Tag Archives: The Call of Cthulhu

H.P. Lovecraft and Atlantis, Part 2

tdbgzhoafpyztufm4nv3 Sunken Atlantis by Paul Alexander

I would like to start this article with a correction to the first article on H.P. Lovecraft’s thoughts on the legend of Atlantis. In the first article, I stated that Lovecraft cited both Ignatius Donnelly’s account of Atlantis (Atlantis: The Antediluvian World, 1882) as well as W. Scott-Elliot’s Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria (1925) in “The Temple.” This is incorrect. Lovecraft mentioned Donnelly’s book in “The Descendent” and Scott-Elliot’s book was mentioned in “The Call of Cthulhu.” While neither book was cited in “The Temple,” Joshi refers to both of them in his explanatory notes for “The Temple” in the Penguin Classics edition of The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories (2001). I apologize for the error.

In “The Call of Cthulhu” Professor George Gammell Angell, Professor Emeritus of Semitic Languages from Brown University was compiling information on the Cthulhu Cult and among the manuscript papers were some citations from W. Scott-Elliot’s Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria. As mentioned in Leslie S. Klinger’s The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft (2014) Lovecraft had a 1925 combined edition of these books. The Story of Atlantis was first published in 1896, while The Lost Lemuria was first published in 1904.

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It is interesting to note that Atlantis was supposed to represent a high point of human (or related species) civilization. While the destruction of Atlantis is frequently associated with the Atlanteans meddling with science and / or the power the gods, there are a variety of hypotheses attempting to link some real-life catastrophe to the legend of Atlantis. For example, the land of Thera, now known as the Greek island of Santorini, was partly destroyed by a volcanic eruption about 3,600 years ago. The destruction of Thera is thought to be basis for the idea of Atlantis (http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160118-the-atlantis-style-myths-of-sunken-lands-that-are-really-true). However, is the extremely unlikely the Atlantis will actually be directly linked to a real location on Earth.

There have been attempts to link Cthulhu’s sunken City of R’lyeh to Atlantis but as Jason Colavito has stated:

“The imagined “fall” of Cthulhu, however, bears only a superficial resemblance to Atlantis, and even that was intentional. Lovecraft tried to create a (fictional) analogue to Plato’s Atlantis narrative as an answer to the Theosophists and their silly claims about Venusians running occult schools on Lemuria. Plato’s Atlantis sinks because of the Atlanteans’ sins… Cthulhu and R’lyeh sink beneath the waves—just because. Geology happens. There is no moral good or evil implied. It just happened.” – from http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/was-cthulhu-a-king-of-atlantis.  While in “The Strange High House in the Mist” Lovecraft mentions “…how the kings of Atlantis fought with the slippery blasphemies that wriggled out of rift’s in ocean’s floor…” there is no evidence to indicate that these blasphemies were the spawn of Cthulhu.

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R’lyeh Rising by Welsh Pixie (www.deviantart.com)

Coavito’s statement agrees with Joshi’s statement that Lovecraft saw Atlantis as a myth and liked to incorporate it into his tales.  Additionally, and more to the point, Atlantis was supposed to sink somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, while R’lyeh is located somewhere deep in the Pacific Ocean. Thus, even if there was some sort of correlation between R’lyeh and some mythic sunken land it would have a slightly better chance of it being Lemuria.

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In a few of Lovecraft’s revision tales such as “The Last Test” co-written with Adolphe de Castro and “Medusa’s Coil” co-written with Zealia Bishop there are several references to individuals being descended from the primal race of lost Atlantis and how the Atlantean civilization delved into evil and forbidden knowledge. For example, in “The Last Test” Atlantis was apparently a “hotbed” of evil cult activity and it is hoped that “…no one will ever drag up that horror from the deep.” This may be a possible reference to the Atlantean’s attempting to contact the Old Ones from outside of our Universe. There is a reference to this in “Medusa’s Coil” where “…the frightful secret that has come down from the days of Cthulhu and the Elder Ones – the secret that was nearly wiped out when Atlantis sank…”

medusa_s_coil_by_mrsfish-da4hgua Medusa’s Coil by Mrs. Fish (www.deviantart.com)

In the tale “The Mound” written by Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop, the underground civilization discovered by the Spaniard Zamacona was said to occasionally receive visitors from the upper world. According to the individuals who Zamacona met, the last time they encountered someone from the outer world was when “…refugees straggled back from Atlantis and Lemuria aeons before.” If these refugees straggled back from these sunken kingdoms, is it possible that the Atlanteans and Lemurians were of the same decent as those who live under the mound? If this is the case, the various technologies that the mound civilization possess (e.g. dematerialization and dream-projection) may has also been possessed by Atlanteans.

In Lovecraft’s novel At the Mountains of Madness the Elder Thing’s Antarctic Palaeogaean megalopolis was compared to both Atlantis and Lemuria, as well as other ancient civilizations. Additionally, in Out of the Aeons, co-written with Hazel Heald, Lovecraft mentions that cults of the Old One Ghatanothoa were established in Atlantis. Finally, as previously mentioned, the Shining Trapezohedron sunk with Atlantis, only later to be found by a Minoan fisherman in his nets.

64-ghatanothoa                               Ghatanothoa by Michael Bukowski (www.yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com)

In conclusion, it is extremely unlikely the Cthulhu’s R’lyeh and Atlantis were the same place, simply based on the fact that one is located in the Pacific Ocean and the other in the Atlantic Ocean.  Additionally, there is no evidence to support that R’lyeh was Lemuria. However, the people of Atlantis may have been related to the people who live under the Earth as documented in “The Mound.” Also, the Atlanteans may have been attempting to contact the Old Ones or harness their powers in the manipulation of matter, energy, time and space. These attempts of communication (e.g. the Shining Trapezohedron) may have failed miserably and resulted in the downfall of the civilization and the destruction of their Island paradise.

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Next time we will discuss how the concept of what a galaxy is changed over the course of Lovecraft’s lifetime. Thank you – Fred.

