Dagon by HP Lovecraft is a brief story that strives to set up his “mythos”. HP Lovecraft made Stephen King’s work possible and his first name HP makes me think of my favorite tangy steak sauce. I doubt there is a a connection to Lovecraft and steak sauce, but who knows? Maybe they’ll be some discovered works where the Old Ones try to consume humanity and the world, but are placated with deliciousness of HP?
Dagon is short; it clocks in at 5 pages, but that was interesting enough to inspire the film Dagon- Lisa’s Dagon Review. The story is written by as a memoir of man who is strung out on steak sauce for days…I mean heroin…no….wait…morphine- that’s it. His name is never mentioned; so, I’m calling him Doug. You heard it first – his name was Doug.
Doug was a naval officer … somehow. I mean really the only thing this guy seemed to know how to do correctly was morphine. His ship is attacked and captured by the Germans without any description of a fight. Was he in the French Navy? He and his crew are captured and the only people more incompetent than he is are the Germans who easily let him escape. Also, he has no concept of navigation. Are we sure he was attacked by the Germans or were they on a mercy rescue mission?
His wee row boat runs aground on a murky grossness that smells of rotting dead fish. So, he’s in Maine? HIYO!!!! He discovers that there is a temple of sorts worshiped by Fish-men … really. This is a recurring theme in Lovecraft’s books: incompetent sailors and archaeologists uncover interdenominational cities with monsters. Doug even sees one of these walking fish sticks and it freaks him out so much that he goes and insane and swears off Red Lobster forever. Somehow, he manages to get back out to sea and gets rescued, but seeing the monster and their weird island makes him really need morphine.
The story was quick paced and you can see how his “mythos” would evolve. It is also clear that “Incompetent weirdos find slime monsters” was likely the working title of most of Lovecraft’s works. He also uses the word Bas-Relief a lot, which makes me think of a fish in sunglasses hanging out on a lounge chair rather than stone carvings of soldiers doing things. The big lesson from his work is that if you’re doofus, you’ve probably already met Dagon or Cthulhu.
You be the judge. What do you think of when you read Bas-Relief: