Below are annotations for Providence, No. 6 “Out of Time” (40 pages, cover date October 2015, released 25 November, 2015)
Writer: Alan Moore, Artist: Jacen Burrows, based on works of H.P. Lovecraft
Note: some of this is obvious, but you never know who’s reading and what their exposure is. If there’s anything we missed or got wrong, let us know in comments.
General: Robert Black awakens at the Manchester, NH, home of Dr. Hector North. He returns to St. Anselm College, where he goes to the library and views Hali’s Booke. He then walks to the home of Elspeth Wade, where he is possessed and raped. Then he flees Manchester.
- The building on the cover is Alumni Hall at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Alumni Hall appears on the first half-dozen pages of Providence #5.
- St. Anselm College is Providence‘s analog for Lovecraft’s fictional Miskatonic University, which appears in numerous stories.
- Black learned about St. Anselm College from Garland Wheatley – see Providence #4 P9. According to Wheatley, around 1890, the Stella Sapiente coven gave a copy of the Kitab (Providence’s Necronomicon analog) to the college.
- The voices speaking are Dr. Hector North then James Montague. These are Providence‘s analogues for Dr. Herbert West and the unnamed narrator from Lovecraft’s story “Herbert West—Reanimator.”
- The settings are the same for panels 1 and 3, and for panels 2 and 4. So each pair constitutes a fixed-camera sequence.
- Green-tinted panels represent Black’s dreams which include visions of the future (see Providence #3, P18-21). These alternate with “present” (1919) panels in regular color.
- Panelwise, the borders are ruler-straight. Earlier in Providence (for example see #4 P1) and Neonomicon this indicates a higher paranormal level of experience. The present panels have rougher hand-drawn borders.
- The book depicted is Hali’s Booke of the Wisdom of the Stars, published in 1651. Hali’s Booke is an English translation of the original Arabic Kitab Al-Hikmah Al-Najmiyyaon (published in 703) and is also known also by its Latin name Liber Stella Sapiente (published circa 1250.) The book is Providence’s analog for Lovecraft’s Necronomicon. Generally these annotations refer to this book as the Kitab; see more publication detail in Suydam’s pamphlet in Providence #2 P32-40.
- This panel image is repeated when Black sees the Kitab on P12,p3 below.
- The Kitab appears to have been printed in a Germanic blackletter typeface.
- This text here appears more fully on P35 below. Notes on the text can be found there.
- “You weren’t always such a little old lady.” is Dr. North using a feminine derogative term, apparently a play on male homosexuals acting un-masculine.
- “You indulge yourself… They end up following us around.” is Montague responding. This is a play on words, as on the one hand the conversation could be interpreted as Montague disparaging North for taking male lovers because of their tendency to hang around, and on the other hand in “Herbert West—Reanimator” the reanimated corpses do end up following West and his unnamed companion.
- Providence’s protagonist Robert Black asleep in West and Montague’s home in Manchester, NH, following the events of the last issue.
- The date is September 10, 1919 (according to Elspeth Wade – see P17,p1.)
- “Digging up old grievances” refers the grave-digging activities from “Herbert West—Reanimator.”
- “The college” is St. Anselm, where Black met North on P4 of Providence #5.
- Panelwise, the borders have reverted to the rough hand-drawn lines typical of Providence‘s 1919-present.
- This depicts another snippet from Hali’s Booke; see p1 above. This image repeats on P13,p1 below.
- “Aqlo” is apparently a phonetic early spelling of “Aklo,” the language of “The Dunwich Horror,” mentioned in The Courtyard, Neonomicon, and Providence. Here, we see a collection of letter-shapes, reminiscent of Hebrew, with English characters next to them, suggesting a table for ciphers. Black transcribes this page – see Commonplace Book P36 below.
- “Nobody will miss…” is another double entendre. One way to read this is that North wants to use Black for an experiment in reanimation, as in “Herbert West—Reanimator” where Dr. West waylays a traveler and murders him for just such a test of his serum. Another way to read this is that he sees Black as an opportunity for a homosexual encounter.
- “Scandal,” again, could be read both ways; Montague could be as afraid to be caught in a homosexual scandal or a missing persons case.
- “Prissy” is, again, North using a feminine derogatory term (see p1 above.) It echoes the name of the earlier character Prissy Turner, emphasizing her feminine nature, or maybe just coincidental.
- Black’s glasses facing him may allude to the mirror-reverse writing – see P37 below.
- “Out of Time” literally references the title of Lovecraft’s “The Shadow out of Time” (which is briefly alluded to on P8 below), but more directly seems to refer to Black’s discovery that he had lost several weeks of his life, and of possessive entities from out of the past, a theme that is also found in “The Thing on the Doorstep.”
It also reflects Black’s experience of time-dilation while reading Hali’s Booke on P12-15 below. It may also foreshadow that Black is somehow out of time; that something bad is about to happen to him (perhaps due to seeing the Hali’s Booke.)
- “Goffs Falls” is the location of the Witch House in Providence #5.
- Nearly every statement Black makes on pages 2-5 end with “…” ellipsis. Dr. North is quick to interrupt his pauses.
- “Hash” is a meal of meat and potatoes, chopped up, mixed together and fried, hence the frying pan.
- “Promptly” references how, in “Herbert West—Reanimator,” the lapse of time between physical death and administering the serum was critical; Dr. Herbert West often characterized the failure of the serum to not being applied soon enough.
- “Dear” is North using a familiar term, which may emphasize his dominant role in his relationship with Montague.
- Hector North is wearing a green tie, possibly a signal of his homosexuality.
- Like Dr. Alvarez in Providence #1, the North/Montague residence has medical art on the walls.
- “Letting things rest” again, can be read two ways: Montague is either telling North to quit angling for a gay sex with Black, or that Montague is less interested in reanimating the dead. Commenter alexxkay points out a third meaning: “thing” is a Shakespearean euphemism for genitalia.
- “Something about a book…probably the one I’m planning to write.” perhaps alludes to Lovecraft’s non-authorship of his fictional Necronomicon. In an April 1932 letter Robert E. Howard wrote to H. P. Lovecraft, he suggests that Lovecraft write the Necronomicon himself; Lovecraft demurred, as he did not believe he could do it justice. (A Means to Freedom: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard 1.279, 288): “As for writing the Necronomicon–I wish I had the energy and ingenuity to do it! I fear it would be quite a job in view of the very diverse passages and intimations which I have in the course of time attributed to it! I might, though, issue an abridged Necronomicon–containing such parts as are considered at least reasonably safe for the perusal of mankind!” (AMtF 1.288)
- “Maybe it’s an omen.” alludes to dreams having been often seen as omens foretelling future events. In particular, Kenneth Grant in “Dreaming Out of Space” proposed that Lovecraft was an unconscious occult adept, whose dreams encoded real occult information. We have already seen Black experience dream-like visions (see Providence #3, P18-21), and even displacement in time; so these dreams seem to be true foretellings (or possibly, memories of things that haven’t happened yet).
- “Panicking over nightmares” alludes to dreams and nightmares forming a significant part of Lovecraft’s inspiration for several of his stories, including “The Statement of Randolph Carter.”
- North is checking to make sure Montague is out of earshot.
- The dotted speech bubble indicates North is whispering.
- “Play some games…” is North is making a pass at Black.
- These form a fixed-camera sequence.
