“Lovecraft’s tale [The White Ship] is meant to be interpreted allegorically or symbolically, and as such enunciates several central tenets of his philosophical thought.” – S.T. Joshi (I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft; 2013).
H.P. Lovecraft’s “The White Ship” by Mtlyddon (www.deivantart.com).
Lovecraft’s stories, particularly those of the Dunsanian Cycle, do convey a specific, yet important, component of Lovecraft’s philosophical outlook on the world, the Universe and reality. This has been discussed by both Joshi as well as other authors such as Darrell Schweitzer. I highly recommend his essay “Lovecraft and Lord Dunsany” in Discovering H.P. Lovecraft (edited by Darrell Schweitzer; 1995). However, here we focus on possible scientific interpretations of Lovecraft’s tales within the confines of our known sciences. In the case of his Dunsanian Cycle of stories, discussions of the Multiverse are warranted, specifically when considering the Dreamlands.
As initially discussed in the previous article “Supporting Evidence of M-Theory on the Nature of the Multiverse in Lovecraft’s “The Statement of Randolph Carter,”” the Dreamlands may be a Universe adjacent to ours, which may provide evidence for the M-theory. That is, matter and energy are composed for strings vibrating in 11 dimensions (of which we can perceive – our Space-Time). Three of the four fundamental forces of nature (electromagnetism, strong nuclear and weak nuclear) are open loop strings that that have their ends bound to one brane (our Universe). However, gravity, or the particles of gravity called gravitons, are closed loops strings and so they can freely exist and move from one brane to another (Dark matter, Dark Energy, Dark Gravity: Enabling a Universe that Supports Intelligent Life by Stephen Perrenod; 2013). This, essentially, is M-theory – it integrates string theory with the multi-dimensional structure of reality (hyperspace). The key to M-theory is that it demonstrates that sub-atomic particles are confined to our brane but gravity, being a distortion of hyperspace, can flow between and among the Universes (Einstein’s Cosmos: How Albert Einstein’s Vision Transformed Our Understanding of Space and Time by Michio Kaku; 2004).
A model of M-Theory and string Theory – are the Dreamlands another Brane (Universe)? (www.abss.uoregon.edu)
So what does all of this have to do with Lovecraft’s “The White Ship?” I hypothesize that most if not all of Lovecraft’s Dreamland stories are expeditions or at least a documentation of an adjacent brane (Universe) in the existing Multiverse. Specifically, the Dreamlands is an adjacent brane to ours with very small modifications to the nature of its elementary strings, which results in slight variations in the operation of its four fundamental forces. Such variations need to be extremely small since substantial diversions result in the absence of matter as we know it or mass or the universal coalescence of some type of proto-matter. In the case of the Dreamlands, the modifications are extremely slight relative to our Universe to allow for the creation of matter and the evolution of life but they are still different enough to result in some variation in their Space-Time and the operation of the four fundamental forces. Lovecraft’s “The White Ship,” written in late 1919, documents one person’s travel from our brane to the Dreamlands brane and how it impacted his life. It is one of Lovecraft’s first of a series of tales about the Dreamlands brane.
The White Ship by Alvaro Nebot (www.blewzenart.blogspot.com)
In the tale the lighthouse keeper Basil Elton tells about a white ship that always comes out of the south when the moon is full and high, whether the ocean and winds are rough or calm. The ship always moves smooth and silent over the waters, whatever state they are in, with its sails full and its oars moving rhythmically. This here may be indicative of the white ship not be a part of our Space-Time. Regardless of the weather, the white ship always had the same appearance, coming in smoothly and silently.
Once night the old, bearded captain of the White Ship asks Basil to accompany him on his journeys and Basil accepts. Basil walks over the waters on a “bridge of moonbeams” and onto the ship. This bridge of moonbeams may have been composed of some type of luminescent material to guide Basil to the ship. However, if the bridge was truly composed of “moonbeams,” the light it is composed of may originate from the Dreamlands and have inherently different properties than light in our Universe.
Standard Model for Particle Physics showing the bosons and fermions (from http://www.phys.org; Image credit: AAAS).
In our brane (Universe), light is composed of photons, which are massless particles called bosons and are force carriers (for light this is the electromagnetic force); this is in contrast to fermions, which are particles that have mass. In our Universe it is the massless property of photons that allows them to spread over large distances without restrictions associated with energy conservation and allows the electromagnetic (EM) force to exert its influence over a long range (Particle Physics: A Very Short Introduction by Frank Close; 2004). However, this is in our Universe. In another brane, such as the Dreamlands, the fundamental forces of nature may behave very differently. In this case, if the photon has an extremely small mass, even if it were a fraction of mass of an electron, this would limit the potential influence of the EM force in the Dreamlands relative to other forces of nature such as gravity. The coalescence of nebula into stars would be a slower process relative to our Universe and stars in the Dreamland would generally burn dimmer relative to ours. This could also have profound influence on Time within the Dreamlands so the rate of time passing would be different in the Dreamlands relative to our Universe (a little more on this later).
Walking over to the White Ship on a bridge of moonbeams by Cheesecake Weasel (www.deviantart.com)
Getting back to the bridge of moonbeams, if indeed photons had some amount of mass in the Dreamlands, then maybe it is possible to walk on light in that Universe, the way we walk on a bridge built with matter adhering to the EM forces at work. Obviously, a great degree of research and exploration of the Dreamlands would be required to confirm this hypothesis of light with mass. More than likely the bridge was some type of generated repulsive field using EM or nuclear forces and possibly giving off light as a by-product.
Next time we will discuss Basil Elton’s journey into the Dreamlands on the White Ship. Thank you – Fred.