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Impossible, Improbable And Imaginary Geographies

Impossible, improbable or imaginary geographies, as things turned out, are both on planet, in planet, and off planet. Here are a few examples.

TERRESTRIAL GEOGRAPHY

Hollow Earth: We all know in this modern enlightened space age era that our home planet isn’t flat, which wasn’t always the case. You can’t really fault our ancestors for that, because, on the surface, unless you’re really cluey, despite hills and dales, the ground is flat! Okay, that’s one misconception about Planet Earth tossed into the rubbish bin, but there’s another. The Earth is a round 3-D sphere. But is it solid through-and-through? Some have suggested the Earth is hollow, and inhabited! That’s been a popular sci-fi plot device since the days of Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs though the idea and its promotion both predates and postdates them and not always as a plot device for mere storytelling. Some took the idea very seriously indeed.

But the real modern kick-start of that concept, not as sci-fi but as sci-fact was spawned by Richard Shaver (claiming personal knowledge and firsthand experiences) and hence publicised extensively by Ray Palmer, a sci-fi and UFO guru publisher. Not only was the Earth hollow, but there was a mini-star in the centre to provide heat and light (seen by surface dwellers as the auroras) to the technologically advanced inhabitants and of course that explains where UFOs came from – not outer space but inner space. There were holes-at-the-poles that served as the gateways between inner Earth and outer Earth.

Alas, geophysical analysis of seismic waves and theoretical celestial and mechanical physics rule out any such notion of a hollow Earth. Satellites show no polar holes – ditto ground-truth findings by polar expeditions which actually preceded the spy-in-the-sky verification. Of course diehards put all that down to worldwide cover-ups and conspiracy theories! The truth is out there – or rather down there.

Still, the idea retains its popularity from Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” (as popular as ever) to Edgar Rice Burroughs and his series of Pellucidar novels (“At the Earth’s Core”, etc. – even Tarzan got into the act in one novel) right down to modern times and the “Sanctuary” TV series. The Verne and Burroughs novels have of course provided fodder to those in Hollywood to make many a film promoting the hollow Earth, though unlike Shaver/Palmer, there was never any attempt to pawn off the idea as reality.

Atlantis: A one-off reference by Plato has spawned zillions of books, articles, movies, documentaries, web sites, and all-round everyday references to this reference, etc. The topic of all the fuss is called or known as Atlantis, or sometimes Atlantis, the Lost Continent. Self-made, even bona-fide scholars, past and present (and no doubt future) have located the lost ‘continent’ of Atlantis on just about each and every square mile on the surface of Planet Earth. You name the location; someone has suggested that’s where Atlantis was. While not everyone can be right, everyone can be wrong. Atlantis, especially Atlantis, the Lost Continent, doesn’t exist. Rather, a place of an entirely different name, coupled with a disastrous event, collectively conspired apparently to give Plato the inspiration for the tale of Atlantis.

The pretty much accepted view, by scholars anyway, is that the southern Aegean Sea island of Santorini, at least what remains of the island known more to the ancients 먹튀검증 as Thera, being a volcanically active sort of place, blew it’s volcanic top some 3600 years ago, and when I say blew, I mean BLEW! The explosion was one of the absolute largest volcanic Ka-Booms in ancient or modern history. Now the Minoan civilization, on the nearby island of Crete (a mere 70 miles away), had a front row seat view of the fireworks. Unfortunately, sometimes close encounters can be too close for comfort. And so it came to pass that between the eruption itself, and the massive tsunami that followed as most of Thera collapsed into the Aegean, the Minoan civilization went the way of the dodo. Thus, the initial spark of the Atlantis myth was born. A bit of someone who told someone who told someone who told someone, plus a bit of artistic licence, and Atlantis was thrust onto the world stage where it remains to this very day.

Atlantis isn’t of course the only ‘lost continent’ that’s been popularised. To balance out the maritime locations, Atlantis obvious being associated with the Atlantic Ocean, is joined by Lemuria (Indian Ocean) and Mu (Pacific Ocean). These are the Olympic silver and bronze medallists in the New Age promotion of those lost continents geographies, though the latter two don’t have the distinguished parentage of Atlantis itself.

El Dorado & Cibola: What do we want – gold! When do we want it – now! That may not have been the actual mantra of the Spanish when marching through the Americas, but gold was never far from their minds while converting the heathen (Aztecs, Incas, etc.) to Christianity and otherwise having a grand old time doing their exploration/conquest thing. And the American natives certainly had a lot of gold cultural artefacts, which the Spanish conquistadors were all too happy to relieve from the natives and send them all off to Spain (to be melted down).

But what they actually appropriated from the natives paled in comparison to the tales they heard about undiscovered cities hidden deep in the interior made out of pure gold; Cibola, those ‘seven cities of gold’ was one such, but most of all there was the fabulous golden city of El Dorado, the ‘lost city of gold’. And so it came to pass that, for purely scientific and geographical reasons of course, that many tried to find this golden city (and of course Cibola too) and endured all manner of hardships in their quest. To that end, the natives too endured hardships, like torture to tell all where exactly El Dorado and Cibola was, but it all boiled down, even with the natives, to again someone who told someone who told someone fifty times removed. Nobody had a precise clue. Well, to make a long story short, all the hardships were for nought. It all came to a lump of solid nothing. El Dorado and Cibola didn’t exist. The Americas aren’t home to El Dorado or golden cities of any kind. It’s just another one of those numerous examples of imaginary geography.

Oh, and while I’m at it, just a passing mention that Shangri-La, based on Shambhala, a mythical kingdom in Tibet, is well, also totally mythical. Still, “Lost Horizon”, the novel and the film featuring Shangri-La (plus the hit tune), are part of our cultural heritage now so you can expect that this geographical utopia will be with us for some time to come.

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