- “It’s not like it would kill you” is, of course, ironic; North does intend to kill Black.
- “I promise to relieve you of of that [strain]” is another double entendre. North could mean sexually pleasuring Black, or killing him.
- North’s “I haven’t…” would likely be finished something along the lines of “had sex with any of the students.” Montague acknowledges this, stating that the student is female, hence not aligned with North’s homosexual orientation.
- “One of the girls” is Elspeth Wade (revealed P6.) Ironically, this somewhat echoes the events of “The Thing on the Doorstep,” where the corpse of Asenath Waite at the door precipitates the narration of the story. The events also somewhat echo the return of the reanimated Eric Moreland Clapham-Lee in “Herbert West—Reanimator.”
- This and the following panel form a fixed-camera sequence.
- “Things that come up” and “things are always coming up” are more reanimation and homosexual sex double entendres. Thanks Commenter alexxkay.
- “Keep buried” is more reanimation/homosexual scandal doublespeak. In “Herbert West—Reanimator” Dr. West and his partner unearth fresh corpses from graves.
- “Removal people in Boston” could be a reference to movers, but could also refer to the ghouls associated with Pickman/Pitman in Boston, who would be handy in disposing of corpses.
- This is this issue’s first appearance of Elspeth Wade, who first appeared in Providence #5 P6,p1. Elspeth Wade is Providence‘s analogue for Asenath Waite the vessel of the soul-transferring villain from Lovecraft’s “The Thing on the Doorstep.”
- It appears that North and Montague’s home is located at 162 Orange Street – see contemporary street view.
- The church on the left appears to be Holy Trinity Cathedral, a block south of Orange Street at the corner of Union and Pearl Streets – see contemporary street view.
- “Some Canadian Military Gentleman” is probably the Providence analogue of Eric Moreland Clapham-Lee, the superior of Herbert West whose headless corpse was reanimated and pursued West and his assistant.
- Black and Elspeth Wade are walking down Pearl Street – see contemporary street view.
- Black and Elspeth Wade are crossing the MacGregor (or Bridge Street) Bridge, where they met in Providence #5 P6,p1 – see contemporary street view.
- “Not used to the pace of things in Manchester” taken with Black’s observation of Fall, echoes his odd experience of time in Providence #5, and that he’s been in Manchester longer than he thought – probably some weeks.
- The building is is Alumni Hall at Saint Anselm College, shown on the cover of this issue.
- “A little grown-up” refers to Elspeth/Asenath’s body being possessed by the soul of her father in “The Thing on the Doorstep.”
- “Father Race” is Father Walter Race, Providence‘s analogue for Miskatonic Professor Warren Rice, from “The Dunwich Horror.” Race was introduced on P2 of Providence #5.
- The voice-over technique here repeats the one used throughout Providence #5 – see P1,p1; P5,p3-4; P7,p4; and others.
- First appearance this issue of Father Walter Race, Providence‘s analogue for Miskatonic Professor Warren Rice, from “The Dunwich Horror.” Race was introduced on P2 of Providence #5.
- “Good Salem family, the Wades.” are the Providence analogue for the Waites from “The Thing on the Doorstep.” The Wades, leaders of the Stella Sapiente that split with the Boggs and Wheatleys, were mentioned earlier in #3 P11,p3, #4 P9,p4, and #5 P13,p2.
- “You’d be surprised how many of the faculty wind up as babbling old men.” is a nod to the trope of investigators into the Mythos going insane.
- First appearance of Hank Wantage, librarian of St. Anselm’s College, and Providence‘s analogue of Dr. Henry Armitage of “The Dunwich Horror.”
- Nat Paisley is the Providence analogue of Prof. Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee, the main character of “The Shadow Out of Time.” In the story, the narrator Peaslee is possessed by an ancient extraterrestrial.
- “The commotion with Alice” In “The Shadow Out of Time,” Peaslee is married to Alice Keezar of Haverhill, Mass.
- “Back in ’08 he had a breakdown.” refers to “The Shadow Out of Time,” where Peaslee was possessed by an alien entity on 14 May 1908, which caused a period of amnesia and odd behavior characterized as a breakdown.
- “Next five years…” through “…tragic case.” is Wantage covering the basics of the events of “The Shadow Out of Time,” from an outsider’s perspective.
- “Hali’s Book” – see P1,p1 above.
- “Gifted with a copy at Saint Anselm” is from the backstory of Hali’s Booke given in Providence #4 P9,p1.
- “Stella Sapiente” are the Worshipful Order of the Stella Sapiente, the American coven associated with Liber Stella Sapiente (aka Hali’s Booke or the Kitab – see P1,p1 above),Providence’s Necronomicon analog. See Suydam pamphlet in Providence #2 for background.
- A photograph of the the Worshipful Order of the Stella Sapiente, presumably circa 1890 (see P29) as the Wheatleys are still involved. From left to right are:
1. The two on the left are recognized as a young Garland Wheatley – see #4 P7,p4. Wheatley still wears his membership pins, though fewer of them.
2. Garland Wheatley’s daughter Leticia Wheatley – see #4 P12,p1. The Wheatleys stand slightly separated from the other Stell Saps, indicating their future break between them (see #4 P9.)
3. This appears to be Whipple Van Buren Phillips, the grandfather of H. P. Lovecraft, who is possibly the Stell Sap “Buren” mentioned in Providence #3 P11,p3.
4. Henry Annesley, see Providence #9 P1,p3.
5. Second from the right looks to be a younger version of H.P. Lovecraft’s father Winfield Scott Lovecraft (compare to Providence #5, P13,p3). H. P. Lovecraft, when he grew up, wore his father’s collars, which appear the same as those worn by Winfield Lovecraft here.
6. On the far right is the second appearance of Edgar Wade, whose full name the reader learns in panel 2 below. A slightly older Edgar Wade appeared investigating the meteor site in Providence #5 P13,p3.
Edgar Wade is Providence’s analogue for Ephraim Waite from Lovecraft’s “The Thing on the Doorstep.” In “Doorstep” he is described as a sinister “magical student” who “came to Arkham to consult forbidden tomes at the college library.” Further Waite practices soul-transference, transferring his soul into the body of his daughter Asenath Waite. Edgar Wade notably lacks the “tangle of iron-grey beard” described in “The Thing on the Doorstep,” but like Wheatley and Winfield Lovecraft, he might have grown his facial hair out later.
Commenter Matt Wise points out that Asenath, on P6,p1 is in the same posture that Edgar is in here.
- The photographer is Ronald Underwood Pitman of Boston; Providence‘s analogue of Richard Upton Pickman from “Pickman’s Model” and The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. Pitman’s address is the same as on the photograph of the Wheatley twins in Providence #4, P21,p3.
- “Passed on when she was barely eight years old.” references how in “The Thing on the Doorstep,” Ephraim Waite died about the time Asenath entered the Hall School (Miss Hall’s School); probably a bit young.
- “Visited the Wheatleys’ farm in Athol” – see Providence #4.
- Wantage uses a cloth to touch the book, a common practice for rare books that might be dirtied or damaged by contact with human hands. Commenter Don Simpson points out that this is also common for handling supernatural objects.
