Sunday, January 13, 2008

The cats have demonstrated remarkable patience with the absence of my lap.

{Photo by rocketlass.}

From Autonauts of the Cosmoroute (1983), by Julio Cortazar and Carol Dunlop
On one side a line of big black ants climbs up to disappear along hte first branch on the left, while another, less disciplined line descends after a trip that doesn't appear to have afforded them any provisions, unless they'd eaten them where they found them. And what intention guides this blue beetle who advances in a slow spiral like a Buddhist monk on the path to revelation? He disappears behind the trunk to reappear a few centimetres higher; at this pace he'll arrive at the top in two hours and perhaps find illumination. A dragonfly has just discovered an enthralling game: she leaves the open air to dart among the foliage, overcoming obstacles, veering off to one side and then the other while she goes up and down through the levels of the leaves, amusing hersef by multiplying an itinerary that seems to have no purpose other than to make sure she never errs in her distance calculations.
It's good to be back home, my long stretch of too much travel finally over. I enjoy traveling, but I think for a while I'll follow Xavier de Maistre's example and stick to the traveling I can do inside my home, or at most inside my city. Julio Cortazar and Carol Dunlop also offer a good model, their thirty-day trip along the ten hours of the Paris-to-Marseille autoroute a reminder of what discoveries a fresh eye can coax from familiar surroundings. Perhaps Chicago can yield some similar mid-winter surprises.

But even that seems too ambitious for now; today I intend to sit with a cat on my lap and read and watch the birds, with no more solid plans than those displayed by the tiny snowflakes rollercoastering around on the breeze outside.

From Autonauts of the Cosmoroute
This parallel highway we're looking for perhaps only exists in the imagination of those who dream of it; but if it exists (it's too soon to make categorical affirmations, and nevertheless one would say we're there and have been for the last twenty-four hours; let the skeptical reader think, before denying reality to this new route by eliminating the "perhaps" form the phrase, that maybe we'll disappear with it; may he have patience then, at least wait until we've been able to gather the evidence), it doesn't just involve a different physical space but also another time. Cosmonauts of the autoroute, like interplanetary travellers who observe from afar the rapid aging of those who remain subject to the laws of terrestrial time, what are we going to discover when we got at camel speed after so many trips in airplanes, subways, trains? . . . Autonauts of the Cosmoroute, says Julio. The other path, which is, in any event, the same one.

{Photo by rocketlass.}

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