Friday, January 21, 2011

The island monkeys love the dark

A natural Segway
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, islands in the Southern oceans were popping in and out of existence in a game of geographical Whack-a-mole. Bouvet Island, for instance [notice the natural segue from a previous post] was observed in 1739, and again in 1808 and 1825, but like one's daughter at room-tidying time, it was nowhere to be found when explorers went looking for it in 1772, 1775, 1843 and 1845. Then there is Dougherty Island (observed in 1841, 1860 and 1886), not to mention the Auroras (1762, 1841, 1859, 1886 and 1893; not 1820, 1823 or 1830).

History has ultimately smiled on the reality of Bouvet Island and assigned it '.bv' as an Internet top-domain code, while frowning on Dougherty and the Aurora Islands (though '.du' and '.av' remain in the system in the hope of eventual adoption by pr0n sites that find it convenient to lack a physical location). This was not a foregone conclusion, however, and in 1816 the bookies were offering 7:2 odds on the eventual vindication of the Auroras as realer than the others. Fortunately the notion of misusing the Riddled time machine to profit from gambling has never crossed our minds.

There is an illustration in Rupert T. Gould's Oddities,* published in 1928, which as you have not seen I will proceed to reprint:
It has been calculated that turbines, located on any of these islands to capture the water displaced by each cycle of surfacing and sinking, could generate enough electricity to run Motörhead's entire speaker stack for 73 years or until Lemmy retires (whichever comes first).

1928 was a good year for the temporary-island theme since it also saw the publication of
(1) The Call of Cthulhu; and
(2) Book 3 of De Selby's Golden Hours. In a lengthy footnote added in proof, the sage notes that no two of these islands were ever sighted at the same time. Applying Ockham's Razor with the alacrity of Sweeney Todd, he proposes that the various sightings were therefore all the same island, migrating around the Earth's surface -- or alternatively remaining fixed despite the planet's irregular shifts -- in the manner of the eye of a flatfish, or analogous to the uterus in a bad case of geophysical hysteria. The argument is not without merit if one accepts De Selby's earlier claim that the purported dimension of "longitude" is a mere hallucination and the true shape of the Earth is elongated and sausage-like.

Let us pass discreetly over the recent Certain Islands series of photographs from Megan Jenkinson:
A series of lenticular photographs [...] is based on imaginary Antarctic islands that were charted on the maps but never existed and were presumably fata morgana or mirages hallucinated by explorers under dodgy optical conditions. Depending on your angle of view, you might see a ghostly island looking like a rock or a cloud bank, and then it disappears.
It would be as unfair (as well as dangerous) to accuse the artist of really owing fealty to Cthulhu.

One of these photographs is not by Megan Jenkinson
* Lieutenant-Commander (rtd.) R. T. Gould (left), as played by Jeremy Irons, who will also play Howard P. Lovecraft in the inevitable biopic. Note that Gould and Lovecraft were never seen in the same place at the same time...


Big Bad Bald Bastard said...


the river monkeys ride a raft
with a Spaniard who's gone daft.

tigris said...

Fortunately the notion of misusing the Riddled time machine to profit from gambling has never crossed our minds.

Indeed. So, erm, next fifty rounds on me, eh?

Smut Clyde said...

I see what you do there mr BBBB.

Kathleen said...


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Rupert Thomas Gould (16 November 1890 - 5 October 1948), was a Lieutenant Commander in the British Royal Navy noted for his contributions to horology...

AHEM! I say!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Nuncop chases down the seagull perps.

Smut Clyde said...

ITTDGY's response is nuncopatory.
What is depicted in the painting is a nunatak.

tigris said...

noted for his contributions to horology

Was he the one who restored to the zodiac Ophiuchus, the Appalachian Pentecostal?

Smut Clyde said...

A good name for these on-again off-again islands would be "the Sporadics" but that's already been taken.