword & Sorcery, and then there's the cliche of Sword & Sorcery.

I'm quite surprised that it hasn't happened here yet, but there are plenty of "purists" around who are vehement about their definition that basically limits the genre to the Conan stories Tower of the Elephant and Red Nails, and nothing else.

Elric and Kane both are certainly not fun and regularly grim. But Conan and Lankhmar stories are often full of thrilling action and exuberance. And when Leibers Lankhmar stories are excluded from any definition, it really can't be called Sword & Sorcery.
 

It's like that!

Existentialism can lead to Nihilism. But Nihilism can be freaking -wild-. It's all dependent on which direction you walk from the crisis.


Also. "Crisis" in the sense of an Existential Crisis is less like... an emergency? More like a crisis of Faith. A crossroads. A time to question what is and isn't real, what matters and doesn't. To strip away that which doesn't matter and find your truth... Or become mired in self-doubt.
ah so an existential crisis is the name for my perpetual foul mood.
Is it normal for one to go on more or less on or off for 11 years?
The Last Unicorn -absolutely- is Swords and Sorcery.
I have somehow watched that on vhs.
 

Yora

Legend
The basic idea behind the concept is "why do I continue to keep up with all this nonsense?"
Various existentialist philosophers made a career from pondering this for decades of their lives.
"If my live with all it's troubles is not part of some grand divine plan, or that plan is a bad plan, then why would continued existence be preferable to nonexistence?" In existentialist philosophy "have faith!" is not an accepted answer. A solid reason is demanded to justify enduring the troubles that are part of life. Though having rejected any supposed divine plan or higher power, those reasons have to be subjective. The existential crisis is the desire for a good answer and not having found one yet.
Though admittedly, many existentialist loved to dramatically wallow in their own pitty to get attention as suffering artists.
 

Remathilis

Legend
That doesn't mean that Dar and Conan have done nothing that matters. It just means that the scale of the good that they have done is -personal-. On a human level rather than a cosmic level. Because like Existentialist Nihilism that pushes us to re-evaluate our existence not on a Cosmic Scale, or a Geologic Scale, or even a Global scale... Their actions, their heroism, is only measured against themselves and the world they live in. The people around them, and the good or evil that is done to them, "deserved" or otherwise.

I agree it's a matter of scale, but I'm not sure that is what's keeping S&S from High Fantasy. Plenty of high fantasy has lower-stakes too; the Hobbit is about a dozen dwarves getting their home back from a dragon. That is no more epic than what Conan does on a good day. Further Thorin is no epic hero (a tragic one, but not an epic one) and his reclaiming Misty Mountains from Smaug only helps dwarf-kind for a couple of decades at best. Bilbo returns wealthy and has a few domestic misadventures the story ends. Yet I don't see anyone claiming the Hobbit is S&S, despite the fact that, in the context of LotR, it's very much a zero-sum-gain win for everyone.

I get the feeling that with this view we are a step or two away from grimdark, and that works well enough for me.

Grimdark is S&S taken to eleven. Its nihilism without any shred of hope. Even Conan gets his wins, his gold and his women and his glory.
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
The basic idea behind the concept is "why do I continue to keep up with all this nonsense?"
Various existentialist philosophers made a career from pondering this for decades of their lives.
"If my live with all it's troubles is not part of some grand divine plan, or that plan is a bad plan, then why would continued existence be preferable to nonexistence?" In existentialist philosophy "have faith!" is not an accepted answer. A solid reason is demanded to justify enduring the troubles that are part of life. Though having rejected any supposed divine plan or higher power, those reasons have to be subjective. The existential crisis is the desire for a good answer and not having found one yet.
Though admittedly, many existentialist loved to dramatically wallow in their own pitty to get attention as suffering artists.
I never really understood this concept and I am religious. But even if there is no grand plan then who cares. Get up, kiss your wife, come home and play with the kids, watch the game, enjoy the company of your friends, help young people get a good start in life so they can get good jobs and be good neighbors. Even if I wasn’t religious I would want my family and neighbors happy and doing well. So I never really grasped this existentialism and nihilism. Just something I haven’t had to struggle with and I feel sorry for those that do. I don’t know what to say to them
Car broke I can fix it. Need a job. I can fix that if u r capable of hard work. It’s the truly disabled I wish I could help more.
 

