“Underground is salvation from climate change,” says scientist David W. Wolfe from New York in an email. In the same city, the also university professor Will Hunt asserts that “the subsoil is our most mysterious landscape.” And, from the Basque Country, the journalist Ander Izaguirre believes that “sometimes, the darkness of the interior of the earth hides unsuspected violence”.
All four – an unusual coincidence – publish books about what is not above our heads but below our feet. Macfarlane is the author of ‘Bajotierra’ (Random House / Angle); Wolfe, from ‘El subsoil’ (Seix Barral); Hunt, from ‘Subterranean’ (Review); and Izagirre, from ‘Potosí’ and ‘The basements of the world’ (both in Libros del K.O.).
Macfarlane has traveled the world for its underground wonders – and calamities. His exploration is both physical and philosophical. “I use both my body and my mind,” he explains, “I examine places but also language, myths and metaphors of art.” In Yorkshire, he went down to an underground laboratory because “the paradox is that, to study the sky, you have to go underground. There, scientists, under very specific conditions, study the dark matter that formed at the birth of the universe. There are things that we can only see in the dark. “
It has also been in the frozen Olkiluoto, in Finland, in a nuclear waste warehouse, and in Greenland, noting the effects of climate change. “More things are emerging than ever,” he reveals, “for example, the melting of permafrost has brought up the body of a wolf cub preserved for 50,000 years in the Yukon, or the corpses of soldiers killed in conflicts of more than a century ago.”