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Volume 1601

Cristian and Princesses at a Medieval Festival

Ed: Since Christian has been one of our major ERBzine contributors,
I've asked him to share a bit of his personal background with us:

I don't have much very special to say about myself.  I'm quite a usual guy, I'm 34, I work in our family business, and I live quite a quiet life. I'm a Transylvanian of Romanian and Suabian ancestry. I live around 100 miles west of the famed Borgo Pass (actually it's pronounced like "Burgauw"). I lived in France for four years with my parents from age 16 to 20. I studied economics, both in Romania and in the States. Not married -- but I've tried once, and I'm ready to try again with the right lass. 

I met ERB in France in a bookstore when I was 16. It made quite an impression, but didn't quite win me as a dedicated fan. I also met there Clark Ashton Smith and Lovecraft and Howard. All this developed in me a taste for Fantasy and old Sci-fi. But afterwards I did other things and didn't carry on with this hobby. This being said, although I lost contact until I was 30, I never quite forgot ERB's work. But following LOTR, I plunged again in the Fantasy thing, and since 2004 I've taken full advantage of the Internet to search for this hobby of mine and eventually found you guys from ERBzine. Den Valdron became my model for writing essays the way we do.

My hobbies: history, economic history, demography, geography, religions, theology, sociology and initiatic symbolism as analyzed by Rene Guenon. And climbing mountains. But I'm not a big sportsman though, I climb mountains once or twice a year, leisurely. 

Now, for my ERB-related activity here, there's nothing to say, people here are not interested in this stuff, I've tried even with my latest girlfriend with no result (other than writing-style appreciation). Modern young people are so damned prosaical... Also, truth is, you must start as an adolescent, as a grown person it's a bit silly to start reading apparently naive fantasy. And people of my age were not at all in touch with ERB in their adolescent years between 1988-1994. Even I had the chance to meet him in France. I think being a comic book fan helps, it's sort of a related universe. But here again, Romania has no interest whatsoever in comic books.  Some of my friends have found my essays ok, but still not enough to suscitate erbmania in them. And especially the Nemone analysis has made some wonder about my common sense. They don't have any symbolistic training, it's all Chinese written by an Egyptian into Runic script, to them. But I don't give up, I'll try some more... I must succeed, ERB is a big symbolist and this land has given some heavy weight symbolists, so it can't fail, I will eventually find the poetic spirits that fit the profile and feel the connection.

Well, that's about it...
Oh, my type of woman is Jennifer Connely, if you know one like that, please mail her in a coffin, at my address: 666 Dracula Trail, Forrest of the Hanged, Transylvania.

Bye and bloody nightmares.


 Interesting Survivability Rates
Pellucidarian Cogitations 
Barsoom Analysis Part I: Demography, Polity, Society and Economy
Barsoomian Analysis II: Sociology and Morality
Barsoomian Analysis III: Girl, Reconstructed
More Barsoomologist and Amtorianist  Musings
Tarzan and Nemone of the City of Gold
ERB Miscellania
by Cristian Sildan
One has not always inspiration for some long essay, but when some good ideas come, even without link between them, it's preferable to share them.

Looking upon the online forums I saw some ideas from the members that I would like to address, and maybe complete.

Den Valdron, for example, had a great idea about the hag Issus and her hypnotic spell and her perpetuation by successive hypnosis of other hags. Yes it had to be that to convince everybody of her beauty and godhead, but I think - and I regret not having had the idea sooner to put it in my essay on the Martian psychology - that there must be a sort of collective self-hypnosis going on upon Barsoom, starting from the Iss authorities and continuing, pervading, dripping, suffusing, down to the last wandering panthan and Green guy, and bathing the whole society, for otherwise how could an entire world, for untold aeons, be gullible enough to swallow this story of a terrestrial paradise somewhere in the South, where there's place for all the past generations put together? And not even the smallest guy upon a flyer to try to get there, all this time... The entire population has to be seriously lobotomized as far as this particular notion is concerned.

Also, it's interesting how they start to discover new hidden polities just after the crash of the cult, isn't it? As if some spell broke, the fear of unknown lands calmed down and the curiosity to explore started to reappear... Maybe the cult network was mass-hypnotizing the populations to keep them separate and stop them from inquiring too much. It may seem enormous, but let's not forget the telepathy that characterizes these races of people. Through it, some local hypnotism upon the leaders should have some sort of echo effect throughout the entire social body. That would be a nice explanation for everything.

Except maybe, there could be a false note here, in the story of the manipulation of the successive hags into Issus-ism: that would suppose the existence of a body of priests who would be the real masters since they, and they only, would know all the truth. And, they wouldn't vanish like that, with the death of one hag. They would devise something to restore the faith… And we don't see anything like that in the books, it all goes as if the hag was the only one aware of her imposture and all the others were her dupes. Or, she seems to be a very ordinary old fossil, nothing like the Mastermind that enslaves the ethos of a world.

So what could be the explanation: maybe the mass-hypnosis into belief is self-induced, even if originally it was started by some geniuses of the Therns, taken over by some less genius but more cunning Blacks, and then hijacked by someone even less smart but more cunning, like the old hag. That would explain how easily many shed it, especially Heliumites, when they are exposed to the truth.

