The Lost Continent



Of the Race of Atlas.

In the city or 'house' which was formed from the crest of every mountain, dwelt a race not greatly superior in height to our own, but of vaster frame. The bulk and strength of the bear is not inappropriate as a simile for the lower classes; the higher had the enormous chest and shoulders and the lean haunches of the lion. This strength gave an infallible beauty, made monstrous by their most inexorable law, that every child who developed no special feature in the first seven years should be sacrificed to the Gods. This special feature might be a nose of prodigious size, hands and wrists of gigantic strength, a gorilla jaw, an elephant ear — or any of these might entitle its owner to life:[1] for in all such variations from the normal they perceived the possibility of a development of the race. Men and women were hairy as the ourang-outang and all were closely shaven from head to foot. It had been found that this practice developed tactile sensibility. It was also done in reverence to the 'Living Atla,' of which more in its place.
The lower class was few in number. Its function was to superintend the servile race, to bring the food of the children to the banqueting-hall, to remove the same, to attend to the disposition of the 'light-screens,' to ensure the continuance of the race by the begetting, bearing and nourishing of the children.
The priestly class was concerned with the further preparation of the Zro supplied by the labour-mills, and its impregnation with phosphorus. This class had much leisure for 'work,' a subject to be explained later.
The High Priests and High Priestesses were restricted in number to eleven times thirty-three in any one 'house.' To them were entrusted the final secrets of Atlas, and to them was confided the conduct of the experiments in which every will was bound up.[2]
The colour of the Atlanteans was very various, though the hair was invariably of a fiery chestnut with bluish reflections. One might see women whiter than Aphrodite, others tawny as Cleopatra, others yellow as Tu-Chi, others of a strange, subtle blue like the tattooed faces of Chin women, others again red as copper. Green was however a prohibited hue for women, and red was not liked in men. Violet was rare, but highly prized, and children born of that colour were specially reared by the High Priestesses.
However, in one part of the body all the women were perfectly black with a blackness no negro can equal; from this circumstance comes the name Atlas. It is absurdly attributed by some authors to the deposit of excess of phosphorus in the Zro. I need only point out that the mark existed long before the discovery of black phosphorus. It is evidently a racial stigma. It was the birth of a girl child without this mark which raised her mother to the rank of goddess, and ended the terrestrial adventure of the Atlanteans, as will presently appear.
Of the ethics of this people little need be said. Their word for 'right' is 'phph' made by the blowing with the jaw drawn sharply across from left to right, thus meaning "a spiral life contrary to the course of the Sun." We may assume it as 'contrary.' "Whatever is, is wrong" seems to have been their first principle. Legs are 'wrong' because they only carry you five miles in the hour: let us refuse to walk; let us ride horseback. So the horse is 'wrong' compared to the train and the motor-car; and these are 'wrong' to the aeroplane. If speed had been the Atlantean's object, he would have thought aeroplanes 'wrong' and all else too, so long as the speed of light was not surpassed by him.
Curious survivals of these laws are found in the Jewish transcript of the Egyptian code, which they, being a slave race, interpreted in the reverse manner.
"Thou shalt not make any graven image." Every male child on attaining manhood, had a graven image given him to worship, a miracle-working image, whose principle exploits he would tattoo upon it.
"Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy." The Atlantean kept one day in seven for all purposes unconnected with his principle task.
"Thou shalt not commit adultery." Though the Atlanteans married, intercourse with the wife was the only act forbidden.
"Honour thy father and thy mother." On the contrary, they worshipped their children, as if to say: "This is the God whom I have made in my own likeness."
Similarly, there is one exception and one only to the rule of silence. It is the utterance of the 'Name' which it is death to pronounce. This word was constantly in their mouths; it is Zcrra, a sort of venomous throat-gargling. Hence, possibly the Gaelic Scurr 'speak,' English Scaur or Scar in Yorkshire and the Pennines. Zcrra is also the name of the 'High House,' and of the graven image referred to above.
Others traces may be found in folklore; some mere superstitions. Thus the correct number for a banquet was thirteen, because if there were only one more sign in the Zodiac, the year would be a month longer, and one would have more time for 'work.' This is probably a debased Egyptian notion. Atlanteans knew better than anyone that the Zodiac is only an arbitrary division. Still it may be laid down that the impossible never daunted Atlas. If one said, "Two and two make Four" his thought would be "Yes, damn it!"[3]
I now explain the language of Atlas. The third and greatest of their philosophers saw that speech had wrought more harm than good, and he consequently instituted a peculiar rite. Two men were chosen by lot to preserve the language, which, by the way, consisted of monosyllables only, two hundred and fourteen in number, to each of which was attached a diacritical gesture, usually ideographic.
