What is the Outer God, Yog-Sothoth?
To those who encounter his manifestation, It is merely an endless mass of glowing orbs, eyes, and tendrils. But It is a god of some concept, and Yog-Sothoth is more familiar to us than most.
“Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trod earth’s fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread.”
~ The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft
Yog-Sothoth is the key and the gate. This statement is very similar to the all-encompassing duality that the Abrahamic god is (YWHW is the alpha and the omega.) And indeed, It is the one who most resembles the vague, distant deity we are most used to in 21st century Western urbanity. It’s not benevolent (none of the egregores are anything like good), and It’s only as all-powerful as all the other Lovecraftian gods are, but It is omnipresent.
You are my quest, my course, my fate
You are the key and you’re the gate
You are my All-in-One…
Yog-Sothoth is space-time itself. It is not only motion and location, but all the little details that make that work. Why is the balance between the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, and electromagnetism precisely set so that solid matter can exist, and organic life at all? Why is Earth in the very small goldilocks band between too cold and too close to the sun, where life could flourish?
The recent web sensation “17776” had its snarky/existentialist character expound on the necessity of god in the way that is most common among deists in this day and age:
Yog-Sothoth is the famous “god of the gaps.” To worship It, is to worship whatever miracles have been granted in the cracks of physics (and chemistry, and biology) so that we may exist.
It’s actually rather natural to be thankful.
…. even though It is just as responsible for the Second law of Thermodynamics, the inevitability of death, war, AIDS, and the fact that all human existence will be over in the blink of a cosmic eye.
Yog-Sothoth cultists are particularly drawn to the beauty of Its design. The fact that everything works so well (compared to the meaningless chaos it could be) puts them in awe. This isn’t just physicists and mathematicians, but anyone who researches human patterns can be drawn in by this seductive order. If you’ve seen an economist rapture about how the Invisible Hand makes everyone create the most pareto optimal world when left to their own devices, well, what god do you think they’re worshipping?
Rationalist blogger Scott Alexander went into paroxysms over similar dynamics when arguing that truthful debate has the property of giving the advantage to good.
I worry that I’m not communicating how beautiful and inevitable all of this is. We’re surrounded by a vast confusion, “a darkling plain where ignorant armies clash by night”, with one side or another making a temporary advance and then falling back in turn. And in the middle of all of it, there’s this gradual capacity-building going on, where what starts off as a hopelessly weak signal gradually builds up strength, until one army starts winning a little more often than chance, then a lot more often, and finally takes the field entirely. Which seems strange, because surely you can’t build any complex signal-detection machinery in the middle of all the chaos, surely you’d be shot the moment you left the trenches, but – your enemies are helping you do it. Both sides are diverting their artillery from the relevant areas, pooling their resources, helping bring supplies to the engineers, because until the very end they think it’s going to ensure their final victory and not yours.
You’re doing it right under their noses. They might try to ban your documentaries, heckle your speeches, fight your violence Middlebury-student-for-Middlebury-student – but when it comes to the long-term solution to ensure your complete victory, they’ll roll down their sleeves, get out their hammers, and build it alongside you.
Yog-Sothoth would find no compliment higher than being called “the beauty of our weapons.”
(Yog-Sothoth is not the miracle that something exists instead of nothing. But It is the miracle that given that anything exists, the rules are exactly such that we are sitting here, using our eyes to read an electronic construct brought into being by a network of global capital ranging from China to New York.)
Ask and it shall be added unto you
Seek and ye shall find
Knock and the gate shall be opened unto you…
One of the reasons scientists are particularly drawn to Yog-Sothoth is that It is not a completely ineluctable god. In fact, It is glad and encouraging for us to know Its full glory. Anyone who chases after impossible knowledge is favored in Its eye.
“Randolph Carter”, IT seemed to say, “MY manifestations on your planet’s extension, the Ancient Ones, have sent you as one who would lately have returned to small lands of dream which he had lost, yet who with greater freedom has risen to greater and nobler desires and curiosities. You wished to sail up golden Oukranos, to search out forgotten ivory cities in orchid-heavy Kled, and to reign on the opal throne of Ilek-Vad, whose fabulous towers and numberless domes rise mighty toward a single red star in a firmament alien to your earth and to all matter. Now, with the passing of two Gates, you wish loftier things. You would not flee like a child from a scene disliked to a dream beloved, but would plunge like a man into that last and inmost of secrets which lies behind all scenes and dreams. What you wish, I have found good; and I am ready to grant that which I have granted eleven times only to beings of your planet – five times only to those you call men, or those resembling them. I am ready to shew you the Ultimate Mystery, to look on which is to blast a feeble spirit. Yet before you gaze full at that last and first of secrets you may still wield a free choice, and return if you will through the two Gates with the Veil still unrent before your eyes. „
~ Yog-Sothoth addressing Randolph Carter, Through the Gates of the Silver Key
Yog-Sothoth is the promise that for all the mysteries of the universe, they can be known. Your god will even help you achieve them, so long as you have the will to keep exploring.
I danced between the stars
And pressed my footsteps down
On methane lakes and iron rocks
That circled round and round.
I danced beyond the world–
The world was waiting there
An endless voice said unto me,
These things to you I swear,
That never shall you seek
Some truth you cannot find
And I who gave you eyes to see
Shall never make them blind.
Wherever you would go
In whatever galaxy
There is no place you cannot reach
If you should trust in Me.