Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Goin' down, down, down

What is it about a mining disaster that captures our collective attention? Mining is so 19th century. Except that it isn't, and whenever men are trapped underground as they are in West Virginia at the moment, we're reminded that people still go down deep in the earth for resources. It is work far-removed from most of our lives. Mine disaster stories play on my claustrophic fear of being buried alive. The idea of men trapped in labyrinthine mine tunnels, like a kid falling into an old well, has a sort of mythological, timelessness about it. A big story - no matter where, no matter when.

And the world waits to find out how it ends.


Christa said...

It's horrible.
We're living pretty much on top of coal mines and there's been a lot of accidents around this neighborhood in the past. Even my partners dad, who was a miner, died in a miner accident.

It doesn't seem that they have much hope that anyone survived this accident though. At least if you can believe the news worldwide.

Johnno said...

It could be part of the mythical "swallowed in the belly of a whale" group subconscious deal as espoused by Joseph Campbell.

Alas our heroes rarely escape to continue their quest in this case.

MaryB said...

See? We have the myth thing going - Yea! Joseph Campbell! (thanks for the reminder, Johnno)- and we have Christa's connections (living on top of coal mines + partner's father's mine accident) that tie us into this. Mine disasters just seem to be one of those oft-told tales that we never get away from.

And it does look bleak for the guys in West Virginia at this point. We'll see if they emerge alive from the belly of the whale.

Unknown said...

My grandad was a miner in North East Derbyshire - an engineer in the mines to be more precise. I never really talked to him about it. I suppose I was too young when he was getting older and then we drifted apart and I never really knew him whilst I was an adult. A terrible shame really.

Christa and I aren't a million miles away from each other and the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire coalfield she writes of was where a heck of a lot of men were employed in days gone by.

I was walking through Cresswell [on the Derbyshire/Nottinghashire border] not so long ago - here they had a mining disaster in the 1950s I think where 80 or 90 miners never came home. Just think of the devastation that must reek on a closely knit, small community.

Certainly I feel for the families who lost loved ones in West Virginia - especially having believed they were alive.