Ultima Thule

I love the strange and imaginary places our ancestors dreamed up centuries ago before the known world was mapped. Ultima Thule is one such imaginary landscape, a strange ‘terra incognita’ beyond the borders of the known world.

The Island of Thule

The Land of Thule was first recorded by the ancient Greeks around 300 B.C. as a distant continent that encompassed the farthest corners of the northern hemisphere. It was a sort of ‘land of ice’ trapped in a perpetual state of day or night as the sun moved between the two tropics each year. The Island of Thule is found on ancient Roman maps where it is placed as far as north as Norway, Ireland, and Iceland. But Ultima Thule has been located in far more imaginary places, re-conceived over and over again in the minds of cartographers for hundreds of years.

Like Atlantis, Ultima Thule’s concept wasn’t meant to complete some unknown spot in ancient geography, but to fill the mind with its rich mythical connection to the ‘Great Unknown’ and somehow make real the more mysterious aspects of the universe our ancestors perceived. As such it has filled Mankind’s thoughts of glory and gold like unknown monsters of the deep, buried pirate treasure on the Seven Seas, or the conquistador’s search for El Dorado across the wilds of North America. Thule to many just simply represented the farthest frontier, the place beyond all beyond’s where no Man had ever been. For such was once the glorious mystery of the Earth to us.

Ultima Thule reminds us that it’s not the actual discoveries by great explorers or even science that matters. Then as today, what matters is the illusions of the mind and its self-created myths and mystical landscapes. Its the unexplored, imaginary lands in our brains that are what’s important and what is still missing in our modern, science-driven, Realism-based culture today. Without mystery and the unknown our minds die. For we cannot be content knowing what other Men have already found.

For Ultima Thule in truth still exists, waiting to be explored. It cannot ever be known. Just as science now struggles to build more refined space telescopes to map the galaxies and powerful new spacecraft to travel it, we must accept that we will always need the wonderment of Thule’s vast unexplored unknown. We will always need the last frontier of the mind, our imagination, long after scientific discovery washes away the mystery of it all.

— the Author

Created Apr 29, 2017, 6:03 AM

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