Mar 16, 2008

No Man's Land

I've always loved Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. As a teenager I read it more than once, I think long before seeing the Disney movie. To me, Captain Nemo (latin for "no man") was the good guy, and I couldn't imagine a better life than being a member of his swarthy, muscular, all male crew! The Nautilus was an invincible machine - powered with the same energy as the sun! How cool was that? The entire ocean was their uncontested "turf", and they had no need to go back to the land... ever. The land was the domain of stupid rules, stupid wars and stupid people. The sea was the domain of freedom, and even as a 14 year old I knew that was a good thing.

"The sea is everything... an immense reservoir of nature where I roam at will..." --Nemo

Ned Land (natch) represented the land, and handsome as he was, I still hated him. Here he was in paradise, and all he could think about was how to get off! It wasn't until I was much older that I realized his desire to leave was tied to his gonads. Ned needed to fuck, and there were no women on board the Nautilus. Of the three Nautilus "rescuees", Ned was the driving force to leave, to mutiny.

Ned is a harpooner; a whaler. A whale is of course Leviathan - the Behemoth of the sea. Moby Dick was Ahab's nemesis, and a metaphor for fate, or God (fate with an agenda). Ahab's enemy was a sperm whale, invoking the masculine. The sperm whale literally dines on giant squid (Kraken) so when the Nautilus is attacked by a Kraken, we see it as it really is: a great phallic "whale" which has just swallowed Ned! Ned always considered himself the cock of the block, no wonder he didn't much appreciate it.

Ned becomes Pinocchio and Jonah, and even Han Solo, swallowed by the giant space slug.

Disney's 1954 version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was probably the first Steampunk movie. The Disney Nautilus featured reptilian plating that evoked a great metal Ichthyosaur - a sea dragon. It even had a "rose" window with the distinctive Flux Capacitor motif. James Mason played Nemo, so as usual, we have a Mason playing God.

Nemo is the prototype Bond Villain - a man bent on saving the world by destroying it. Driven by vengeance and empathy for the oppressed (being personally familiar with the evils of so-called civilization), maybe he figured that he couldn't do any worse than the status quo. (That's always been my beef with the Super Heroes - all they ever manage is a restoration of the already appalling status quo.)

"They lack vision." --Darth Sidious

One of my favorite Bond movies is The Spy Who Loved Me, which features megalomaniac shipping tycoon Karl Stromberg and his ultra-cool submersible headquarters, "Atlantis". Besides trips to the pyramids, Ringo's wife Barbara Bach as agent "Triple X", and the iconic (rear engine) Lotus Esprit car-submarine, the plot revolves around Stromberg's new super tanker, the Liparus. The Liparus literally "swallows" nuclear submarines as if they were sardines - Stromberg's base is in Sardinia. Another whale tale.

The Nautilus' namesake is a cephalopod whose shell forms a logarithmic spiral - an expanding fractal. It is a predator that feeds mainly on shrimp and small fish - sardines. A model of the Ouroboros?

As Steve Willner points out in Ouroboros, CERN, and a Trip Through the Water Door, "galactic alignment" is all about Ouroboros. Maybe it's time I get in touch with my inner Jonah.


Apparently, Jules Verne was a suspected homosexual. No wonder I like his books.


aferrismoon said...

Nice James Mason link, he of Lolita and Marseille Connection among brilliant things.
Of course Nemo is Women backwards minus the W, NoMen Omen
In LOST, one crew member of the freighter REGINA, is found reading a collection Jules Verne stories upside-down.
Fine pinging- Sonar operator

Jake Kotze said...


A friend has been talking about how Channel Number 5 (all perfume) needs a chemical derived from the remains of giant squid (which have never been seen in the wild?) retrieved from sperm whales. True or not... Nice sync with your post.


Christopher Loring Knowles said...

I'm sure Verne was gay- probably all of those guys were. You gay guys have no idea how time-consuming heterosexuality is! Back in those days it was even more so. How could a poor straight guy get any writing done?!

kean said...

This goes along with my water syncs lately (see my post NOvelty, Archetypes....):
one of my most memorable childhood memories involves that very Nautilus model. One of my dad's clients was the guy who designed and made those, and he gave one to me and my brother, with a personalized plaque. one time my brother and i were playing with it at the top of the stairs, and i cant remember if it was me or him, but the submarine went flying down the stairs and the needle tip broke off. and i was extremely scared that my dad would find out. i dont have many childhood memories, but that is one of the ones that has stuck with me.

kean said...

clarification.... i dont actually know who designed that submarine, but looking back on the situation, i think my dad might have lied to me when he said his client designed it. the guy apparently just made replicas or his own version. either way it has stuck with me as a major memory.

Michael said...

Great comments guys, thanks.

Jake: Sorta true. Ambergris (gray amber) was highly sought after by the fragrance industry though substitute compounds are now mainly used. Ambergris was the "Spice" of the 19th Century.

Ambergris occurs as a biliary secretion of the intestines of the sperm whale... Because giant squids' beaks have been found embedded within lumps of ambergris, scientists have theorized that the whale's intestine produces the substance as a means of facilitating the passage of hard, sharp objects that the whale might have inadvertently eaten.

Kean: great personal sync!

kean said...

its not just personal to me, you facilitated the sync! so i guess that makes it ours :)

its funny too because my parents just moved and they placed the submarine on the back of the toilet in my new room and i was surprised to see it when i got home. what makes it even more interesting is that Ive been thinking about that submarine recently, and the fact that its needle broke off. symbolically to my 6 or 7 year old mind, that must have resonated with me as being related to castration, which would explain why i felt sort of traumatized by the event. but whos penis did it represent? mine, my brothers, my dads? hmmm.....

JB said...

I remember a submarine officer who had "Welcome a board!" tattooed on his you-know-what. It was lol-inducing. ;)

Related Posts with Thumbnails