Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In my dreams lately I find myself back in Venice, sitting in the mist on the edge of the canal by the violin maker's. I loved the quieter alleys of Venice in the rain, a cat sitting in an open window, all of the foundations sinking incrementally lower every second. Doors at water level waiting to flood slowly from underneath, unseen rotting draperies and buckling wallpaper and still pools reflecting quiet chandeliers. I miss the quiet that would have deadened any footsteps, had there been any. The silence at the back of my neck.

I've been reading Apsley Cherry-Garrard's account of the Terra Nova expedition. It might seem a bad idea, given my admittedly-fragile state and the fact that half of them died along the way, that Cherry broke most of his teeth from the chattering and that nearly everyone got dysentery or scurvy or frostbite or snow blind. But they were true adventurers, men who knew that a choice between possibly dying and not knowing is no choice at all. Any explorer worth his astrolabe would have made the same trip in the face of the same odds, gotten excited to find half-digested fish in the stomach of a seal, hunkered in an ice cave and sang over the roar of the winds. To aim to be the first one there, and to fail.

And to come back anyway, and describe it all.

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