The Haunter’s Three-Lobed Eye

While we are moving onto Robert Bloch’s “The Shadow in the Steeple” to conclude the Haunter Trilogy, I did want to spend a little time discussing the Haunter’s three-lobed eye. Just before Blake’s encounter with the Haunter at the end of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Haunter of the Dark,” he was furiously writing notes in his journal, which would end up being his last recorded entries. The very last statement in Blake’s journal was:

“I see it – coming here – hell-wind – titan blur – black wing – Yog Sothoth save me – the three-lobed burning eye…”

the_haunter_of_the_dark_by_marcsimonetti The Haunter of the Dark by Marc Simonetti

We know that the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (EM-spectrum) weakens or neutralizes the Haunter but does not necessarily destroy it. Yet Blake specifically mentions it’s three-lobed burning eye. Assuming this “eye” is used as some sort of organ for perception, it more than likely does not see it the visible portion of the EM-spectrum as we do.

Electromagnetic waves are produced by a vibrating electric charge and so consist of both an electric and a magnetic component. Electromagnetic waves exist with an enormous range of frequencies. This continuous range of frequencies is known as the EM-spectrum. The entire range of the spectrum is often broken into specific regions. The subdividing of the entire spectrum into smaller spectra is done mostly on the basis of how each region of electromagnetic waves interacts with matter. The diagram below depicts the electromagnetic spectrum and its various regions. The longer wavelength, lower frequency regions are located on the far left of the spectrum and the shorter wavelength, higher frequency regions are on the far right (www.physicsclassroom.com).

wavelength_figure_www-science-edu-larc-nasa-gov                                                              The EM-spectrum (www.science-edu.larc.nasa.gov)

As mentioned in the past article, the EM spectrum can be divided into non-ionizing and ionizing radiation, where non-ionizing radiation does not have enough energy to ionize (remove an electron) atoms or molecules. This type of radiation is only strong enough to excite the election to a higher state and not remove it. From higher to lower frequencies, non-ionizing radiation includes light, infrared, microwaves, radio wave and extremely low frequency waves.

The portion of the EM-spectrum that is visible to us, known as light, consists of a spectrum of wavelengths that range from approximately 700 nanometers (abbreviated nm) to approximately 400 nm. Wavelengths larger than 700 nm move into infrared radiation (IR), while wavelength shorter than 400 nm move into ultraviolet radiation (UV).

the_haunter_of_the_dark___nyarlathotep_by_herrtevik-d6wgtjw The Haunter of the Dark, Nyarlathotep by Herrtevik (S. Tent) (www.deivantart.com)

Any star, including our sun, is essentially a gigantic sphere of gas, or better defined as plasma (a gas but with an electrical charged – an ionized gas).  Our sun generates energy in its core via a type of nuclear reaction known as nuclear fusion. Basically, the tremendous heat and pressure at the heart of the Sun causes the nuclei of several hydrogen atoms to fuse together to form helium atoms. When this happens, a relatively small portion (less than 1%) of the mass of the atoms is converted into energy.  The nuclear actions within the sun generate EM-radiation across most of the EM-spectrum, generating high energy photons (packets of light or EM-radiation called photons). By the time these photons reach the surface of the sun and travel into space they become lower in energy so the Sun does not produce and eminent the highest energy EM-radiation like gamma rays. However, the Sun does produce X-rays, UV, light, IR and radio waves.

emfromsun Relative amounts of EM radiation from our Sun (www.windows2universe.org)

Since the peak of our Sun’s energy output is in the portion of visible light within the EM-spectrum (www.windows2universe.org), the largest amount of EM-radiation that reaches the Earth is visible light. Thus, it is not surprising that life on Earth evolved to “see” light waves. However, not all life on Earth can see the same portion of the EM-spectrum. For example, bees can’t see red wavelengths but can “see” UV light, which is another form of EM-wavelengths that the Sun generates in fairly high levels of irradiance.

4eyes-1050x478

The “hotter” a star is, the more bluish-white it be while the “cooler” a star is, the more it will appear red. For example, something like a brown dwarf, which is a dim, cool object too massive to be a planet but not massive enough to be a star, emits more IR than visible light. In contrast, a white dwarf is a hot, dying star that has burned up all of the hydrogen in its core and emits mostly UV-radiation.  Thus, a more exotic or “alien” star, or possibly a star in another Universe where the Universal Laws and slightly different, may generate varying portions of EM-radiation relative to our Sun. Another example are pulsars, which are a type of neutron star – a star near the end of its life, which generate large amounts of gamma radiation.

Thus, getting back to the Haunter and its three-lobed eye, this organ may be adapted to “see” other portions of the EM-spectrum. One hypothesis is that if visible light functions as ionizing radiation to the Haunter then maybe it can “see” IR or even radio waves (does it come from a Universe where most of the stars are similar to brown dwarfs?). An alternative hypothesis is that each lobe functions to “see” a specific portion of the EM-spectrum or have slightly varying functions as do the cone and rod cells in our eyes (cone cells are used for color vision and work best in bright light, while rod cells are more effective in lower light levels).

three_lobed_burning_eye_by_pickmans_model The Three-Lobed Burning Eye by Pickmans Model

Still, since the Haunter is more than likely not a resident of our Universe, the three-lobed eye may not be used in the same manner as our eyes are. Lovecraft understood that they may be other means of perception beyond our known five senses, a concept based largely on his reading of Hugh Samuel Roger Elliot’s Modern Science and Materialism. Elliot claimed that our Universe would be perceived by us very differently if we had more than five senses; imagine what reality would look like if we could “see” the entire EM-spectrum. We frequently convert EM data of celestial bodies into color so we can see them. For example, Jupiter generates huge amounts of natural radio waves that are easily picked up on simple antennas and short-wave receivers (www.spacetoday.org). Shown below is what Jupiter “looks like” through radio waves. But does the Haunter’s three-lobed eye allow it to see other things beyond our EM-spectrum?  Can it “see” dark matter or dark energy? Can it “see” antimatter or the cosmic background radiation? Or is it see something else, something From Beyond?

jupiterradioimage13cm                                                                                             A radio image of Jupiter (www.spacetoday.org)

Next time we will definitely discuss Robert Bloch’s “The Shadow in the Steeple.” Thank you – Fred.

hofthed_rachelm5_dev The Haunter of the Dark by Rachelm5 (wwwdeviantart.com)

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2 thoughts on “The Haunter’s Three-Lobed Eye

  1. As usual, an entertaining, thought-provoking piece. Just one bit of minutia: Blake’s quote from the end of HPL’s story should read “titan blur”, not “blue.”

    1. Hey Gene – thank you for the correction. I just changed it in the article. You are correct! The the word “blue” was on my Kindle version of the story but in the Arkham House edition it is “blur.” Thanks again! Fred.

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