Through the Gates of the Silver Key: Chapter V, part 2: Other Worlds and Entities

In Chapter V of “Through the Gates of the Silver Key,” written by H.P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price, Randolph Carter describes how he is a “supreme archetype” of many beings on many worlds. Based on the documentation, Carter is one of the original models used to produce these other beings.  These passages are very metaphysical and I have presented hypotheses that may explain these thoughts of Carter’s. For example, these thoughts of being part of a larger “string” of consciousnesses may be Carter’s mind connecting to others in the Multiverse. An alternative hypothesis may be that these thoughts may be the result of having direct contact with Yog-Sothoth. Again, this part of Chapter V is more metaphysical than scientific so I will focus on some of the other subjects mentioned toward the end of this chapter.

yog_sothoth_over_the_bay Yog-Sothoth over the Bay by Sigmanus (www.deivantart.com)

Some of the “other” Carters could be accessed “…by a variation in the angle of the consciousness-plane which cuts it.” This passage may indicate that in order to have access to other consciousness, one has to know how to utilize those higher dimensions proposed by String Theory. One of these consciousnesses was an entity who “…dwelt in primal Hyperborea and worshiped black, plastic Tsathoggua after flying down from Kythanil, the double planet that once revolved around Arcturus.”

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Was Carter one of the non-human worshipers of Tsathoggua in ancient Hyperborea? Artwork by Mark E. Rogers

Tsathoggua is an entity that was discovered by Clark Ashton Smith and exists on Cykranosh; which to us is known as Saturn. There is some conflicting information on if Tsathoggua still dwells on Cykranosh or if it was brought to Earth by some unknown entities (Harms, 1998). There may be some type of inter-dimensional gate that connects Earth with Cykranosh, which would explain this historical confusion. Regardless, according to Carter, Tsathoggua may have originated from Kythanil and arrived on Cykranosh during the early formation of our Solar System.

saturn_aurora_hubble_28_jan_2004_med                                                                          Cykranosh, known to us as Saturn (www.nasa.gov)

As cited by Carter, Kythanil is a double planet system that once revolved around the red star Arcturus. While not officially recognized by the International Astronomical Union, a double planet system is a binary system where both bodies have planetary mass. For example, the Pluto (Yuggoth) – Charon (largest moon of Yuggoth) system can be thought of as a double planet. In fact, given the large size of our moon relative to the size of Earth, the European Space Agency has described the Earth – Moon system as a double planet. Very little is known of Kythanil expect that “doubtfully shaped” dwellers exist on this world. While Tsathoggua is frequently described as a large, sloth-like, bat creature, it is also frequently described as amorphous (e.g. black and plastic as quoted above). Thus, Kythanil may be the home world of Tsathoggua.

lovecraft___tsathoggua_idol_for_rpg_by_kingovrats-d6jht1t Tsathoggua Idol by King Ov Rats (www.deviantart.com)

Carter also mentions “…trans-galactic Shonhi, or a four-dimensioned gaseous consciousness in an older space-time continuum…” An older space-time continuum may actually refer to before the Big Bang. If there was some type of Space-Time before the Big Bang, which collapsed and exploded forming our Space-Time, how could any previously existing entity survive this? The four dimensions of the Shonhi may refer to four spatial dimensions. We exist in a three spatial dimensions / one temporal dimension Space-Time continuum. The trans-galactic Shonhi may have escaped destruction by entering a higher fourth spatial dimension.

The gaseous status of the Shonhi may be our limited three-dimensional senses trying to perceive a four-dimensional entity. This is similar to Edward Abbot’s Flatland where a two-dimensional being, like a square or circle, would have a difficult time perceiving the true form and shape a three-dimensional being like a sphere. Even if the sphere entered Flatland, passing through its Space-Time, it would appear first as a point, expand to a one-dimensional line, reach a maximum length, then decrease in length until it becomes a point and then disappears. This encounter between a sphere and a circle does not provide a true sense to the circle what the sphere actually looks like; the same may be for the Shonhi. To us three-dimensional entities a four-dimensional entity may look to us like a gas; however, the true form and shape of the Shonhi may be very different and we just don’t have the fourth dimensional senses to “see” what they really look like.

flatfl                                                                                                Attempting to perceive what a three dimensional sphere would look like in two dimensional universe

Another strange entity briefly described by Carter was the “…vegetable brain of the future on a dark radio-active comet of inconceivable orbit…” The fact that this entity is described as “vegetable” indicates it must be some form of autotroph, which is an organism that has the ability to produce complex organic compounds from simple substances. If the energy used to product these compounds is from light the mode of autotrophy is called photosynthesis, if energy is from inorganic chemical reactions it’s called chemosynthesis.