If you are not convinced, I'm well placed to give an example: communism in which I lived the first part of my life. Its been started by smart, if evil, people. But the latest dictators were pathetic. They lived on the rent of the terror system inherited from the first generation of leaders, many of whom they had assassinated or forcibly sent into retirement. Stalin and Trotsky is a classic. Kroutchev and Beria too. Maybe Issus did the same with smarter, but less cunning, predecessors. Maybe she had in mind to form a new hag by herself, or maybe she got self-hypnotized or hypnotized by the worship of her followers and came to believe she was immortal. Its a very likely possibility, after all she was really old and we have no hint of any project of succession. Maybe even without John Carter, one day she would have been found dead, a carrion on the throne, and the whole system would have had an attack. Anyway, that rather points towards my idea of a not-so-long history of Barsoom, after all things seem to change in time, even if at a smaller pace. A system like the one described above, and which seems quite likely to me from what we gather from the books, has to have a certain entropy that stops it from going on for aeons. We know that someone who doesn't take the Iss pilgrimage can live a bit more than 2000 years – see I Gos – but visibly not much more. A system like Iss-ism can't have a much slower entropy than Communism for example, since it's quite related in terms of manipulation-terror-hiding truths. Yes, the more traditional ethos and the telepathy of Barsoom would make it last longer, but not much more. That means at most four to five lives of leaders for it to last, and that's around 10000 years. Which fits ok with my time frame, yek, yek, yek…

Also, about the peoplement of Barsoom by astral projection not only through space but also through time, that would explain the fact that we see Mars as dry and lifeless when we know it's the same body as Barsoom: the action described by ERB can take place millennia before our time. Yes but, here we have a problem: astronomers from Barsoom see the Earth very well, and they see it in the same time frame! So Barsoom has to be contemporary with the 19-20th century Earth, and we can solve this riddle only by placing both of them into a parallel universe, that we all came to call the Burroughs Universe, which is different in many aspects from our own. As for the time projection, I don't know. It could explain the age of the Barsoomian humanity, but maybe it's not necessary, since upon BU Earth the fully modern human appears to be older than upon our planet – see Nu. Yes but if we invoke Nu, there are other problems appearing: Niocene, it's not that much time back, and we see that there are still some Dinos around, even the Sun is bigger, etc. We must admit that the BU is a really weird dimension by our standards, and it's possible that its entire time frame is twisted, compared to ours. And then, I like my own idea of fake long Barsoomian history, I must admit, and I stand by it and defend it. I never was very comfortable with this concept of millions of years old stable culture. I mean, with so much time passing, they should have become an entirely new species by now – that includes total inability to breed with Earthlings – or, they seem to be the same, even in most artistic tastes and stuff. Barsoom might be a place of very slow evolution, and the telepathy might be a colossal hinder to originality, but still these guys are human and it's just not at all realistic to see humans almost totally static for geological ages.

Let's delve a bit on Pellucidar.
Also, about the growth of the plants upon Pellucidar, again Den said it should be very slow because of the weak sunlight of the small sun and that would explain the freezing of most societies there at Paleolithical level: the lands would not be that rich and crop-yielding as it seems at first view. Well, I don't think the life of the Pellucidarian plants is necessarily difficult: I've read somewhere that the plants use only 3% of the light they get... so maybe the ones of Pellucidar use well just this equivalent... also, it's written in the novels in some places about the recovery of the vegetation, for example when one passes through the grasses, and it appears to be at least as fast as upon Earth. For the tribal territories, I don't think their soils are exhausted in 200 years, for a simple reason: people there live 400 to 600 years, and they don't talk of moving a lot! As for the reason of the lack of development, I think it's both due to the ideal life that chokes motivation – yes, despite the dangers the life is good there, just think, eternal sunlight, eternal spring, long life etc. - and to a human presence that appears to be recent: I wrote about the empty areas in the Peninsula that would say humans are not that old there...

The fans said in the discussion that the map of Pellucidar would be very hazy since we only have a supposition from Perry about the distributions of the land masses and oceans; but it appears there is a quite exact map, in the city of Phutra, made by the Mahars. It's not just a supposition of Perry.

I also have my idea on the visualisation of the landscape upon - in - Pellucidar: I'm ready to bet they don't see very far. Yep, I've read somewhere what would be if the earth was flat, and they said we would be able to see at 1000 kms away or so! Well upon a concave surface, it would be much farther, and so, who would be lost at sea? Everybody would see the shores as far as they were, like one sees the contours of the continents from the satellite! And the inner Moon, how is it possible to see it only from a distance? It should be visible everywhere. Besides, the Pellucidarians themselves don't see their earth as concave, but flat! All this points to a world without far visibility. I say the reason can only be that the atmosphere is very thick because of the local type of perpetual evaporation-condensation of the water, of which I spoke in my essay. Water vapor is all the time in the air, and makes impossible to see further than say 20-30 kms away. So the vista in Pellucidar is more like our own, just a bit concave. And does not go very far. As an example, I often drive by a place from where one can see mountains 4800 ft tall (1800m) some 20 miles (30 kms) away. Well, in some hot humid days, they are not at all visible. Just because there's much humidity in the air, it's as if they were not there! And my place is relatively dry, especially in summer, compared to other places in Europe. But, in some fresh clear spring days, the vista is crystal clear and you see the mountains very well. So you see, if in a region that has usual to less humidity than others, you can have a short horizon because of the charged atmosphere, what to think of Pellucidar where the atmosphere is continuously vapour saturated?

So, these are the ideas. Hope they give you food for thought.

Tarzana, California
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