What is school like for the undeveloped mind of a sleep deprived student? I realized that this theater of madness known as school isn’t so different from that of a Lovecraftian tale(or horror, to be accurate). So I decided to investigate this little theory.
So, what does constitute a Lovecraftian horror? Well according to Wikipedia (I don’t have time to read actual books), a Lovecraftian horror often contains:
Detachment- This is the most obvious characteristic of teenagers, as it often includes visual clues: ear buds, baggy eyes, and laggardly movement. I can’t say I have ever met a truly expressive or emotionally open teenager, which for better or for worse, makes us pretty socially isolated, although sometimes we have “friends” and other such things to help. The magic used to conjure such beings is still a mystery of the ancient world, from before the internet, or so adults like to believe.* Detachment might be the root of other problems teenagers face, but that doesn’t make it the worst, or honestly the most widespread.
Helplessness and Hopelessness- Well, not much to say here other than, definitely. I mean who hasn’t looked at the valedictorian, thinking “what am I doing with my life?” or see kids getting perfect scores on their SATs (Standardized Acute Torture). “Victories are temporary” for Lovecraftian heroes, and they often “pay for it, or cannot escape their demise.” Quite the grim end, as is acing a quiz only to fail the test. Study for a test, but get the wrong questions. Try to skip school to study, only to be forced back by truant officers. Life is a hard fought battle for teenagers, especially given the general, formulated response to stress including either giving up or self-loathing or some combination of the two.
Unanswered Questions- Most kids know how this feels, asking supposed adults something and not getting an answer. Sometimes it’s not that bad, “can I go to the bathroom?” or “where can I find a real adult?” only to be told that “I am an adult.” Other times, we aren’t so fortunate. “When is the test? What should I study? What class is this? We have a test?” are all examples of slightly worse situations where a lacking answer can be quite the catalyst for insanity, or at least a frantic/stressed adolescent. But aren’t we always like that? Which leads me to the next point.
Sanity’s fragility and vulnerability- Ha! I have to give praise to whoever coined this term. What an apt way to describe low self esteem combined with the incessant, domineering pressure of possible failure, especially when facing insurmountable odds, like Mrs. Malaprop (or the American education system). It is always been the most intriguing thing to me that life seems to become much simpler in the future, the mysterious void. There is little uncertainty of the future once you have a job, there is little work after one’s job is over, and the freedom adults have to choose their daily living is often overlooked. Maybe the best fuel for advancement is the hope that one day, I too will be a grandparent feigning ignorance to annoy my grandchildren, secure in my holdings and titles, but those are things too big for teenagers to think about, right?
I may continue this investigation into the future, as it is clear that Lovecraft may have been inspired by the teenage experience, but for now, all I can say is that life for teenagers is a little too close to Cthulhu for comfort.
*I am ambivalent as to whether or not this is true