Something Curious About H.P.Lovecraft's name/word CTHULHU -- COUTHUTLAUGH!

There is an especially interesting essay from the Fantasy Commentator ("The Call of Cthulhu" : an Analysis, by John McInnis; Fantasy Commentator, Vol. VII, No.4, Fall, 1992, p. 268-281) that offers an intriguing psychological explanation of how HP Lovecraft coined the name/word Cthulhu. It is a very powerful piece, even if you do not agree with the author's thesis, though the historical and medical facts are impressive.

There is also something more amazing - ASTOUNDING! - that was missed by Mr. McInnis about the forming of the name/word Cthulhu. We present it here after first paraphrasing Mr. McInnis' essay.

The interesting, even amazing part is the author's theory of HP Lovecraft's unconscious derivation of Cthulhu from an archaic Saxon legal term cuth. How HPL could have done this is supported in the essay by arguments which depend on the theory that HPL was very deeply and traumatically affected his entire life by having witnessed - as a child - his father's fatal dementia paralytica or general paralysis of the insane, a terrible chronic degeneration of the nervous system resulting in aphasia, personality deterioration, alternating phases of mania and paralysis, and eventual death.

The idea in the essay is that HPL modeled the entire Call of Cthulhu on his sick father, especially his appearance, who was committed to Butler Hospital by the Lovecraft family's physician, Dr. George D. Wilcox. (Wilcox was the mental patient in the story The Call of Cthulhu.The doctor is here turned into the patient!)

The Louisiana cultists in the story represent the bouts of his sick father's mania, which involved wild dancing.

The Cthulhu figurine is modeled on the paralytic posture such patients periodically assume.

The icthyic appearance of Cthulhu's cultists is modeled on a naso-labial and epidermal condition this disease causes in the afflicted. The "gibberish" of R'lyehian is modeled on the aphasia this dementia produces, apparently affecting Wernicke's area of the brain, or other speech centers; etc.

How the name Cthulhu got derived from cuth is an interesting, but necessarily speculative yet amazing argument, involving how the unconscious minds of traumatized people operate in their creative processes. It has a lot of credence however, and the author could have made even stronger arguments than he did. He did not do so because he is apparently unaware of a number of theories of the brain and speech which are coming out today, which show that the unconscious mind has a "ludic" or game-playing, sportive, toying function which enables or even drives it to play word games in one's sleep, so to speak, and it does so all the time, drawing upon words, memories, feelings, etc. which are psychologically buried, i.e. drawing upon a much vaster storehouse of information than is usually available to the "conscious" mind. In other words. while few people notice or are interested in acrostics, the dreaming mind universally is aware of such things and uses them, even "coding" repressed experiences and memories in acrostic formulations.

In relating Cthulhu to the term cuth, the author seems unaware, however, of an even more remarkable term from archaic Anglo-Saxon law which contains a lot of the sounds, when pronounced, that HPL indicated (in his Selected Letters) Cthulhu should have: a little known word from the Glossarium Archaiologicum, couthutlaugh, which means "a person who willingly and knowingly receives an outlaw, and cherishes or conceals him." (Couthutlaugh is a real word. It's in Black's Law Dictionary. In common law, such a person undergoes the same punishment as the outlaw, like aiding and abetting.)

How these archaic legal terms could possibly be tied in with HPL's monster from R'lyeh will only make any sense if you read the essay, which is not apt to be popular with certain admirers of HPL, like Prof. Dirk Mosig and S. T. Joshi, who regard HPL as an exemplar of rationality. The essay makes HPL out to be quite a pathological personality, a theory we cannot dismiss.

Also, consider that not only did HPL reverse the roll of Wilcox from "doctor that committed his insane father" to "mental patient" in his story, in his child's mind he may have considered the real Dr. Wilcox to have been guilty of couthutlaugh! He may have seen his Dionysian father as an outlaw - and Dr. Wilcox as hiding and protecting his father in the institution. People back then, especially in Lovecraft's class/culture, kept such things secret.

Now, even more amazing. If you eliminate the 2nd and 3rd letters, the 7th letter, the 9th letter, and the 11th letter, and reverse the 10th and 12th letters in the word COUTHUTLAUGH - it spells Cthulhu. And if you look at the letters left over you end up with o, u, t, a and g. Rearrange those letters: GAOTU (Grand Architect of the Universe) - a Freemasonic title of the Deity. Strange!

HPL had a "thing" for the /ng/ phoneme, this could also have everything to do with HPL's unresolved trauma over his father's shocking and even disgusting death, that HPL's father's own name, Wingate, contains the "dread phoneme" /ng/, depending on how it is pronounced. Also, the name Wingate contains the word wing, related to flying, and the words indicating "winning" and going in a gate, which is what much of what HPL's fiction is about.

Also, the "Terrible Old Man" has the notariqon (commonly called "acrostic") form TOM, a name frequently used for a wayward type, such as Toms-of Bedlam, Tom Thumb, Tom-Tit-Tot, Tom-Poker (a childhood bugbear or bogey-man), an "old Tom cat," etc. - representing, once again, the important subconscious figuring of HPL's father as a "Dionysian" symbol in his creative process. His father was, indeed, a "Tom."


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