Tag Archives: From Beyond

Lovecraftian Scientists: Hugh S.R. Elliot, the mentor of Crawford Tillinghast

resonator_done The Resonator by Steve Maschuck

In tales like “From Beyond” Lovecraft tried to convey that how we see and experience our world and universe is only a small portion of the true nature of reality. In the tale Crawford Tillinghast explains that are perception of reality is limited by our five senses and that even the senses we have are severely limited in their capacity. The best example of this is sight. Humans can “see” only a small portion of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum, which is a continuum of EM waves of varying energy arranged according to frequency and wavelength. More energetic waves have shorter wavelengths but higher frequencies. The EM spectrum ranges from 100 meters (radio waves) to 1 x 10-12 meters (gamma rays). Out of this huge EM continuum humans can only see wavelengths between infrared and ultraviolet, which is the visible light portion of the spectrum, varying in wavelength between 4.00 x 10-7 meters and 7.00 x 10-7 meters (400 – 700 nanometers).


From Beyond by Michael Lyddon

From an Earth-based perspective, it makes sense that humans, in fact most Earth organisms, can see primarily within the visible light portion of the EM spectrum, since the majority of the sun’s rays that reach the surface of the Earth are primarily composed of light rays. However, there are some variations to this. For example, while bees cannot see the color red, they can see ultraviolet light (UV-light). However, imagine if we could see not only UV-light but the entire EM spectrum! This idea of opening up our senses to all of reality is what Lovecraft was conveying in “From Beyond.”

4Eyes_www.beeculture.com www.beeculture.com

The idea of expanding the limits of our existing senses or having more than simply our known five was something that certainly stimulated Lovecraft’s imagination when he read Hugh Samuel Roger Elliot’s book Modern Science and Materialism (published in 1919). In S.T. Joshi’s essay “The Sources for “The Beyond,”” found in his book Primal Sources: Essays on H.P. Lovecraft (Hippocampus Press, 2015), he compares a number of Crawford Tillinghast’s quotes to passages found Elliot’s book. For example, Tillinghast’s discussions on how we have only five senses and how they limit our ability to perceive reality from a holistic perceptive, are very similar to some detailed passages found in Elliot’s book. There are also discussions, both in “From Beyond” and Elliot’s book, on how a large portion of an atom is composed of empty space as well as how human sight is limited to the light waves of the EM spectrum and how typically we cannot see UV-light. So, who was this mentor of Crawford Tillinghast’s?


Hugh Samuel Roger Elliot, better known as Hugh S.R. Elliot, was a writer of science and well known for his favorable view of scientific materialism and his criticism of metaphysical speculation. Elliot established three main principles of scientific materialism that included:

The Uniformity of Law – the sequence of cause and effect is constant throughout the universe.

The Denial of Teleology – the denial that the cosmos as a whole is progressing in some direction from a religious, metaphysical perspective.

The Denial of Any Form of Existence that cannot be described in terms of matter and motion – this denial states that under the laws of physics and chemistry every type of existence can be described.

As S.T. Joshi has cited, mechanistic materialism was originally described under Pre-Socrates, Greek philosophy (S.T. Joshi’s I Am Providences: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft, 2013). However, Elliot developed a modern view of mechanistic materialism, from an early 20th century perspective, through his three principles. In spite of this mechanistic view of having the potential to understand how everything in the universe operates, Elliot freely admitted that our limited capacity for detecting everything in our reality with our five senses severely limits our ability to truly understanding the universe.

tillinghast_hutchinson1860 Crawford Tillinghast by D. Hutchinson

This 20th century view of mechanistic materialism is at the heart of Lovecraft’s philosophical cosmic view as well as the development of many of the cosmic horrors in his tales. The Mi-Go and Cthulhu are beings from “outside” of our known reality, so many of the physical and chemical rules of our universe do not apply to them. Thus, by being outside of our universe these beings have a supernatural aspect to them. However, Lovecraft’s scientific, materialistic view states that these beings are not supernatural. Instead, it’s just that we don’t understand (and maybe we never will) the rules of those other universes that have different sets of physical and chemical rules. Relative to “From Beyond,” by generating specific fields of waves, Tillinghast is awakening dormant sense organs (e.g. the pineal gland) that can sense or perceive things that exist but we cannot detect with our operating senses. The result is a scientific effort to describe something that would otherwise be described as supernatural. Thus, in a sense, Hugh S.R. Elliot was the mentor of Crawford Tillinghast, establishing the principles that Tillinghast needed to bend to see into the Beyond.


Lovecraft has utilized the three principles of Hugh S.R. Elliot ‘s mechanistic materialism in other stories and we will be covering one of these in the next article. Specifically, we will be looking at one of Lovecraft’s most celebrated and notorious scientists – Dr. Herbert West. Thank you – Fred.

Lovecraftian Scientists: The Mad Genius of Crawford Tillinghast

Crawford Tillinghast one of the most notorious scientist in Lovecraft’s tales. In addition, Tillinghast is one of the most easily identified relative to science fiction or weird fiction in general. Tillinghast is the “mad genius” scientist. While Tillinghast may not be first of this character type to appear in weird fiction, he is certainly one of the first relative to application of “modern,” early 20th century science and the attitudes the general public had toward science.