- “1913, old Edgar Wade insisted we should ban them from the library…” retells how, according to Providence #4 (P8-9), in 1912, Wheatley had his “privileges… took away” because he put forth his own proposal to fulfill the Redeemer prophecy, and how he and his daughter Leticia were expelled from the Worshipful Order of the Stella Sapiente.
- “I suppose you’re worried that somebody might break in…” foreshadows the events chronicled in “The Dunwich Horror,” when Wilbur Whateley died attempting that very action.
The full title reads:
Translated into English
By Robert Turner, Philo-Mathes
Printed by J. C. for N. Ragok and J.
Harrison, and are to be sold at their shops.
At the Angel in Cornhill, at the Holy Lamb
near the east end of Paul’s. 1651
Here also the best Ink for Records is to be sol[d]
Thanks to Joseph Thomas for help with reading the illegible bits.
- The title page – apparently thin boards – jives with the history of Hali’s Booke as given in the pamphlet in Suydam’s pamphlet in Providence #2.
- The lines on “the Angel in Cornhill” and “the Holy Lamb near the east end of [St. Paul’s Cathedral]” were two well-known printers and booksellers in London during the mid-1600s, and almost identical imprints can be found on many books.
- “I’ve a commonplace book…” lets the reader know that Black’s notes can be read in the Commonplace Book entries for this issue, P30-40.
- This text appears more fully on P34 below. Notes for the text may be found there,
- Panelwise, the borders go ruler-straight, indicating paranormal consciousness – see P1,p1 above.
- The image repeats P1,p1 above. The text appears more fully on P35 below – see full annotations there.
- Black is hearing the voices from when he first heard about the Kitab.
– “Kitab al Hikmah al Najimya…” quotes Dr. Alvarez from Providence #1 P15,p3.
– “The order’s founder, Frenchman Etienne Roulet…” quotes Robert Suydam from Providence #2 P12,p1.
- Panelwise, the borders are ruler-straight, indicating paranormal consciousness – see P1,p1 above.
- These are all the same woman. Her multiple appearances could be merely the passage of time, but more likely show that Black is experiencing multiple periods of time at once. This is a multiple exposure panel, which is a fairly common technique for action comics, though infrequently used by Alan Moore. There is a well-known Moore multiple exposure in the Mobius strip sequence in Promethea, another appears in 1963 #2, but they are nonetheless infrequent.
This may be some beginnings of the higher level of consciousness shown in the Leng sequence at the end of Neonomicon #4 P22,p4-P23,p5.
- Panelwise, the borders are ruler-straight, indicating paranormal consciousness – see P1,p1 above.
- The image repeats P1,p3 above. The text on the page being turned is that from P1.p1 and P12.p3, and seen in greater detail on P35 – see full annotations there.
- Black is again hearing the voices from his early instances when he heard about the Kitab.
– “That would be Mr. Hali’s book…” quotes Tobit Boggs from Providence #3 P10,p2.
– “See, this society…” and “That was when…” quote Garland Wheatley from Providence #4 P9,p1.
- Panelwise, the borders are ruler-straight, indicating paranormal consciousness – see P1,p1 above.
- This is the Aklo cipher alphabet. See full notes on P36.
- Again (see P12,p4), the same woman appearing in multiple places as a way to show time passing, or Black experiencing multiple times at once.
- The same text is reflected in both of Black’s eyeglasses (see also P39). It reads:
[…] and so shall every hour be reckoned a man’s pace
in that desert which is time, a mighty wasteland
hidden that its victims know its not, nor feel its
[biti]ng winds that render them to bone and d[ust]
- The reversed text alludes to Aklo reading left to right, and being reflected in the scrying stone – see below P37 and 32 respectively.
- An image of an Arab screaming in a desert overlays the text of Hali’s Booke. This is the first appearance of Khalid ibn Yazid, author of the Kitab. Yazid was first mentioned in Providence #1, P15,p4.
- This text appears more completely on P38 below. See annotations there.
- Panelwise, the borders are ruler-straight, indicating paranormal consciousness – see P1,p1 above.
- This is another time-dilation, this time with a couple.
- P14,p1 then P14,p3 then P15,p2 form a zoom sequence. Moore uses zoom sequences frequently, including on P1 of Watchmen #1. Even while the frame is zooming in on Khalid, he (in relation to the text) appears to be moving closer to the reader (or the text is moving back away from the reader.)
- Zooming in makes “Old Ones” jump out; in Lovecraft’s stories the ‘old ones’ are supposed to be alien entities, but here they are simply long-lived humans. This echoes the revelation at the end of Neonomicon, that Lovecraft’s horrors were humans, seen from a different perception of time.
- Panelwise, the borders are ruler-straight, indicating paranormal consciousness – see P1,p1 above.
- This is the first of a couple panels depicting scenes that take place in the future. Future panels have a softer light, distinct both from the regularly-color present and the sepia-tones flashbacks. This panel is a vision of the future; it is the same as P16,p3.
- This is another time dilation, this time with a janitor.
- The final close-up of the Arab from the zoom sequence – see P14,p3 above.
- Ruler-straight borders indicate paranormal consciousness – see P1,p1 above.
- This is another future scene; the same as P16,p2. (Oddly, though, the word balloons contain the same text – with a similar softer light – but the words are broken up slightly differently.)
- “I felt almost like I knew it from before in some way.” allludes to Black’s glimpses of the book in his dreams on P1 (which may, indeed, have been future memories of himself reading the book.) It is no wonder he’s familiar with it.
- “Two or three weeks back in August.” reinforces that Black’s stay in the Witch House last issue lasted at least 2-3 weeks, even though for him it was less than a day.
- The panel repeats P15,p3 though, indicated colorwise, now in the 1919 present.
- The panel repeats P14,p4 though, indicated colorwise, now in the 1919 present.
- “Before it rains” alludes to Ephraim Waite’s powers mentioned “The Thing on the Doorstep“: “[Waite] was known to have been a prodigious magical student in his day, and legend averred that he could raise or quell storms at sea according to his whim.”
- “My raincoat! I… left it behind at Mrs. Macey’s” recounts events in Providence #5.
- “My guardian Mr. Finney” has no direct Lovecraft analogue as no guardian is mentioned in Lovecraft’s “The Thing on the Doorstep.” The name Finney is somewhat similar to Gilman (from “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”) hence may hint at Elspeth’s Deep One heritage, just as Asenath Waite had.
- Commenter bede rogerson points out:
the name Finney has already been used in Providence. Mr Malachi Finney is mentioned in the Church of St. Jude pamphlet in Black’s commonplace book at the end of Providence 3. He is a resident of Salem and a member of the Friends of Oannes. This may be a nod towards Asenath Waite’s (and therefore Elspeth Wade’s) Innsmouth/Salem connections.
- Commenter Sithoid elaborates:
[I]n “The Thing at the Doorstep” Asenath Waite had three servants from Innsmouth, only one of whom was male. His name was Moses Sargent. Now, I’m not sure how the names “Sargent” and “Finney” could be connected, but switching one Old Testament prophet for another (Moses -> Malachi) is definitely something Moore would do.
- Commenter bede rogerson points out:
- “I-I promise not to pour out all my problems” is contradicted by the next panel where Black is recounting his problems.
- As commenter Seigor points out, there is a black cat at a door on the right. An earlier black cat appeared on Providence #3 P3,p4. Black cats have cameos in three of four Neonomicon issues, and, it may be a stretch, but black cats tie in to Lovecraft’s life and works – see annotations for Neonomicon #1 P17,p4.
