This novella is one of Lovecraft’s most famous works. It is the story of a group of explorers in the Antarctic who discover the existence of an alien race that forged the evolution of humanity. But the real power of this tale is in the symbolism. Lovecraft uses the story as a vehicle for probing into humanity’s collective subconscious.
The mountains themselves are symbolic of the border, or threshold, between the two states of consciousness.
Little by little, however, they rose grimly into the western sky; allowing us to distinguish various bare, bleak, blackish summits, and to catch the curious sense of phantasy which they inspired as seen in the reddish antarctic light against the provocative background of iridescent ice-dust clouds. In the whole spectacle there was a persistent, pervasive hint of stupendous secrecy and potential revelation; as if these stark, nightmare spires marked the pylons of a frightful gateway into forbidden spheres of dream, and complex gulfs of remote time, space, and ultra-dimensionality. I could not help feeling that they were evil things—mountains of madness whose farther slopes looked out over some accursed ultimate abyss. That seething, half-luminous cloud-background held ineffable suggestions of a vague, ethereal beyondness far more than terrestrially spatial; and gave appalling reminders of the utter remoteness, separateness, desolation, and aeon-long death of this untrodden and unfathomed austral world.
Once an individual has crossed the boundary and entered to dark caverns of primordial consciousness, that person begins to lose his or her grasp on what we deem sanity in our state of normal awareness. Our mythology is full of tales warning about this. It is the metaphor of “looking back,” of shining a light on the dark past of human consciousness which should remain buried. Lovecraft alludes to these metaphors as the protagonists desperately attempt to escape the nether-regions and return to the world of sanity and normal consciousness.
So we glanced back—simultaneously, it would appear; though no doubt the incipient motion of one prompted the imitation of the other. As we did so we flashed both torches full strength at the momentarily thinned mist; either from sheer primitive anxiety to see all we could, or in a less primitive but equally unconscious effort to dazzle the entity before we dimmed our light and dodged among the penguins of the labyrinth-centre ahead. Unhappy act! Not Orpheus himself, or Lot’s wife, paid much more dearly for a backward glance. And again came that shocking, wide-ranged piping—“Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!”
Lovecraft concludes his tale with a stark warning: there are some things that should remain buried in the subconscious. That probing too far into the darkened and obscure recesses of the mind is dangerous, both for the individual and for humanity as a collective whole.
It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, that some of earth’s dark, dead corners and unplumbed depths be let alone; lest sleeping abnormalities wake to resurgent life, and blasphemously surviving nightmares squirm and splash out of their black lairs to newer and wider conquests.
If you have not read this story, I highly recommend it. It is well-written, thrilling, and deeply thought-provoking. Thanks for stopping by, and have a great day.
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This is a great short story to read for Halloween. In fact, some of the events in the story take place on Halloween.
That Hallowe’en the hill noises sounded louder than ever, and fire burned on Sentinel Hill as usual; but people paid more attention to the rhythmical screaming of vast flocks of unnaturally belated whippoorwills which seemed to be assembled near the unlighted Whateley farmhouse. After midnight their shrill notes burst into a kind of pandaemoniac cachinnation which filled the countryside, and not until dawn did they finally quiet down.
Essentially, this is a tale about the crossbreeding of a human with a creature from another dimension of existence, the result of which was the birth of something that could no longer be classified as human.
“Inbreeding?” Armitage muttered half-aloud to himself. “Great God, what simpletons! Shew them Arthur Machen’s Great God Pan and they’ll think it a common Dunwich scandal! But what thing—what cursed shapeless influence on or off this three-dimensional earth—was Wilbur Whateley’s father? Born on Candlemas—nine months after May-Eve of 1912, when the talk of queer earth noises reached clear to Arkham—What walked on the mountains that May-Night? What Roodmas fastened itself on the world in half-human flesh and blood?”
When attempting to describe beings or forms of consciousness that exist beyond our realm of reality, one must rely on symbols because the ineffable nature of these manifestations cannot be captured using the limited means of communication with which humans rely. Communication with divine beings are therefore non-verbal by nature. What Lovecraft does in this tale is express the ineffable sounds produced by a being from another dimension, which cannot be comprehended or duplicated by beings in our plane of existence.
