Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Maps and Legends

A few quotes from michael chabon (who's writing i simply love) essay on his childhood experience of moving in to a bran new city, a city that was a vision of a group of "colonists of a dream"

"...Childhood, at its best, is a perpetual adventure, in the truest sense of that overtaxed word: a setting forth into trackless lands that might have come to existence the instant before you first laid eyes on them. How fortunate I was to be handed, at such an early age, a map to steer by, however provisional, a map furthermore ornamented with a complex nomenclature of allusions drawn from the poems, novels and stories of mysterious men named Faulkner, Hemingway, Frost, Hawthorne, and Fitzgerald! Those names, that adventure, are with me still, every time I sit down at the keyboard to sail off, clutching some dubious map or other, into terra incognita..."

"...The power of maps to fire the imagination is well known. And, as Conrad’s Marlow observed, there is no map so seductive as the one, like the flag-colored schoolroom map of Africa that doomed him to his forlorn quest, marked by doubts and conjectures, by the romantic blank of unexplored territory. The map of Columbia I took home from that first visit was like that. The Plan dictated that the Town be divided into sub-units to be called Villages, each Village in turn divided into Neighborhoods. These Villages had all been laid out and named, and were present on and defined by the map. Many of the Neighborhoods, too, had been drawn in, along with streets and the network of bicycle paths that knit the town together. But there were large areas of the map that, apart from the Village name, were entirely empty, conjectural–nonexistent, in fact." I spent hours poring over that map, long before my family ever moved into the house that we eventually bought, with that V.A. loan, at 5179 Eliots Oak Road, in the neighborhood of Longfellow, in the Village of Harper’s Choice. To me the remarkable thing about those names was not their oddity but the simple fact that most of them referred to locations that did not exist. They were like magic spells, each one calibrated to call into being one particular stretch of blacktop, sidewalk and lawn, and no other. In time–I witnessed it with my own eyes, month by month, year by year–the street demanded by the formula "Darkbush Terrace" or "Night Roost" would churn up out of the Maryland mud and clay, begin to sprout houses, trees, a tidy blue-and-white identifying sign. It was a powerful demonstration to me of the incantatory power of names and naming..."


Joe said...

Good Stuff River,



Joe Moran said...

Check this out Moon: http://the-view-from-your-window.blogspot.com/

Go girl! If it's safe.


Joe Moran