Lovecraftian Solar System, Part II: Comets in Lovecraft’s Tales

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Comet of 1811 (www.gutenberg.org)

In his astronomical writings, H.P. Lovecraft cited a number of instances where he observed comets.  For example, the first comet Lovecraft observed was Borelli’s Comet in August 1903.  However, beyond is articles on astronomy, Lovecraft mentions comets a number of times in his tales.  The first time was, appropriately enough, in “The Call of Cthulhu.”

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Cthulhu recombining at the end of “The Call of Cthulhu (for beginning readers) by Dr. Fraustusau (www.deviantart.com)

It was toward the end of the tale after Johansen’s confrontation with Cthulhu itself.  After Johansen intentionally hits Cthulhu with the bowsprit of the vessel the Alert, causing the thing to explode, recombine and sink back down into R’lyeh, he experiences a cloudy consciousness during a subsequent storm.  At that time Johansen had a “…sense of spectral whirling through liquid gulfs of infinity, of dizzying rides through reeling universes on a comets tale, and of hysterical plunges from the pit of the moon and from the moon back again to the pit, all livened by a cachinnating chorus of the distorted, hilarious elder gods and the green, bat-winged mocking imps of Tartarus.”  That’s quite a statement!  However, Lovecraft’s point was that one way of traveling into the unknown void of the universes is on a comet’s tail.  This makes sense since in Lovecraft’s astronomical writings on comets he mentions a class of comets called solitary comets that appear from deep space and return back into the void never to be seen again.  I think this traveling on a comet’s tail is to convey this sense of experiencing something truly strange and unique in our universe, never to be seen by that individual ever again.

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A bat-winged imp from Tartarus by Les Edwards(www.lesedwards.com)

The next time a comet is mentioned is in The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath.  In it Randolph Carter enters an alternative reality or parallel universe through his dreams.  While the “dreamlands” are very similar to Earth in general appearance, there are some substantial differences relative to physical laws.  For example, the dreamlands are a flat world and not a sphere like Earth.  Also, galley ships can travel to the edge of the dreamlands and float to the moon, which can sustain life.  In the tale Carter watches in horror as the ship he is on heads toward the edge of the world ready to plunge into the dark depths of the universe.  However, with a “queer whistle” the ship “shot silent and comet-like into planetary space.”  Here the reference to a comet may represent something unexpected and surprising, as many comets were before they were known what they were.

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Sail to the Moon by Sycen (www.deviantart.com)

Toward the end of The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath comets are once again cited.  Here is was when Carter realizes that his quest for Kadath was his attempt to find the city he always loved and missed, particularly in the days of his youth – Boston.  Here, by the orders of Nyarlathotep a Shantak carries Carter through time, space and outside until, “Matter and light were born anew as space once had known them; and comets, suns and worlds sprang flaming into life, though nothing survived to tell that they had been gone, been and gone, always and always, back to no first beginning.”  This may indicate that Carter was transported to other dimensions, realities or branes, where time has no meaning.  Thus, Carter experiences the beginning and end of those universes.  Once again, comets are specifically cited as a component of universes, familiar or strange, that would be clearly recognizable by humans.  Additionally, this may be an indirect reference to the importance of comets as a means of transporting important organic molecules or water to worlds throughout the universe to provide the “seeds” of life.

In an even more incredible adventure, “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” (co-written with E. Hoffmann Price), Randolph Carter experiences at one point of the tale “phasing” into and out of the bodies of various entities both within and out of our space-time.  At one point, one of these entities was described as “…a vegetable brain of the future on a dark radio-active comet of inconceivable orbit…” Again, the inconceivable orbit expresses the fact that even periodic comets have orbits of such incredibly long distances that they may seem to be solitary in nature, particularly to a culture where the majority of the people are not familiar with the documentation of comets that pass by their world once ever tens or hundreds of years. In addition, the “vegetable brain” may be yet another reference to the fact that comets may have brought the simple organic compounds (or organic life?), the basic building blocks of life, to Earth. Indeed, many scientists hypothesize that radioactive heating within a comet may allow water to exist in a liquid state and thus harbor the organic molecules needed to seed new worlds for the eventual development of prokaryotic life.

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Through the Gates of the Silver Key by Orbituated (www.deviantart.com)

On 13 June 2015 Philae, a robotic lab from Europe that was transported to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the Rosetta probe, woke up and made contact with Earth.  Since then it has contacted Earth two more times and just started to transmit data back to Earth. Eventually the robot will drill into the comet itself and collect samples for analysis.  One of the main goals of this mission is to determine if liquid water can be found inside of the comet along with organic molecules.  The next few weeks to months should provide some tantalizing data on the comet’s role in the origins of our Solar System.  However, it is interesting to note that Randolph Carter’s journey through the Gates of Silver Key may have been the first documentation that comets provide a safe habitat for the molecules of life from the cold vastness of interstellar space through radioactive heating.

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Rosetta mission poster showing the deployment of the Philae lander to comet 67P/Churyumov – Gerasimenko (supplied by ESA/Rosetta/Navcam)

Next time we will discuss meteors and meteorites in the Lovecraftian Solar System.  Thank you – Fred.

The Dunwich Horror and the Relationships Among Shub-Niggurath, Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth

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Yog-Sothoth by Micheal Bukowski (yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com)

As identified the “Genealogy of the Elder Races,” Yog-Sothoth may be thought of as the “grandfather” of Cthulhu.  A “sexual” union or merging between Yog-Sothoth and Shub-Niggurath, produced  Nug and Yeb, who in turn gave rise asexually to Cthulhu and Tsathoggua, respectively.  I feel very awkward using such human or even Terran terms such as grandfather and sexual when describing the relationships among these entities since their biology, and possibly their physical and chemical nature, is very different from ours.  Sexual implies, at least relative to life on Earth, a re-shuffling or recombination of genetic material from mother and father to produce offspring with a slightly different genome; not an exact copy of the mother or an exact copy of the father.  In turn, this increased genetic variation may be better adapted; this is one of the genetic engines that drive natural selection.  However, in the case of Old Ones, such Earth-definitions more than likely do not apply.