Given that the vegetable brain lives on the surface of a comet reveals that more than likely this entity is not a photosynthetic autotroph since they need light to exist. A comet in an inconceivable orbit spends the vast majority of its time in deep, dark space. As a comet comes closer to a star it does receive some of this light energy; indeed this is what produces the comet’s tail. However, the statement that the vegetable brain exists on a dark radio-active comet, provides evidence that it’s nutritional mode of action may be through chemosynthesis or possibly through a mode of autotrophy that uses radioactivity as a source of energy. For example, three specific species of fungi have been identified in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant that exhibit higher rates of growth and assimilation of acetate when exposed to higher amounts of radiation. A similar mode of nutrition may be utilized by the vegetation brains; using the radiation emitted from the comet to break down simple organic compounds scattered on the surface of the comet. Indeed, the ESA’s Philae lander detected complex organic compounds, like amino acids, on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

1024px-Cryptococcus_neoformans_using_a_light_India_ink_staining_preparation_PHIL_3771_lores Cryptococcus neoformans, a fungus that thrives on radioactivity as a source of energy (www.wikipedia.com)

Finally, the term “dark” may also be an indication that this autotrophic entity feeds on dark matter or dark energy; however, there is no additional information to support this hypothesis.

At one point Carter mentions that observes a dim fantastic world that is in a quintuple star system “…in an unsuspected galaxy.” Carter describes a clawed and snouted race that battles burrowing inner horrors. Based on this scant piece of information it sounds like there is a predatory species that exists underneath the surface of this unnamed world.  Maybe the radiation from the five multi-colored suns is harmful to the burrowing inner horrors and they utilize the “unexplained tunnels” to reach the surface to attack and feed on the clawed and tapir-snouted inhabitants of the surface. This world illuminated by five suns, has bizarre metal towers and cryptical floating cylinders but the name of this world is not provided.

Next time we will move into Chapter VI where Carter dreams of the wizard Zkauba on the planet Yaddith. Thank you – Fred.

Through the Gates of the Silver Key: Chapter V, part 1: Higher Dimensions

yog_sothoth_by_chivohit-d5b8wrr Yog-Sothoth by Chivohit (www.deviantart.com)

At the end of Chapter IV of “Through the Gates of the Silver Key,” written by H.P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price, Randolph Carter says to Yog-Sothoth that he is ready to peer beyond the Veil of reality. Suddenly, Carter’s mind is flooded with knowledge on the true nature of the cosmos. One concept that was discussed in some detail was how our perception of a “tri-dimensional world” or even a four-dimensional Space-Time does not represent the true nature and structure of the Universe / Multiverse. Additionally, Carter realizes that human senses can only perceive of a portion of reality; however, once he passed beyond the Ultimate Gate he saw “…in the brooding shadows of that which had been first a vortex of power and then an illimitable void, a sweep of creation that dizzed his senses.”

Yog-Sothoth continued to fill Carter’s mind with energy waves of information to obtain a better understanding of the Universe. Carter then understood that he was an infinitesimal part of a multiform entity; was this a realization and subsequent access to other beings in other Multiverses? Carter also understood that

“…every figure of space is but the result of the intersection by a plane of some corresponding figure of one more dimension – as a square is cut from a cube or a circle from a sphere. The cube and sphere, of three dimensions, are thus cut from corresponding forms of four dimensions that men know only through guesses and dreams; and these in turn are cut from forms of five dimensions, and so on up to the dizzy and reachless heights of archetypal infinity.”

yog_sothoth_by_nightserpent                                                               Yog-Sothoth by Nightserpent

The net result of this higher multi-dimensional view of reality is that our 3-space and 1-time Universe is merely a shadow or illusion of the true nature of substance and reality. Thus, the way the shadow of a cube is 2-dimensional representation of a cube in a 2-dimensional world, the Tesseract is a 3-dimensional shadow representation of a hypercube in 3-dimensional space (see below). According to Lovecraft and Price, if we had the appropriate knowledge and senses, where the Veil of reality has been pulled aside, we would perceive the true, multi-dimensional nature of reality.

cube-shadow                                                             The shadow of a cube is a 2-dimensional representation of the cube

hqdefault                                                     The Tesseract is a 3-dimensional shadow representation of a 4-dimensional hypercube.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries mathematicians were investigating geometry beyond the three known spatial dimensions, as well as working on “non-Euclidean” geometry, which is essentially a description of curved space and shapes. A lot of misinformation and pseudoscience was developed in light of these investigations, essentially from people who knew very little about the science. However, to many mathematicians surprise, such investigations into curved fourth dimensional Space-Time had a practical application in Einstein’s work on gravity and how the amount of matter determines the type of geometry that exists in the surrounding space (https://web2.ph.utexas.edu/~coker2/index.files/4d.shtml). As Kip S. Thorn put it in his essay Spacetime Warps and the Quantum World in The Future of Spacetime (2002), “…Einstein concluded that space and time are warped by matter and energy and that this warpage is responsible for the gravity that holds us to the surface of the Earth.”

yog_www.johncoulhart.com                                                                           Yog-Sothoth by John Coulhart (www.johncoulhart.com)

While higher dimensional mathematics continued through the 20th century, incorporating high dimensional concepts into physics and the nature of reality went largely unsuccessful. However, with quantum physics, the need to include more dimensions seemed apparent but it was in the 1980’s with the development of String Theory that the need for higher dimensional math appeared necessary. In order to include gravity into a single equation with the other forces of nature (electromagnetic, weak nuclear and strong nuclear) String Theory needed 9 or 10 spatial dimensions and one dimension of time (https://web2.ph.utexas.edu/~coker2/index.files/4d.shtml). In turn, String Theory has led to M-Theory, where the strings are looped and/or tethered to surfaces or membranes, possibly stitching together the Multiverse.

