Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Landways to the Stars

         I admire a natural philosopher who invents an idea of the universe so original and patently false that it becomes oddly persuasive. One is confronted with the issue: either this theory is insane or I am insane, and the theory makes you rather hope that you are the deranged one.  Cyrus Teed, with his notion that we all lived inside a hollow Earth was one such philosopher. Yet he met his match in the post-Sputnik era. One of the loopiest, yet most compelling theories of the universe, or at least of earthly and celestial topography, can be found in F. Amadeo Giannini's, Worlds Beyond the Poles a 1959 amplification of his earlier work, Physical Continuum.
         Giannini had a very curious insight. In fact, revolutionary. As the first paragraph of his book explains, "There is no physical end to the Earth's northern and southern extent. The earth merges with land areas of the universe about us that exist straight ahead beyond the North Pole and the South Pole 'points' of theory. It is now established that we may at once journey into celestial land by customary movement on the horizontal from beyond the Pole points." 

         To put it simpler,  Giannini explains, "When one goes beyond the Poles one is moving, as the colloquial aptly describes, 'out of this world.' One then continues to move over land extending beyond the Earth." Land routes, full of water and vegetation, stretching throughout the universe, connect the Earth to other planets and stars. 
         Comparing himself to various greats scorned in the past for their bold ideas, Giannini reported that the astronomical theories of all past ages, sadly, were false. Were moons, stars, planets isolated bodies, traveling in lonely orbits? No, this was all a mirage, since there were no "Globular and isolated bodies to be found throughout the whole Universe: they are elements of lens deception."  The universe was entirely connected. 
          The centerpiece of Giannini's evidence for these "land routes" were extracts from the diaries of the pilot and polar explorer Admiral Richard E. Byrd who first flew over the North Pole in 1926, and in 1929 flew over the South Pole. Giannini insisted that in addition to these flights, in February 1947, Byrd had flown an important mission over the North Pole. Giannini reported that in one entry in Byrd's diary, the famous explorer had noted, "I'd like to see that land beyond the Pole. That area beyond the Pole is the center of the great unknown."  Giannini reported that on Byrd's forgotten mission, "as progress was made beyond the pole point, iceless land and lakes, mountains covered with trees, and even a monstrous animal moving through the underbrush, were observed and reported via radio."
         Unfortunately, Byrd appears to have been at the South Pole during this period. Giannini  concocted his diary extracts. It was, of course, for a good cause.  Giannini wanted us all to know how easy it was to go out of this world.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

We Live Inside!

“The new molecular philosophy shows astronomical interspaces betwixt atom and
atom…the world is all outside: it has no inside.” 
     --Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience.”

"Your inside is out and your outside is in."
          --John Lennon "Everybody's Got Something to Hide" 

It takes a bold philosopher to disagree with Ralph Waldo Emerson. A young contemporary of Emerson,  Cyrus Teed was that man. Emerson’s profound declaration that the world “has no inside”?  Nonsense.  We were there already. Teed was a rural physician with training from the Eclectic Medical College in New York, a tradition which rejected heroic chemical cures and blood-letting and favored herbal and electrical remedies.
Teed also was a latter-day alchemist, thirsting after the very secrets of the universe;  and, in the true alchemical tradition of mixing science with mysticism, during his experiments in 1869 he had a spiritual epiphany. He left this world and had a vision of a beautiful woman standing on a crescent and holding Mercury’s winged staff of intertwined serpents. What she announced prompted him to write The Illumination of Koresh, and he had no choice but to found a new religion,  based on his major insight, “We Are all Inside.” 

Various people had been promoting the notion of a hollow earth, including Sir Edmund Halley, in the seventeenth century, and John Cleve Symmes, whose circular of 1818, noted: “I declare the earth is hollow and habitable within…I ask one hundred brave companions, well equipped, to start from Siberia, in the fall season, with reindeer and sleighs” to seek out a polar entrance.  It was a call to adventure, with promised riches. 
Teed sidestepped such heroic efforts: no need for reindeer excursions, as we already lived inside the hollow earth.  Koreshanity, as explained in his text Cellular Cosmogony, or, the Earth a Concave Sphere,  gained followers, as did his Koreshan Commune in Florida. Brochures urged, ‘We Live Inside! Drop in and See Us.’
Usually Teed is dismissed as proclaiming the delightfully insane idea that we live inside the hollow Earth. But he actually implied that not just the Earth as we thought of it, but the entire Universe was a sphere and we lived on its inner plane. Still bizarre, yet intriguing. To Emerson’s tragic insight “the world is all outside,” Teed countered with, “We Live Inside!” A return to the womb or announcement that everything is connected?*

*For more on hollow earth lore, read David Standish, Hollow Earth, the Long and Curious History...Da Capo, 2006. Or try Fred Nadis, Man from Mars: Ray Palmer's Amazing Pulp Journey (Tarcher/Penguin, June 2013) for the connection between hollow earth theory, occultism, and pulp science fiction of the 1940s.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Interview With Doc Nadis by Jimmy Olsen

--Why, Dr. Nadis, have you begun to blog?
--When my parents were gunned down in Crime Alley, several decades ago, I vowed—
--Hold on. Crime Alley? That’s from Batman, a registered trademark of Detective Comics.
--O.K. Can I go on? I have a Ph.D.
--Exactly. Ph. And D. I’m relying on what is known as poetic license.
--Wouldn’t that be more of a license to philosophize?
--There you go. Like OO7. So I’m philosophizing.
--My father was a research scientist, exposed to deadly radiation from a gamma bomb he was testing. Turned him green. We didn’t see much of him after that. Except in men's Big and Large clothing stores.
--The Mighty Hulk?
--So, I see here a pathetic effort to claim some connection to superpowers.
--Let’s face it. Historians run in packs, roaming the past and howling. Decent citizens take cover when they hear their cries. I have hotcakes to dispense.
--So this blog is strictly a commercial platform?
--Well, I’m not selling action figures. Thoughts, sonny boy jim, thoughts.
--That’s better. Thoughts. And why the name, “Cabinet of Curiosities?”
--That’s what they called them.
--Them. The team of mutant misfits carried by time waves to the European centers of learning when Michelangelo and his crew were tagging Rome and Florence. Apparently wealthy gents interested in learning had these cabinets—
--Like a t.v. cabinet? A medicine cabinet?
--More like a room. A library. Full of wonders. Ostrich eggs. Stuffed crocodiles hanging from the ceiling. Odd minerals sliced open that showed scenes of people dancing. Chunks of magnetite. Butterflies. Stamp collections. Merit badges.  A run of Weird Tales. The complete 78 rpm recording of Jabbo Smith and Eddie Lang.
--A cool place to hang out.
--Exactly. Crank up the Victrola. Experience wonder. It was a faculty located somewhere between mind and heart, that stimulated the intellect. Not mere sensation. Not just stunts.
--Only really good stunts?
-- Do you have some tag words so browsers on the Interwebs can find you?
-- History of science. Science Fiction. Wonder. Oddities. Weird science. The occult. Paranormal. Mesmerism. Buy my books.
--We wish you luck in your blogging.
--Thanks, Jimmy. And you should do something about that electric bow-tie.