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Instead of grandfather, the relationship between Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu maybe better described as Cthulhu being the offspring of Yog-Sothoth on generation away.  The reason for this more nebulous description is the fact that Cthulhu was produced from Nug through a form of undocumented asexual reproduction.  Was this simply a case of Nug getting large enough and splitting into two distinct entities like an amoeba?  Or did Cthulhu “bud” off of Nug in a manner similar to that observed in bryozoans or coral?  Or was Cthulhu a fragment or piece of Nug that broke off to develop on its own, floating in the inter-dimensional foam?  Such growth through fragmentation commonly occurs in many invasive freshwater plants such as Eurasian watermilfoil or hydrilla.   However, none of these terms well represent the relationship between Nug and Cthulhu since all of these forms of asexual reproduction result in clones; the offspring are exact copies of the parent whether we are talking about amoebas, bryozoans or aquatic plants.  Based on what little information we have Cthulhu does not appear to be a clone of Nug.  Thus, our limited experience with Earth-based biology cannot be used to accurately describe this strange relationship.

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Illustrations of bryozoans by Ernst Haeckel (www.wikipedia.org)

So do we know any more about the relationship between Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu?  Yog-Sothoth is not mentioned in “The Call of Cthulhu” but Cthulhu is mentioned in “The Dunwich Horror.”  In “The Dunwich Horror” as Wilbur Whateley is reading the Necronomicon in the library of Miskatonic University, Dr. Henry Armitage looks over Wilbur’s shoulder to see what passage he is reading.  It is this passage where we hear about the Old Ones and that “Yog-Sothoth knows the gate.  Yog-Sothoth is the gate.  Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate.  Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth.”  As mentioned in the previous article this passage indicates that Yog-Sothoth is somehow the source or connection between the Old Ones and our reality.  In addition, it also refers to the fact that the concept of time is very different to Yog-Sothoth.

Getting back to Cthulhu, the passage does briefly mentions other Old Ones including Great Cthulhu who is referred to as a cousin that can only dimly spy them (the other Old Ones) and Shub-Niggurath is also briefly mentioned.  While this passage may seem contradictory relative to the “Genealogy of the Elder Races,” it emphasizes the point that the typical genetic, family-based relationships we are so familiar with in describing many eukaryotic organisms on Earth do not apply to the Old Ones.  These descriptions are only feeble attempts for us to understanding the true nature of the Old Ones.

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Cthulhu by Damnengine (www.deviantart.com)

As mentioned earlier, Earth-based biology is obviously very limited in describing the sexual union between Yog-Sothoth and Shub-Niggurath.  In a previous article I hypothesized that the sexual union between these entities may not be a re-shuffling of genetic material.  Instead, it may represent the birth or creation of matter that is more stable in our existing space-time.  As previously hypothesized, the “Darkness” that directly created Shub-Niggurath maybe a manifestation of Dark Matter, which accounts for approximately 23-27% of the stuff in our Universe.  In turn, “The Nameless Mist” that created Yog-Sothoth may be a manifestation of Dark Energy, which accounts for another 68-73% of the stuff in our Universe.  This means that the matter we are familiar with, all life, all of the Earth, the planets, the sun and stars, the gases of the nebulae, everything are know and understand as matter only accounts for between 4-5% of the stuff in our Universe.

Dark matter and dark energy are not called “dark” because they are distant or invisible; they do not represent black holes or the deep vacuum of space.  They are described as dark simply because they are completely unknown to us (The 4% Universe by Richard Panek, 2011) and how we perceive reality.  Scientists have over the years begrudgingly recognized dark matter and dark energy primarily due to the fact that most information to date point to an expanding universe, which indicates something must have some type of anti-gravity property to overcome the natural gravitation attraction matter, in turn allowing for the expansion of the universe (www.nasa.gov).  Since the matter we are familiar with accounts for such as small portion of the stuff in the universe, some have called our known matter to be just a bit of pollution in our space-time and seem to be completely irrelevant to the cosmos (Richard Panek, 2011).  Yog-Sothoth as the gate and opener of the way may have channeled the alien energy from the Big Bang into the alien matter manifested as Shub-Niggurath.

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Yog-Sothoth by Hvergi (www.comicvine.com)

Thus, the sexual union between Yog-Sothoth and Shub-Niggurath may represent the creation of that 4-5% of known matter from the dark matter and dark energy of the proto-universe.  So Azathoth may have been the Big Bang (more on that later) giving rise to the proto-universe, which in turn cooled and expanded.  This then would have created The Nameless Mist (dark energy) which gave rise to Yog-Sothoth and the Darkness (dark matter) which gave rise to Shub-Niggurath.  In turn, the “sexual” union produced matter as we know it (Nug and Yeb).  Obviously, all of this is highly speculative, with hypotheses that will probably never be tested.  However, if we eventually develop the technology and understanding to actually detect or measure dark energy and dark matter, it may be possible to determine if sentience or a cognizant presence is associated with 95-96% of the universe.

All of the Old Ones appear to be limited in how they can exist in our space-time in a stable, physical form.  This explains their nebulous appearances; as previously described we are not observing their true nature, only a fraction of their forms squeezed into our three spatial and one temporal reality.  However, this does not prevent them from attempting to open the way into our reality.  For Cthulhu the attempted method is to enter the dreams of beings in our space-time to awaken him.  For Shub-Niggurath it is the creation of the Dark Young.  For Yog-Sothoth it is the attempted hybridization with Lavinia Whatley and next time we will discuss the Whateley family.  Thank you – Fred.

yog_sothoth_by_drhoz_davidjrodger.files.wordpress.com

Yog-Sothoth, the Lurker at the Threshold by Dr. Hoz (www.davidjrodger.files.wordpress.com)

The Weakness of the Old Ones

An excellent and entertaining resource on Lovecraft’s stories is the HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast hosted by Chris Lackey and Chad Fifer.  Over the years they have reviewed and analyzed all of HPL’s stories and currently are doing the same for stories that HPL has cited in his essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature.”  I highly recommend the Podcast.