Again, before there was a mathematical need for higher dimensions in many of the leading theories of physics, discussions on this subject were largely thought of purely the stuff of fiction. Not only that, but many were criticized for considering such concepts or ideas. In his article “H.P. Lovecraft and Pseudomathematics” in Darrell Schweitzer’s Discovering H.P. Lovecraft (1995), Robert Weinberg dismisses Lovecraft’s thoughts of higher dimensions discussed in many of his stories. Weinberg states, “The existence of higher dimensions should be of little concern to this world as any contact with such dimensions is impossible.” Based on the current state of both String Theory and M-Theory higher dimensions are absolutely essential working through the development of a Standard, Unifying Theory.

41VgopMcVlL__SX312_BO1,204,203,200_

Weinberg also goes on in the article to state, “It is impossible (not unlikely or not yet possible, but impossible, actually shown to be never possible) to construct a higher dimension from a lower one.” That is a pretty definitive statement. While it may not be possible to construct a higher dimension, we can represent or model high dimensions (see above). Also, such higher dimensions may be useful in obtaining a better understanding of the Universe. Thus, I think casually discarding an idea or hypothesis and saying it’s just not possible or relevant can be dangerous in science. Who knows, maybe the next generation of physicists will come up with a new theory that completely does away with the need for String Theory and the consideration of higher dimensions. However, if working through String Theory and these ideas have led others into investigations that shine a little more light on the true nature of reality then that is a good thing. Science is very much built upon its history; Einstein’s General Relativity did not result in throwing out Newton’s Principles of Gravity, just like Quantum Mechanics did not result in throwing out General Relativity. It should also be emphasized that we always learn something even when our hypothesis is not proven correct.

yog-sothoth_www.lostsouls.org

Yog-Sothoth (www.lostsouls.org)

Getting back to “Through the Gates of the Silver Key,” three dimensional entities like us who exist in linear time, cannot perceive the higher dimensions that are “wrapped and curled up,” tucked away from our perception. However, other entities, from other Universes with slight modifications in their natural laws, may be able to perceive or even have access to higher dimensions, which may allow them to travel through time and space in very unconventional ways (e.g. The Dreams in the Witch-House).

Based on what we know about dimensionality and Space-Time, life can only exist in a Universe of three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension. Based on Max Tegmark’s paper “On the Dimensionality of Spacetime” (Class. Quantum Gav. 14 (1997), L69-L75), other realities with more or less dimensions than ours would be “dead worlds.” Tegmark states in his abstract “In a space with more than three dimensions, there can be no traditional atoms and perhaps no stable structures.” This may be the case, however maybe many Lovecraftian entities can access the energy in these higher dimensions to conduct incredible feats thorough time and space. Thus, Yog-Sothoth maybe a unique and fluid form of life that both easily travels through and exists in all of these dimensions at the same time. If Tegmark’s idea does hold true, then any inhibited Universe, where atoms are stable enough to eventually rise to life, would be squeezed into that little box labeled “We Are Here” in the figure shown below.

2000px-Spacetime_dimensionality_svg.png

Next time we will wrap up our discussion of Chapter V in “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” with a discussion of some of the exoplanets described by Randolph Carter. Thank you – Fred.

Through the Gates of the Silver Key: Chapter IV, Yog-Sothoth and the Multiverse

In Chapter IV of “Through the Gates of the Silver Key,” written by H.P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price, Randolph Carter passes through the Ultimate Gate. After passing through the Ultimate Gate, Carter initially still feels he is a “fixed point in the dimensional seething,” but then he begins to lose his sense of space and time in our reality. This statement indicates that passing through this gate may be somehow going outside of our known Space-Time Universe. For example, Carter realized that he is not just one person but many people over the span of linear time. All at once he was that boy at his Uncle and Aunt’s farm in October 1883, as well as the adult who is on the other side of the Ultimate Gate, talking to the Ancient One Umr At-Tawil. Humans are entities grounded in linear time and if this sense of “cause and effect,” which is the essence of time, is removed the past, present and future would certainly become difficult to distinguish from each another.

234edc2913c24e7eb8a9cc8b09858e98                                                                  Yog-Sothoth by Daigoro115

Layered on this loss of linear time is Carter’s loss of “self.” Beyond the Ultimate Gate Randolph Carter acknowledged the existence of multiple “Carters.” Carter felt his self beyond the limitations of one individual. He perceived himself as a variety of entities and creatures – “…humans and non-human, vertebrate and invertebrate, conscious and mindless, animal and vegetable.” He also perceived Carters beyond Earth, on other planets, in other galaxies and perhaps even other Universes (called cosmic continua in the story).