- Elspeth’s building appears to be at 61 Orange Street – see contemporary street view.
- The church in the background is today called The Dialogue Church; it is located at the corner of Orange Street and Pine Street – see contemporary street view.
- All of the panels have roughly the same perspective, with panels 2-4 being identical, hence this page features a zoom sequence into a fixed-camera sequence.
- At the center is a framed picture of Edgar Wade (see P10,p1 above), which is slowly revealed just as Elspeth bares herself. Wade has used soul-transference to occupy the body Elspeth.
- It is possible that the portrait is of some earlier ‘ancestor’ of Elspeth, but it is almost certain that it is of one of her previous hosts.
- “After my friend died…” refers to Johnathan/Lillian Russell; a sanitized version of the events of Providence #1.
- “Nervous breakdown” could refer to the fate of numerous Lovecraft protagonists. Also, Lovecraft himself suffered a nervous breakdown as a teenager.
- “That’s not what happens” shows chilling foreknowledge. As with the Wheatleys, Wade seems to recognize Black as following the Herald narrative from Hali’s Booke.
- The objects on the radio appear to be a pack of Chesterfield brand cigarettes and a lighter (thanks to commenter Moses for the correction).
- “This photographer, Pitman.” is Ronald Underwood Pitman, Providence’s analogue of Richard Upton Pickman from “Pickman’s Model” and other Lovecraft stories. Black further explains his reasons for wanting to see Pitman on P30 below. Black noted Pitman’s photos of the Stella Sapiente photograph (P10,p1 above) and the Wheatley boys photograph (Providence #4 P21,p3.) Pitman’s studio appears on the regular and Portrait covers for Providence #7.
- “Stella Sapiente” – see P9,p3 above.
- “Your Father” is Edgar Wade – see P10,p1 above.
- “Dr. Wade” is a small error on Black’s part, it should be Doctor Wantage. It is perhaps evidence of Wade already mentally influencing Black.
- Commenter Pat Conolly notes:
“But for saying it’s small, it seems to be right in the middle of this story I’m tracking down”. Yeah, it’s in issue #6 of a 12 issue series. Seems deliberate on Moore’s part.
- “Professor Einstein” is Albert Einstein, whose theory on the General Theory of Relativity helped upset conventional notions of Newtonian physics. In 1919, he was a professor at Humboldt University of Berlin. Einstein’s theories likewise proved an inspiration for H. P. Lovecraft. In a recent interview, Moore stated: “Lovecraft became a perfect barometer… of the fears of the early 20th Century, including the fears of man’s relegation in importance, given what we were starting to understand about the cosmos. Lovecraft was unlike other people of his day. He actually understood that stuff. He was very quick – he didn’t like Einstein – but he was very quick to assimilate Einstein’s ideas. He didn’t like quantum theory, but he almost understood it.”
- “A thirteen year-old girl” would put Elspeth’s birth around 1906, and Edgar’s death around 1914.
- “You can see what she’s doing” is where Etienne Roulet (the entity possessing Elspeth) drops pretenses, talking about Elspeth as a different person.
- “Is everybody crazy for sex or something?” is reasonable considering that since Black came to town, Hector North has made a pass at him and Massey appeared nude in his bedroom, and now a 13-year old girl has stripped down in front of him… and all this in what to Black is subjectively less than 48 hours. However, it can also be read as talking about the overall sexual nature of Providence (and before that, Neonomicon) compared to the literature of H.P. Lovecraft. To an extent, it even applies to “The Thing on the Doorstep,” one of Lovecraft’s most interesting stories in terms of sex, since it can be read as an early example of transsexual literature. For more on that, see Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Panels 3 and 4 form a fixed-camera sequence. This invites the reader to compare the stances of the characters: Roulet is straight up-and-down erect in both bodies, while Black is arched to the left in both bodies.
- Black finishes Elspeth’s sentence, indicating that the entity has switched bodies with Black, as occurred in “The Thing on the Doorstep.” Black (inside Elspeth now) looks at his hands unbelieving.
- “Changed your mind” has a double meaning. Its obviously means to reconsider, but in this case also refers to the transference of souls.
- Moore has portrayed similar transferals of souls in earlier works. Youngblood Vol 3 #1 (1998) features a “bodiless neural parasite” that jumps from person to person occupying “organic hosts.” Providence’s transferral is similar to P22-23 of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 3, Century: 1969 (2011) where Oliver Haddo transfers his soul into his disciple Kosmo Gallion. (Thanks to Craig Fisher’s February 2016 article at The Comics Journal.)
- “We’ve all been waiting a long time for you…” are the Stella Sapiente awaiting the Herald.
- “We all wish to make an impression.” in some ways echoes Massey’s “We all have intelligence we’re anxious to impress, that it in turn may be impressed on him” (Providence #5 P19,p1.) What impression could that be? Quite literally ‘Fuck with us, and we’ll fuck with you?’ Not so subtly, to “impress” here is literally to press flesh against flesh, to rape.
- “Edgar’s was the best vessel in the circumstances…” reveals that the entity possessing Black, and which had possessed Elspeth, is not her father Edgar Wade, but something older. Later it is made clear that it is Etienne Roulet.
- “He had become impotent.” is not surprising, given Edgar Wade’s supposed advanced age.
- “One comes at last to question even the existence of identity as a phenomenon” is a post-human mindset, not surprising from a body-jumping entity who can ‘become’ other people.
- Commenter Gabriel Morgan adds:
questioning identity [has] been the default position of Buddhism for thousands of years. And Buddhism itself directly influenced Western esoteric thought at around this point in history: Crowley had a Buddhist phase, and some members of the Golden Dawn segued more-or-less permanently into Buddhism.
- Commenter Gabriel Morgan adds:
- “Philosophers might envy such an opportunity to be outside themselves.” alludes to, perhaps ironically, one of the curious questions that go unanswered in “The Thing on the Doorstep”: the question whether the relationship between Edward Derby and Asenath is implicitly homosexual, given that Asenath is possessed by a “male” personality (Ephraim Waite, or whatever possessed Ephraim Waite). Given that Black is already a homosexual, and has had sex with men, from a philosophical viewpoint it might be curious how he might see having sex with men as a woman as a new experience – a nicety lost on him by his inability to consent.
- The set of Black’s mouth recalls “the same firm mouth” of Ephraim Waite in “The Thing on the Doorstep,” and Edgar Wade’s mouth in his photographs.
- “She died in her father’s… ummh… her father’s body.” is Elspeth’s consciousness having died in Edgar Wade’s body in 1913, just as Asenath Waite’s consciousness died in Ephraim’s body in “The Thing on the Doorstep.”
- “Even he was… ummmh… not the first.” is another indication that this is not Edgar Wade.
- “The first was…. ummh… was my poor Mathilde.” is presumably Mathilde Roulet, wife of Etienne Roulet, one of the founders of the Stella Sapiente, as told in Suydam’s pamphlet in Providence #2. This confirms that the possessing entity is Etienne Roulet.
- It’s just barely possible that the entity is Jacques Roulet (see, for example, notes to issue #9 P8,p3). If so, then the “Mathilde” mentioned here is presumably not Etienne’s wife. History does not record the name of Jacques’ wife (or lover).
