I was playing around with the I Write Like … gizmo, and was wondering who the members of our judiciary write like.
Having spent a reasonable proportion of my teenage years reading the Cthulhu Mythos fiction he created and playing the “Call of Cthulhu” role-playing game those stories inspired, I was pleased and somewhat surprised to see that his style of writing was reflected in the official decisions of the country’s highest courts.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an American horror fiction writer and creator of the Cthulhu mythos – a strange world filled with cults, cultists, ancient texts, alien gods, hideous monsters, regular trips to the lunatic asylum and dark, unspoken (and unspeakable) scary things. But what does that have to do with the law in 21st century Britain?
I suppose that the reason for this is not so much that all judges are fanatic HP Lovecraft fans, but that his style of writing is somewhat formal and, therefore, judicial? That may not sound like much of an endorsement for Lovecraft’s books, but I can assure you that they are a gripping read and genuinely creepy horror.
To give you a flavour of the writing, here’s the opening paragraph of the great man’s 1928 short story “The Call of Cthulhu”:
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
The full list of judges considered and their respective results in my deeply unscientific survey follows:
- Lord Kinclaven – HP Lovecraft
- Lord Walker – Jonathan Swift; HP Lovecraft
- Lord Hope – David Foster Wallace; HP Lovecraft; Isaac Asimov
- Lord Phillips – HP Lovecraft; HP Lovecraft
- Lord Rodger – Edgar Allen Poe
- Sir John Dyson SCJ – HP Lovecraft