This loss of both linear time and individual self and described by Carter was one of the supreme horrors he experienced. Indeed, in a number of instances in Lovecraft’s tales, few individuals come back from beyond our Space-Time reality sane. As “quasi-Carter” struggles to stay grounded in his self and prevent the loss of his individuality, he sensed the presence of an entity beyond our Space Time.

lovecraft___yog_sothoth___lurker_at_the_threshold_by_kingovrats-d66k92p Yog-Sothoth, Lurker at the Threshold by King Ov Rats (www.deivantart.com)

“It was an All-in-One and One-in-All of limitless being and self – not merely a thing of one Space-Time continuum, but allied to the ultimate animating essence of existence’s whole unbounded sweep – the last, utter sweep which has no confines and which outreaches fancy and mathematics alike. It was perhaps that which certain secrete cults of earth have whispered of as YOG-SOTHOTH, and which has been a deity under other names;”

This entity was actually attempting to communicate with Carter in a concentration of energy that was almost described as painful. This combination of both mental pain and loss of self are a few symptoms of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia has been described by some as a self-disorder or ipseity disturbance (ipse is Latin for “self” or “itself”) and is associated with complementary distortions of the act of awareness (Schizophrenia, Consciousness, and the Self by Louis A. Sass and Josef Parnas; Schizophrenia Bulletin, 29(3):427-444, 2003). Is it possible that some forms of schizophrenia are the result of individuals having some type of contact with Yog-Sothoth?

Yog_sothoth_rising_by_butttornado-d6ubvy6 Yog-Sothoth rising by Richard Luong (www.luongart.hostoi.com)

Yog-Sothoth has been mentioned numerous times in Lovecraft’s tales and tends to be more associated with magic and metaphysics than science. Obviously, how Yog-Sothoth is presented or described depends on the philosophical perspective and knowledge base of the person involved. Thus, is it not surprising that Joseph Curwen in “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” or Old Wizard Whateley in “The Dunwich Horror” describe Yog-Sothoth as some type of demon to be summoned. However Yog-Sothoth is being perceived, whether from a magical or scientific point of view, there are some common themes associated with this entity. Frequently, it is stated that the past, present and future are all one in Yog-Sothoth. Again, this is another reference to this entity not being confined to the limitations of linear time. Yog-Sothoth is also described as being the “key and the gate,” which refers to the fact that access to beyond our Space-Time reality is through Yog-Sothoth. This access can be opening the “door” to allow things from outside our Space-Time in or allow residents of our Universe, such as Randolph Carter, to go outside of our Space-Time.

While Yog-Sothoth is described as the key and the gate, it seems to be much more than that when Lovecraft’s tales are reviewed. In a number of instances Yog-Sothoth is said to be “where the spheres meet.” In “The Horror in the Museum,” co-written by Lovecraft and Hazel Heald, Yog-Sothoth is described as a “…a congeries of iridescent globes…” These descriptions may be veiled references to the Multiverse structure of reality.

yog_sothoth_by_verreaux-d38lggo                     Yog-Sothoth by Verreaux (www.deivantart.com)

The prevailing concept of the Multiverse is that quantum fluctuations during the inflation phase of the Universe sparks the creation of bubble Universe that then inflate on their own, making more bubble Universes into infinity. However, there is now a competing theory that the quantum fluctuations did not occur until the inflation phase was complete, creating an overlapping, finite Multiverse (see below). Whatever theory is more representative of the Multiverse concept, Yog-Sothoth seems to be “stitched” or “woven” into the very fabric of the Multiverse and in order travel through or go beyond the Multiverse one must make some sort of contact with Yog-Sothoth. Unfortunately, even briefly encountering this entity can result in insanity.

Multi_www.newscientist.com Multiverse Concepts (www.newscientist.com)

In Carter’s encounter with Yog-Sothoth it is revealed that the Ancient Ones, like Umr At-Tawil, are manifestations or extensions of this Old One into our Space-Time. Yog-Sothoth also communicates to Carter that it will grant his request and show him the “Ultimate Mystery.” Yog-Sothoth claims that it has granted this request only eleven times to beings from Earth, with five of these being men or resembling men. What were the other six? Elder Things or Deep Ones? The Great Race in the Cone Shaped Beings? Mi-Go or the Insects from Shaggai? Or some other, yet undiscovered species from Earth’s distant past or future?

Chapter IV concludes with Yog-Sothoth giving Carter one last choice – to return back to his own Space-Time or to peer beyond the Veil of reality. Next time we will journey with Carter beyond this Veil. Thank you – Fred.

 

Through the Gates of the Silver Key: Chapter III, Umr at-Tawil and the Application of String Theory

lovecraft___yog_sothoth____umr_at_tawil_by_kingovrats-d66alsr Umr at-Tawil by Kingovrats (www.deivantart.com)

In “Through the Gates of the Silver Key,” written by H.P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price, Randolph Carter used the Silver Key to unlock the “First Gate” and subsequently traveled through our linear time and adjacent Universes. However, in the latter half of Chapter III, Carter meets a heavily cloaked humanoid entity. Carter states, “…it seemed to belong to an order of being far outside the merely physical in organization and faculties.” This being was the “frightful Guide and Guardian of the Gate,” known as the Ancient One, Umr at-Tawil or the Prolonged of Life.