- Black possessed by Roulet is speaking in French:
French: Ne t’en fais pas! Je… hun… Je vais bien sûr me retirer avant de… ahhh… la mettre enciente. Ô combien de… hun… combien de siécles ais-Je attendu pour… ahhh… pour étaler la safesse des etoiles sur…ahhh… ton ventre rebondi!
English: Do not worry! I… hun… I will of course withdraw before… ahhh… ejaculate in you. O, how many centuries I have eagerly waited to spread the starry wisdom on your plump belly! (Thanks to commenter Brian J. Taulbee for help with the translation.)
- Edgar Wade’s portrait is again revealed; it was hidden behind Black in panel 3, visually conveying that Wade (or actually Roulet, who possessed Wade) is possessing Black.
- These form a fixed-camera sequence.
- Elspeth finishes Black’s sentence, indicating Roulet has switched back to Elspeth, letting Black return to his own body.
- “Land sakes” is a version of “Land sakes alive” also sometimes shortened to “sakes alive”; minced oath, used as an exclamation.
- “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” is the motto of St. Anselm’s College
- “N’est ce pas?” is French for “Is it not so?”
- Elspeth has the somewhat cliche smoke after sex.
- These form a fixed-camera sequence.
- Black is heading west on Orange Street near Elm Street – see contemporary street view.
- Black is again crossing the MacGregor (or Bridge Street) Bridge, where he met Elspeth – see Providence #5 P6,p1.
- Two of the homes on the right appear pretty similar to these on Boynton Street – see contemporary street view.
- The car belongs to Mr. Jenkins; it appears in multiple scenes in Providence #5. This panel is the same scene as Providence #5, P1,p1, only from the other side.
- Panels 2-3 form a zoom sequence.
- The sign reads “You Are Leaving Manchester;” this is the other side of the sign on Providence #5, P1,p1.
- This panel and four on Page 26 form a fixed-camera sequence.
- Black sees himself and Mr Jenkins in the car.
- P25,p3 and these and these four a fixed-camera sequence.
Commonplace Book – “August 19th”
- “August 19th” is wrong. That is the date that Black thinks it is, having emerged from a time-loop. According to Elspeth, the current date is September 10 – see P17,p1 above.
- “St. Anselm [College]” – see cover above.
- “Dr. Alvarez” – see Providence #1 P12,p1.
- “Hali’s Booke” – see P1,p1 above.
- “[Robert] Suydam” – see Providence #2 P7,p3.
- “Gillot’s Sous le Monde” – see Providence #1 P3,p2.
- “Chamber’s King in Yellow” – see Providence #1 P2,p1.
- “Manchester” is the city in New Hampshire.
- “Goffs Falls” – see Providence #5 P3,p4.
- “Hector North” – see Providence #5 P3,p3.
- “Flatbush” – see Providence #2 P3,p2.
- “Lily” is Jonathan/Lillian Russell – see Providence #1 P1,p1.
- “Meteor-collision site” – see Providence #5 P12,p1.
- “[James] Montague” see Providence #5 P25,p1.
- “Rebecca” is an Old Testament biblical Jewish name, reflecting Black’s Jewish roots.
- “Milwaukee”, WI, is Black’s hometown – see Providence #1 P6.
- “Orange Street” is an actual street in downtown Manchester.
- “Elspeth” – see Providence #5 P6,p1.
- “Dr. Wantage” – see P8,p3 above.
- “Dr. Race” – see Providence #5 P2,p1.
- “Catholic” refers to St. Anselm as a Catholic college.
- “Nat Paisley” – see P8,p3 above.
Whenas” is Black slipping his tenses every now and again, possibly to showcase his odd interaction with time as he was writing this.
- “Man whose life had been all but destroyed by a psychological episode over which he’d had no control.” touches on one of the primary themes of Lovecraft’s fiction: biological determinism, where characters suffer because of some inherited aspect that they have no control over, like Arthur Jermyn, or the unnamed narrator of “The Shadow over Innsmouth.” Here, Moore flips that conception: instead of the body being beyond control, it’s the character’s mind that betrays him. This is an excellent reading of “The Shadow Out of Time.” though it doesn’t quite work for all of Lovecraft’s fiction.
- “Terrible shadow had fallen over his mind” again references the title and plot of “The Shadow Out of Time.”
- “Stella Sapiente” – see P9,p3 above.
- “Garland and Leticia Wheatley” – see Providence #4 P7,p4 and P12,p1 respectively.
- “Edgar Wade” – see P10,p1 above.
- “Salem” – is the setting of Providence #3.
- “Ronald Pitman of Boston” – see P10,p1 above.
- “Photo of Willard Wheatley” – see Providence #4 P21,p3.
- “When I am done… pay a visit to Boston to look Pitman up” foreshadows Providence #7 – see regular and Portrait covers.
- “A… book that some people have constructed a whole mythology around” refers to Lovecraft’s Mythos, and perhaps Moore and Burrows’ Providence itself.
- “Aren’t even any of those words with an S that looks like an F.” refers to the “long s” (ſ), which was used for beginning and interior ‘s’ letters in early scripts and typefaces, and was preferred by Lovecraft as a deliberate archaic device. It was common in typefaces into the late 1700s.
- “The Herald,” “Prissy Turner,” and “Freddy Dix” – see Providence #1 P2,p1.
- “Khalid Ibn Yazid” – see Providence #1 P15,p4.
Thatthen” is another tense slip.
- “Later Arab occult scholar… Ahmad Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Yusuf Al-Buni – see Suydam’s pamphlet in Providence #2.
- “Kitab al Hikmah ak Najmiyya” – see Providence #1 P15,p3.
- “Black letter typography” refers to the font that the text (though not the cover) is printed in is based on the Gothic script, called Blackletter. Several typefaces were created based on Blackletter scripts, such as Fraktur. Lovecraft’s “History of the Necronomicon” refers to a “black-letter” German edition of the Necronomicon printed in the 1400s. Commenter alexxkay notes that there’s an additional meaning in that a man named Black is writing this.
- “For only in the world that is below things does the real reside, and we and all our acts are but its shadow.” can be read many ways. On the surface, in the context of an alchemical text, it has a mystical interpretation similar to Gnosticism or Buddhism, discussing the world as an illusion and not the “true” reality. From a scientific viewpoint, it could speak of the idea that the universe is a hologram, a three-dimensional shadow of two-dimensional planes of information, such as Warren Ellis used as a plot point in Planetary. And, of course, from a literary context it could speak of Providence as a work of fiction, “breaking the fourth wall” by calling out that all the characters in it are fictional. Commenter alexxkay also notes that it alludes to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.
- “In dreams of senseless tasks…” – Possibly hinting that ibn Yazid was visiting the Dreamlands.
- “An outlandish lake … not one sun alone …” recalls the aptly-named Lake of Hali from The King in Yellow:
“Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
- In Carcosa.”
- “Stars of the night sky that make the sign we call the Bull” is the constellation Taurus, which contains the Hyades, also associated with Carcosa in The King in Yellow.
- “The measuring of them could not be done with all man’s rods and instruments” likely references fourth-dimensional non-Euclidean geometry, a theme of “The Dreams in the Witch House.” (Thanks commenter Mr. F)
- “More like unto things that grow on stones beneath the ocean…and their heads were stars” describes the Elder Things from Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. These are alien creatures described as having a “yellowish five-pointed starfish-shaped apparent head.” Commenter alexxkay suggests that these beings could be members of The Great Race, from “The Shadow Out of Time,” where they are described as “monstrous big”, and we know that they engaged in mental transference across time, which may be what Khalid is experiencing.
