Contextual Discovery: Whirlpools
When first introduced to the whirlpool of the End of the World that the narrator visits in his subconscious, I thought it was quite interesting. I was really interested and confused about this mystic whirlpool. Apparently, it is supposed to be very deadly and will suck anything down into an abyss if they get trapped by it’s current. So I did a little more research on whirlpools; how they are formed and how dangerous they can really be.
Firstly, for a whirlpool to be created two opposing, powerful currents meet at one point and this causes the water to spin and create what we know as a whirlpool. Interestingly enough though, large whirlpools are even called ‘whirlpools’, they are called ‘maelstroms’. When reading Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, I pictured this dangerous whirlpool as the something quite large, like Charybdis from Homer’s The Odyssey, that can destroy anything that happens to fall into it. Yet, something even more interesting is how dangerous these whirlpools truly are. Looking at some websites, such as Wikipedia.or, apparently most whirlpools aren’t very dangerous because they are so small. Some of the larger maelstroms can cause damage to small ships though. One such maelstrom is the Saltstraumen maelstrom whose currents have been recorded flowing at speeds of 25+ miles per hour.
I think this whirlpool in the woods is quite interesting because of where it is and how it brings fear into everyone in The Town. For whirlpools to be created, they are almost always in large expanses of water like oceans, or at a point in a strait where two bodies of water are meeting and their currents are strong enough to cause the water to turn into a vortex. This whirlpool has claimed the lives of a few in this Town and now it has become one of the biggest fears in the townspeople. It’s interesting how this whirlpool could be a representation of the Town itself. It pulls things into its grasp and once they have entered, they can no longer leave. The captured are forced inside and no matter how hard they try, they can’t escape its hold, just like the people of the End of the World Town.
I’ve added this link to a youtube video of a whirlpool that has been taped off the cost of Scotland. As you can see, it is in the middle of a large body of water, probably the ocean, and it isn’t the huge catastrophic vortex of popular belief. The boat and people taping are clearly getting quite close to the whirlpool and not being taken into it. Of course, I believe they do have some sort of motorboat, so the powerful motor probably isn’t easily overpowered, but in any case, the horrible picture of a giant water funnel leading to the dark depths of an abyss are of no fear here.