Very little is known about Umr at-Tawil but its title as Ancient One and the Prolonged of Life indicates that it has existed for a very long time, perhaps since the creation of our Universe. The being appears to be the way or guide to the Ultimate Gate, which based on the tale so far must be “outside” or beyond the known Universes bound in Space-Time. Additionally, Umr at-Tawil was one of a number of such gatekeepers, which appeared to Carter as seated on a series of vaguely hexagonal pillars.

the_silver_key_by_claudio_bergamin-dev The Silver Key by Claudio Bergamin (www.deviantart.com)

Umr at-Tawil possess a large sphere composed of iridescent metal that generated “…a low, pervasive half-impression of sound…” and “…began to rise and fall in intervals which seemed to be rhythmic even though they followed no rhythm of earth.” Carter also described these as rhythmic chants or pulsating light.

Passing through the First Gate and now the upcoming Ultimate Gate may require higher dimensional hyperspace travel, similar to magic used by Keziah Mason and the mathematics used by Walter Gilman in Lovecraft’s “The Dreams in the Witch-House.” However, in this instance, the opening of the Ultimate Gate by Umr at-Tawil on behalf of Randolph Carter had more of a metaphysical feeling; not the magic of the witch or the science of the student. Of course, what we don’t understand we call magic, what we philosophize about we call metaphysics and what we hypothesize about we call science. These are merely different points of view of reality, based on the amount of information and experience we have in hand. Thus, as mentioned in the previous article, the metaphysics of higher dimensions and the multiverse have moved into the realm of science (more specifically theoretical physics) and what has aided this transformation has been the attempts of unifying Einstein’s relativity with quantum mechanics.

hidden-variables-ankitsahay-696x392 Hidden Variables (www.ankitsahay.com)

Einstein’s General Relativity states that the generation of gravitational fields are the inherent result of the curvature of Space-Time, while quantum field theory can be used to mathematically explain the other three, non-gravitational forces of nature – electromagnetic, strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force (The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universe and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene; 2011). The unification of all four forces into a single mathematical equation to date has not been possible. However, String Theory has been a serious attempt at unifying these basic forces of nature in our Universe.

In String Theory, reality is composed of vibrating strings, which are about 100 billion billion times smaller than a proton (Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universe, Time Warps and the 10th Dimension by Michio Kaku, 1994). To put this into context, the differences in size between a string and proton are similar to comparing the nucleus of an atom to Earth (Why String Theory? By Joseph Conlon; 2016). At such extremely small distances, called Planck length, the effects of gravity can no longer be ignored as is the case in particle physics. In turn, the quantum impacts of the electromagnetic and the strong / weak nuclear forces can be merged with a quantum theory of gravity (Conlon, 2016).

planck_scale

A demonstration of the scale of size of the Planck Length

In addition to merging the natural forces, as such small scales the specific vibration of a string or a particle are indistinguishable from each other. A specific string can vibrate, generating specific resonances, at an infinite number of difference frequencies (Kaku, 1994). Change the frequency and you change the string; change the string and you can modify the specific force or matter. Thus, by changing the frequency of a string you may convert an electron into a neutrino.

In addition, for String Theory to work out mathematically, additional dimensions, beyond the three spatial and one time that we are familiar with, are necessary. In this case, these extra dimensions may be folded up into Planck length scales. Thus, if we had the ability to directly modify / control the frequencies of the strings, we may be able to generate enough energy to actually have access to these higher dimensions and travel through hyperspace to various locations throughout our Universe or even to other Universes. Is a similar mechanism or process used by Randolph Carter in “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” to travel within and out of our Space-Time?

tawil_at_u_mr_by_noldofinve-d6s1mbn  Umr at-Tawil by Noldofinve

As previous mentioned, Umr at-Tawil uses some type of sphere to generate an alien rhythmic sound or light.  Carter has a hard time describing it as a sound or light but either way, it’s based on the generation of wavelengths at specific frequencies through a medium. Was Umr at-Tawil using alien, unknown knowledge on String Theory to harness the natural forces of reality? Is this how Carter could travel outside of Space-Time?

At the conclusion of Chapter III, Umr at-Tawil asks Carter if he wants to continue, to go beyond the Ultimate Gate. Carter says yes and the Ancient One opens the Gate for him to enter. As Umr at-Tawil does this he states, “The man of Truth had ridden to All-Is-One. The man of Truth has learnt that Illusion is the only reality, and that substance is an impostor.” This may be an alien interpretation of String Theory. With his Silver Key in hand, Carter leaves the three-dimensional reality and flows through the Ultimate Gate.

Next time we will discuss some of the experiences Carter has beyond the Ultimate Gate in Chapter IV. Thank you – Fred.