Thus wrong is given as phph moving the jaw from right to left. Wiping the brow with phph means hot, hollowing the hands over the mouth fire, striking the throat to die; so that each 'radical' may have hundreds of gesture-derivatives. Grammar, by the way, hardly existed, the quick apprehension of the Atlanteans rendering it unnecessary.
These two men then departed to a cavern on the side of the mountain just above the cliff, and there for a year they remained, speaking the language and carving it symbolically upon the rock. At the end of the year they returned; the elder is sacrificed and the younger returns with a volunteer, usually one who wishes to expiate a fault, and teaches him the language. During his visit he observes whether any new thing needs a name, and if so he invents it, and adds it to the language. This process continued to the end. The rest of the people abandoned altogether the use of speech, only a few years' practice enabling them to dispense with the radical. They then sought to do without gesture, and in eight generations the difficulty was conquered, and telepathy established.[4] Research then devoted itself to the task of doing without thought; this will be discussed in detail in the proper place. There was also a 'listener,' three men who took turns to sit upon the highest peak, above the 'light-screens', and whose duty it was to give the alarm if any noise disturbed Atlas. On their report that High Priest charged with active governorship would take steps to ascertain and destroy the cause.
The 'light-screens' spoken of were a contrivance of laminae of a certain spar such that the light and heat of the Sun were completely cut off, not by opacity, but by what we call 'interference.' In this way other subtle rays of the Sun entered the 'house,' these rays being supposed to be necessary to life. These matters were the subjects of the deepest controversy. Some held that these rays themselves were injurious and should be excluded. Others considered that the light-screens should be put in position during moonlight, instead of being opened at sunset, as was the custom. This, however, was never attempted, the great mass of the people being devoted to the moon. Others wished full sunlight, the aim of Atlas being (they thought) to reach the sun. But this theory contradicted the prime axiom of attaining things through their opposites, and was only held by the lower classes, who were not initiated into this doctrine.
The 'houses' of Atlas were carved from the living rock by the action of Zro in its seventh precipitation. Enormously solid, the walls were lofty and smoother than glass, though the pavements were rough and broken almost everywhere for a reason which I am not permitted to disclose. The passages were invariably narrow, so that two persons could never pass each other. When two met, it was the law to greet by joining in 'work' and then going away together on their separate errands, or passing one above the other. This was done purposely, so as to remind every man of his duty to Atlas on every occasion on which he might meet a fellow-citizen.
The Banqueting-Hall of the children was usually very large. The furniture, which had been brought by the first colonists, and gradually disused by adults, never needed repair. A vast open doorway facing north opened on the mountainside on to the vineyards and orchards, the meadows and gardens, in which the children passed their time. Suckled by the mother for three months only, the child was then already able to nourish itself on the bread and wine, and on the flesh of the amphibious herds, of which there were several kinds; one a piglike animal with flesh resembling wild duck, another a sort of manatee tasting like salmon, its fat being somewhat like caviar in everything but texture, and a sure specific for any of childhood's troubles. A third, an ancestor of our hippopotamus, was really tamed, and was employed by the serviles for preparing the ground for the corn, trampling through the fields while they were covered with sea-water, and thus leaving deep holes in which the seeds were cast. Its flesh was not unlike bear, but more delicate. Notable, too, was the great quantity of turtle; also the giant oysters, the huge deep sea crabs, a kind of octopus whose flesh made a nutritious and elegant soup, and innumerable shell-fish, added to the table. The waterways were haunted by shoals of a small and poisonous fish,[5] whose bite was immediate death to man, a fact which altogether cut off communication between one island and another except by air, as the hippopotamus-animal, although immune to its bite, was unable to swim.
Of the sleeping chambers I shall tell more particularly in the course of my remarks on Zro.

[1] Gautama Buddha was the reincarnation or legend of a previous Buddha who was a missionary from Atlas, hence the account of his immovable neck, the ears that he could fold over his face, and other monstrous details.

[2] There was a Governor of these, of whose name, nature and function I am not permitted to speak.

[3] One of the most brilliant children committed suicide on learning that he could not move his upper jaw. This boy is one of the eleven heroes who had statues in the High House. And the Atlantean for 'sorrow' in its ultimate sense ('dukka' or 'weltschmerz') is to wrench at the upper jaw.

[4] This system of communication has great advantages over any other. It is independent of distance, and dependent on the will of the transmitter. Telepathic messages could not be 'tapped' or miscarry in any way.

[5] Called by them Zhee-Zhou, in imitation of the swish of the tail and the cry of its victim.

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