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What is interesting about going through the Podcast episodes of HPL’s stories, particularly since the stories are presented in chronological order, is you can see themes or trends appear throughout his writings.  One of the ideas that periodically comes up and has been noted by Chris and Chad is that in some respects select entities of HPL’s seem to be easily defeated or relatively weak beings.  In this article I will be discussing this idea and presenting a hypothesis to explain it

First, it should be noted that some Lovecraftian entities seem to be very hardy if not downright immortal.  The Elder Ones (or Elder Things) were described a number of times as being extremely tough yet flexible.  These beings are known to have the capacity to travel interstellar space, live in the deep waters of the ocean or on dry land, which can include the steaming jungles near the equator or the Arctic / Antarctic regions of the poles.  Additionally, they can be put into some type of stasis or coma and can be revived millions of years later.  The Elder Ones are obviously well adapted to surviving a wide variety of environments and are well known to be residents of our universe.  The same can be said of their creations the shoggoths; well adapted and hearty organisms.

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Elder Ones by bioytic-9000 (www.deviantart.org)

However, in contrast to the Elder Things and shoggoths, other Lovecraftian entities do not appear to be as well adapted to our universe, let alone a Terran environment.  For example, in “The Whisperer in Darkness” the Mi-Go were described by Henry Akeley as being “clumsy in getting about” and having wings that “are not much use for short flights on earth.”  The Mi-Go are not of this Earth or of our universe, which is why they appear as clumsy in our atmosphere and gravity.

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Mi-Go by Michael Bukowski (www.yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com)

In “The Dunwich Horror,” which is a story I have yet to cover on this blog site, Wilbur Whateley was easily killed by a guard dog while he was attempting to steal a copy of the Necronomicon housed at the library at Miskatonic University.  Additionally, after he was killed Wilbur’s body rapidly decomposed so that by the time the medical examiner came to inspect the body nothing was left except a “sticky whitish mass.”  Two things come to mind on this.  First, while powerful from an inter-dimensional perspective, Wilbur was relatively weak in our reality; he was essentially killed by a dog (he obviously was right to be fearful over dogs).  Second, once dead, Wilbur’s hybridized inter-dimensional biomatter quickly dissolved.  This indicates that a considerable amount of energy was required to keep Wilbur’s body stable and intact while he was alive.

Similar to Wilbur, his twin was defeated by Dr. Armitage through an incantation.  According to Armitage, “The thing has gone forever.”  Thus, this large, invisible, inter-dimensional being was simply obliterated by some phrases from the Necronomicon.

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Wilbur Whateley by Michael Bukowski (www.yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com)

Finally, Cthulhu was presented as a god-like being who could influence people over the world through their own dreams.  In spite of Cthulhu’s god-like status compared to us puny humans, he appeared to be easily defeated.  Johansen drove the vessel the Alert head long onto Cthulhu.  The result of this was Cthulhu popped like an “exploding bladder” in an “acrid and blinding green cloud.”  However, while Cthulhu was defeated, it was not destroyed.  Johansen could see Cthulhu recombining in the water.  Thus, Cthulhu still lies deep in R’lyeh in a deep sleep.

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Cthulhu Rising by Spenzer777 (www.deviant.org)

In each of these examples, these apparently powerful, inter-dimensional entities appear to be have difficulty in our reality or can be easily destroyed or defeated.  How can this be?  Essentially I hypothesize that since their beings originate from other dimensions or are inter-dimensional hybrids, their powers are limited in our dimension or reality.  Thus, the inter-dimensional entities in our reality can be thought of as astronauts or deep sea divers.

Astronaut and deep sea diving suits allow humans to explore non-habitable environments such as space and the ocean.  However, the trade-off to exploring these unforgiving, inhospitable environments is limitations in movement and speed due to their specialized suits.  Additionally, we are entirely dependent on an artificial means of breathing.  Thus, we need to expend a high amount of energy to explorer these environments over short periods of time.  From the perspective of a shark or whale humans in the ocean may appear to be powerful beings, yet at the same time we are weak in that we are slow moving and dependent on exteneral forces / energies to keep up alive.  I believe the same can be said about the inter-dimensional Old Ones.
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An astronaut’s suit keeps them alive but limits mobility, and vision; the suit is both power and a limitation for humans (astronaut.com)

In each case, the Mi-Go, Wilbur Whateley and Cthulhu, are inter-dimensional, or semi-inter-dimensional entities probing or exploring our universe and reality.  For the Mi-Go, they may be a stable form of inter-dimensional life that can do quite well in our universe, however, they obviously are not adapted to many of our physical constants such as gravity.  Additionally, as HPL cites in “The Whisperer in Darkness” the Mi-Go are “composed of a form of matter totally alien to our part of space – with electrons having a wholly different vibration-rate.”  Thus, while possibly not residents of our universe, they appear to be moderately comfortable here.  Maybe they can be thought of as explorers (or miners?) with equipment and gear; although in their case their equipment are their biological modifications.

In contrast, Wilbur Whateley and Cthulhu are entities that appear to require an enormous amount of energy to maintain their status in this universe.  Upsetting this stream of energy killed Wilbur and temporarily defeated Cthulhu.  Thus, their respective forms in our reality may be their astronaut or diving suits – Cthulhu may look very different in its own residential universe.  Also, using the astronaut or diving suit analogy, this would explain the apparent weakness of these entities.  If Wilbur and Cthulhu were successful in opening the way from their universe to ours these circumstances would certainly change.

Next time the discussion will focus on Nyarlathotep.  Thank you – Fred.

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Cthulhu 1790 by Fiend Upon My Back (www.deivantart.org)

The Dimensionality of Cthulhu

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Cthulhu at R’lyeh by Steve Maschuck

H.P. Lovecraft has cited a number of times that Cthulhu and its associated spawn are not residents of our space-time as are Elder Ones, shoggoths, the Great Race and humans.  For example, in “The Call of Cthulhu” one of the captured cultists states that the Great Old Ones [referring to Cthulhu and its spawn] are not flesh and blood and that while they have shape, there were not made of matter.

