There is an inter-tropical convergent zone in our earthworld which exists between 30-35 degrees north and 30-35 degrees south, somewhere between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. It’s known as The Doldrums. “Dold” is an archaic word for stupid.
When ships would enter into its sphere of influence, the dying of the wind would cause them to be dead stuck and out of luck. This place was also called the Horse Latitudes because the sailors would eventually throw the animals overboard in a last chance effort to lower the weight and get some traction and passage. Considering that the seamen were most likely living on hard tack and lutefisk, one would think that eating the poor beasts would have been a better bet than drowning them.
However, many writers have been entranced and influenced by the image and mythological influence of the site and the consequent condition. Jim Morrison of the Doors wrote a poem, supposedly when he was only sixteen, about it and turned it into a song.
“When the still sea conspires an armor
And the sullen and aborted
Currents breed tiny monsters
True sailing is dead
And the first animal is jettisoned
Legs furiously pumping
Their stiff green gallop
And heads bob up
Jules Feiffer illustrated Norton Juster’s book, The Phantom Tollbooth, which encompassed a race called the Lethargarians who lived in a world “where nothing ever happens, nothing changes, and you can do anything as long as it’s nothing and everything as long as it isn’t anything.”
A young writer, Robert Ferrigno, who lived before he was ever published, in an apartment above my mother in Long Beach, California, wrote his first novel which was called “The Horse Latitudes.” He swam, as did his character, in the middle of the night in the still waters of the Alamitos Bay, that same place where I learned to swim and sail in my youth. Obviously there was a theme about “being stuck.”
And above all, a narrative artist who recorded many years ago on tape (that ancient technology) made one of his stories about the Horse Latitude. Brilliant, brilliant, and wouldn’t you know – we can’t remember the name of the group, of the writer, the artist. If you know who I am referring to – please comment!
And all of this is leading up to the revelation that I am in the doldrums. Yes. It’s not a state that is particularly depressive. I certainly don’t feel suicidal. I’m not ready to throw Cosmo out in the snow. But I definitely have joined the race of Lethargarians.
It most likely began with The Cold. And I possibly just got into the groove of lying-about. Staring into the TV mindlessly as I clicked from the Housewives of Beverly Hills to a rerun of Four Christmases to David Tutera’s Wedding Rewrites.
It may be the result of early winter syndrome. On Thanksgiving we went to Aunt Lil’s in Hickson, North Dakota along with 14 family members and that was lovely. It began to snow in the afternoon and by the time we left the holiday gathering, the flakes were flying sideways with so-so visability. Highway 94, the main thoroughfare in Minnesota, was a bit worrisome to California novices like ourselves, but do-able until shortly before our exit point, when flashing lights ahead signaled trouble. Cars, it appeared, had slid this way and that. Off the exit and into Fergus Falls the going got trickier. All across town we slipped on ice and inched our way home.
It’s now Day 12 and I’m beginning to get worried. I do believe I might have been tricked into studying for citizenship into Lethargarianism – “I can do anything as long as it’s nothing and everything as long as it isn’t anything.” This said solemnly with my hand on my heart.
But like Dorothy – I just want to go home again. To busy, engaged, creative happy land. Only I’m having trouble finding the way. Please click your heels three times with me and send me home.