Is that from a mythos point of view or a literary one?
Not sure I understand the difference.
Apologies, that was very unclear of me. I mean ‘mythos’ as treating the story as if it were relating actual events, and I mean ‘literary’ as treating it as fictional literature.
So, put another way, my question was – “do you feel it doesn’t matter as a part of HPL’s fictional creation or from the POV of someone living in that world?” I see from your post though that it’s the former.
I don't even like to think in terms of the overall mythos. I'm not a "Cthulhu Mythos" fan, I'm a Lovecraft fan. Everything I've heard about Lovecraft and Co.'s feelings on the subject suggests that it was all a bit of an inside joke, something to make readers stop and think "wait, I've heard that name before, is that a real thing?" It seems that Lovecraft only had very vague ideas about what each god/monster was all about, and didn't mind fudging it, changing it, and making it up as he went along. I'm not even sure, for example, that the Nyarlathotep of "The Dream-Quest" is the same entity as the Nyarlathotep mentioned in "The Haunter of the Dark," or that the creature in "Dagon" necessarily has anything to do with the Dagon-worshipers in "Shadow Over Innsmouth."
I agree that at the time of writing the idea of a mythos was probably the furthest thing from his mind. You’re probably right that the various Nyarlys aren’t the same entity and HPL was in Fudge Mode when he talked about the many other incarnations of the god.
But I suspect he unwittingly followed patterns in his own unconscious and (as is generally the case) a fairly consistent over-arcing narrative formed.
This kind of thing can be demonstrated with a party game where one guest leaves the room then returns and tries to guess what happened in a dream another guest has just described to the others, receiving only Yes/No answers. In fact there was no dream and the group are answering Yes to questions that end in letters A-M and No to questions that end N-Z. Very quickly the questioner builds a narrative formed, unintentionally and in total ignorance, out of patterns emerging from their own thought processes.
People like to believe each action they take is in response to the needs of the moment and a considered response to the challenges faced at that time, but evidence suggests our actions follow fairly predictable (once you know what to look for, and that’s the real trick) patterns.
Artists have themes they often return to until they resolve something deep down. Over time and with enough development, those recurring themes become something stronger and more established. In the case of HPL, writing about gods and having spent his childhood steeped in Classical mythology, a pantheon emerged. The fact he didn’t plan it consciously becomes almost irrelevant over time.
We can choose to avoid stringing it all together into a mythos and see each aspect or individual as unrelated, perhaps nothing more than a facet of HPL’s own subconscious. This is especially interesting when you consider the revelations by Yog-Sothoth in ‘Through the Gates of the Silver Key’ where Randolph Carter discovers he’s one of a multitude of facets of that god and that all sapient beings in Lovecraft’s universe are merely facets of the gods. One could argue that the reverse is true.
I guess it all depends on what you want out of it. I tend to look for patterns and connections in the larger narrative. I too spent my childhood reading a lot of Greek mythology and I like pantheons, so I'm predisposed to that kind of stuff.
When reading a collection of works I try to avoid false positives, but I suspect that the High Priest is just that. I think it would be easy to make a connection to Yog-Sothoth or The King In Yellow, and at a real stretch maybe even Nyarlathotep. But when it comes down to it, mysterious other-worldly men with silken veils and cryptic mannerisms are a good and highly evocative image that pops up with some regularity. Analysing where it comes from may be as pointless in relation to the story as wondering which cowboys George Lucas based Han Solo on. And in the end knowing what was going on in the author’s head doesn’t add that much to the story. And sometimes it takes something away.
I was hoping someone might know some inside info about the High Priest and we could fit in some missing pieces, however I may have to accept that this isn’t a jigsaw puzzle at all and is in fact an enormous doodle!
Hmmm…I may have just reasoned my way right out the other side of my original question!