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From Beyond by H. P. Lovecraft

From Beyond (1920)

by H. P. Lovecraft

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Hail to those visionaries of the 19th century and early 20th century who invented highly sophisticated machines propelling them to a time or space beyond the boundaries of everyday experience. For such explorers, science and technology were a kind of primordial fire lighting the way to unlock the mysteries of the universe.

And where do we find these bold, eccentric adventurers? Why, of course – in books! For example, we have the English scientist in H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine who ventures into the future, the French madman in Jean Richepin’s The Metaphysical Machine exploring cosmic truth via excruciating pain, and, not to be outdone, in H.P. Lovecraft’s 1920 tale From Beyond, we have American philosophic mad-scientist, Crawford Tillinghast.

Lovecraft’s gothic tale of horror is told by an unnamed first-person narrator, a friend of Crawford Tillinghast. And the narrator begins by telling us while paying a visit to his friend’s laboratory, Tillinghast bemoaned the constricting limitations of our meager five senses and went on to say how he was on the verge of a breakthrough. What kind of breakthrough, we might ask? Tillinghast explains how he has constructed a wave-generating machine that will awaken dormant human capacities to gaze at the full range of the cosmos. Sound crazy? It is crazy! And the narrator tells his friend what he thinks of such a project. Tillinghast responds by kicking him out.

Ten weeks later, when a desire to share his discoveries overcame his bitterness, Tillinghast invites the narrator to return. Upon entering the house, the narrator discovers his much-transformed friend: Tillinghast has a shaky, ghoul-like frame, a squeaky, high-pitched voice and is forever muttering to himself. After following this wasted specter of a man up the stairs by candlelight (Tillinghast tells him having the electricity on would create too much of a disturbance) and entering the laboratory, he is directed by his bony friend to take a seat next to the glowing machine. Meanwhile, Tillinghast sits directly opposite, face-to-face and uncomfortably close. The narrator remains still and after some moments begins to see a series of fantastic phantasms and astonishing visions.

The visions intensify and at one point the narrator relates, “Indescribable shapes both alive and otherwise were mixed in disgusting disarray, and close to every known thing were whole worlds of alien, unknown entities. It likewise seemed that all the known things entered into the composition of other unknown things and vice versa. Foremost among the living objects were inky, jellyfish monstrosities which flabbily quivered in harmony with the vibrations from the machine. They were present in loathsome profusion, and I saw to my horror that they overlapped; that they were semi-fluid and capable of passing through one another and through what we know as solids. These things were never still, but seemed ever floating about with some malignant purpose. Sometimes they appeared to devour one another, the attacker launching itself at its victim and instantaneously obliterating the latter from sight.”

More horrific beings are seen and the narrator’s living nightmare is punctuated by Tillinghast’s voice commenting on the monstrous apparitions and conveying the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of all the servants.

So much for relaying the details of this tale. I hope my brief review has piqued your interest in this Lovecraft story. To find out what happens next and the entire sequence of events, here is a link to this 5-pager: http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600031h.html#20

For me, what gives this tale a decided eeriness is speculation about the fullness of space isn’t the exclusive domain of science-fiction. I recall listening to one yogi trained in the esoteric Tibetan Buddhist tradition speak of exactly this phenomenon: unseen beings from a parallel dimension inhabiting our space. He went on to say how, by our good fortune, we can’t see them, since, if we did see them, we would all be driven crazy. All one need do is read passages from the Bardo Thodol (usually translated as The Tibetan Book of the Dead) to get a flavor for what the yogi was talking about. Also, there are the discoveries of quantum physics: spatial realities beyond our familiar three-dimensions.

You can read many stories about multiple facets of space, but you will not encounter any more gripping than this H.P. Lovecraft’s tale.

( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
Um homem é convidado para a casa de um antigo amigo, agora desafeto. O amigo é na verdade um louco cientista que conseguiu desenvolver uma máquina que permite ver outros mundos que existem ao nosso redor. ( )
  Binderman | Nov 5, 2015 |
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