Saturday, March 18, 2006

Clocks

Lovecraft wrestled with Eintein's theories. One, up until 1911, was named the "clock paradox" and was profoundly disturbing to most classically trained scientists. It goes something like this:

Einstein's theorem stated that two synchronized clocks A and B, are at the same place.

If B travels round a path and back to A, the clock B will run slow relative to A. Of course in the normal world of Edwardian America this was nearly impossible to detect. However, in the late 20th century, this was proved true over and over by rockets and jets and atomic clocks.

Behind this theorem is the time dilation property of Special Relativity which says this property is enormously enhanced by traveling near the speed of light (c=300,000 kilometers per second).

[After 1911, most people replaced the "clocks" with "twins" who age differently.]

In the 1932 Dreams of the Witch House we have, "Behind everything crouched the brooding, festering horror of the ancient town, and of the mouldy, unhallowed garret gable where he wrote and studied and wrestled with flgures and formulae when he was not tossing on the meagre iron bed. His ears were growing sensitive to a preternatural and intolerable degree, and he had long ago stopped the cheap mantel clock whose ticking had come to seem like a thunder of artillery... At night the subtle stirring of the black city outside, the sinister scurrying of rats in the wormy partitions, and the creaking of hidden timbers in the centuried house, were enough to give him a sense of strident pandemonium. The darkness always teemed with unexplained sound - and yet he sometimes shook with fear lest the noises he heard should subside and allow him to hear certain other fainter noises which he suspected were lurking behind them. "

Compare the 1922 Hypnos, "Then came one January of fog and rain, when money ran low and drugs were hard to buy. ... We suffered terribly, and on a certain night my friend sank into a deep-breathing sleep from which I could not awaken him. I can recall the scene now- the desolate, pitch-black garret studio under the eaves with the rain beating down; the ticking of our lone clock; the fancied ticking of our watches as they rested on the dressing-table; the creaking of some swaying shutter in a remote part of the house; certain distant city noises muffled by fog and space; and, worst of all, the deep, steady, sinister breathing of my friend on the couch- a rhythmical breathing which seemed to measure moments of supernal fear and agony for his spirit as it wandered in spheres forbidden, unimagined, and hideously remote. ... The tension of my vigil became oppressive, and a wild train of trivial impressions and associations thronged through my almost unhinged mind. I heard a clock strike somewhere- not ours, for that was not a striking clock- and my morbid fancy found in this a new starting-point for idle wanderings. Clocks- time- space- infinity- and then my fancy reverted to the locale as I reflected that even now, beyond the roof and the fog and the rain and the atmosphere ... "

In many ways, DotWH is an extension of several previous stories - Rats in the Walls, Hypnos, and even MoM critters make an appearance.

1 comment:

atomic clock said...

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