23 August 2006

watch the world dissolve

As a small but interesting aside, The Island Walkers reminded me of reading D H Lawrence - 100 years on and with a large landscape. A story of mills and unions and strikes and redundancies. Men and women and love and loss.

The novel occassionally referred to England. One part concurred with my view when a character, originally from England, reminisces -

‘glimpses of the distant Channel, that gray, strangely heartening infinity’

And yet at another point I found the viewpoint strangely stereotyped and dated -

‘He had the English talent, so welcome to her, of making an instant party, a little conspiracy of merriment.’

As I travel further away from my island I shall keep an eye as to how my home is viewed from afar.

the circumnavigator

words fell like water

John Bemrose introduced me to The Island Walkers. I spent time living with them, watching how life is reproduced in miniature. The Walker family represent a small version of society, and within their family we encounter even tinier examples of attempts to survive against the larger forces out to get you.

‘A large red ant crawled up Red’s tongue. He gulped wetly : gone.’

I was surrounded by individuals living in isolation. A group of people who think intensely but seem largely unable to communicate their thoughts to anyone else.

‘He was appalled by her ordinariness, by her very existence, so small and finite and limited. Her powers touched nothing beyond her, not a single blade of grass.’

People aware that the relation between them and their natural environment is often more important than relations between each other. In turn the people become like their surroundings -

‘Over the years, like two trees twining together, their trunks had fused.’

Men and women live out uncomplaining, resigned lives. Failure, misery, suffering and death are all acknowledged, accepted, anticipated. Only the younger characters strive to fight against this -

‘he hated it when his mother anticipated his thoughts; it made him feel she had stolen a piece of his future.’

the circumnavigator

08 August 2006

turn the last page down, I'm not that far behind

Time to travel again. And so I take a small but significant step. Across a continent, across a consciousness - a simple stride to bypass the United States. They are not my destination today. These paper boats have sailed me to those crazy shores too often. Today is about discovering places new. And so my feet fall in Canada.

A sprawling ceiling of land at the top of the world. I see vast open spaces and I welcome the chance to breathe again after the heat and the hubbub of Cuba. I see a family ready to greet me - welcome after the closed chances and mistrustful glances of Cuba.

I have my stereotype spotters guide to hand. Ever ignorant I anticipate moose and maple syrup, French spoken far from France, seal culling, beaver, geese, mounted police and humour that smirks at pleasure at not being an American.

the circumnavigator