I never thought I’d be so close to the Antarctic! When we rounded the tip of the South Island of New Zealand the other day, we were about 2550 km away, and the weather was understandably cool.
Antarctica itself is an unusual place, very ancient and still largely a mystery. There is a submerged lake that must have microbes that have not been in our air for millions of years. Could be bad news, could be good news, but scary to find out. As I understand it, there are remains of tropical forests, which means it wasn’t always in its present location.
If you recall from the Atlantis Issue of the Rosicrucian Digest (www.rosicrucian.org/publications), this has lead some to identify Antarctica with Atlantis. In the Stargate Universe, of course, it was an important base for the Ancients, with Earth Defenses centered there, as well as another Stargate.
The tradition of weird tales about Antarctica has a good foundation. The Hollow Earth theories of John Cleves Symmes, Jr,, presented as early as 1818. He speculated that there was a hole at the South Pole which allowed entrance to the Hollow Earth, where several civilizations prospered.
His theories were widely popular and taken seriously throughout the 19th Century. No less than Edgar Rice Burroughs and L. Frank Baum fictionalized his theories in works.
After World War II, it was said in Hollow Earth circles that a Nazi sub with Hitler aboard escaped through this route, And of course, the general idea of an interior civilization is seen in Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, and TV’s Sanctuary, Doctor Who, etc., among many others.
Edgar Allen Poe used elements of this in his only published novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838). Often praised as his greatest achievement, it did not sell well during his lifetime.
In it he narrates the voyage of Pym to the South Seas, culminating in a mysterious Antarctic encounter with the chasm and a Figure in White. This enigmatic ending has fired the imaginations of generations of authors.
Most notable is perhaps Jules Verne, who penned a sequel in 1897, titled variously An Antarctic Mystery, The Sphinx of Ice, and The Mystery of Arthur Gordon Pym. He continued the narrative, and like Poe, blended contemporary scientific accounts with fiction. This technique would be put to very goos use later by H.P. Lovecraft and Tim Powers.
Lovecraft’s 1936 horror novel, At the Mountains of Madness is directly influenced by Poe, with the typical Lovecraftian despair and an indifferent or hostile cosmos as background. I understand that a movie version of the Novel is being contemplated. I cannot imagine that the U.S. film-goer is ready for HPL’s bleak vision of the universe, although I am a great HPL fan!
So the Antarctic is certainly a place of mystery, on all levels. New Zealand and Australia were once all together, as they drifted away from the primal Supercontinent.
From what geologists can determine, the double-continent of Australia-Zealandia separated from Antarctica about 130 million years ago, and then separated between 60-85 million years ago.
Zealandia was a full continent itself, centered on the North and South Islands of today, but extended to the many outlying islands that belong to NZ. Extending south, there are five groups of NZ islands, UNESCO World Heritage Sites. New Zealand also has territorial claims on several islands closer to Antarctica, but these claims are currently in abeyance due to the Antarctic Treaty System.
What flora and fauna must have inhabited these Southern Continents? And are our current anthropological theories correct that there were no humans, or are older notions, such as the Vedic teachings, correct?
With the recent discovery of a submerged continental area off the Coast of India, I am sure that the history of our Planet, and our species, will be re-written several times over.
My own theories (not ranging as far back as 130 million years!) are related in my article in the aforementioned Rosicrucian Digest on Atlantis. I suspect that “Atlantis” is the mythologized name for a world-wide maritime civilization that flourished, and then perished ca. 12,500 BCE.
I believe that continuing evidence will come to light via underwater and satellite archeology during the next century to support at least some form of this theory. Time will tell.
In any case, I have had my near Antarctic encounter, and we are now headed North to Melbourne! Thank heavens I did not hear any seabirds crying Tekeli-li! from my balcony. That would not have been good (see both Poe and Lovecraft for this).
Until tomorrow, I remain, your faithful Southern Correspondent!
… Sorry for the brevity and typos: Sent from remote on the phone.