I suppose I owe the list an article concerning my concepts of the relationship between humans and avatars of Nyarly. For the moment, let's just say that there are some major differences between Nyarlathotep and avatars of Nyarlathotep. It's as profound as the difference between the map and the territory it represents, and the funny-looking writhing stumpy tentacley avatars that sometimes appear were not originally summoned by humans. (Mark McFadden)
I have always seen Nyarlathotep as the evidence of the lie. The lie that the intelligent races play no part in the cosmos plan. The pure hopelessness engendered by that statement is enough to push people to the wild abandon that the end times require. Nyarly however, knows that each race has a part to play and helps ensure that they play that part while also keeping those forces that might prevent the end times from coming from gaining any foothold. He is Satan writ large having never fallen, but remaining a servant of the true universal god. (Jeffrey W. Kahrs)
I always figured that him and the fat headless sock-puppeteer were the cosmic equivilents of the kids who like to pull the wings off flies and throw puppies in the river. (Eric Eves)
personally i see him as the guy who wanders up and grabs the other end of the sack when the lil tyke cant get it over the bridge rail , he can see the writhing , hear the yelps , but good ol nyarly just grabs that sack and on " 3 " helps send it over .
then walks away - he isnt interested in the out come (Andrew J Farrow)
Nyarly as the Cosmic Sociopath? I dunno…
I guess it comes down to what your idea of a 'god' is - is a god just a being like you or I (where 'like' means 'an independent being with the capability for conscious thought', not 'Joe the mechanic'), except stretched to a cosmic scale, or is a god the inevitable incarnation of a universal concept?
DG covers this quite nicely with its presentation of Hastur, as has been discussed many times before.
Personally, I prefer something between the two - a god is (usually, with exceptions for things like Ye Olde Nu-cu-lar Lightbulbe at the Center of the Universe) a conscious being that assumed the position of the incarnation of a universal concept. A bit of a ripoff from Unknown Armies, perhaps, but I like to think it fits quite nicely. Thus, Nyarly is a superbeing who also happens to be the One True Representative of conscious chaos. His avatars are similar to sunlight seen through a prism; each one is a facet of the whole, the result of the physical universe circumscribing the expression of his godhood to certain limited forms. (Bruce Harada)
i think that we as humans are classifying very different entities with the same name, god. obviously, the nature of the great old ones and the outer gods are very different. some of the gods are representative of universal concepts. others are simply much more powerful and sophisticated than we humans are.
but i think some things we are calling gods, Yog-Sothoth, Azathoth, and Hastur in particular have been described mainly as "forces" rather than beings. so, they have more in common with gravity and electromagnetism than cthulhu. granted they do have some physical manifestations that can be seen and felt, but to think of them in terms of their physical manifestations is to completely misunderstand them. that's like thinking one lightning bolt is the whole of electromagnetism.
Personally, I prefer something between the two - a god is (usually, with
exceptions for things like Ye Olde Nu-cu-lar Lightbulbe at the Center of the
Universe) a conscious being that assumed the position of the incarnation of a
i really don't know if a god would need be a conscious being. perhaps a concious being is just a crude manifestation of their force; one that we humans can understand more easily. (Jonathan E Hillman)
One notion that I've toyed with is that Nyarlathotep is not so much the soul of the Outer Gods, but the human mind's perception of the Outer Gods. Nyarlathotep exists only because of us. He is an attempt by our egos to understand the ineffable. For all that, he is indeed real, a reified concept, as it were. This accounts for his variety of forms, and also allows him to act as a Republic serial villian on occasion. He is interested in us, in a way that the rest of the pantheon isn't. He is genuinely evil, because that is what we believe the faceless and nameless horrors of the universe to be.
Of course, other Mythos races have a relationship with the Crawling Chaos as well, notably the Fungi. This can be interpreted as their own psychic relationship with and interpretation of the greater forces of the universe.
Nyarlathotep is the intermediary between the little races of the cosmos and the real powers that flounder and wail in the gulfs of space and time. And there is no peace at the gate. (Christopher Smith Adair)
I've always seen N. as the mythos equivalent of Loki (or a kind of ambivalent Hermes). He's serving his masters by playing little practical jokes on the lower life forms. They're not necessarily funny jokes, they don't often have the expected outcome, and to me, N. doesn't even seem to respect the GOOs who he's supposed to be working for. In fact, it would seem that the GOOs don't even know the specifics of what N. is doing. It's like he's a tenured chair in an academic research department, who is funded by a wealthy charity that's only dimly aware of his existence and can't understand his work. In this model N. makes all the students, technicians and postdocs in his department do random experiments with no supervision and never publishes anything or has to justify his existence…. some of the experiments work, some don't. All of them serve a higher purpose, which is to make sure that the charity has an impact on the fabric of reality. He exists simply to exist and occasionally does things because he can. There's no point to it at all.
[reads what he has just written, rolls dice, fails San check!]
Hold on. I've just realized that according to this theory, my boss _is_ Nyarlathotep! I knew today was going too well!!(Graeme Price)
I think Andy Robertson (Andy, we miss you! Come back!) posited an idea that the GOO are all part of a universe-sized parallel-processing computer, with Gates (no, those squiggly lines on the wall that you can walk through, not Bill) being the pathways for the information to travel. Recently I encountered something similar in Dan Simmons' Hyperion/Endymion books.
So the "part to play" that you allude to could be that the lesser life-forms (like us), once they become "enlightened" (reduced to zero SAN and converted to Lesser Servitor Race status), can be hooked into the network, adding their tiny but still measurable processing power.
