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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Tale of the Lambton Worm

The Laws of Silence recently reported two tales of water & death: the fountain sprung from the sarcophagus of St. Fris & the haunted falls at the heart of Minneapolis. Another such tale stems from Sunderland (North East England); this tale is said to be at least 500 years older than the stories of the Loch Ness Monster.

Our story starts with Young John Lambton, heir of the Lambton estate, a rich young punk who shirked his duty and smirked at misdeeds. Skipping church one Sunday to fish the River Wear (rhymes with “near”), he pulled out a hideous open-gilled eel; disgusted, he tossed the foul thing into the peasants’ well (one can picture the jerk taking a piss in the waters right after)—echoic of the French tales of Gargantua, living in a well where people tossed stones at his head.

But the weight of duty cannot be escaped so easily: shrugged from young John’s shoulders, it weighed upon his heart, a burden of guilt. After a restless Sunday night, a weary Monday morning found Lambton at church, where the priest sent him to the Crusades in penance.

Nine battle-weary years later, Lambton found his homelands in the grips of terror. First the well had grown foul; soon nearby sheep and cattle were vanishing in the night. A ring of terror and death spanned outward from the well, a navel with the umbilical worm grown gargantuan in John’s absence A few brave souls challenged the beast, but whenever it was hacked by swords it healed itself, rejoining its cleaved halves and smothering its would-be killers in a constricting embrace before devouring their lifeless bodies. John’s weary old father surrendered into truce, leaving nightly offerings for the beast outside his castle: a trough filled with milk from nine cows seemed to satiate the dragon’s ravenous hunger ("worm" stems from older words meaning "dragon"). The once proud ruler was emasculated, reduced to a wet nurse for his son’s worm.

John Lambton had turned to a priest when guilt engulfed his heart, but he turned to a witch when the worm engulfed his lands. The witch gave John a plan of attack but told him that once the serpent was defeated he was required to kill the first living thing he saw; should he fail, shirking from this duty, the Lambtons would be cursed—for nine generations, none would die in bed. (This type of deal is know as Jephthah’s Vow in reference to a similar bargain related in Old Testament, Judges 11:30-35.)

Lambton followed the witch’s plans: he crafted razor-spiked armor, waited for river-swelling rains, and rowed a boat to a rocky stand in the Wear. The Lambton worm sensed the challenge and rushed forth to kill its former captor. It coiled round the Crusader and constricted; but the tighter it gripped, the more the armor cut into its flesh. John stood fast as the serpent cleaved itself, its severed flesh rushing off in the roaring waters which prevented it from rejoining itself.

John rowed back to shore and trumpeted victory with his hunting horn, the prearranged signal to his father who was supposed to release a hound for John’s required sacrifice. But the elder Lambton, overcome with joy and relief, tottered out of the castle, arms held out wide for his son—he was the first living thing to fall under John’s horrified gaze. All John had to do was meet his father’s embrace; the razor-sharp armor would do the rest—but he could not fulfill his duty. He shouted for a hound and killed it in desperation.

History shows that nine generations of Lambtons died a violent death.

As an interesting side note, Lewis Carroll spent lots of time in Sunderland. Was Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole inspired in part by this tale of a beast in a well?

We leave you a few final questions: Why are death & water so often linked? Is it simply that water is associated with life and the desecration of water therefore a harbinger of death? Then why the River Styx? And why is slipping into the earth so often associated with surrealist adventures? Our recently posted examination of the desecration of the Mississippi suggests that these are not just the stuff of European tales of yore: elemental water and earth continue to hold sway in the shadowy realm of ... imagination?

Recommended for further reading on the Lambton Worm:

  • Mason & Dixon, Thomas Pynchon, chapter 60
  • Alice in Sunderland, Bryan Talbot
  • The Bishoprick Garland, Sir Cuthbert Sharpe gathered 30-some versions of this tale in 1834. There were a couple reprints, but it’s still an uncommon work. We would be incredibly grateful to anyone who could supply us with a scan of the relevant pages in the The Bishoprick Garland.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Google Earth reveals secret Nazi-UFO landing pad

SWASTIKA?: The buildings, constructed in the 1960s, are on the Coronado amphibious base and serve as a barracks for Seabees. From the ground, or even adjoining buildings, the configuration cannot be seen. Nor are there any civilian or military landing patterns that provide such a view. But Google Earth shows the shape clearly.

So reads a Chicago Tribune story about the US Navy's new $600,000 project to assuage those afflicted by an aerial view no one would have been able to see if not for the world-at-your-fingertips phenomenon called Google Earth. Funny thing is how old this story is. Conspiracy websites have been yammering about this image for years and no one gave a shit. Now Google comes along with its Nazi-busting super-technology and the Navy is going to turn the swastika into something less offensive, perhaps maybe a nice big fasces like you can find on the walls of Congress, the Supreme Court building, old dimes....One can only hope that Google will foot the bill, you know, cuz 600,000 beans would go a long way towards paying off those outstanding Blackwater invoices....

Of course, we would be remiss not to include a link to this article, which suggests architect John Mock was a Nazi sympathizer....

These giant swastikas can go relatively unnoticed for decades after their creation. In 1992 a swastika made of trees was discovered in a forest near the village of Zernikow, 60 miles north of Berlin. No pussy landscape architecture here. Them Nazis commandeered a healthy chunk of pine forest to show the sky just what the fuck was what.

Apparently it was planted in the thirties and not discovered until almost sixty years had passed by a guy looking through some aerial photographs. Nothing like a bit of altitude to get a better perspective on things.

The Zernikow swastika was destroyed by chainsaws, ostensibly to prevent the site from becoming a neo-Nazi pilgrimage but just as likely to make up for a collaborationist sense of shame. The San Diego swastika will reverse that method: elaborate plantings, among other camouflage, will hide the offending fylflot. No word yet as to which pilgrims will thus be discouraged from making the reverent hajj to Coronado .

“We told the Navy this was an incredibly inappropriate shape for a structure on a military installation,” said Morris S. Casuto, regional director of the [Anti-Defamation League]. He added, however, that his group “never ascribed evil intent to the structures’ design."

A much different attitude from critics of the Pentagon....

How much will the DOD spend to change that offensive bit of geometry?

And Francisco Coronado's successor Don Juan Oñate hacked off the left foot of every adult male in Acoma Pueblo as retaliation for a battle that left his nephew dead. These men and everyone else in the Pueblo were put into slavery.

Be warned, ye good men! There are certainly many other as-yet-undiscovered offensive shapes lurking out there in Google's wide, woolly Earth....

Be careful of those names, too. You might just end up in Matamoros, or as we say in English: The War on Terror.