First, is it very easy to compare Tillinghast to Frankenstein, however, I would caution one to understand that this comparison is more appropriate for Dr. Frankenstein in the 1931 Universal movie rather than Mary Shelly’s novel. In Shelly’s novel Frankenstein is more of a metaphysical scientist, whose creation of a man is a broader line mix of alchemy and science. In addition, Frankenstein in the novel is more of a narrative of someone who abandons their responsibilities associated with their creation. Like many of the literary metaphysical scientists, Frankenstein worked in isolation to produce his creation.  I read Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein for the first time last February and I highly recommend it!


In contrast to the novel, Dr. Henry Frankenstein in the 1931 film is a medical scientist who wanted to create life from dead tissue and body parts. Here the mad genius trope is exemplified, particular when his creation comes to life. Dr. Frankenstein shouts, “In the name of God, now I know what it feels like to be God!” While initially extremely pleased with the success of his experiments, Dr. Frankenstein largely abandons his responsibilities for his creation, very similar to Frankenstein in the novel, when compilations arise. In contrast to the Frankensteins, Tillinghast takes full responsibility for his creation and discovery. For the sake of ease when I mention Dr. Frankenstein, this is in reference to the movie version of the character.


Crawford Tillinghast displays three of the most common tropes we associate with this type of literary scientist.  First, he is a “mad genius” who is so intelligent that he thinks “outside the box.” He or she puts together concepts or ideas that look ridiculous or unfruitful to the rest of the scientific community. Second, they work mostly in isolation since their ideas are thought of as so unconventional. Both Tillinghast and the Frankensteins display this trope and this is commonly exhibited in many science fiction movies such as The Fly (both the original and the Cronenberg remake) and in Ex Machina. Third, there is the thought of “getting revenge” against those within the scientific community who disagreed with him or her. This revenge can be as simple and disproving the scientific community or it can be as extreme and killing those who disagreed with him or she by using their creation as the murder weapon. Tillinghast displays this to an extreme degree.

In “From Beyond” Tillinghast invites his friend to his home after the creation of his “electrical machine.” Ten weeks earlier the protagonist disagreed, even protested, Tillinghast’s scientific ideas, which sent Tillinghast into a fanatical rage. Tillinghast throws one of his few friends out of the house. Clearly, right at the beginning of the story we understand that while a genius, Tillinghast is mental unstable.


From Beyond 01 – Crawford Tillinghast by Iposterbot (www.deviantart.com)

Early in the tale the protagonist states, “That Crawford Tillinghast should ever have studied science and philosophy was a mistake. These things should be left to the frigid and impersonal investigator for they offer two equally tragic alternatives to the man of feeling and action; despair, if he fails in his quest, and terrors unutterable and unimaginable if he succeed.” While any scientist needs to be objective and impersonal in developing their hypotheses and in the design and execution of experiments, all scientists (at least the ones I know) have a passion for what they do. All scientists have a common interest and passion for wanting to understand and know more about our world and universe. Additionally, within the realm of pure science (the type of science that Lovecraft was more interested in) an experiment that disproves an established hypothesis is not considered a failure; it still provides useful information that can be used to better understand our reality and help further develop the existing hypothesis or generate new ones. Thus, while Tillinghast is clearly mentally unstable, I think the protagonist has a very melodramatic attitude about individuals who pursue scientist investigations.

Toward the end of the tale when Tillinghast turns on the electrical device, we realize his ultimate goal is to use the protagonist’s scientific curiosity against him to ensure is death. Essentially, the “thing” that is coming once the device is on will destroy a person if they see it. Tillinghast states that he “…almost saw them, but I knew how to stop.” He asks the protagonist if he curious to see the approaching thing and even taunts him as a professional. “You are curious? I always knew you were no scientist.” In this situation Tillinghast wants to kill one of his few friends because as he states, “You tried to stop me; you discouraged men when I needed every drop of encouragement I could get; you were afraid of the cosmic truth, you damned coward, but now I’ve got you!”


Again, Tillinghast exhibit the three tropes we find so common in the mad scientist cliché. First, extremely intelligent but mentally unhinged to some degree, resulting in unconventional ideas and concepts. Second, working in seclusion, in an almost hermit-like existence; such pursuits tend to be more associated with metaphysical investigations instead of scientific. Science, particularly since the turn of the last century, is a very community-based endeavors. Papers and studies are critically reviewed by peers and experiments are repeated by other to confirm the resulting findings. Third, there is a need or desire for revenge against those who either did not encourage their research or wronged them in some capacity. This formula for the mad scientist would be repeated countless times in both literature and film. However, in Lovecraft’s “From Beyond,” Crawford Tillinghast may be one of the earliest examples of this, as least within the development of modern science in the early 20th century.


The Electrical Device in “From Beyond” by Steve Maschuck

Next time we will discuss Hugh Samuel Roger Elliot, the science writer who Lovecraft drew from for many of the concepts expressed in “From Beyond.”  Thank you – Fred.