In “At the Mountains of Madness” it is stated that , “…both the Cthulhu spawn and the Mi-Go seem to have been composed of matter more widely different from that which we know than was the substance of the Old Ones [here the term Old Ones is being used to refer to the Elder Things or Elder Ones].  They were able to undergo transformations and reintegrations impossible for their adversaries, and seem therefore to have originally come from even remoter gulfs of the cosmic space.”

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R’lyeh by Jonny Hex (www.deviantart.org)

Based on these citations as well as other references made by HPL, Cthulhu and its spawn are not from our space-time continuum.  This explains how these entities can function beyond the confines of our physical laws, such as its fluid movement and apparent plasma-like structure.  Indeed, further study of Cthulhu and its spawn may provide the evidence needed to support the M-theory.

Based on M-theory, which is actually a network of theories, each component or individual theory describes certain physical phenomenon within a given range of scale.  When these scales overlap, different theories agree.  However, when the scales do not overlap, different theories describe certain phenomenon (e.g. Newtonian mechanics describing the influence of gravity on a planetary scale vs. quantum mechanics describing sub-atomic interactions).   Given this proposed network of theories, M-theory allows for the existence of different universes with different laws of nature (e.g. the charge of the electron, the actual strength of gravity ).  All of this is dependent on how internal space is actually shaped and curled (The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow; 2010).  As shown below, and previously described in the earlier articles on “The Music of Eric Zann”, more than one universe is possible but the one we live in obviously has the highest probability of existing.

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

However, M-theory describes a reality of vibrating strings, point particles, two-dimensional membranes, three-dimensional blobs and other multi-dimensional objects we can not perceive (Hawking and Mlodinow; 2010).  In fact, M-theory allows for many different internal spaces – as many as 10500 different universes, each one with their own particular set of laws of nature.  Is Cthulhu and its spawn from one of these universes?  Did this entity find a means of exuding itself into our universe, bringing with it R’yleh, with some of its native laws of nature seeping into our universe?  This would explain the disorientation and confusion when experiencing Cthulhu and R’lyeh.  If Cthulhu does originate from another universe the question then is how is this accomplished.

Cthulhu and its spawn more than likely do not originate from a higher dimension, but instead from another universe with laws of nature very different from our own.  However, it is possible that they have utilized these higher, yet folded or curled in, dimensions to get to our space-time.  To be able to travel through these higher dimensions to get to another universe would require extremely high amounts of energy.

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Some Ancient Horror by Morriperkele (www.deivantart.org)

Conventional chemical explosives convert only one part out of a billion of matter into energy, in processes that involve the electrons in the outer reaches of atoms.  In contrast, nuclear reactions can release about 1% of the trapped energy from matter.  Antimatter reactions with matter would release a far greater amount of energy.  However, the problem for us is there is no stable amount of antimatter left in our universe.  This means we would need to make antiparticles as a source of antimatter, which is an extremely inefficient process (Antimatter by Frank Close, 2010).  While the utilization of antimatter as a source of energy is not feasible for us in our universe, it may be possible for entities from outside of our space-time continuum, particularly if they have the ability to travel from one universe to another through the higher, unseen dimensions.

In conclusion, the strange biology of Cthulhu may be the result of it being from another universe where the laws of nature are slightly different than ours.  However, the presence of these outside entities in our universe may be the result of their ability to harness and utilize antimatter from another universe as a source of power to create a path through the higher dimensions.  From a theoretical standpoint such inter-dimensional travel to other universes may be feasible but the limitation to this is the amount of energy needed to accomplish this.  While this is a huge obstacle to us, maybe Cthulhu and its spawn can harvest the energy from antimatter and travel to other universes – and one of those universes may be ours.  But such travel to other universes with different physical laws of nature may pose some limitations onto these inter-universal travelers.  It is these potential limitations on entities from outside of our space-time continuum we will be discussing in the next article.  Thank you – Fred.

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Cthulhu Rising by Jason Juta (www.jasonjuta.com)

The Entity Cthulhu

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Original sketch of the Cthulhu sculpture by H. P. Lovecraft

Cthulhu is probably the most well known entity described by H. P. Lovecraft.  I will not spend too much time describing the appearance of Cthulhu.  HPL described it in great detail and even make a sketch of the small sculpture found in the backwaters of Louisiana (see above).  Hundreds if not thousands of artist have drawn, painted or sculptured their interpretation of what Cthulhu looks like.  While a very small sampling of some of this artwork is included here, this article focuses solely on HPL’s text in its discussion of Cthulhu.

Essentially, Cthulhu was presented as a conglomeration of an octopus, human, bat and dragon.  More importantly, the description of the sailors’ experience in their encounter with Cthulhu is more telling than the sculpture, which is a feeble attempt to convey what the entity looks like.  When the aperture to Cthulhu’s tomb is opened, Johansen states “that tenebrousness was indeed a positive quality.”  There are three definitions for the word “tenebrous” and I believe all three apply to this situation.  First, the word can mean to “shut off from the light.”  Indeed, Johansen says that the inner walls of the tomb were in darkness and that when the thing emerged from the tomb it visibly darkened the sun.  Second, the word can mean “hard to understand.” Obviously applicable to the situation.  The size of Cthulhu, its shape and associated sounds and odors make it very difficult to understand.  Additionally, as will be described later, Cthulhu does not even adhere to our known physical laws on Earth, which adds to the difficulty in understanding it.  Third, the word can mean “causing gloom.”  Again, this is very applicable to the sailors’ attitude and perception of Cthulhu, as documented by Johansen.

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Cthulhu (www.dybiz.com)

As has been previously discussed, the City of R’lyeh appeared to be of a confusing, shifting, non-Euclidean nature to human perception.  The same can be said of Cthulhu.  It was difficult to determine what exactly Cthulhu is made of – is it gaseous, solid, liquid or a combination of these states of matter?  Is it made of the same matter we are?  For example, phrases such as “burst forth like smoke from its aeon-long imprisonment”, “flapping membranous wings”, “lumbered slobberingly”, “gelatinous green immensity”, and “…slid greasily into the water…” give Cthulhu a fluid semi-corporeal appearance, shifting through the various states of matter, possibly being a form a plasma.

