Tuesday, December 26, 2006

the passion of travel

december 26, 2006

"It is not down in any map; true places never are."
- Herman Melville, Moby Dick.
[opening quote to Miles Harvey's The Island of Lost Maps, published by Broadway]

"What is life but a form of motion and a journey through a foreign world? Moreover locomotion - the privilege of animals - is perhaps the key to intelligence. The roots of vegetables (which Aristotle says are their mouths) attach them fatally to the ground, and they are condemned like leeches to such up whatever sustenance may flow to them at the particular spot where they happen to be stuck... In animals the power of locomotion changes all this pale experience into a life of passion; and it is on passion, although we anaemic philosophers are apt to forget it, that intelligence is grated."
- George Santayana, The Philosophy of Travel
[opening quote to Andrea Barrett's Servants of the Map, published by Norton]

Just finished Barrett's book of stories, now reading Harvey's. Enjoyable reading.


Michael said...

Not a single book for Christmas! Has it really come and gone? I'll be heading to Montreal to get my own, I guess. I just finished reading 'Trekking Through Northern Labrador' by Marilyn Bursey (You may know her). I bought the book in St John's this past summer. Now I want the maps! Last winter I talked all one weekend and into Monday morning with Nigel Foster and Kristin about their paddle along the same coast and I wanted the maps then too... Too many maps, too little time!

squidink said...

Ah, but we celebrate 12 whole days of Christmas in these parts. In fact, it starts on Tibbs Eve (23rd when I usually get a tree) and goes til Jan.6 (when we have a multi-family bonfire on the beach, eat last of the cake, imbibe hot cocoa to keep warm, smell the surf in the dark). But I do hope you get some books - I'm a big user of 2nd-hand bookstores. Haven't read Bursey's book. My favourite this past year (apologies if I blogged this already) was Dick Brown's The Voyage of the Iceberg. (yup, the one that sank the Titanic, wonderful writer, uses techniques of fiction writer to narrate natural history.)

Michael said...

Alison - Funny thing. Wendy Killoran asked for some books to read en route this past summer and 'Voyage of the Iceberg' was one of the ones I sent her. I asked her to pass them along so I suppose someone on the Northern Peninsula may be reading it now as well. I enjoyed it, but WK said it "didn't suit" her. Perhaps not the ideal read during a long kayaking voyage such as hers.
Your 12 day Christmas sounds marvellous!

pwdelaney said...

Al, you should read the book by Collins which gives another version of what sank the Titanic. A buddy of mine has mine so I can't recall the exact name, but it's an interesting read, and extremely logical by someone who has the experience to deal with it. Happened to be a houseowner from the house across the street when I grew up.

squidink said...

"The Voyage..." didn't suit her? how extraordinary! well, there's no explaining some things I guess!

Paul - if you do remember the name of the book or author sometime, let me know.

I was in Tors Cove visiting this afternoon - pretty calm ocean but terribly cold - wishing I had a dry suit (but understandably too expensive for Santa). Still, hope to dip the paddle Jan.1 at the Gut (that's Quidi Vidi Gut, St. John's, Newfoundland...) A

pwdelaney said...

Al, well the author is Collins. I'll get my book back as soon as I remember while out there.

pwdelaney said...

Al, I did a search and it's "The Sinking of the Titanic:the mystery solved" by Capt L.M Collins. I also read a review. Fairly pathetic, argumentative, not purely descriptive. Gives one an insight into the mindset of reviewers when the odd time you read a review after you have read a book or seen a movie.

squidink said...

thanks Paul. missed you at the gut yesterday - but I know you prefer skiing this time of year. Catch up with you soon I hope. Alison

David said...


The book is "The Sinking of the TITANIC: An Ice-Pilot's Perspective" by Capt. L. Marmaduke Collins, published by Breakwater in 2002. Having done a comprehensive search for the bookstore nearest you, I have determined that it is Afterwords and the book is available there. I agree with Capt. Collins.