Is the Shambler from the Stars another form of inter-dimensional plankton?

the_shambler_from_the_stars_by_leselwyn                     The mystic from Providence in “The Shambler from the Stars” by Leselwyn (www.deviantart.com)

Robert Bloch’s “The Shambler from the Stars” is the first of a trilogy of stories written by Bloch, Lovecraft and then Bloch again. Over the next month we will discuss the science associated with these three stories, starting with Bloch’s “The Shambler from the Stars.” In this tale the protagonist takes a book, the De Vermis Mysteriis – translated to be Mysteries of the Worm – written by Ludvig Prinn, to a friend in Providence, Rhode Island. While not explicitly stated, his friend “a mystic dreamer in New England” is supposed to be H.P. Lovecraft. While the friend is reading the book out loud, an entity appears and kills him by essentially draining all of his blood. When the entity first appears it is completely invisible to human eyes.

ludwigprinn_gregponychuk Ludvig Prinn by Greg P. Onychuk

Our perception of vision originates from light, which is a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, hitting an object, being reflected off its surface and entering our eye.  The reason why most plants look green is that the photosynthetic pigment chlorophyll absorbs the reds and blues and reflects the greens, which then enter our eye. However, if light is not absorbed or reflected an object may be invisible.  In nature near-invisibility can be achieved by allowing light to pass through an organism. Examples include moon jellies (see below). Their nearly invisible, more transparent, appearance makes it difficult for predators, which may include tunas, sharks, swordfish, sea turtles and other jellies, to see the moon jellies.  The transparent appearance of the jellies probably makes it easier for them to also capture zooplankton for food since these micro-animals are fairly light sensitive.

moonjelly A moon jelly

jellyfish_richardmodlin-com                                                                                       Moon jellies floating in the oceanic plankton; note how difficult they are to see (www.richardmodlin.com)

Similar to the moon jelly, the freshwater, predatory zooplankter Chaoborus (also known as the glassworm or the phantom midge) is almost transparent, making it difficult for fish to visually find and feed on them, as well as making it difficult for smaller zooplankton to evading this predator. Both of these planktonic examples show that being nearly invisible has an ecological advantage in both avoiding being captured and consumed by predators as well as being able to capture unsuspecting prey. Given this ecological value to near invisibility, more than likely these values also apply to the invisible entity the protagonist’s friend calls up by reading aloud from the De Vermis Mysteriis. While not given a specific name in the tale, there are references in Prinn’s tome of “invisible companions” and “Star-sent servants,” the entity is frequently referred to as a “star vampire.”

chaoborus_8687333746_6cca39451c                                               Freshwater predatory zooplankter Chaoborus, also known as the phantom midge.

In “The Shambler from the Stars” it is suggested a number of times that the summoned star vampire is from distance space. However, I propose the hypothesis that the star vampire is similar to the entities experienced in the tale “From Beyond” when the resonator is turned on. After the mystic from Providence was done reciting the passage the protagonist states that they hear thundering tones that seem to original from far away and yet was burning in his brain.  The room went cold with a sudden wind that shrieked through the house. These conditions are similar to what is experienced when the resonator is activated. Thus, the star vampire may be another planktonic denizen floating in the inter-dimensional plankton, where it cannot perceive us and we cannot perceive it. As we know, when the resonator is activated the inter-dimensional barriers are lowered and perception is achieved. Is it possible that some of the passages in the De Vermis Mysteriis lower these same inter-dimensional barriers? Perhaps the mystic from Providence did not summon the star vampire but instead lowered the barriers to allow a star vampire to see in our Space-Time.

star_vampire_by_clone_artist Star Vampire by Clone Artist (www.deviantart.com)

Unlike the inter-dimensional plankton in “From Beyond,” the star vampire remained invisible even when the inter-dimensional barriers were lowered. However, once it begins to feed it unfortunately becomes very visible. Thus, next time we will discuss the feeding habits of the star vampire and make additional comparisons between it and moon jellies. Thank you – Fred.

The Insects From Shaggai: Part 1, Alien Matter


Insect From Shaggai (from http://www.bookoffallens.blogspot.com)

In a previous article a hypothesis was suggested that the 9th planet that may exist beyond Neptune and Yuggoth (Pluto) may be Shaggai. This word “Shaggai” was mentioned only twice by Lovecraft and both occur in “The Haunter of the Dark.” The first mention of Shaggai was as a title of one of Robert Blake’s best-known short stories. The second mention was at the end of the story when one of the statements in Blake’s journal, found after his death states, “I remember Yuggoth, and more distant Shaggai, and the ultimate void of the black planets…” This statement was made by Blake after he gazed into the strange shining trapezohedron and  may provide the evidence that indeed Shaggai is the 9th planet beyond Neptune. Unfortunately, these are the only two references Lovecraft makes regarding Shaggai.

Fortunately, additional documentation has been made on Shaggai and its original inhabitants by Mr. Ramsey Campbell. Thus, almost all of the material reviewed in this article is derived from the tale “The Insects from Shaggai,” which is in a collection of stories called The Inhabitant of the Lake & Other Unwelcome Tenants. However, it should be noted that one of the entries in Lovecraft’s Commonplace Book has the suggestion that…”Insects or other entities from space attack and penetrate a man’s head and cause him to remember alien and exotic things – possible displacement of personality.” Is it possible that Mr. Campbell was influenced by the Insects themselves? More on that below.


Based on his curiosity on some local legends about Goatswood, which is located in Severn Valley, England, a fantasy writer named Ronald Shea visits these woods. Initially Shea encounters a strange, tree-like creature, metallic grey in color with a gaping orifice at the top of the main trunk. The creature scares Shea so much that he runs blindly deeper into the woods and comes across a ”thirty-foot-high metal cone which towered” in a clearing. The strange cone only reflected light because it was covered with moisture. It was constructed of “a dull mineral, pitted and scarred from unimaginable stresses.” The surface of the cone was illustrated with alien reliefs that depicted at least five distinct alien species, the dominant one appearing to be a creature that looked like some type of Terran insect. It is later revealed that the metallic grey tree-like creature is one of the other four species, used by the Insects as slave labor.