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Three forms of matter found on Earth (www.fcwa.org)

So what is plasma?  In our everyday life, atoms are stable, each one composed of various combinations of protons and neutrons in the nucleus with a various number of electrons orbiting the nucleus in a quantum haze.  Using water as an example, at room temperature water is liquid but as the temperature declines the water will freeze at zero degrees Celsius.  On the other end of the spectrum, as the temperature increases the water will evaporate becoming water vapor; at or above the boiling point of hundred degree Celsius steam is produced.  These various states of matter arise due to the movement or “agitation” of the water molecules.  Ice forms a lattice structure but as the temperature increases it melts into fluid water and eventually becomes water vapor where the water molecules are highly mobile and moving around with a considerable amount of energy.

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The arrangement of atoms (or water molecules) in the three state of matter on Earth (www.trivedichemistry.org)

However, at non-Earth bound temperatures, say a few thousand degrees, the atoms become so agitated and full of energy that the electrons are no longer bound by the electromagnetic forces between them and the protons in the nucleus and thus break free.  At this point the gas is described as being ionized.  Such conditions occur in the sun; temperatures are so high that both electrons and protons are freely moving and no longer simply bound in the formal atomic state – this strange state of matter is called plasma (Frank Close; Particle Physics: A Very Short Introduction, 2004).  Ironically, while plasma is very rare on Earth, it is the most common state of matter in the universe (Michio Kaku; Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universe, Time Warps and the 10th Dimension, 1994).

Heating the plasma even further can give rise to stranger states of reality, which can include, among other things, the appearance of ten-dimensional superstring symmetry.  Essentially, there is so much energy that the very geometry of space-time will distort and the dimensionality of space-time could actually change (Kaku, 1994).  Again, more on this in an upcoming article.  Bringing it back to Cthulhu – is this entity a “plasma” or “super-plasma” being?  Having such a plasma-like state would explain the difficulty in trying to describe it as solid, liquid or gaseous.  Also, the energy needed to move such a being with such fluidity in both our atmosphere and in the ocean could easily be conducted by a plasma-being.  However, wouldn’t this mean that Cthulhu could only exist within a star where a plasma environment exists?

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Cthulhu by Joel Harlow (www.deviantart.org)

Possibly, but I believe this is where the dimensionality of Cthulhu comes into play.  As previously mentioned the true form of Cthulhu can not be perceived by humans since we do not have the proper senses to do so.  Additionally, if Cthulhu’s true home is in a plasma environment we would not be able to survive entering his true home.  However, maybe Cthulhu uses the vast amounts of energy at its disposal (as a plasma being) to project part of its essense into our reality, guided by the dreamers who function as some type of biological, space-time beacons.

HPL’s attempt to convey what Cthulhu looks like or, more importantly how it is actually experienced and perceived by a human, is the gist of his philosophy of Cosmic Horror.  The sculptures and artwork of Cthulhu are what is conveyed to dreamers as to the entity’s appearance but the true reality of experiencing Cthulhu is far more complicated and difficult to interpret and hence describe.  This complexity associated with direct contact with Cthulhu may be at least partially attributed to the distortion or warping of space-time and dimensionality around Cthulhu.

Next time we will go into a little more detail  on the dimensionality of Cthulhu and why many of HPL’s biological discoveries from outside our space-time appear weak or easily defeated in our reality.  Thank you – Fred.

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Awakening of Cthulhu by Obrotowy (www.deviantart.org)

A Tale of Two Lovecraftian Cities

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R’lyeh by the artist Mr. Loach.

H.P. Lovecraft used the term non-Euclidean in a few of his stories including  “The Call of Cthulhu” and “Dreams in the Witch House.”  In specific reference to “The Call of Cthulhu” the term non-Euclidean geometry is used to describe Cthulhu’s sunken City of R’lyeh.  However, the term non-Euclidean was not used to describe the great cities of the Elder Ones in “At the Mountains of Madness.”  This article compares these two alien cities to one another and discusses the non-Euclidean nature of R’lyeh.

I have already discussed what Euclidean and non-Euclidean means in a pervious article but for the sake of this discussion these terms will be briefly reviewed.  Simply put the term Euclidean refers to 2-dimenional (squares, triangles and circles on a plane) and 3-dimenional (cubes, pyramids and spheres in space) realities.  Human architecture is almost entirely based on Euclidean geometry (see below).

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Euclidean three-dimensional space (from http://www.wikipedia.org)

While human architecture may be heavily Euclidean, other components of our lives are dependent on non-Euclidean geometry, such as the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology due to the curvature of the Earth (see below).  In addition, much of nature is non-Euclidean in design.

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A comparison between Euclidean and non-Euclidean (elliptic and hyperbolic) Geometries (www.blendspace.com)

From a Lovecraftian perspective this may seem a little disappointing, however, shown below is an example of non-Euclidean architecture.  Such designs can be a little disorienting but as will be discussed in more detail below, based on HPL’s text I hypothesize that the non-Euclidean description of R’lyeh is only a partial attempt to understand the truly alien aspect of the city.  However, before we discuss R’lyeh in more detail, I want to briefly review the Elder Ones cities in “At the Mountains of Madness.”

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 A truly non-Euclidean view of R’lyeh (www.jennytso.com)

HouseinAbiko_RenovationsofNationalExhibitionCentre6 House in Abiko, from Renovations of the National Exhibition Centre – an example another variety of non-Euclidean architecture.

The cites of the Elder Things in “At the Mountains of Madness” were truly strange and alien, being described as “…curious regularities of the higher mountain skyline – regularities like clinging fragments of perfect cubes…” and “…no architecture known to man or to human imagination, with vast aggregations of night-black masonry embodying monstrous perversions of geometrical laws and attaining the most grotesque extremes of sinister bizarrerie.”  Other terms used to describe the alien Elder Ones cities included truncated cones, tall cylindrical shafts bulbously enlarged and often capped with tiers of thinnish scalloped discs. multitudinous rectangular slabs or circular plates of five-pointed stars, cones and pyramids either alone or on top of other cubes or cylinders some of which were flatted on the top, and needle-like spires in clusters of five.

