Bear with me as I plan to do some more wondering in this installment. I’m going to recommend another book and a documentary to you as I carry on with my meandering.
By Ted McKosky
with Supplementary Photos and References from ERBzine
One of the things that has always interested me is looking at ideas of Edgar Rice Burroughs in other contexts. Whenever a documentary or article on feral children, Mars or gorillas pops up I’m there. I enjoy journeying to worlds that Edgar Rice Burroughs created, off the planet, on the planet and in the planet.
The notion of there being something under our feet was introduced to me by Jules Verne in his “Journey to the Center of the Earth”. First the movie, then the book and finally the Classic comic book. Lots of authors have gone underground to find settings for their stories. Scrooge McDuck travels downward not via the Prospector but by a super corrosive developed by Gyro Gearloose. There is even a set for Dungeons and Dragons that explores the inner planet.
The inner earths that really tickle my fancy though are the ones folks hold to be real. One of the most interesting to me is a gent by the name of Cyrus Teeg. After damn near killing himself with an electrical experiment that went bad he changed his name to Koresh (the Hebrew version of Cyrus) and put forth a theory he called Cellular Cosmogony. His hollow earth was very different from Pellucidar. In his view the surface of the earth we know is inside a sphere and our outer space is really inner space.
In addition to the hollow earth the goddess of his electric vision granted him immortality and the belief system that became Koreshanity. The immortality became an issue during an attempt to avoid taxes. He had created a “New Jerusalum” in Florida with his followers, and wanted to have it declared independent. During the meeting when this idea was suggested, a local citizen pistol whipped him so badly that he died as the result two years later in 1908. After waiting ten days for his resurrection, the local health officials insist that he be buried. In 1910 a storm washes his tomb out to sea, constituting, in my book, a bit of a message. However, the faithful hung on.
What proves to be their undoing is another core belief of Koreshanity, that of celibacy. With no charismatic leader to pull in more folks and none of the believers making little Koreshanitians the last member, Hedwig Michel, gave most of the community to the state of Florida in 1961 and then the rest when she died in 1981. Due to Teeg’s sea adventure, she has the distinction of being the only known member of the group to buried in what is now Koreshan State Historic Site.
One of the things I liked about these folks was their determination to prove their hollow earth belief. They mounted a very convoluted Geodetic Survey in 1897. It involved plumb bobs, spirit levels and a thing called a rectilineator which proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the sea around them was convex and that the earth was hollow.
For a full discussion of this complicated matter see:
HOLLOW EARTH SUPPLEMENTARY REFERENCES
Photos and Links from ERBzine
Teed Biography ~ Koreshanity
DR. TEED'S QUEER IDEA OF THE WORLD
He Thinks It a Hollow Sphere and That We All Live Inside It
Edgar Rice Burroughs:
At the Earth's Core: ERB C.H.A.S.E.R.
At the Earth's Core: e-Text Edition
Pellucidar: ERB C.H.A.S.E.R.
Pellucidar: e-Text Edition
Tanar of Pellucidar: ERB C.H.A.S.E.R.
Tarzan at the Earth's Core: ERB C.H.A.S.E.R.
Back to the Stone Age: ERB C.H.A.S.E.R.
Land of Terror: ERB: C.H.A.S.E.R.
Savage Pellucidar: ERB C.H.A.S.E.R.
Books in ERB's Personal Library:
Farthest North: Being
The Record Of A Voyage Of Exploration
The roots of “Hollow Earth” theory go back at least as far as the 17th Century, when British astronomer Edmund Halley put forward the theory that Earth consists of four concentric spheres. Under Halley’s concept, the interior or the earth was populated with life and lit by a luminous atmosphere. Under his theory the aurora borealis, or northern lights, was a phenomenon that was caused by the escape of this gas through a thin crust at the poles.
In the 1800's John Symmes vigorously promoted the idea of an inner world and eventually received recognition in the form of “Symmes Hole” … the opening to the inner world. Symmes lobbied publicly for an expedition to the North Pole to find the entrance to the world below.
Another promoter of the hollow earth theory, Cyrus Reed Teed, promoted the idea of a hollow earth for nearly forty years, printing pamphlets and giving speeches and founding a cult called the Koreshans. In 1906, William Reed published The Phantom of the Poles, in which he put forward the theory that the poles are entrances to the hollow Earth. In 1913, the same year that ERB started writing At the Earth’s Core, Marshall B. Gardner published, privately, Journey to the Earth’s Interior, which postulated a hollow earth with an interior sun 600 miles in diameter.
It’s unlikely that Burroughs read all of these — it is equally unlikely that he read none of them. Burroughs's own library contained the fictional Through the Earth, published in 1898 and written by Clement Fezandie.
Edmund Halley: ERBzine 1516 | ERBzine 0308 |
John Symmes: ERBzine 1107 | ERBzine 1516 | Text | ERBzine 0308 | ERBzine 1448
Cyrus Reed Teed: ERBzine 1447 | ERBzine 1446 | ERBzine 1516 |
Marshall B. Gardner: ERBzine 1446 | ERBzine 1439 |
Clement Fezandie: Through the Earth (ERB's Library) | ERBzine 1516 | ERBzine 1685 |
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