DSC_0040While this cone made of glass was constructed by humans, the metal cone used by the Insects From Shaggai is probably similar in shape with an opening at the top and circular trapdoors toward the bottom.

A circular trapdoor opened on the cone and a number of these alien insects – The Insects from Shaggai – emerged. These creatures were larger than terrestrial insects with leathery wings that were ridged and covered with triangular scales. They had huge lidless eyes, jointed tendrils which twisted “from the head in cosmic rhythms” and ten legs covered with shiny black tentacles that folded into the pallid underbody. Most peculiar were the three mouths on its head.

Based on Campbell’s text, one of the Insects swooped down and actually pressed its flat face against Shea’s for a brief moment and was then gone. The other insects left Shea alone after this encounter. The disappearance of the insect and the subsequent visions and historical information that seemed to appear in Shea’s mind indicates that there may have been either a merging of alien insect / human minds or the insect “downloaded” a large part of its history into Shea’s mind. In Shea’s testimony he states that the insects were not “strictly material – constructed of some alien matter which allow its atoms to exist conterminously with those of my body.” This description is similar to those made about the Mi-Go, being made of different matter than us. However, we do not know if the Mi-Go and the Insects from Shaggai are from the same universe and thus operating under the same natural laws.

mi-go1Both the Mi-Go and the Insects From Shaggai are made of different matter than us, but are the Mi-Go and Insects both made of the same alien matter? This Mi-Go is an illustration done by Steve Maschuck.

Even more similar than the Mi-Go, the Insects may be more closely related to the entities that are experienced in Lovecraft’s story “From Beyond.” In that tale, a device is turned on that allows us to see / perceive things that we normally can’t see. These creatures move and float around and through us. Additionally, within the field generated by the device we can see these creatures and they can see us. In previous articles it has been hypothesized that the device generates an inter-dimensional field that allow parallel universes to occupy the same space-time. Thus, if each universe is layered on one another like slices in a loaf of bread, recalling the M-brane theory on the structure of reality, the device in “From Beyond” (some refer to the device as a resonator) may create an inter-dimensional tunnel that allows more than one universe to perceive each other in the same space-time. Thus, the Insects of Shaggai may be residents of another universe but their metallic cone temples may also serve to generate the field similar to the resonator, allowing them to co-occupy our space time. Indeed, there are several times in the story where the cone structure is said to have the ability to create a multi-dimensional gate or portal.

resonator_doneDoes the metallic cone the Insects From Shaggai travel and live in generate an energy field similar to that of the resonator in “From Beyond?” This may explain how the Insect and human minds merged in the tale. Shown above is the resonator turned on, illustrated by Steve Maschuck.

If this is the case, why did the Insect who merged with Shea disappear? It is hypothesized that unlike the inter-dimensional plankton in “From Beyond” the Insects cannot simply drift through us. Similar to the Mi-Go the Insects of Shaggai are made of different matter than we are and Lovecraft suggests the difference is largely based on differences in the vibrational rate of electrons or other leptons (leptons are particles that are subject to the weak nuclear force which include electrons, muons and neutrinos). The vibrational rates of the sub-atomic particles for the inter-dimensional plankton may be so radically different from ours that we can pass through one another. However, if this vibrational rate (electron-based or dependent on other particles) between the Insects and us is only slightly off, then this may allow for a merging of consciousness but not for the two bodies to occupy the same space at the same time. The result was one of the bodies was disappeared. On a side note, it is interesting to note that Lovecraft may have presented some of the first concepts of String Theory with his description of the nature of the Mi-Go.

LargeHadronCollider_CERN_Large Hadron Collider (CERN). The merging of the minds from two universes may be analogous to the smashing sub-atomic particles into atoms or each other.

While the Insect disappeared, it does not appear to have been destroyed or transported to another universe. More than likely that particular Insect was still around in Goatswood; while not explicit the story does give one that impression. The merging may have been similar to smashing atoms with high energy particles in a large particle accelerator. As the alien form of matter in our space-time the Insect was immediately thrown away from the space-time that Shea occupied. This may have been so instantaneous that he did not observe it happening. The Insect from Shaggai may have acquired this form of mind merging either intentionally through directed, artificial selection or through natural evolutionary adaption on their home world / universe. However, the Insect used this ability to download a huge amount of its species history into Shea’s mind and that historical account is the topic of conservation in the next article. Thank you – Fred.


A sketch of an Insect From Shaggai


Journal of Lovecraftian Science, Volume 1

Hey everyone – well we are giving the Kickstarter another go! This time we are offering both digital and print versions of the Journal of Lovecraftian Science, Volume 1 plus a shorter tome on the biology of the Elder Things! If you are interested, please check out the Kickstarter at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1081353216/journal-of-lovecraftian-science-volume-1.


A view of the Resonator turned on by Steve Maschuck

The next article to be posted will be a discussion on what was known about radioactivity in the early 20th century when HPL wrote “The Colour Out of Space.”  Thank you – Fred.

Lovecraft’s Use of Evolution, Part 1 the Early Tales

Combination of human evolution and the future food chain for the planet (from Lovecraft eZine; http://www.alanbao.tumblr.com)

Evolution is frequently an important factor in many of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories.  At times he display’s astonishing insight into the mechanisms of evolution, at least how it was understood at the time.  In other instances his use of evolution is not close to being a reasonably accurate interpretation of this biological process.  However, the misuse of evolution in fiction is extremely common and even today the basic concept and operation of evolution through natural selection is misunderstood.

