Against the Day Weblog

November 30, 2006

Chums of Chance in the Bowels of the Earth

Filed under: Questions — basileios @ 10:42 am

Well, I am not really sure I understand the essence of presence of this adventure, which is practically unfinished.



  1. Aside from connecting to the earlier allusion made in conversation by the Chums regarding ‘certain… mysteries of the profession’, it serves to suggest that the twins of science & commerce are closing the (subterranean) world of the fantastic– and that the collapse of alternate theories like the Hollow Earth is so profound as to affect the (metafictional?) crew of the Inconvenience.

    There’s the usual litany of Hollow Earth fiction, which proliferated during the turn of the 19th century– –as well as the Ray Palmer / Richard Shaver hoax that claimed to transcend fiction & wander into the world of fact, with its tales of robot titans and dwarves warring beneath the earth– (cf. ).

    Seems to me that the singling up of all lines, or narrowing of alternatives (to put it more in Michael Moorcock’s terms) is serving to subtly clamp down on what’s acceptable to “modern” imagination.

    My opinion, for what it’s worth.

    Comment by Navan Ghee — December 3, 2006 @ 8:32 pm | Reply

  2. you do have a strong point there. I am quite happy accepting the closing of the metaphysical theories at the turn of the century and the aspect of ‘change’ even in the spiritual state of mind.

    It does though still strike me as quite an odd the way this particular adventure is presented at that point in the book.

    Thanks for the comment

    Comment by Basileios — December 3, 2006 @ 8:41 pm | Reply

  3. Speaking of ‘odd’ moments in fiction & Hollow Earth symbolism, I forgot to refer to ‘The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym’, the inspiration for Lovecraft’s Antarctic fictions.

    This description at the top of the page seems rather apt, given the way Pynchon’s shifting around on us: “The story starts out as a fairly conventional adventure at sea, but it becomes increasingly strange and hard to classify in later chapters, involving religious symbolism and the Hollow Earth.”

    Comment by Navan Ghee — December 3, 2006 @ 8:59 pm | Reply

  4. Actually I was thinking of Arthur Gordon Pym and the Nuntucket as well at some other point in the narrative and also the Sphinx of the antarctic by Jules Verne which was written round about the turn of the century (and is a sequel to the Poe story). (but its been something like 25 years since I read it…)

    Comment by Basileios — December 3, 2006 @ 9:13 pm | Reply

  5. I view the closing of hollow earth as a type of global warming phenomena in parallel and part of a collective closing of the mind. Being a buddhist myself this connection comes easily.

    The hollow earth/ telluric source of beginnings/power according to Eco is something imbedded in the German archetype. The 7 Dwarf theory to German Romanticism as one of his characters calls it (Foulcault’s Pendulum. The closing of this sense of wonder and awe is the price for the exchange to the rising militarism of the times. You can’t have two both co-existing it would seem. Is that the source of what some readers think of as TP’s cynicism? I’d like to think of the book as a hope that somewhere someplace if wrong turns aren’t taken, with lessons finally learned they can.

    As noted on another thread I feel the CofC represents this changing zeitgeist of the times.

    Comment by ShakespearesChimp — January 18, 2007 @ 2:37 pm | Reply

  6. tp is cynical about the loss of AWW? in silly ideas???? his book is full of the silliest of ideas, he saves his aww for math and science, whom the real troopers (with imaginary parts of course) love to tread

    why not get excited about science or math, vectors baby!!!
    and quaternions aren’t gone forever its a comp sci revival

    Comment by Nerxgas — November 3, 2008 @ 9:36 am | Reply

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