In this scenario, Nyarly's goal would be to shepherd the human race toward enlightenment, which will necessarily have a period of chaos along the way. In that case, the visions of the Old Ones killing most everyone when Cthulhu rises might not be true. Wasteful, that. (Dave Farnell)
I've often imagined that Nyarlathotep (and Nodens, for that matter) was some manifestation of the collective subconscious. Kind of like Jungian archetypes for the entire human race, i.e. Campbell's "Hero With a Thousand Faces." Once in awhile, I like to think that Nodens is an avatar form for Ny-man, as that cleans things up a lot. It is only in this way that I have ever been able to reconcile these beings might care enough about humanity enough to even realize that humans exist.
BTW, my vote is that the cultists are wrong in thinking that there will be any grace for them. When we become as the GOO, there may well be reveling in the slaughter, but no one will be spared, and the only difference will be that Apocalypse-wishers from *every* religion will be filled with joy as the stars become right and our pathetic planet once again becomes a on-ramp instead of a rest stop. After all, when the snot hits the fan, who'll split hairs that Dread Cthulhu doesn't have some chick on his back? (Robert Lint)
This doesn't have the right feel for me; Nyarly as a creation of the human subconscious tends to suck out the otherworldliness.. so to speak.
I do like the idea of the "universal computer", but also have the idea rolling around that humanity was created by the elder things as a food source / POWer supply. Our intellect, self will, creative abilities are all side effects of humans as walking POW batteries.
(Be gentle, I'm still fleshing this out).
Various entities ( Shubbie, Senior Sock, etc.) are drawn to earth the same way frat boys are drawn to a kegger. All that POW running around, just for the taking…
Some humans figured this out as well; thus spells, cannibalism as a source of eternal life, etc.
Nyarly fits in as a "administrator of the POWer plant". He doesn't destroy us all yet, but channels us towards whatever he's feeding POW to. Eventually, the Endtimes come… when the requirements for POW exceed the capacity of earth. Then, in an orgy of killing and reveling, humanity completes a ritual designed to send all of Humanity's POW to a single source (Azathoth?). (Russell Rayburn)
I wonder if the Great Old Ones are really as universally aware as we think they are. CoC has transformed them from the great looming shadows of human ignorance into cosmic powers and building blocks of the universe. I wonder if at some level that that has taken it too far.
Perhaps Azathoth, Nyarly and the rest of the Outer Gods don't really understand everything about the universe. Sure, Azzy is the center and the source, but one of the basic tenents of the Mythos universe is that it's different over there. The rules of one section of the universe do not always apply to other sections, and it can be assumed that the rules in any given section can change over time. What if the rules in different parts of the universe are divergent enough that Azzy needs to send his special investigator, his eyes, his soul to know what the differences are? What if Nyarly's interaction with humans is part of his attempt to understand the 'rules' of our universe? His understanding is vast enough to provide us with 'advances,' but he needs us to discover the unique qualities of our region.
Now why would he do this? I can think of a couple of reasons, or at least analogies, off the top of my head:
1 The Scientist: why do scientists investigate atoms? Because they think that investigating the building blocks of the universe will unlock the secrets of said universe. They're right: look at their ability to summon Azathoth at the drop of a hat. Or a bomb. Whatever. Nyarlathotep is the microscope of the GOO, the scalpel, the instrument that they use to understand every facet of the sprawling universe around them in order to control it/full become it/assimilate it. We are the mindless atoms, useful for the information we can impart. If Nyarly happens to give us information when he's watching us, well, that's just Uncertainty, isn't it?
Comment: gives a whole new meaning to calling Azathoth 'blind.'
2 The Kabbalist: one line of thought in (or my personal mis-interpretation of) Kabbalah is that the universe is the Word of God. The Bible is also the Word of God, with the letters rearranged. If you manipulate the letters of the Bible into the proper order, it will be conterminous with the universe and with God. We all know that Azathoth is blind and mad, but he wasn't always like that. What if Nyarly is seeking to 'rewrite' the universe, one letter at a time, until the accident that drove Azathoth mad never happened? The letters are a part of us, are a part of everything, and he _must_ deal with us to rewrite it. What is he doing? He's making the story come out the way he wants it to, the way he needs it to for his own ends.
Comment: The universe a book? Isn't the Vibe most often transmitted through words? Hmm?
There's also the idea that I keep coming back to, but it's too abstract to be effective.
Nyarlathotep is to the universe what the Plateau of Leng is to the Earth. He's a schism, but that's the wrong word. He's always the wrong word. He's a point that will always miss, where we are reminded of the limits of language and our reliance on language, as well as the cruel necessity of language. He's… wait. To be a little less abstract:
I see the Plateau of Leng as a place where out analogies of reality break down.
It's a place, but we can't talk about walking there or seeing the sun rise there or being buried there, because calling it a place is the wrong analogy.
It's a doorway, but you can't walk through it, you can't close it, you can't find a key, because calling it a doorway is the wrong analogy.
It is a state of mind, but you can't reach it, you can't aspire to it, you can't think it, because calling it a state of mind is the wrong analogy.
It is reality. It is the reality that Lovecraft always claims is beyond human comprehension. It is a point or a place or a nexus where a true piece of the universe peeks through all of its veils, and suddenly every lie and illusion become possibilities.
The illusions become possible because they are, in effect, always possible. They are all covers of for the universe, the mask that covers the gibbering demons the lurk beneath. None of them are true, even the things we consider reality. They are all equally false. At the point where reality is exposed, we will be willing to accept any lie to cover it up, because we can accept the lie and not the truth. It is not simply more comfortable, it is the only way that we can survive.
The Plateau of Leng is, but it turns around and bites that is, poisoning it and kills it.
Nyarly is the walking version of that concept. He is always there is the background. He does not deal with us. We deal with him. He lies because that is what he is, that is all that he is. And he turns around… (Charles Ripper)