If you care, Atlantis is found ... maybe

November 18, 2004|by TIM ROWLAND

After all these decades of looking, they have finally found the lost city of Atlantis. Allegedly.

Robert Sarmast of Los Angeles reported this week that sonar scanning in the Mediterranean seabed between Cyprus and Syria has revealed man-made walls two miles in length. "We have definitely found the Acropolis of Atlantis," he said.

You don't hear as much about Atlantis today, but back in the '70s, it was huge. Atlantis was Plato's mythical city, the grand, utopian civilization where rulers were just, the people were happy and enlightened, intellect was rewarded, everyone's needs were met and contractors showed up when they said they would. Most likely it was the creation of aliens in UFOs, although as I remember there was some debate on this point.

If Sarmast really did find Atlantis I guess I'm happy about it, although after all these years, now I forget why we cared.


Seems to me there was a sense among us young ideologues that if we discovered Atlantis, all our questions would be answered. What those questions were, no one bothered to say - it was more the idea that Atlantis would provide a template for the advancement and perfection of our own sorry civilization.

Then along came MTV and we decided to "rest our case" on that, figuring if perfection were out of reach, staring slack-jawed for hours at some sequined crooner lip-synching and licking fire hydrants with a supporting cast of bikini babes was a pretty darned close second.

You have to figure this discovery must be true, because the mainstream press is avoiding it, just like they did with FDR's paralysis and the murder of Vince Foster.

You have to go to the British papers to find out what the deal is, and truth be told, even they seem a bit skeptical. They describe Sarmast as a "self-proclaimed scientist" and "maverick explorer." These are journalism code words that newspapers employ because their lawyers will not allow them to publish someone's picture with a cutline that says "cuckoo-cuckoo-cuckoo."

But while I agree it is a shame we have lost this great city to history, the bigger tragedy is that now, following this latest "find," we will all be subjected to about 6 million hours of underwater documentary television, as the Discovery, History, Arts and Entertainment, and National Geographic channels all fall over each other in a race to be the first to bring us the story.

In fact, they will probably have to arm their submarine camera drones with torpedoes to drive off the competition. Then they will do one of those two-hour "mystery" stories in which they catalog the Atlantis find and make it sound credible and then have one expert at the end who will tell us that "everything you have just heard during the past 115 minutes is complete hogwash."

If there were an Atlantis, a perfect society, probably their constitution specifically prohibited any television show based on underwater shipwreck photography. Or it should have, at any rate.

Me, if I'm channel surfing and I see someone in a wetsuit and oxygen tanks being interviewed, that's instant disqualification. They're always showing murky footage of some barnacle-encrusted plank and acting as if they've just translated the Rosetta Stone.

"This pile of silt, 1,500 meters below the surface, conclusively proves that this ship did not go down as the result of a surprise storm, as experts had previously thought."

If these people treated car wrecks like they do shipwrecks, they'd be burrowing around the interior with a videocam saying, "The fact that the steering wheel was turned 15 degrees to the left at the time of the crash only deepens the mystery. Why didn't the driver adjust his speed for the fog? We may never know ..."

And speaking of things that are simply tiresome, in the Shameless Plug Department, I'll be signing copies of my new book "Home Detention" - and giving a small and intimate rant about the unfairness of life - at the Washington County Free Library today at 7 p.m. If you are unable to attend, I would encourage you to visit your grandfather in the home. You won't notice a lot of difference.

On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., I'll be (rant free) in the Food Court at Valley Mall, and for those in Hancock and Broccoli Springs, I'll be at Tari's Premier Cafe at 123 N. Washington St. in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., that day from 5 to 7 p.m.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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