- “A certain mirror, little bigger than a man’s palm and to be constructed from the black glass that volcanoes make from sand.” is an obsidian mirror highly reminiscent of the scrying mirror used by Dr. John Dee in his mediumistic experiments.
- “Wondrous healing methods” are likely the Kitab‘s four methods of prolonging life – see P14,p1 above.
- “Four-and-twenty letters of a new kind” is the Aklo cipher alphabet
- “Their great skill with calculation” echoes the strange mathematics of Hekeziah Massey of “The Dreams in the Witch House.”
- “H. G. Wells” is the famous early science fiction author. This echoes how Lovecraft’s fiction, though sometimes couched in terms of occultism and the supernatural, tended more toward science fiction, especially later in his life.
- “Arabian Nights” are the 1,001 Nights, a collection of Middle Eastern and Asian folktales compiled during the Islamic Golden Age.
- “Al Buni” is Ahmad Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Yusuf Al-Buni (mentioned P31 above) who annotated the Kitab circa 1203 AD (per Suydam’s pamphlet in Providence #2.)
- “Djinn” are creatures of Arabic myth and folklore; they are held as the third order of God’s creations, alongside humans and angels.
- “Seven planets” are the Classical planets are those that can be seen by the naked eye, which feature in early astrology: the Moon, Sun, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter.
- “Redeemer” [Prophecy] – see P1,p1 above.
- “All the world was made wrong…” is a fairly common aspect of Gnostic belief; that the material world is corrupted or flawed.
- “Islands undiscovered and unvisited” may refer to New England, not yet discovered (by Europeans) in Khalid’s time. Or, less metaphorically, to Rl’yeh, or the unnamed island in “Dagon.” (Thanks commenter alexxkay)
These Kitab passages (P34-35) prophesy a “Redeemer” and a “Messenger or Herald.” It is not entirely clear at this point of the story, but foreshadowing indicates that these are H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Black, respectively.
- “Those travellers there are who speak of demons that abide beneath our very tombs, that have the head and countenance of dogs with ghastly smiles…” are Lovecraft’s ghouls from “Pickman’s Model” and “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.” In “Pickman” they are described as having a ” dog face with its pointed ears, bloodshot eyes, flat nose, and drooling lips.”
- “Savage fishmen and their beauteous fish-women who have their jewelled towns beneath our southern seas…” are the Deep Ones from “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”
- “The world has two masks…” is the excerpt Black was reading on P12,p1 above.
- “Two masks” possibly refers to, or inspiration for, the pallid mask of “The King in Yellow” or its Providence inspiration Sous le Monde; or Lovecraft’s masked high priest of Leng in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and Fungi from Yuggoth. In later tales of the Mythos, Nyarlathotep is said to have different “masks,” though Lovecraft doesn’t use that specific terminology. In context, the discussion of someone that wears different faces in dream and waking world suggests H. P. Lovecraft, whose alter ego Randolph Carter had adventures in the dreamlands in his stories.
- “Redeemer” is apparently the Redeemer prophecy first mentioned in Providence#2, P39 where Suydam’s pamphlet (page ) states “…the prophesied ‘Redeemer, by whose byrthe, the great disorder of our worlde shalle once more be above’…” In Providence #4 (beginning P9,p4) Garland Wheatley recounts his attempt to fulfill the Redeemer Prophecy.
- “Lion’s tail” is part of the constellation Leo. H. P. Lovecraft was born under the Leo zodiac sign (July 23 to August 22, HPL born August 20).
- “Before twelve hundred winters pass” indicates the Redeemer will be born before 1903, as the Kitab was written about 703 AD. H. P. Lovecraft was born in 1890.
- “For in his own day even he shall not be recognized.” is an apt description of Lovecraft, who did not come to fame beyond the small circle of his friends, correspondents, and Weird Tales until well after his death.
- “Born where there are seven hills…” likely refers to Providence, RI, like Rome, founded on seven hills. Lovecraft mentions this in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath: “There is Providence, quaint and lordly on its seven hills over the blue harbour…”
- “Hidden from the sight of man as one accursed…” refers to how Susie Lovecraft considered her son “worthy of being hidden from the world.” (Kenneth W. Faig, Jr. The Parents of H. P. Lovecraft); the Wheatley twins, of course, are also kept hidden.
- “His mother shall be white as chalcedony…” references how Lovecraft’s mother had a very white complexion according to her friend Clara Hess; it was intimated she achieved this using arsenic creams. Moore refers to this in Recognition P3-4. Leticia Wheatley, of course, is an albino.
- “Chalcedony” is a gem/mineral, commonly white.
- “His father gone away…” refers to H. P. Lovecraft’s father, a traveling salesman. When Lovecraft was an infant, his father was hospitalized for neurosyphilis, and so was raised by his mother and grandfather. The Wheatley twin’s “father” also went away, in some contexts, and they were raised by their grandfather, Garland Wheatley.
- “Where shall his Grand-sire, be he driven from his proper wits, make for to school him in those matters of the hidden world pertaining to the miracles observed by country people.” could be read as a reference to the occult. Colin Wilson, in his hoaxing introduction to the Hay Necronomicon, argues that Whipple Phillips (Lovecraft’s maternal grandfather), who was a Freemason, instructed Lovecraft in the occult. It could also, of course, be read as “country matters,” or the practicalities of sex. Garland Wheatley of course helped instruct Leticia’s child in magic and farming. Commenter alexxkay points out that “country matters” is another Shakespearean euphemism for sex.
- In the Al-Buni annotations (perhaps as a nod to or a jab against the cottage industry of annotators that have sprung up to explain Moore’s work – including this site and many others) Moore throws readers off the trail by pointing to Rome, close breeding, etc.
- “Messenger or herald” echoes numerous references to Black as herald, first seen in Providence #3 P13,p1.
- “Of a kind with Hermes of the Greeks” – See P1,p1 above.
- The parallels with the Wheatleys (Providence #4) is probably Moore further obscuring the connections to Lovecraft himself.
- This is the same section Black read in P1,p1 and P12,p3. (We’ve repeated those annotations here.)
- “Redeemer” refers to the Redeemer Prophecy – see P34 above.
- “Black is the messenger, and black is his path” could be an overt reference to Robert Black, or a more metaphorical use of black as in bad, evil, unlucky, dark, etc. Notably, in Lovecraft’s fiction Nyaralthotep is known as “The Great Messenger” and “the Black Man” of the Witch Cult.
- “A scribe is he” could refer equally well to Robert Black (journalist) or H. P. Lovecraft.
- “Thoth of antient Khem” was the Egyptian god of writing and magic. Thoth was identified with the Greek god Hermes, and together became Hermes Trismegistrus, the mythical founder of the Hermetic system of magic. Khem was a name for Egypt, from the Egyptian word chem for “black” and its name Kemet, “The Black Land.” This section strongly echoes Lovecraft’s prose-poem “Nyarlathotep” and the Fungi from Yuggoth sonnet “XXI. Nyarlathotep“:
“And at the last from inner Egypt came
The strange dark One to whom the fellahs bowed;”
- “Strange instruments of glass and metal” could prophesy Black’s glasses. Commenter Matthew Hurwitz points out that this phrase appears in Lovecraft’s “Nyarlathotep”: “Nyarlathotep, swarthy, slender, and sinister, always buying strange instruments of glass and metal and combining them into instruments yet stranger.”