Through the Gates of the Silver Key: Chapter III, from Metaphysics to the Multiverse

Once Randolph Carter used the silver key to go back in time he disappeared from our Space-Time. In previous articles, I hypothesized what happened to him as his disappearance was documented in H.P. Lovecraft’s tale “The Silver Key.” While the Carter we know looped back in time to once again be the young boy, the “other” Carter that would have continued in our Space-Time may have “fractured” into another universe. However, in the subsequent tale, “Through the Gates of the Silver Key,” written by Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price we get an unprecedented view of his experiences after he used the silver key.

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Chapter III continues the tale with the mysterious individual Swami Chandraputra explaining to the others what happened to Randolph Carter. Once he used the silver key, Carter lost all sense of motion and time – “Imperceptibly, such things as age and location ceased to have any significance whatever.” Additionally, “Now there was no distinction between boy and man.” Based on these statements, Carter was in a realm where linear time did not exist – he felt as if he was an extension of consciousness tunneling through time and not just experiencing time from one moment to the next. One top of that he had no spatial reference, having “…only a flux of impressions not so much visual as cerebral amidst which the entity that was Randolph Carter experienced perceptions or registrations of all that his mind revolved on, yet without any clean consciousness of the way in which he received them.”

Later Swami Chandraputra states that Carter unlocked the gate “…one leading from earth and time to that extension of earth which is outside of time, and form which in turn, the Ultimate Gate lead fearsomely and perilously to the Last Void which is outside all earths, all universes, and all matter.” The last, bold part of this statement may provide evidence for Lovecraft predicting the theory of the multiverse. Essentially, the multiverse theory is the idea that there is a set of infinite or finite universes that make up the entirety of space, time, matter and energy.

multiverse-1-1024x1004 The concept of the multiverse as conceived by physicists.

The term “multiverse” was first coined in 1895 by American philosopher and psychologist William James. In his essay “Is Life Worth Living?” James wrote “Truly, all we know of good and duty proceeds from nature…[which] is all plasticity and indifference – a moral multiverse, as one might call it.” – from www.philosophynow.org/issue/89/The_Multiverse_Conundrum. While there is no reference to William James in any of Lovecraft’s stories, he makes a passing reference to this philosopher in a discussion of philosophy in the United States in Collected Essays, Volume 2: Literary Criticism, H.P. Lovecraft – edited by S.T. Joshi (2004).

james                                                                                                                              William James, the person who coined the term “multiverse.”

While Lovecraft never used the term multiverse, he has used the word “universes” throughout many of this stories including “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” (see above). Thus, while Lovecraft may not have been familiar with William James word multiverse, he used the term “universes” in the following tales:

The Transition of Juan Romero

The Call of Cthulhu

The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath

The Colour Out of Space

The Whisperer in Darkness

At the Mountains of Madness

The Shadow Out of Time

The Challenge from Beyond (a round-robin tale)

And his poem “The Poe-et’s Nightmare”

While in Lovecraft’s time the word multiverse was coined by James and used in a more philosophic or moral context, physicists have used to term in their scientific studies of cosmological forces, quantum mechanics and the Big Bang. Thus, the term multiverse is one that originally had a more metaphysical meaning until the latter half of the 20th century when theoretical mathematics, particle physics and deep-space astronomical observations merged in the subsequent development of hypotheses that included the concept of more than one universe. Thus, by pushing the boundaries of known science Lovecraft may have had a small part in moving the idea of the multiverse from metaphysics into the realm of science.

multiverse-1-100335844-orig                                Multiverse

Randolph Carter states that humanity would have a difficult time understanding the true nature of reality but he had a Guide to help him.  This Guide was an entity on Earth millions of years ago “…when man was undreamed of, and when forgotten shapes moved on a streaming planet building strange cities among whose last, crumbling ruins the earliest mammals were to play.” While this may have been a reference to the Serpent Men of Valusia, more than likely this was a reference to the Elder Thing cities built by the shoggoths. Later, Carter observed earth’s ancient past where “There were cities under the sea, and denizens thereof; and towers in deserts where globes and cylinders and nameless winged entities shot off into space or hurtled down out of space.” Again, this passage appears to be referencing the Elder Things and their cities under the sea as well as their travels to space.

05-elder_thing                                                                                               Elder Thing by Michael Bukowski (www.yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com)

Beyond the history of Earth, Carter makes a few references to the Dreamlands, which he visited as a boy in dreams. Some of these references include galleys sailing up the river Oukranos, the gilded spires of Thran and the jungles of Kled. Thus, at this point Carter’s consciousness was moving from the history of Earth to another universe – the Dreamlands. However, beyond linear time and this adjacent universe, Carter’s “Guide” was about to open another door beyond these realities. Next time we will discuss Carter’s “Guide,” the Ancient One named Umr At-Tawil. Thank you – Fred.