Some of these points I have discussed in a previous article (The Mismeasure of Lovecraft – the “scientific” origins of his racism) so I will not dwell on them too long.  First, simply put, evolution is change over time.  In addition, the terms “primitive” and “advanced” should only be used within the context of time and not for interrelationships among organisms.  While we may think we humans are more “advanced” than jellyfish, a jellyfish living today is just as “advanced” as a human living today.  However, a jellyfish of today is more advanced than a jellyfish living 100 million years ago.  While they may look exactly alike, genetically, the jellyfish living 100 million years ago is more primitive than a jellyfish living today.  What we can say is that humans are a more complex organism with more differentiated cells relative to jellyfish.

A fossilized jellyfish and a living jellyfish.  While morphologically they look very similar, genetically they were probably very different, making the fossilized one “primitive” and the living one “advanced.”  For more details on the genetics of both forms and how the Cambrian environment gave rise to more complex organisms please see the article by  John Timmer, Misperceptions meet state of the art in evolution research at http://www.arstechnica.com.

Another important point to make is that unlike Haeckel’s idea of the Tree of Life, moving ever upward with humans as the pinnacle of evolution, Darwin did not see the progression of evolution as one moving onward and upward to “better” organisms.  Thus, just because humans are on top now does not mean that they will be in the distinct future.  For example, dinosaurs were on Earth for approximately 160 million years (Dinosaurs: A Very Short Introduction by David Norman, 2005), while Homo sapiens have been around for under a million years.  This is why Darwin drew his “tree of life” more like a shrub.  HPL had a fairly good understating of this, particularly in his later stories where he talked about humanity eventually being replaced as the dominant organism on Earth by a race of beetles.  In this case the future of Earth is not a super-intelligent form of humanity colonizing the stars.  Instead it is the extinction of one life form and replaced by another, just like the mammals expanded in dominance after the dinosaurs when extinct, most likely due to a meteor that hit the Earth approximately 65 million years ago.

A member of the beetle race by King Ovrats (www.deviantart.com)

In many of HPL’s earlier works the concern was one’s own genetics coming back to “haunt” ones’ self. In “The Rats in the Walls” once de la Poer realizes his ancestors were a strange tribe of cannibalistic creatures, he becomes one himself.  In “From Beyond” all of humanity has a dormant organ, the pineal gland; when exposed to a particular type of radiation this gland triggers a series of mutations, switching some genes on and some genes off, in a spectacular form of human metamorphosis.  In HPL’s juvenile story “The Beast in the Cave” a strange blind creature living in Mammoth Cave turns out to be a man. In each of these cases, among others not mentioned (e.g. “The Lurking Fear” – to be discussed at a later date) the genetic variation within in the individual is large enough to produce substantial alterations from what we perceive as human, triggered by a particular set of environmental or other external forces.

In “Pickman’s Model” or more appropriately cited in “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” Richard Upton Pickman reverts or becomes a ghoul. Such instances may be thought of as evolution, however, natural selection does not occur within the individual. Evolution occurs over generations of breeding populations with an inherent amount of genetic variability that is occasionally impacted through mutations. Thus, does Pickman “evolve” into a ghoul? No, the potential of being a ghoul was already in his genetic “catalog” and it took a specific external stimulus or factor to bring it to the surface. In these early stories that is the horror conveyed by HPL. No matter whom you are, your status in life or where you live, you cannot run away from your genetic destiny.

Something called “Modeling for Mr. Pickman” found in an article “Our Ghouls Are Creepier” on tvtropes.org

The previous photograph of a fossilized and living jellyfish was obtained from an article, Misperceptions meet state of the art in evolution research, written by John Timmer (www.arstechnica.com, February 2008).  In that article it mentions studies that have identified genes responsible for the development of complex, bilateral animals in organisms that are not complex, bilateral animals such as Cnidarians (which includes jellyfish).  In other words the genes for a bilateral body plan predates the bilateral animals themselves!  Thus, it was only when specific environmental changes  occurred in the Cambrian that opportunities arose for these genes to be selectively advantageous and be manifested in the phenotype (appearance) of the organisms.

Are similar genetic changes triggered when the pineal gland is exposed to the resonator or when humans convort with ghouls?  Possibly, but such changes can not be thought of as Darwinian evolution – at least for now – since it is not known if such traits can be pasted from one generation to the next.  However, if a recessive “ghoul” gene exists, then maybe this is a portion of human evolution that has not be actively explored.

Next time we will discuss how the concepts of both terrestrial and extraterrestrial evolution play an important part in the later tales of HPL.  Thank you – Fred.

The Music of Erich Zann – the Antithesis of From Beyond

The Music of Erich Zann (by Dean Stuart)

In Tour de Lovecraft:  The Tales (Atomic Overmind Press, 2011) Kenneth Hite calls “The Music of Erich Zann” one of Lovecraft’s finest pieces.  It is pure Lovecraftian, not a Poe story, not a Dunsany story, not a Machen story.  The Music of Erich Zann was written in 1921 but “From Beyond” was written 1920 and I would suggest that From Beyond is a pure Lovecraftian story as well.  As I have stated in a previous article, Mr. Hite said that From Beyond was excessively and heavily influenced by Poe but he also states that the story is a key to understanding HPL’s philosophy associated with the Cthulhu mythos (Hite, 2011).