The basic idea behind the concept is "why do I continue to keep up with all this nonsense?"
Various existentialist philosophers made a career from pondering this for decades of their lives.
"If my live with all it's troubles is not part of some grand divine plan, or that plan is a bad plan, then why would continued existence be preferable to nonexistence?" In existentialist philosophy "have faith!" is not an accepted answer. A solid reason is demanded to justify enduring the troubles that are part of life. Though having rejected any supposed divine plan or higher power, those reasons have to be subjective. The existential crisis is the desire for a good answer and not having found one yet.
Though admittedly, many existentialist loved to dramatically wallow in their own pitty to get attention as suffering artists.
currently, my answer is that non-esistence is an unknown and it could be infinitely worse and I simply do not know this but that is just fear thus non-satisfactory.
the problem with subjective answers is that not everyone finds them satisfactory.
Grimdark is S&S taken to eleven. Its nihilism without any shred of hope. Even Conan gets his wins, his gold and his women and his glory.
or just a delight in horrible misery which tends to be when it gets dumb or funny.
 

I never really understood this concept and I am religious. But even if there is no grand plan then who cares. Get up, kiss your wife, come home and play with the kids, watch the game, enjoy the company of your friends, help young people get a good start in life so they can get good jobs and be good neighbors. Even if I wasn’t religious I would want my family and neighbors happy and doing well. So I never really grasped this existentialism and nihilism. Just something I haven’t had to struggle with and I feel sorry for those that do. I don’t know what to say to them
Car broke I can fix it. Need a job. I can fix that if u r capable of hard work. It’s the truly disabled I wish I could help more.
then likely you already fond your answer, I am deeply envious of you.
 

Scribe

Hero
Grimdark is S&S taken to eleven. Its nihilism without any shred of hope. Even Conan gets his wins, his gold and his women and his glory

Yeah, understood. I mean simply from reading a few of these posts I get the impression that.

1. You don't really change the world, your impact is local.
2. It's about defining yourself, less so again trying to make big setting changes.
3. The world is harsh.
4. There are powers well beyond your ability to ever defeat.

It's not a stretch to me, to then go a bit further to grimdark, which I love without reservation. :D
 


Yora

Legend
Well adjusted, happy exiatentialist just don't tend to go around telling anyone how cruel the world is and that nobody understands their pain. Or writing big books about it.
It's those in big tragic drama mode who get all the attention. :whistle:

I think it's also no coincidence that Existentialism started showing up at the time that Romanticism began going out of fashion. Those guys had made being Drama Queens their artistic mission statement. Later in the 20th century you get people like Camus and de Bauvoir, who were more fun.
 

I don’t understand the question lol
you have won the existential struggle and I have not, hence the envy.
Well adjusted, happy exiatentialist just don't tend to go around telling anyone how cruel the world is and that nobody understands their pain. Or writing big books about it.
It's those in big tragic drama mode who get all the attention. :whistle:

I think it's also no coincidence that Existentialism started showing up at the time that Romanticism began going out of fashion. Those guys had made being Drama Queens their artistic mission statement. Later in the 20th century you get people like Camus and de Bauvoir, who were more fun.
Camus is an absurdist and according to humorist comics has more or less the ideal life.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I agree it's a matter of scale, but I'm not sure that is what's keeping S&S from High Fantasy. Plenty of high fantasy has lower-stakes too; the Hobbit is about a dozen dwarves getting their home back from a dragon. That is no more epic than what Conan does on a good day. Further Thorin is no epic hero (a tragic one, but not an epic one) and his reclaiming Misty Mountains from Smaug only helps dwarf-kind for a couple of decades at best. Bilbo returns wealthy and has a few domestic misadventures the story ends. Yet I don't see anyone claiming the Hobbit is S&S, despite the fact that, in the context of LotR, it's very much a zero-sum-gain win for everyone.
Because the Hobbit may be a comparatively smaller story... but.

1) It's a component piece of a bigger tale, a bigger world. Even if Bilbo's adventures never take him to Mt. Doom with Frodo, he sets the groundwork for that event, and the Necromancer that everyone else goes after turns out to be Sauron's Power creeping back into the world.