H.P. Lovecraft and Metaphysics

metaphysics_by_mearone Metaphysics by Mearone (www.deivantart.com)

As Kenneth Hite states in Tour De Lovecraft: The Tales (2011), “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” is a trippy, metaphysical tale.”  H.P. Lovecraft references metaphysics in a few of his tales.  For example, in “The Music of Erich Zann” the protagonist states that he is a student of metaphysics at the university (presumably Miskatonic University). In the subsequent story, “The Thing on the Doorstep,” Edward Derby noted that Asenath Waite was taking a special course in mediaeval metaphysics at Miskatonic. But what exactly is metaphysics and why does it seem to be an important component of “Through the Gates of the Silver Key,” written by H.P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price?

asenath_waite_by_marycountsthewalls-dagur7t Asenath Waite by Mary Counts the Walls (www.deviantart.com)

Metaphysics is one of the four main branches of traditional philosophy (Metaphysics:  A Very Short Introduction by Stephen Mumford, 2012), with the other three being ethics, logic and epistemology (the study of knowledge; separating justified belief from opinion). Metaphysics itself is the investigation of the fundamental nature of being and reality. In a sense, metaphysics and science are attempting to accomplish the same goal; obtain an understanding of our reality and the universe. However, their methods of understanding are very different. While science is based on observations of the universe and reality, metaphysics is not concerned about what can be observed, measured or quantified (Mumford, 2012). In a sense, science addresses specific questions and inquiries, while metaphysics take a far more generalized and “grand-holistic” approach. Thus, metaphysics is dealing with issues such as existence, the properties of matter and energy, self and individuality, cause and effect and probabilities but the consideration of such subject matter is not based on the utilization of the scientific method of observations, establishment of hypotheses and testing those hypotheses to develop predictive theory. One could see how a more philosophical approach, rather than purely scientific, would appeal to Lovecraft.

For Lovecraft, the two largest influences on his interesting blend of metaphysical materialism originate from Ernst Haeckel’s The Riddles of the Universe (1900) and Hugh Elliot’s Modern Science and Materialism (1919) (I Am Providences: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft by S.T. Joshi, 2013). While science was an important component of Lovecraft’s tales and writings, metaphysics was probably even more important given it frequently deals with generalities and vast concepts and ideas of the cosmos and reality. However, metaphysics and science are not completely separate disciplines.

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Concepts and ideas can easily move from the realm of metaphysics to science, based on recently collected observational data, which in turn is largely based on advances in technology. Cosmology is a perfect example of this – questions about the size and nature of the universe, does the universe have a beginning and/or end, and the possibility of the multiverse – were largely metaphysical questions throughout most of human history.  However, with Hubble’s observations of galaxies exhibiting a red shift in the early 20th century, the Universe was no longer a static, eternal thing. The fact that all galaxies are moving away from each other and at an accelerated rate, implies that the Universe had a beginning.  Such observations have led to cosmology becoming a sub-discipline of astronomy and no long confined to metaphysics.  Additionally, quantum mechanics and subsequent observations associated with particle physics (having sub-atomic particles slam into each other at very high speeds) began to address questions associated with the nature of matter and put these questions into the realm of quantitative science. In fact, I think H.L. Mencken described metaphysics and its relationship with science the best with the following quote:

“Metaphysics is almost always an attempt to prove the incredible by an appeal to the unintelligible.”

More simply put, physicist Robert W. Wood concluding once in a toast that the difference between physics and metaphysics “… is that the metaphysicist has no laboratory.”

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However, as easily as metaphysics can inspire or drift toward science, it can also easily drift toward more religious or spiritual thought. This, Lovecraft flat-out denied, stating that anthropology of the late 19th century provided enough information as to the origin and evolution of humanity and that religious belief was not required in considering our role in the Cosmos (Joshi, 2013). While spiritual concepts never conflicted with Lovecraft’s metaphysical materialism view of the Cosmos, new scientific concepts, such as Einstein’s theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, did intellectually disturb is cosmological perspective of indifference. However, Lovecraft’s always appeared to come around and integrate these new theories into his philosophical view.

metaphysics_by_kram666-d4i0ntm Metaphysics by Kram666 (www.deivantart.com)

In conclusion, Lovecraft’s cosmic metaphysical philosophy directly shaped and developed his view of indifferentism in the Universe. This perspective certainly comes through in many of his tales, even if it’s not explicitly outlined. In the case of “Through the Gates of the Silver Key,” Lovecraft’s (and Price’s) metaphysical philosophy is on display as these grand concepts of Space-Time smash into the idea of “self” in a perspective that does not consider the scientific method. This is particularly the case as we move into Chapters 3 and 4 of “Through the Gates of the Silver Key.”  I just wanted to provide this background on metaphysics as we move through this tale as I attempt to interpret the presented metaphysical concepts and ideas in a scientific point of view. Thank you – Fred.

Through the Gates of the Silver Key: Discovering What Happened to Randolph Carter

“I will say this – this is some kinda slam-bang story. There’s more wonderful loose ends, trippy metaphysics, and crazy fizzy-pop ideas in this story than in virtually any other Lovecraft tale of like length.” Kenneth Hite from Tour De Lovecraft: The Tales (2011).