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At the Mountains of Madness by Stephan Mcleroy (www.stephenmcleroy.com)

While the descriptions of the Elder Ones cites are indeed alien, they are primarily Euclidean in nature (e.g. cubes, cylinders, etc.) but with some small inclusion of non-Euclidean architecture.  More importantly, they did not give the impression of a geometry being “all wrong” as Wilcox described R’lyeh in his dreams or the dream-place geometry, extra-dimensional impression Johansen had when he landed on the island.

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R’lyeh by the great artist John Coulthart (www.johncoulthart.com)

R’lyeh appears to be more “alien” to us relationship to the cities of the Elder Ones, which corresponds with our biological relationship between the Elder Ones and Cthulhu (including its spawn).  Essentially, HPL was very explicit in stating that the Elder Ones, while being very alien, were still made of the same matter we are; we are residents of the same universe.  In contrast, Cthulhu and its spawn are well known to be extra-dimensional entities.  They are not of this universe and are not composed of the same matter we are.  Thus, their manifestations into our reality is more than likely not their “true” form – simply an interpretation of their appearance in a three dimensional / one time universe.  Sort of the way you can draw a representation of a cubic on a sheet of paper.  It is an interpretation of a three dimensional object on a two dimensional plane.

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This is a drawing of a cube, interpreting what a 3-dimenional object looks like on a 2-dimensional plane.

Since Cthulhu and its spawn are extra-dimensional, their architecture is more than likely extra-dimensional as well.  This would explain why the geometry of the R’lyeh just does not feel “right” to humans.  Being creatures of 3 dimensions and 1-time scale, our senses and previous experiences are making an attempt to perceive Cthulhu and R’lyeh.  Sometimes our senses clearly get this extra-dimensionality wrong such as when Parker was swallowed up by an angle of masonry that was acute but behaved as if it were obtuse as documented in the end of “The Call of Cthulhu.”

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R’lyeh by Pal Carrick

To conclude, while the cities in Antarctica are clearly alien, they were built by the Elder Ones, creatures of our universe and reality.  In contrast, R’lyeh seems more alien and “wrong” since it is only a representative manifestation of what it looks like in our reality.  Thus, our perception of what is looks like is very different than what is actually looks like in its own multi-dimensional reality.  In fact, since we are limited to 3 dimensions and 1 time we can never know what this multi-dimensional city truly looks like.  This goes for its extra-dimensional denizens, which includes Cthulhu and its spawn.  However, if we could somehow alter, expand and/or increase our senses, maybe we could then see the true form of both Cthulhu and R’lyeh.

Next time we will expand on the concepts of extra-dimensionality, with specific discussions on Cthulhu itself.  Thank you – Fred.

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R’lyeh by Decepticoin (www.deviantart.com)

The Call of Cthulhu – The Louisiana Bayou Connection

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The large, white, polypous thing in a Louisiana lake, worshipped by Cthulhu cultists (from Mr. W.H. Pugmire’s site http://www.lovecraftianhorror.blogspot.com)

As previously cited, “The Call of Cthulhu” is very similar in many ways to the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  One way this is the case is how a sub-set of humanity is being affected through visions, thoughts or dreams; another is the overall global view or perspective both stories take.  This article will focus on one of these global scenes in “The Call of Cthulhu” and occurs in the Louisiana swamplands.

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Black Bayou Lake (photo from louisianasportsman.com)

In the second part of “The Call of Cthulhu”, titled The Tale of Inspector Legrasse, an occurrence of cultist activities was described deep in the Louisiana swamplands  The cultists were people who were influenced, primarily through dreams, by the entity Cthulhu.  Inspector Legrasse and his men came across the cultists in the deep swamp, while they were worshipping a small idol of Cthulhu made of stone that did not originate from Earth.

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Cthulhu cultists in the swamplands of Louisiana (artwork by the great artist  John Coulthart)

Legrasse and his men stopped the ritual and either killed or captured the cultists.  However, an intriguing component of this tale is the fact that the nearby residents avoid this part of the swamp in general due to stories about “a huge, formless white  polypous thing with luminous eyes; and squatters whispered that bat-winged devils flew up out of caverns in inner earth to worship it at midnight”

After the whispered tales of the creatures, older than “the wholesome beasts and birds of the woods,” one of Legrasse’s men said that as they secretly approached the cultists he heard the fain beating of great wings and caught a glimpse of shinning eyes and a large, white bulk beyond the trees.

What exactly are these things?  They are never mentioned in “The Call of Cthulhu” after Legrasse’s account and they are never mentioned by HPL again.  It is said that the thing in the lake makes men dream and so most people stay away from the area.  If the thing is making men dream and the cultists in the area are worshipping an idol of Cthulhu there must be some connection.    If the thing in the lake makes men dream maybe it does so to open mental channels of communication between those with sensitive minds and Cthulhu.  Maybe there is an entire “net” of these things throughout the lakes, rivers, lagoons and seas of the Earth, collecting and channeling these dreams to Cthulhu.

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White Polypous Thing (art by Michael Bukowski; http://www.yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com)

What of the bat-winged devils?  When the cultists are captured and interrogated they say the “Black Winged Ones” were responsible for the deaths of the missing people whose bodies were found at the ritual.  So what is the role of the bat-winged devils?  There may be some type of symbiotic or even parasitic relationship between the white polypous thing and these winged creatures.

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Bat-Winged Devil (art by Michael Bukowski; http://www.yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com)

Perhaps the Winged Ones kill and provide food for the thing in the lake.  In turn, the thing can generate the electromagnetic waves to stimulate dreaming in more sensitive individuals, which allows them to be open to dream communication with Cthulhu.  What the Winged Ones get out of this is possibly the “scraps” left by the white polyous thing after its done feeing.  Or, maybe the Winged Ones actually feed off of the dreams or dream communication.  Unfortunately, the specific inter-relationship between the Winged Ones and the thing in the lake is only speculation that requires further study to develop any specific hypothesis.