- “A country distant and remote in time” likely refers to twentieth-century America, distant from a 703 A.D. Middle East.
- “Where sparks fly everywhere about” prophesies electricity. Commenter David Elliott notes:
America in 1919 would have been more familiar with trams (streetcars) than today, but as someone who lives in a city with trams (Melbourne, Australia), I can tell you sparks definitely fly everywhere. The contact between the tram and the overhead wires supplying it with power often creates flashes and showers of sparks.
- “Silvered visions” (Thanks commenter Ben) prophesies photography and cinema, since film stock uses silver halides. Commenter David Elliott points out that early films were projected onto screens incorporating silver particles (hence “silver screen” as a term for movies in general).
- “N____-hotep” is Lovecraft’s fictional Nyarlathotep, also called the Black Pharaoh. “-hotep” is a correct Egyptian root (of ḥtp), and features in the names of many Pharaohs, but “Nyarlat” is of Lovecraft’s own conception.
- “Those that were, and are yet, and further shall be…” – Recalling the line from “The Dunwich Horror,” quoting from the Necronomicon: “The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be.”
- “When the days are reckoned as the thumb-lengths of a fixed mass.” refers to the concept of time as the fourth dimension – see Suydam’s pamphlet in Providence #2 P31 which states “Eternity as an unchanging solid […] time itself demoted from a matter of duration to one of mere distance in a higher mathematical dimension.”
- It might also be a reference to the NIST definition of a second as “The duration of 9192631770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom.” (Thanks to Sithoid for the suggestion.)
- “The Eternal knows not cease nor change, and death dies if the aeons be measured strange?” is restatement of the famous Necronomicon couplet: “That is not dead which can eternal lie, / And with strange aeons even death may die.” The “measured strange,” taken with the “fixed mass” comment above, may reflect the statement that the star-headed men taught ibn Yazid mathematics.
- Again (as on P34) Moore uses Al-Buni annotations to make the identity of the herald more obscure.
- “Khem” – Egypt, see P1,p1.
- “Kingdoms before Khem” is apparently a reference to ancient Mesopotamia.
- “Knew of amber” referst to amber‘s early association with the phenomenon of electricity, because rubbing it with fur could build up a charge to cause sparks.
- “Nebuchadnezzar” is the name of several kings of Mesopotamia; mostly associated with Nebuchadnezzar II, who appeared in the Bible.
- “The title of a mighty Djinn” puts Al Buni’s commentary more in line with a medieval goetic grimoire entry, postulating that the entity is a supernatural entity that can grant powers and gifts.
- “A philosophy to penetrate the thoughts of men…” is possibly to enter someone’s dreams, as Johnny Carcosa is known to have done in Neonomicon and Providence #3 P28.
- “A type of speech that is uncommon, which brings with it untoward and foreign sensibilities.” is perhaps Aklo, as Aldo Sax experienced it in The Courtyard and Neonomicon. Johnny Carcosa, as a self-proclaimed (Neonomicon #3, P8,p3) “avatar of Nyarlathotep,” demonstrated some of these abilities. (From an early Arab perspective a foreign type of speech could also be English.)
- This is the table of Aklo letters that appeared on P13,p2 above.
- Black mispells “Aqlo” as “Aolo.”
- This is the Aklo cipher alphabet. Somewhat resembling Hebrew characters, they have a high degree of symmetry or relation with neighboring characters. While appearing to be a simple substitution cipher, Aklo is slightly complicated by common letters like ‘e’, ‘f’, ‘j’, and ‘w’ being missing, but several digraphs (‘ch,’ ‘tz’, ‘sh’, and ‘th’) are present, giving a total of 24 characters.
- Commenter Moran points out that these letters (except for the last two) are in the same basic order as they appear in the Hebrew alphabet, albeit written left-to-right, where an actual Hebrew alphabet would be written right-to-left. This mirror-reversal seems hardly out of place, given Aqlo’s other reversals. Moran also points out that the letters D, V, Z, L, O, R, and SH are either identical or extremely close to their Hebrew counterparts, while the other letters do not seem derived from Hebrew.
- “I’ve made a whole bunch of mistakes” does not appear to be true. The only mistake is misspelling “Aqlo” as “Aolo.”
- “The hours have just been flying by while I’ve been sitting here…” was shown in the time-dilation panels, see P12-15 above.
- Commenter alexxkay notes that “central to my book” is also a meta-fictional nod. Being quite near the end of #6, these words appear at what will presumably be almost exactly the halfway mark of the completed Providence.
- Commenter alexxkay notes “their impact on my senses should be muted” perhaps explains why Khalid didn’t immediately turn into a crazed murderer as Aldo Sax did in The Courtyard. (See also following John Dee quote)
- “Cloaking reversals” is possibly a reference to a cryptography process where some of the orders of the words are inverted; this is a natural result of “mirror-writing,” as the reflections of the letters are reversed in a mirror, and so could be a result of using the black mirror as a medium of communication. In practice, it may also mute the psychological impact of learning Aklo.
Commentor Seigor notes (via c. 2009 Alan Moore interview at Previews World) that the reverse-writing is an allusion to John Dee:
Also, for our [Alan Moore and Steve Moore] money, probably the greatest magician of all time was John Dee. No one else comes close. We were surprised to find that Dr. John Dee’s creation of the angel language, which was allegedly transmitted to him by angels through the medium Edward Kelley, and which was transmitted with the letters all backwards or transmitted with the words spelled backwards, because they were too powerful to be spelled forwards or whatever, and the Enochian language which resulted from that has been one of the mainstays of occultism ever since, this is ever since the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First in the 1500s. What we happened to notice was that Paracelsus had actually created something called the “Alphabet of the Magi” which in some places looked similar to Dr. Dee’s Enochian squiggles and, more importantly, it was used for writing the names of angels, backwards apparently. Now, Dee must have known, he would have studied Paracelsus.
Commenter alexxkay points out that as Aklo is spelled right-to-left it is similar to Hebrew. Given that Black’s covert Jewishness is an important theme, the Aklo-Hebrew similarities seem significant.
- John Dee also famously did scrying with a black obsidian mirror, which “mirrored in black glass” is certainly referring to.
- Commenter Dave notes: “a polished black-mirror device allowing you to see and hear others as you communicate with them inevitably evoked modern smartphones for me. “Black mirror” has even become famous as a reference to modern devices.”
- “Angels that have heads like stars” brings together Dee’s angels (see above quote) and the starfish-headed Elder Ones (see P32 above.)
- A general note: many of the Aklo definitions given are apparent paradoxes (or antinomies); though like any good paradox, this doesn’t mean they aren’t true. They also follow a similar line of logic as Lovecraft’s “even death may die.”
- “NGATHV, which is said FHTAGN” is from the famous line “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” (“In his house in R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming”) from Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu.” The definition given here suggests a much more subtle translation of the phrase, and recalls the idea of a self-creating power.
- “OLQA, which is said AQLO” is Aklo. (See Aklo basic explanation in annotations for Neonomicon #1 P6,p3.)