Without warning came those deep, cracked, raucous vocal sounds which will never leave the memory of the stricken group who heard them. Not from any human throat were they born, for the organs of man can yield no such acoustic perversions. Rather would one have said they came from the pit itself, had not their source been so unmistakably the altar-stone on the peak. It is almost erroneous to call them sounds at all, since so much of their ghastly, infra-bass timbre spoke to dim seats of consciousness and terror far subtler than the ear; yet one must do so, since their form was indisputably though vaguely that of half-articulated words. They were loud—loud as the rumblings of the thunder above which they echoed—yet did they come from no visible being. And because imagination might suggest a conjectural source in the world of non-visible beings, the huddled crowd at the mountain’s base huddled still closer, and winced as if in expectation of a blow.
I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone, so I will end the post here. I’ll conclude by saying this is a very creepy story which also has some interesting social criticism woven in, as well as occult references to texts and mythologies. But most importantly, it is extremely well-written and can be enjoyed by anyone who likes to curl up with an eerie tale at this time of the year.
After months of patient waiting, issue #4 has finally arrived. It was definitely worth the wait.
The issue is a little bit confusing because it seems to be occurring at two dimensions in time and space simultaneously. In one dimension, Morpheus, the Dream Lord, is entering the City of the Stars with Hope and Cat (Cat being a manifestation of himself). Yet on a seemingly parallel plane, Dream is also meeting with his father, the masculine aspect of the Divine Dyad.
The Dream Lord entreats his father to help him prevent the undoing of all existence. His father is disinclined to assist him. In the end, though, the father concedes that he may be willing to help. The illustrations which accompany the sections relating to Dream’s encounter with his father are psychedelic and vividly colored. In fact, they reminded me a lot of Peter Max’s work.
By contrast, the scenes that take place in the City of the Stars, while still surreal, are much more fluid and the colors border on the pastel.
When Dream and Hope meet the insane star, the star destroys Hope. I found this to be symbolic of society’s loss of hope in the world. And the irony is that clinging to what little hope is left in the world will actually change nothing.
Hope: I… am Hope.
Star: Unfortunate last words, given the context. Three words that mean nothing. As if saying that might ever change something.
The issue concludes with Dream being imprisoned within a dark star. The colors turn ominous as deeper shades of purple, black, and grey swirl together into a dark vortex.
Star: So we will not kill you, Dream King. We will simply render you unavailable. Inside the event horizon of a dark star, nothing ever gets out. No light. No information. And definitely no dreams. Goodnight.
This was such an intense issue, I feel like I need to read it at least a couple more times to fully grok it. In fact, I will probably re-read the entire series so far. I’m sure I will catch things that I missed on my first reading.
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I bought this comic for my daughter, but really, I was also interested in reading it myself. It is touted as the “new adventures with the eleventh Doctor.” I have been a long-time Doctor Who fan. My mom was British and she introduced me to Doctor Who when Tom Baker steered the TARDIS. It makes me happy to see that it is still popular after all these years.
This issue is a little silly, with the Doctor chasing around a giant rainbow dog, but it is silly in an endearing way. Artistically, it is similar to the Wizard of Oz. The beginning is black and white, where Alice (who ends up being the Doctor’s new travel companion) has buried her mother and is depressed. Once the Doctor and the rainbow dog appear, then the panels burst into vibrant color. It marked a transition from the gray dullness of everyday life to the rich visual beauty which is inter-dimensional fantasy.
I really liked Alice’s character. She is smart, educated, brave, and emotional. Alice is a library assistant and as the Doctor points out after they enter the TARDIS, being surrounded by books has had a positive impact on her.
Alice: We’re in a different dimension here, aren’t we?
Doctor: Yes! Clever! I knew you were clever, I can usually tell. What do you do again?
Alice: I told you. I was a library assistant.
Doctor: Books! That’ll be it. Clever and books, usually goes together.
I completely agree with the Doctor here. Reading is so important to individual growth and development. And it’s enjoyable. I couldn’t imagine a life without books. If you’re reading this, I’m sure you feel the same way.
This is a creepy issue. Sara and Rooney search a carnival junk yard for two missing boys. They discover that they were abducted by a psycho-clown from another dimension. There is a definite nod to Stephen King’s It. In fact, after Sara saves the boys and vanquishes the clown, she tells the boys, “You’re safe… and I don’t think we’ll be seeing him… It… again.”
At the end of the tale, Rooney asks Sara if she can explain to her what happened. Sara is unable to, since when she went to retrieve the lost boys, she crossed into another dimension where time and space are different. She realizes that she cannot express what happens in another realm of consciousness or existence in a way that makes sense in our reality.
I could tell you what happened, but I’m not sure I could explain it. What was on the other side was… a different place. A different reality. There it felt like a week, but here…
I love creepy comics. They remind me of when I was a kid and I read all the campy horror comics. I think I will have to get a few for October. It would make for appropriate reading during that time of the year.
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