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Over a large part of 2017 Lovecraftian Science will focus on the science associated with H.P. Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle of stories and the Dreamlands in general. This will include discussions on the theory of multiverse, the structure and nature of matter, quantum mechanics, the ecology of the various ecosystems of the Dreamlands and other topics.  Thus, “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” written by H.P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price will be the start of these investigations as we move through 2017.  I included Kenneth Hite’s quote above to emphasize the point that “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” is filled with a variety of metaphysical and scientific ideas and concepts.  To delve into these, I will be conducting this analysis on a chapter by chapter basis. This article will cover Chapters 1 and 2 of “Through the Gates of the Silver Key.”

The story begins with four people at the home of Etienne Laurent De Marigny of New Orleans to discuss the estate of Randolph Carter who has been missing for four years.  While the attorney Ernest B. Aspinwall is anxious to declare Carter dead and divide his estate up among his heirs, a strange individual named Swami Chandraputra opposes this action since he claims he knows that Carter is alive and what has happened to him over the last four years. The rest of the tale documents Carter’s adventures.

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Randolph Carter by Andrew Johansen

It should be noted that “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” is sort of a sequel to “The Silver Key,” which we have discussed in previous articles and Chapters 1 and 2 summarize the occurrences in “The Silver Key.” Carter takes the key to back to the wooded hills and into a “strange cave in the forest slope, the dreaded, “snake-den” which country folk shunned…” In the farthermost corner, deep in the cave, Carter approaches a granite wall and pulls the silver key out of his pocket. As a result, present day, adult Carter disappears but young Carter in the past has acquired the ability to predict future events and discoveries.

Initially, these circumstances appeared to result in a “time loop” of Carter forever going back into the past with the aid of the Silver Key only to reach that point when he uses it to again go back in time. However, I hypothesized that the first Carter loops back to give his younger self the Silver Key to alter his own timeline so that he can eventually break out of our Space-Time and “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” supports this hypothesis.  This more quantum view of time is sometime referred to as the “river model,” where our Space-Time is not just one of many Universes but is also one of many Times. Indeed, in “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” a friend and distant cousin of Carter, Mr. Ward Phillips, claims that Carter “…was still alive in another time-dimension and might well return some day.” This “time-dimension” may be a reference to an alternative time-line.

As the individuals were discussing Carter, De Marigny presents the group a strange piece of parchment that was found in Carter’s car on the day of his disappearance. While no one can translate the characters on the parchment, they are similar to characters that have been observed in an old book Harley Warren once had. Remember Warren was the person in “The Statement of Randolph Carter” (another tale of Lovecraft’s previously reviewed) who entered an underground crypt in Florida, encountered some creatures and did not return to the surface. It was hypothesized that this crypt was actually a portal to the Dreamlands that ghouls were using to enter our Space-Time.

the_silver_key_and_dream_parchment_fragment_by_jasonmckittrick-d83xfq0                                                                     The Silver Key and the Dream Parchment Fragment by Jason McKittrick (www.cryptocurium.com)

Thus, to summarize so far, Carter used a key and parchment (which he memorized but left in the car) to leave our Space-Time. The parchment had similar characters used by Warren to enter a place that may have been a portal to our Space-Time by ghouls. Additionally, the “snake-den” portal was near Kingsport, a location also known to have a Universal connection with the Dreamlands Universe. In “The Festival” this known portal or connection may actually be underneath the town itself; is it possible that there are a series of catacombs and grottos underneath Kingsport and the surrounding lands that can be used to leave our Space-Time?

In Chapter 2 of “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” we get more information in what was in the “snake-den” when Carter disappeared from our Space-Time. Turns out the simple snake-den was an unknown, inner grotto with a rock wall shaped like a large pylon. A keystone appeared on the wall and above it was a large, sculptured hand. Carter then used the silver key with some motions and intonations to “…cross the barrier to the untrammeled land of his dreams and the gulfs where all dimensions dissolved in the absolute.”

snakeden_glinda_chen               Is the Snake-Den near Kingsport a portal to another Space-Time? Artwork by Glinda Chen

Finally, recently it has been reported that scientists have actually created time crystals, which are essentially a unique and possibly new form of matter. These crystals have an atomic structure that repeats not just in space but also in time. Essentially, their atomic lattice matrix structure is in perpetual motion without the introduction of an external source of energy. This unique form of matter is not in equilibrium. Thus, these crystals oscillate in their ground state, keeping them in a constant condition of non-equilibrium in the absence of any applied energy. Keep in mind this is fairly new and largely theoretical research; while two teams and generated results, such research needs to be repeated and confirmed by other labs. However, if proven true, the ability to oscillate or repeatedly flip their atomic spin without the application of energy will provide valuable insight into additional applications of quantum mechanics. Are similar forms of non-equilibrium matter needed for inter-dimensional travel to other Space-Times? Is the Silver Key composed of some unique form of non-equilibrium matter, similar to a time crystals? Without examining the key, we may never know.

view-into-ion-trap-apparatus       Physicists plan to create a “time crystal” — a theoretical object that moves in a repeating pattern without using energy — inside a device called an ion trap. Image: Hartmut Häffner (www.wired.com)

Next time we will review Chapter 3 of “Through the Gates of the Silver Key.” Thank you – Fred.