Another point to consider is the individual in Legrasse’s party who heard the beating of wings and saw a large white thing moving among the trees.  It sounds like the ritual being conducted in the swamp was attracting these creatures to the site.  Was the thing from the lake going to feed on the corpses of the victims so it had more energy to force humans to dream so they were open to communication with Cthulhu who lies deep in the Pacific Ocean?  Possibly.  However, something else to consider is would the white polypous thing and the Winged Ones have fed on the cultists after they were done with the corpses?  Maybe the white polypous thing feeds on the corpses but the Winged Ones feed  on live prey.  If that is the case, this would at least partially explain the strange inter-relationship between the winged-devils and the thing in the lake.

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The White Polypous Thing moving through the Louisiana bayou (by Chris Schweizer)

Next time we will discuss R’lyeh itself, drawing from some previous articles.  Thank you – Fred.

 

The Call of Cthulhu – Perchance to Dream

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Bas-relief of Cthulhu by Jason McKittrick (deviantart.org)

How would two completely alien civilizations communicate if they have never had any pervious contact?  Frequently mathematics is one of the more common answers.  This makes sense since mathematics is a form of deductive reasoning, which is arriving at a conclusion based on a set of facts.  In mathematics this means that a conclusion can be reached thorough a series of   steps that give rise to a “proof.”  The net result is that the conclusions arrived at in mathematics is the same everywhere in the known universe.

In the Steven Spielberg film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) a combination of musical tones and hand signs were used to communicate with an alien civilization.  Music can be understood in the language of mathematics so using music as a form of communication makes sense.  However, this assumes that both species can process and understand sound waves in a somewhat similar manner.

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Commination with extraterrestrial life through musical tones in the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

On a side note, in some ways, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is very similar to “The Call of Cthulhu.”  In both stories, a sub-set of the global population is experiencing something beyond our normal daily lives.  In the case of HPL’s story the experience is primarily through dreams with some small sets of humanity actually worshipping this “other.”  In the case of Close Encounters of the Third Kind the experiences are more complex – visions, artist inspirations, experiences involving lights or music from the sky and even abductions.  In both cases, these experiences impact a sub-set of the global population and are leading to a specific event, at a specific location and time, which involves direct contact with something completely alien.  The outcomes are obviously different but idea of using a non-language based means to communicate resonates in both stories.

Back to the subject at hand, what if two distinctly species did not even have a means of communicating such basic concepts such as 1 + 1 = 2 or the difference between a high and low pitch?  What if the two species did not just evolve on separate planets but what if they evolved in separate corners of the universe, in separate dimensions or even in separate universes?  How do they communicate?  Possibly the easiest means of overcoming these barriers is to communicate through a basic process or action conducted by all members of a particular species.  For humanity, such day-to-day actions involve perceiving and interacting with the world around us with our five senses and include rudimentary processes such as breathing, eating, drinking, mating, physical movement and sleep.  Of these basic evolutionary actions sleep has a possible mode communication and that is through dreams.

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Henry Anthony Wilcox describing one of his disturbing dreams in the 2005 film The Call of Cthulhu (The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society)

The science associated with dreams is in its infancy, yet some major strives have been made in recent years.  Within the last decade, scientists have been making progress on actually photographing and videotaping dreams with MRI machines.  For the first time in 2011 scientists have used MRI and EEG sensors to actually measure dream content and may even one day make direct contact with a dreaming person (The Future of the Mind:  The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance and Empower the Mind by Michio Kaku, 2014).  Imagine if we could have recorded  Henry Anthony Wilcox’s dreams while he was being contacted by Cthulhu.

Additional research into dreams have revealed that they are important for the health of humans as well as many other animals.  On average we spend 5 to 20 minutes a night dreaming and about 6 years dreaming over a lifetime.  Dreams are universal across race, cultures, civilizations and religions.  People dream essentially the same things – personal experiences from the pervious day or week are frequently incorporated into our dreams. The dream state appears to function as a means of digesting or processing “new” information in the brain’s neural network; organizing memories in a more coherent and orderly way and consolidating useful information (Kaku, 2014).  More than likely Cthulhu takes advantage of this neural network in contacting the human race as well as others.

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A view of the neural network in the human brain (www.willamette.edu)

While we are awake EEG scans indicate that the brain is emitting a steady stream of electromagnetic waves. However, the frequency of the EEG signals changes as we fall asleep. When we dream, waves of electrical energy move from the brain stem and surge up into the cortical areas of the brain, particularly the visual cortex. This is one of the reasons why visual images are an important part of dream. In turn, the senses of smell, taste and touch are largely shut down (Kaku, 2014).

The hippocampus is active when we dream, suggesting that dreams draw on memories. Dreams are directly linked to high levels of emotion, often involving fear. Other sections of the brain – those that involve fact-checking, spatial awareness / coordination and logic – are shut down. Thus, emotional levels are up and rational control is reduced (Kaku, 2014).  Thus, the predominance of visual stimulation over the other senses, coupled with the high levels of emotion, primarily fear, and low capacity for rational thought, at least partially explains our reactions to Cthulhu.  Since Cthulhu communicates through dreams, we respond in our dream-like state.
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Cthulhu Idol by Jason McKittrick (www.deviantart.org) 

As has been identified by both S.T. Joshi (The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, 1999) and Leslie S. Klinger (The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, 2014), the name” Cthulhu” itself is a feeble attempt for human vocal cords and language to pronounce the actual name of the entity.  As HPL himself states “the word is suppose to represent a fumbling human attempt to catch the phonetics of an absolutely non-human word.”  Thus, if we do not even have the physiology and anatomical organs to properly commutate with Cthulhu, direct communication through dreams – where sights and shapes can be processed into  images that we can somewhat understand – makes sense.  Of course the “baggage” associated with this innovative means of communication, results in an interpretation of this incoming information with a high level of fear and low level of rational thought.  From an evolutionary response this makes complete sense!

Next time we will talk about the entities associated with Cthulhu but reside within the wooded swamplands of southern New Orleans.  Thank you – Fred.

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Dead Cthulhu Waits Dreaming by Greg Stevens (www.deivantart.org)

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.