Both tales are short and packed with a considerable amount of information.  However, what is particularly interesting is that in some aspects The Music of Erich Zann is the antithesis of From Beyond.  While From Beyond is about using a machine to generate some type of electro-magnetic field to stimulate the pineal gland and open a two-way door to an overlapping reality, The Music of Erich Zann appears to be about a man using music to keep some type of inter-dimensional door closed.

Discussions on the science behind the tale “From Beyond” have already been presented in previous articles.  However, an updated and more direct interpretation of this story within the context of relativity and quantum mechanics as well as the need to integrate a series of additional dimensions beyond the additional four of space-time is required for this article.  As Michio Kaku has described , the objective of developing a Grand Unified Theory, one that includes electromagnetism, the Strong Force (inside the nucleus of the atom), the Weak Force (the section of the atom outside of the atom), AND gravity requires the consideration of hyperspace and the existence of 10 dimensions (Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Wraps and the 10th Dimension by Michio Kaku, 1994).  I want to make two points in reference to From Beyond and The Music of Erich Zann, relative to Kaku’s book.  The first point concerns modes of operation, the second concerns prevailing theories that may explain the science behind each story (that obviously requires further testing).

In From Beyond the device creates a field that stimulates our pineal gland so that we can see things all around us that we normally can’t see.  Consequently, the generated field also allows those other entities to see us as well.  It appears that the device  is impacting us and the entities and not space-time itself.  Sound waves operate by creating vibrations or resonances in the air.  These vibrations hit a membrane (or in our case our ear drum) and in turn are converted into electrical signals that are sent to our brain and interpreted as sounds and information (Kaku, 1994).  The device in From Beyond appears to create some unique vibrations that must stimulate membranes of some sort in our pineal gland, which in turn allows us to perceive things that are not normally observed.  Unfortunately, the device has the same impact on the entities that live all around use and they can also see us.

The device (known as the Resonator in the movie) in the tale From Beyond.

In the case of Erich Zann we have something every different happening.  There is a weakened barrier (possibly a membrane?) in space-time that Zann is keeping closed with his music.  Unlike From Beyond where Tillinghast gives some partial explanation of how his machine operates, Zann writes the explanation down on some paper only to have them be blown away into the interstellar / inter-dimensional winds.  However, based on what we know something was trying to get into our reality and Zann appears to be preventing this from occurring with his music.  This leads us to the second point associated with this article; the theory behind these stories.

The Music of Erich Zann (from unfilmable.blogspot.com)

The strange, semi-corporal entities we encounter in From Beyond appear to be part of our reality or space-time.  They are there and always have been there, its just that we cannot normally see them.  This is similar to the concepts of hyperspace, which also goes by the name Kaluza-Klein theory or superstring theory, which requires six more spatial dimensions beyond our usual four in space-time (Kaku, 1994).  Thus, in From Beyond it appears that the device opens these higher (or lower depending on your point of view) dimensions allowing all entities to see what is in the other dimensions.

In sharp contrast to From Beyond, in The Music of Erich Zann, I believe we are dealing with a parallel Universe putting into ours.  As shown in the figure below, Stephen Hawking’s Wave Function of the Universe is looking at the birth of the Universe from a quantum perspective so that there are an infinite number of all possible universes but that we live in the universe that had the highest probability of being stable to support life.  However, has shown below, as our universe formed, there is still a small but non-vanishing probability that some of these neighboring, parallel universes are in existence (Kaku, 1994).  Was Erich Zann preventing one of these parallel universes from spilling into ours?

Demonstration of Hawking’s wave function of the Universe (from universe-review.ca)

Next time we will discuss in more detail how the Music of Erich Zann was keeping a parallel universe at bay.  Thank you – Fred.

Materialism and a Scientific Philosophy in a Lovecraftian Universe

Cosmic Horror (from 2.bp.blogspot.com)

The death of H.P. Lovecraft’s Grandfather Whipple Phillips, along with the loss of the family fortune and the need to move from his birthplace, drove HPL to consider suicide when he was 13 years old.  As S.T. Joshi cites in his extensive biography of HPL I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft (S.T. Joshi, 2013), this was apparently the only time HPL considered suicide.  After riding his bike to the Barrington River and contemplating throwing hims into the weedy-waters, he decided against it.  It was not his remaining family ties, religious beliefs or his desire to be a writer, that prevented him from killing himself.  It was scientific curiosity that prevented H.P. Lovecraft from committing suicide in 1904.

Barrington River, Rhode Island (Wikipedia.org)

HPL admitted in a letter, cited by S.T. Joshi, that it was scientific curiosity and a sense of world drama that prevent him from killing himself. The scientific curiosity is self-explanatory; the word drama appears to refer to both world geography and history. Some of the questions that “baffled” HPL included how sediment stratification eventually leads to granite peaks, exactly what the upcoming Antarctic expeditions would find, when did people stop speaking Latin and start speaking other languages, and what occurred in other parts of the world, other than Britain and France, during the Middle Ages. HPL asked larger questions in this letter such as “What of the vast gulfs of space outside all familiar lands – desert reaches hinted of by Sir John Mandeville & Marco Polo…Tartary, Thibet…What of unknown Africa?” (Joshi, 2013).