2) He's carrying the One Ring. Even if his victory over Smaug isn't a massive deal in the history of the world, he's GOT THE ONE RING!

His individual tale may be smaller scale, but it's the same story.
Grimdark is S&S taken to eleven. Its nihilism without any shred of hope. Even Conan gets his wins, his gold and his women and his glory.
Midnight is a Grimdark High Fantasy setting. It's LotR only Izrador (a name meant to sound like Isildur) wins and takes over the world as the single Evil God with all the other gods on the other side of a barrier that keeps them from interfering.

It's actually a pretty great Grimdark setting, but it is decidedly not S&S.

There's also Grim Hollow which, honestly, is pretty amazing, really. It's very Grimdark but so high fantasy it isn't funny at the same time! Your character can grow in an alternate path called a Transformation. Your options are Fiend, Aberrant Horror, Lich, Lycanthrope, Seraph, and Vampire. You get all the benefits and penalties of your Transformation at Tier 1, but after that you only gain 1 benefit and 1 penalty from each advancing tier.

It also introduces Bloodmagic that has a casting cost in addition to the normal spell slot of your Hit Dice. A Number of Hit Dice equal to the spell's level that absolutely limits how many "Sangromancy" spells you can cast in a day separate from your spellslots. And these spells are -worth- it.

It's honestly pretty baller!
 

Lovecraft was a pioneer of existentialist writing.

I mean his protagonists are usually men of science and reason, that examine the universe, and determine (or slowly find out) that nothing matters, their lives are insignificant, nothing lasts forever, and nothing has any meaning.

In the face of this cosmic insignificance, the realization slowly drives them insane.

That's the very definition of existentialist dread. The realization that nothing we do matters, that nothing lasts forever, and that nothing we do has any meaning.

Rick and Morty also deal with this exact same phenomena in many episodes. Rick has embraced the existentialist position to the extreme, but Morty on the other hand has found a way around it in that he holds on to things that (to him) have meaning:


''Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everyone is going to die... Now lets go watch some TV.''

Ones options to combat existential dread are to either accept some lie (God/s exist and that's our purpose), make up some subjective purpose that makes sense to yourself (family, career, travel etc) but is also a lie, or accept the reality of the futility of everything and that nothing you do will ever matter, and like Lovecrafts protagonists, slowly go insane.

Most people choose option 1 (God/s). I sometimes wish I could as well, but I'm still mired in option 3 (dread) and desperately searching for a lie I can tell myself (option 2) to give my own life purpose.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I like your thoughts, here... but 3 is actually 3 -and- 4 together.

So you've got the big External Meaning as option 1. There's a God, or Gods, or Writer, or Programmer, or SOMETHING out there that gives life meaning because our life holds meaning in some measure to them, even if we're just labrats on Earth 22-31Q.

You've got the small Internal Meaning as option 2. Family/Friends/Work/Dog/Vacation/Whatever becomes your meaning for existence. It's a meaning that is entirely subjective and if that keeps you going, cool.

And then Option 3 is Acceptance. I know my live will never matter in a cosmic sense. I know my life will never matter on a global sense. I know that most people in the same town I live in probably won't know or care the day I die, and there will be nothing beyond that moment for me or anyone around me. And that's okay. That's how it's always been and how it will always be. I'm not special. I don't need to be. I'll just live my life while I'm here and that'll be it.

THEN comes Option 4. Acceptance of the CONCEPT but not acceptance of the Reality. Knowing that nothing matters one slides further into depressive states and nihilistic ennui, searching for the Lie that works best for them, and slowly going insane because of the stress of knowing that their life will end and that the stress they're under will hasten that end. Because when you -know- that it's all lies you can't ever -truly- believe them. You can fake it, feign it, for a day or two, maybe a month, a year. But that creeping knowledge that the world is just one infinitesimal uncaring part of a much grander uncaring machine which one can never affect in any meaningful way just tears those lies apart and invites madness.


Lovecraft could never reach Option 3. He got stuck on Option 4 and couldn't -imagine- someone finding option 3. At peace with the frailty and finite nature of existence. That's why all his protagonists went mad when they were confronted by the truth of reality. Slowly, inevitably, with all lies revealed, they succumbed to that nihilistic ennui and collapsed into lunacy.
 


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