April 1, 2021

H is for Hollow Earth #AtoZchallenge

         (Welcome to the A-Z Blog Challenge 2021!  My theme this year is Mythical and Imaginary Places.  If you want to visit more A to Z Blogs, find the Master List here.)
        H is for Hollow Earth, a concept with a long and diverse history, having occurred to cultures around the world, to both theologians and to scientists, and now, alas, to conspiracy-loving nutcases.  To see some of the varied and interesting ways that worlds inside our planet Earth have been conceived, read 

the post about Hollow Earth here.

        Why would this idea be so widely appealing?  I think it has to do with a longing for mystery.  The more science tells us that everything’s already been explored, the more we rebel with the idea that there must be more, hidden out of sight somewhere, ripe for discovery.  The truth is that science hasn’t explained everything yet, and that the human spirit knows and needs that mystery.  There are plenty of aspects to human experience that seem to fall outside of the realm of science altogether, but apparently 
sometimes rather than wrestle with the truly interesting issues of love, creativity, souls and spirits, life and death, that will always remain mysterious, people find it easier just to believe that there’s an unexplored world inside the Hollow Earth that I know about even though those smarty-pants scientists don’t.  Plus, it makes perfect sense that the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs on the surface of the earth would not have affected the dinosaurs inside the earth, so that’s pretty cool, right?
        The MORAL of the Hollow Earth:  A creative exploration of possibilities?  That’s charming, entertaining, and fun.  A deluded belief that governments, scientists, or your scapegoats of choice are for some inexplicable reason trying to hide this implausible truth from you, but you know better than them anyway?  That’s sad, scary, potentially dangerous, and definitely not fun.
              OR:  A useful pro tip for packing efficiently is to place your small planets inside your larger planets.
        So, what’s your favorite non-scientific way to imagine the Earth?  Hollow?  Flat?  Geocentric?  Or perhaps we’re just the inhabitants on the inside of a much larger Earth?

[Pictures: Back cover illustration from The Symmes Theory of Concentric Spheres by John Cleves Symmes and Americus Symmes, 1878 (Image from Hathi Trust);

Front cover illustration from Geokosmos: Weltbild der Zukunft (Worldview of the Future) by Karl Neupert, 1942 (Image from Ricardo).]


Frédérique said...

The Earth is carried on the back of a giant turtle (as said Terry Pratchett), right?!!

Quilting Patchwork & Appliqué - A = Abat-jour/Lampshade

Mike said...

Interesting! I look forward to reading your other posts.

AJ Blythe said...

I read "A", but when I realised you'll somehow sync into the A to Z timeline I thought I'd come back here :)

I get how people needed an explanation for things they couldn't understand. I guess it gave them easy reasons for earthquakes and volcanoes etc. Hard to imagine thinking like that now.

Returning your A to Z visit from AJ Blythe - A to Z: Poisons and stories of their use

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

That's a good one, Frédérique. I think elephants may be involved, too.

AJ, I always start early so that I can take some days off during the month of April. But we'll all end up together by the last week. =)

Olga Godim said...

I think this need of humans to find something unexplored and mysterious is behind the current fascination with speculative fiction. The closer the transportation progress and computers bring us together, the more we want to dive into the literary unknown in books in movies. There was no speculative fiction before the 19th century, while some places of our planet remained unexplored.

Sue Bursztynski said...

I can’t help thinking of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens, where the hollow earth thing is a part of what’s in Anathema Device’s magazines, so of course become real when Antichrist Adam Young imagines it, as Tibetans running around inside the earth.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Sue, surprisingly many of the hollow earth versions end up sounding like a 10-year-old's imagination!

Olga, I agree that humans really enjoy mysteries and finding new unexplored places, but I'm going to have to disagree with the statement about no spec fic before the 19th century. Check out The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor from 1900 BCE, Aesop's fables from the 6th century BCE, Lucian of Samosata's True History from the second century, Thomas More's "Utopia" from 1516, Margaret Cavendish's "The Blazing World" from 1666, Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" from 1726, and Ludvig Holberg's Niels Klim's Underground Travels from 1741, just to rattle off a few!

Lisa said...

When I read "hollow earth" all that jumped to mind was the old movie (1959) Journey to the Center of the Earth. There were giant lizards, and the explorers returned by being shot up out of volcanoes! It's terrible, and fun!

JadeLi said...

I like to imagine the earth as one cell in a much larger organism.

My "H" Jethro Tull song for the day is here:

Deborah Weber said...

I hadn't imagined it before you mentioned it, but now I'm loving the idea that we're inside another Earth. I'm enamored of Matryoshka dolls, and now I want to create nesting Earths.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Lisa, that's the Jules Verne version, and it is fun to imagine dinosaurs still alive deep beneath our feet.

Jade, what an interesting thought. I love it!

Deborah, I'm sure you could come up with some wonderful ways to portray it.

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

Apparently since Kong vs Godzilla came out, a whole lot of people started believing in Hollow Earth again... *facepalm*
There is a Russian novel about it, titled Plutonia, that I really loved as a child.

The Multicolored Diary

Timothy S. Brannan said...

OH! I love Hollow Earth stuff! Just fun crazy stuff.

Tim Brannan, The Other Side: 2021: The A to Z of Monsters

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

I like the idea of an alien civilisation living in the centre of the earth. Or perhaps something like the Brendan Fraser movie "Journey to the Center of the Earth"...

Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge with an A-Z of Faerie: Half-Mortals in Folklore