The White Continent

"You will see them before anything else, announcing the presence of the continent. Icebergs. Like a belt of white asteroids, tabular ice masses surround Antarctica perpetually. Ice here is a living, breathing organism. Like a shape shifter of sorts, it takes many forms and acquires many names. It never reflects the same light. And yet, here is a kingdom beyond the end of the world that is almost completely made of one solitary mineral: frozen water, under the influence of one single force: gravity. Such is the glaciology of Terra Australis. Describing Antarctica with words can be futile.  The Ice, you see, challenges literature, leaving behind monosyllabic labels: white, cold, snow, blue, dust… sensations devoid of context. Metaphors, contrasts, comparisons, analogies –all vanish before the stark whiteness of this semisolid continent. More like a landscape of the mind, its astounding simplicity has made Antarctica alien. Pinning it down to mundane descriptions will not reveal the mysteries beyond its scaffolding -because the only instrument to find Antarctica is going to be your heart."  By Angela Swafford