So intellectual curiosity, with a large part of this curiosity based on science, was what prevented HPL from  killing himself in the summer of 1904.  This is an important point when reading HPL’s stories and understanding his philosophy of life.  Many people see HPL fearing or detesting science, particularly due to his opening paragraph in “The Call of Cthulhu” that includes the line:

“…but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

Cthulhu rise on R’lyeh (by Ash3ray)

While many of HPL’s stories are cautionary – that delving into forbidden lore will only result in horrible outcomes – he had a love and fascination for science, having a healthy streak of optimistic skepticism that most scientists have.  This love and respect for science always came into view in his stories, where he was known to actually change the text of a story as new scientific information was presented to the public.  I have cited a number of these instances in previous articles.   While HPL had a love for pure science, science for the sake of learning and discovering new things about our planet and the universe, he did have an aversion to new technology and progress and this is where the old gent pined for life in the 18th century.

In terms of HPL’s view of the universe, he had a very mechanistic, materialistic philosophy, which was fundamentally based on the scientific approach.  Many authors, writers and philosophers  impacted HPL throughout his life including Haeckel and Schopenhauer; however, it appears that Hugh Elliot’s (1881-1930) principles of mechanistic materialism, outlined in his book Modern Science and Materialism, lays the groundwater for HPL’s view of the cosmos and reality (S.T. Joshi, 2013).  These of the three principles are briefly reviewed below, relative to HPL.

The first was the uniformity of law, which states that the sequence of cause and effect is constant throughout the universe.  While the emerging science of quantum mechanics appeared to violate this principle, such ideas could still be explained from the perspective of probabilities and stochastic models, in contrast to the simple deterministic models so well developed in previously endeavors, such as the Newtonian physics.  Also, there may be a complete set of laws to the cosmos but it doesn’t mean we understand them or will ever completely understand them.

The second was the denial of teleology, which is the idea that the cosmos is moving in a specific direction under the direction of a deity.  It is obvious from HPL’s stories and writing in general that he certainly denied any teleological view of the cosmos.  HPL thought of the universe as a giant machine operating but with not goal or purpose.  A machine that would eventually run down.

The third principle was the denial of any existence beyond that envisioned by physics and chemistry.  While many religious thinkers agreed wit this – that the soul or spirit can not be quantified –  HPL took this to mean exactly what Elliot was getting at; that there was no non-corporal after-life or existence.  Again, we may not completely understand or even perceive all of the laws of the cosmos; there may be other dimensions and realities; there may be other forms of life and look nothing like us or may not even be considered as biological life under our definitions, but all would be governed by the basic laws of physics and chemistry.

Joshi cites a statement made by Elliot that, “We cannot assumed that the Universe has only five qualities because we have only five senses.  We must assume, on the contrary, that the number of its qualities may be infinite, and that the more senses we had, the more we should discover about it.” (cited in S.T. Joshi’s I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft).  This concept obviously made it way into a number of HPL’s stories such as “From Beyond” and “Beyond the Wall of Sleep.”

Another of HPL’s stories that incorporates such ideas will be discussed in the next article – “The Music of Erich Zann.”  Thank you – Fed.



From Beyond Part 6 – Invasive Species and Ecosystems



Crawford Tillinghast (by iposterbot).  Did the Tillinghast device open the way for inter-dimensional invasive species to make direct physical contact with us?

As an environmental consultant whose focus is lakes, ponds, streams and rivers, a large part of the work I do is to address, manage and eradicate invasive species.  By definition an invasive species is an organism that has negative impacts on the local ecosystem, which typically results in direct economic or health-related impacts to humans.  Most (but not all) invasive species are “exotic”  which is synonymous with terms such as alien, non-indigenous or non-native species (Alien Species in North America and Hawaii: Impacts on Natural Ecosystems; G.W. Cox; 1999).

Most of the invasive species I deal with (zebra mussels, curly-leaved pondweed, Eurasian watermilfoil) are native to other continents (frequently Eurasia).  In their native lands they have competitors, predators and parasites that keep them under control.  However, once invasive species enter a new ecosystem, where they have not evolved with the native competitors, predators and parasites, they can grow unchecked and have devastating ecological and economic impacts.  A similar situation may be occurring when the Tillinghast device is turned on, as well be described in more detail.

One example of an invasive specie that appears to be showing up on a more frequent basis, at least over the last 5 years, is the water chestnut (Trapa natans). Water chestnut is an extremely aggressive plant and can easily out-compete all native aquatic vegetation (see below).

Lake Musconetcong, located in northern New Jersey, covered over by the invasive plant water chestnut (from the lakehopatcongfoundation.org)

This aquatic plant originates from Eurasia and Africa and was first observed in North American near Concord, Massachusetts in 1859.  Recently, this plant has been appearing in more lakes and ponds throughout the Mid-Atlantic States and its impact on the entire lake-ecosystem can be devastating.  The plant can grow from 1 to 100 acres over one growing season, easily taking over a lake, covering its entire surface.  This eliminates light from entering the water, killing all native vegetation and substantially reducing the amount of dissolved oxygen (DO) in the water.  In extreme cases, the lake or pond can be completely depleted of DO and a fish kill can be the result.

Another major nuisance of water chestnut is its seed pod, which has four sharp spikes (see below) that can easily penetrate a sneaker.  Thus, once these seed pods begin washing up on local beaches, the local economic consequences can be significant.

A single plant of water chestnut I first identified in Westtown Lake in May of 2011 (Chester County, PA).  Note the large seed pond with the spikes.  Since then selective harvesting and seasonal hand pulling was used to eradicate this plant (as of 2013)

Another aquatic invasive species that may seem to be more relevant relative to the aggressive creatures that appear once the Tillinghast device is turned on, is the northern snakehead (Channa argus), sometimes nicknamed the “Frankenfish”.   This fish is an extremely aggressive predatory fish that is a native to Asia, where it is a fairly important source of food.  The snakehead is known to decimate entire fish communities through predation.  They will eat anything that will fit in their mouths and can group up to 1.0 to 1.5 meters long (3.3 to 5.0 ft).  In addition, they are obligate air breathers, which allows them to move from one waterbody to another on their own.

