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JabberwockyAm I the first person to notice that the classic depiction of Lewis Carroll’s Jaberwock is very Cthulhu Mythosish? Check it out: a mismatch of beak and neck and claws and bizarre wings. An impossible nightmare creature.

The describing poem is considered one of the great English nonsense works, and one that has been interpreted as comedy. But consider, it may be the apparently absurd words allude to a darker mind-warped reality. Could it be that Carroll (pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) brushed shoulders with madness and in that pit of insanity heard and saw something inexplicable?

The Jabberwock appears to be unique. There is no evidence that it is part of a species or part of the ecosystem: it just exists. This is because it is the lone survivor of a crashed spacecraft – or an exile of an alien civilisation placed here somehow. In either case it is an alien with advanced, though incomprehensible intelligence. It is quite possibly mad with fear and possibly suffering from poisoning from the local (Earth) environment. The vicinity of its lair will be twisted, deformed, deranged and diseased: a section of forest that has been mutated by the radiations of the beast itself and/or the remnants of its technology. Entering this zone will have deleterious effects on the health and sanity. Earthmen approaching the area go mad first, before they become poisoned, before finally being rent limb from limb.

Overcoming this threat is no simple matter. Carroll lists a ‘vorpal sword’ and this was interpreted by the venerable Gygax as a sword that invariably decapitated. But Carroll himself said he could not explain this word, though it has been noted that it can be formed by taking letters alternately from “verbal” and “gospel”. A vorpal sword, therefore, might appear to be a spoken spell of some kind. Or not. The clues lie only in the poem, and the poem is clearly the work of a mad man.

In any case, a Jabberwock in the world indicates that something ‘out there’ knows about this place. Where there has been one, more might follow.

 

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.

 

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

The frumious Bandersnatch!”

 

He took his vorpal sword in hand:

Long time the manxome foe he sought—

So rested he by the Tumtum tree,

And stood awhile in thought.

 

And as in uffish thought he stood,

The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,

And burbled as it came!

 

One, two! One, two! and through and through

The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head

He went galumphing back.

 

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?

Come to my arms, my beamish boy!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

He chortled in his joy.

 

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.

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