- Commenter alexxkay notes “The gossamer of speaking which conceals the thing itself” calls to mind Thieve’s Cant, a way of speaking where ordinary-sounding words have hidden meanings, so criminals can communicate without being understood by those outside their confederacy. To an extent, this might also describe the reader decoding Alan Moore’s hidden meanings.
- “IA’Y-AZV, which is said WZA Y’EI” recalls the definition given in The Courtyard #2 P16: “wza-y’ei is a word for the negative conceptual space left surrounding a positive concept, the class of things larger than thought, being what thought excludes.” The word wza-y’ai was invented by Lovecraft, used in the story “The Horror in the Museum.”
It is interesting that here the “V” is pronounced as a “W” (as would be done in Latin), whereas above it was pronounced “F”, suggesting either eclectic or complicated grammatical rules.
- “ANH-OHD, which is said DHO-NHA” recalls the definition given in The Courtyard #2 P18: “a force which defines; lends significance to its receptacle as with the hand in the glove; wind in mill-vanes; the guest or the trespasser crossing a threshold and giving it meaning.” The word dho-hna was invented by Lovecraft. In “The Dunwich Horror,” Wilbur Whateley writes “Grandfather kept me saying the Dho formula last night, and I think I saw the inner city at the 2 magnetic poles. I shall go to those poles when the earth is cleared off, if I can’t break through with the Dho-Hna formula when I commit it.”
- “RGHHN RY, which is said YR NHHNGR” is similarly among the Aklo given to Sax by Carcosa, but not explained in The Courtyard; see also Neonomicon #4 P22,p1 and Providence #5 P3,p3. Yr nhhgr is also invented by Lovecraft. In “The Dunwich Horror,” Wilbur Whateley writes “They from the air told me at Sabbat that it will be years before I can clear off the earth, and I guess grandfather will be dead then, so I shall have to learn all the angles of the planes and all the formulas between the Yr and the Nhhngr.”
- “CHANOLOG’Y, which is said Y’GOLONAC” is Y’Golonac is the entity from Ramsey Campbell’s infamous story “Cold Print.” The definition is appropriate.
- “IULHN’HP, which is said PH’NGLUI” is another reference to the famous line from Lovecraft’s story “The Call of Cthulhu“: “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” which Lovecraft translates to “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”
- “Entirely printed (somehow) in the invented alphabet” does suggest an immense expense, as it would require either creating an entirely new type, or else getting an artisan to carve each page in relief.
- “Great men of the outer dark, that are… inheritors of all eternity” seems to refer to Lovecraft’s Great Race from “The Shadow Out of Time.”
- “The outer dark” is a shorter form of “the outer darkness,” used by H. P. Lovecraft in Supernatural Horror in Literature to refer to outer space; more commonly used by Robert E. Howard in “The Vale of Lost Women” and “A Word from the Outer Dark.”
- “Four methods” is the section Black was reading on P14,p1 above. The four methods of prolonging life are those discussed in previous volumes:
- “The first of these is food” – Cannibalism, as used by Capt. Shadrach Annesley (Providence #3)
- “The second is of warmth or cold” – cold is Dr. Alvarez (Providence #1)
- “The third such method lies in the revival of the flesh with philtres and decanted fluids, or else with the subtly acquired preserved essential salts of man.” – The method of Dr. Herbert West from “Reanimator” (and hinted at but not seen with Dr. Hector North in Providence #5 and #6), as well as the “essential salts” method used in Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. It could also possibly refer to the vampirism practiced by the creature in “The Shunned House.”
- “The fourth means is most terrible, and rests on the eviction of a soul so that a new inhabitant might occupy the emptied vessel, with its former occupant alike interred within the sorcerer’s unwanted former residence.” refers to the method of Etienne Roulet/Edgar Wade/Elspeth Wade, seen in this issue (P19-22 above.) Based largely on Lovecraft’s “The Thing on the Doorstep,” but also suggestive of his “The Shadow Out of Time.”
- “Why do I feel so anxious, as if something really bad is just about happen, or even worse, is already happening?” is, as with the earlier comment on ‘omens,’ Black gaining at least an instinctual foresight or perspective of time, so that he knows at some level what is coming.
- The section reflected in Black’s glasses on P13,p4. It seems to be a prophecy similar to the Gnostic or apocryphal apocalypses; the collapse of time is highly reminiscent of the end of Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles.
- “Blasting winds that render them to bone and dust” evokes Khalid’s own fate: “torn apart by invisible djinns… or, more credibly, dismembered by a whirlwind (Suydam from Providence #2 P11,p2.)
- “The one that is like to a door all made of orbs shall be first manifest” is Yog-Sothoth, who in “The Dunwich Horror” is described as “Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate.” This may be a reference to Yog-Sothoth manifesting to impregnate Leticia Wheatley, as portrayed in Providence #4.
- “The one whose self is a constellation and who is beyond all naming and all knowing…” is possibly Hastur, “the Unnameable One” who is often associated with Aldebaran.
- “The one with many faces who is their dread voice.” is Nyarlathotep, the “soul and messenger of the Outer Gods” in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.
- “She who is the fertile cloud which procreates without cease…” is Shub-Niggurath. In a letter to Willis Conover, Lovecraft described her thus: “Yog-Sothoth’s wife is the hellish cloud-like Shub-Niggurath…” (Selected Letters 5.303)
- “And at last the one that shall dream a new past that can include his birth, his sovereignty, and his dreaming.” is Cthulhu. The implication is that Cthulhu essentially dreams himself into being.
- Commenter Lalartu points out that in Providence #12, these five beings are seen, and in almost this order.
- “Certain signs which lend restraint. The presences born from the ocean may be contained by a symbol like unto a cross with hooks…” refers to the “Elder Sign” or swastika, as discussed in Providence #3 P11,p3. Commenter alexxkay points out that use of the word “hooks” resonates with the fact that this symbol has power against fish-people. Commenter Greenaum points out that another German word for swastika is “hakenkreuz”, or literally, “hooked cross”.
- “In the same way can those presences pertaining to the aethers or the earthly element by bound by an arrangement that is like unto a star with five points, one of which is uppermost.” is Moore drawing lightly on the elemental theory of August Derleth, who after Lovecraft’s death wrote posthumous collaborations that divided the major Mythos entities into the classical elements (earth, air, fire, and water), going so far as to create a new entity (Cthugha) to fill the “vacant” spot of a fire elemental in Lovecraft’s cosmology. However, he is also addressing the different depictions of the Elder Sign, which Lovecraft in “The Shadow over Innsmouth” described as a swastika, and which Derleth later described as a pentagram (which lends more impact to the pentagram that Black discovered in Suydam’s basement in Providence #2).
- Commenter Marko suggests that the juxtaposition of the swastika with the star may be symbolic of fascism and communism, and that when both systems have failed then “the stars are right”.
- Commenter Pat Conolly (and Sithoid earlier) noted:
‘I’d better get out of here before it’s too late.’ has a double meaning. Black means, in the literal sense, he better get out of the library before night (he hasn’t secured lodging for the night). He doesn’t know that, in a larger sense, it would be better for him to get out of this entire situation he has come to be in. Alas, it’s evidently already too late for him.
- This is the first blank space readers have seen in Black’s Commonplace Book. Perhaps this is ominous.
- This quote appeared on digital editions of Providence #5.