Doctor Cthulhu: An Introduction / The Nameless City

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Christopher Morley starts a new daily series looking into the Lovecraftian roots of some of the Doctors foes, and his many encounters with the Great Old Ones.


By way of an introduction to our Doctor Cthulhu series - looking into the Doctor's many tangles with the Old Ones of the Cthulhu Mythos - allow us to take you into the dark heart of The Nameless City! HP Lovecraft's original story was first published in The Wolverine in January 1921, telling of a long-forgotten ruined city deep in the Arabian desert built by a race of Earth-dwelling reptiles who walked the planet long before humanity- much like the Silurians, you could say!



Indeed the Silurians are implied to have worshipped the Old Ones as gods during their time as the dominant species on our planet. But it is to the city without name built by what must pass for a similar species which we return now, & we have Abdul Alhazred, also known as the ''Mad Arab'' & author of the Necronomicon, the tome of evil & arcane lore central to the Mythos, to thank. He is believed to have sung the ominous couplet...
"That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die."
...after dreaming of the place. The Necronomicon itself will later deliver the Second Doctor & Jamie to another Nameless City to face the wrath of the Archons, a retrospective addition to the list of Old Ones!



Author Michael Scott was able to incorporate elements of the Mythos thanks to the ''shared universe'' concept, which allows authors to borrow elements of Lovecraft's own work & insert them into their own. Several writers known as the Lovecraft Circle did so with the blessing of the man himself during his lifetime - among them Clark Ashton Smith & Robert E Howard.

As Robert Price says in his essay on the subject:
"The “Cthulhu Mythos” is a name given to the superficial elements of Lovecraft’s tales: the fictional New England towns; the extraterrestrial “gods”, and the magical grimoires."
HP never actually used the term himself, though! It was coined by his friend & literary colleague August Derleth after his death, & Scott has the Necronomicon presented to Jamie McCrimmon by the Master, in an unspecified incarnation ( though implied to be his first posing as the elderly bookseller Professor Thascalos in the London of 1968.) The piper's helped ''Thascalos'' out of an attack by a thief, actually staged to draw Jamie to him!


And while he refuses an offer of payment for his bravery, the man he's just saved insists on giving him a gift. While he can't read the book himself, he's encouraged to pass it on to someone he thinks might appreciate it. You can probably guess who that might be! And while he doesn't initially recognise it, he'll soon know its power. His inspection of the cover & contents of possibly the most evil book in the known universe will give way to pure terror!
"Interesting. What is that? Looks like a type of cephalopod."
There's some confusion over the writing within, too.
"This looks like Sumerian, but this here is certainly one of the Vedic scripts, while this is Rongorongo from Easter Island. No, no, I'm wrong. This is older, much, much older..."
And the revelation of its title provokes primal fear. It now has access to the TARDIS, which it can use to lead the bow-tied nemesis of the Archons into their Nameless City. Looks as though the Doctor's prediction that it will take them "To our doom, Jamie. To our doom", might be bang on the money. Until the Music of the Spheres is disturbed, in any case!

The Archons dance to it, & it's an ancient philosophical concept. Let's explore, shall we?

Recorders at the ready!


Greek philosopher Pythagoras is believed to have been the first to make the link between music & the movements of celestial bodies- that is to say the Sun, Moon & other planets- around the Earth itself. As the essay Pythagoras- Music And Space explains....
"Pythagoras taught that each of the seven planets produced by its orbit a particular note according to its distance from the still centre which was the Earth. The distance in each case was like the subdivisions of the string refered to above. This is what was called Musica Mundana, which is usually translated as Music of the Spheres. The sound produced is so exquisite and rarified that our ordinary ears are unable to hear it. It is the Cosmic Music which, according to Philo of Alexandria, Moses had heard when he recieved the Tablets on Mount Sinai, and which St Augustine believed men hear on the point of death, revealing to them the highest reality of the Cosmos. This music is present everywhere and governs all temporal cycles, such as the seasons, biological cycles, and all the rhythms of nature. Together with its underlying mathematical laws of proportion it is the sound of the harmony of the created being of the universe, the harmony of what Plato called the "one visible living being, containing within itself all living beings of the same natural order."
And in drowning out its harmonies with the amplified rasp of his recorder & Jamie's bagpipes the Doctor & his Highlander friend are able to escape their confinement. As the man McCrimmon's come to see as his laird tells him:
"You saw them dance in the air, moving to the beautiful music created by the faintest ghost winds blowing across the sharp edges of the city. You just gave them something else to dance to, something to disorientate and confuse them."
They then make a little music of their own with a duet on Scotland The Brave for recorder & pipes.



Culloden & Auld Gallyfrae, side by side!

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