The Horrifying Lure of the Deep

Posted on 30 September 2011

Meister of the Secret Chapter Three.

All around is darkness, and who knows what lies in it. Your high power flashlight barely penetrates the gloom, and you could swear you see something moving. Life should not be here, yet somehow, it is. Where are you? Millions of miles away in the cold depths of space? A thousand miles lost in a massive, dank, lifeless cavern? No, you are merely a few miles away from the normal. You are on the ocean floor.

Why is it that nearly a quarter million miles away (the surface of the moon) is more acceptable and less terrifying than five miles below the water? Why does the claustrophobia of a deep-sea submarine weigh in more than the endless vacuum of space that has honestly less material between you and it? And why can we talk about putting astronauts on the surface of Mars as a feasible, decade-attainable goal, but setting up a space-station like research facility or mining/living operation even a few miles down in the ocean is still a complete idea of science fiction? It isn’t just because we don’t want Cthulhu to eat us.

Well, an obvious, scientific answer is that the Ocean is quite a bit more of a challenge, technically speaking. Once you are in space, you are in space. You are in a vacuum, and if you can survive solar winds to get away from Earth to begin with, you have gotten past the worst part. But the ocean, well, that is a whole other ball of wax. The deeper you go, the stronger your craft as to be, down to seven miles at Challenger Deep with 8 tons per square inch. So far, only mini submersibles have gotten people to these depths. Imagine trying to build a city or station down there?

But there is more to it than that. Why else would Lovecraft place R’lyeh in the depths of the Ocean? Why else would James Cameron be actually on point to go back down to Challenger Deep just to get some footage for Avatar II? (I wish that was a joke.) I even just finished reading a Lovecraftian style story by John Wyndham, The Kraken Awakes, from 1953 that never even had to visit the Deeps to make us fear them.

I think, in part, it is because the place is just not inhospitable to us, it seems to mock us. Life does exist down where it just plain seems it should not, and not just microbes. No, we are talking some strange stuff. One would wonder if Lovecraft was actually somewhat prescient in the hideous imaginings he had. Add to it that the place is devoid of sunlight. Any light we do bring with us just doesn’t go as far as we’d like in the dark murk. And let us not forget the recent watery discovery of microbes that don’t even use the same building blocks of life as everything else on the planet. (And yes, I know Mona Lake isn’t that deep, but it is still watery and inhospitable, arsenic and all that.)

And this shows in our legends and myths. Still to this day sailors are superstitious, even without going below the surface. I can’t say I’ve ever heard the same of aviators or astronauts. (No, they are just extremely paranoid, which isn’t quite the same). You don’t hear astronauts worry over meeting aliens, not seriously. After all, we can see what is out in space for quite a ways. People are still trying to catch a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster, though, and salty enough sailors probably can tell you some monster stories of their own.

So tell me, any particular frightening aspects of the deep ocean that captivate your minds?


3 comment to The Horrifying Lure of the Deep

  • I see the site and realise that my attempt to contact my blood brother …Rick Fyfe has brought me here… it really is a strange place I find myself .. Last night I penned a diatribe so dark that your place in the depths of the depths seem as if you and I already have an understanding and place here in the dark … My mission was to make contact with the blood brother who cut his hand as didc I and swore our lifelong bond and loyalty .. something that no force or horror could take from us .. we were sitting in a gutter on the Island of Ibiza .. it was 1974 and we were waiting for a bus to take us home to the finka we had scored during the winter months prior to the summer that made us men, lovers, and free souls who no man nor force couls spoil while we feasted on free love, the notion of our multi national girlfriends of so many nations that came and went like beautiful dreams .. saw the mention of blood .. and ?? what ever your header said .. I am now 40 years older than those dreams and memories and my skill her on the type is not such that I would risk this moment and have it go down the cyber drain to those places where you seem to dwell under the dark pressure and space odity that I so relate to ,, well it seems my mate dick … now rick .. eludes me but I fear you and I have lived and feared what lies so close and so possible yet so untamed and uncertain.. death of many forms can come from these places and only those who dare to dive and hold the breath in order to be where a world so blatantly honest and unforgiving takes the mind and dreams to places … yet to be discussed.. I do hope I will be given a direction other than to go down to the local Gold Coast Lovecraft shop anbd purchase something to take with me when it is just me.. alone in the pressure and dead silence that is our planet as not many have known .. hullo, and greetings comrade

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