The mouth and teeth of a northern snakehead, a very aggressive predatory, freshwater fish that has the potential to wipe out entire fishery communities in North America (photo from fl.biology.usgs.gov)

Similar to water chestnut, the northern snakehead and countless other aquatic and terrestrial creatures, the extra-dimensional creatures that appear once the Tillinghast device is turned on are exotic, invasive species.  In fact, since they already exist within our same space-time, but not in our same dimension, their appearance can be described as an “invasive ecosystem” clashing with our own.  The potential results of these two distinctly different ecosystems, occupying the same space-time, suddenly having physical contact has been described in both HPL’s story and Stuart Gordon’s movie.

An invasive predatory species “From Beyond” preying on the narrator of HPL’s story (iposterbot)

The invasive planktonic species “From Beyond”, which may serve as food for other, larger species (from Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond)

However, even the plankton “From Beyond” can be predaceous on humans (from Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond)

Another inter-dimensional, invasive species “From Beyond” (from Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond)

The instantaneous lining up of two very different inter-dimensional ecosystems can have profound and deleterious impacts on the species who inhabit both.   Thus, while we can not see it from our own dimensional perspective, the realized intersection of our ecosystem into those “From Beyond” is more than likely disrupting their species as much as ours.

The “overlapping” of two distinct inter-dimensional ecosystems, as a result of the waves generated by the Tillinghast device or Resonator, would have devastating impacts on the species of both ecosystems (from Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond).

This article concludes the scientific investigation into HPL’s story From Beyond.  Next time we will be talking about a scientific hoax that HPL briefly referred to in some of this stories – the Piltdown Man.  Thank you – Fred.



From Beyond, Part 5 – The Biology of From Beyond

As previously mentioned, once the Tillinghast device or the Resonator is turned on, portions of our reality unknown to us is revealed.  This includes discovering that our air and space is actually composed of other entities or creatures.  However, once the field is generated with either machine, not only can we see the unknown, but the unknown can see us.  This means that two previously separated biological ecosystems suddenly come into contact.  This article is a discussion on some of the biological entities that are revealed once the Tillinghast device or the Resonator is turned on.

Old Gregory and Mrs. Updike (by iposterbot).  The unpleasant biological result when the Tillinghast device is turned on in the HPL story From Beyond.

Once unknown parts of the Universe are revealed to us, it turns out space is filled with a variety of inter-dimensional beings.  HPL described these creatures as “inky, jellyfish monstrosities which flabbily quivered in harmony with the vibrations from the machine.”  The creatures are also described as floating in the air and feeding off each other.  To me, this sounds very much like plankton.

Plankton is essentially a group of animals, plants, protists and other microorganisms that are free-floating in water.  These organisms spend the majority of their lives floating in the surface waters of lakes and oceans.  Examples on some of these organisms are shown below:

Diversity of marine zooplankton (enfo.agt.bme.hu)

Freshwater phytoplankton (njscuba.net)

I hypothesize that many of the creatures revealed once the machine is turned on would ecologically function as planktonic organisms, floating aimlessly through and among the dimensions.  Once the waves are generated it’s like looking at a drop of pond water through a microscope.  We see all kinds of creatures we never knew existed when we go for a swim.  Trillions of tiny little organisms floating with us in the lake or pond.  Only in the case of the Tillinghast device, they are macroscopic, floating throughout the air and can drift right through our bodies.  More importantly when the machine is on, this extra-dimensional macroplankton are able to see us as we can see them.

Example of some marine macroplankton – jellyfish.  Could some of the strange multi-dimensional creatures revealed by the Tillinghast device look like these creatures? (fishwallpaper.net)

In Stuart Gordon’s movie From Beyond, the Resonator revealed the presence of this multi-dimensional plankton

Like the plankton of the oceans and lakes, the multi-dimensional plankton do not just passively drift with the currents.  There is competition for nutrient and resources and there is predation.  For example, as cited in HPL’s story, “Sometimes they appeared to devour one another, the attacker launching itself at its victim and instantaneously obliterating the latter from site.”  I have seen such violent predator-prey interactions among zooplankton.

In live plankton samples collected from Castle Lake, CA I have seen the predaceous copepod Cyclops speed across the microscopic field and tear into the small-bodied cladoceran Bosmina, which feeds primarily on bacteria and tiny algal cells.  Such quick and violent predation is common in aquatic plankton and apparently it is common in other dimensions as well.

Predaceous copepod Cyclops, which feeds on other, smaller zooplankton (cfb.unh.edu)

Small-bodied cladoceran Bosmina, which is prey for Cyclops (Micropolitan.org)

While this extra-dimensional plankton stew is floating all around us, it is only revealed when the machine is on and the waves are generated.  However, as I previously mentioned, the Tillinghast machine is sort of a two-way microscope, where both the plankton and the human can see each other at the same time.  This “contact” between two inter-dimensional ecosystems can obviously have a profound impact on each.  In the next article, the last focusing on From Beyond, we will discuss the potential interactions between these two inter-dimensional ecosystems.  Thank you – Fred

Some of the creatures “From Beyond” (yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com)