Friday, January 14, 2011

Review: Beyond the Wall of Sleep and The White Ship

The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories:
by H. P. Lovecraft
Penguin Classics (2001), Paperback, 464 pages

‘There is probably a tremendous but invisible stellar orbit in which our very different ways and goals may be included as small parts of this path — let us rise up to this thought! But our life is too short and our power of vision too small for us to be more than friends in the sense of this sublime possibility.
Let us then believe in our star friendship even if we should be compelled to be earth enemies.’
Friedrich Nietzsche

Beyond the Wall of Sleep was written in 1919. Joe Slater is a murderer confined in a mental hospital. He dreams of otherworld with fantastic visions.
An intern of the hospital has built a device for two-way telepathic communication. To test the device the intern attaches himself with Slater. The intern starts to receive a message from a being of light, who explains that all men are light beings. Beyond the wall of sleep, humans are light beings and they experience visions of other world.
Is Slater a star in the sky?

The best parts:
‘I am your brother of light, and have floated with you in the effulgent valleys. … we are all roamers of vast spaces and travellers in many ages. Next year I may be dwelling in the dark Egypt which you call ancient, or in the cruel empire of Tsan-Chan which isto come three thousand years hence.’
‘We shall meet again - perhaps in the shining mists of Orion’s Sword, perhaps on a bleak plateau in prehistoric Asia. Perhaps in unremembered dreams tonight; perhaps in some other form an aeon hence, when the solar system shall have been swept away.’ (p. 19)


The White Ship was first published in 1919.
Dream or imagination?
Basil Elton is a lighthouse keeper when a bearded man piloting a white ship and sailing upon a bridge of moonlight, takes Basil on board. They start a voyage towards mystical islands. Basil learns about Cathuria, the land of Hope. This land is ‘beyond the basalt pillars of the West. … but who can tell what lies beyond the basalt pillars of the West?’ (p.24)

Beyond some symbolical connections between The White Ship and desire of the unknown …
Beyond some connection between The White Ship and Plato’s lost realm of Atlantis situated beyond, again, the Pillars of Hercules …
The White Ship is the calling / imagination / evocation of fantastic worlds beyond and inside the Pillars of Hercules.

A quotation:
‘for ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time.’ (p. 21)

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