Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Childhood is a branch of cartography"

I've long adored this essay by author Michael Chabon. Titled "Manhood for Amateurs: The Wilderness of Childhood," it laments the death of the nomadic child, chronicles the rise of "helicopter parenting," and speculates whether either will help stifle inner creativity. Of course, Chabon's Wilderness does not consist solely of leafy and grassy spaces, spots where the buzz of insects is heavier than the hum of automobiles. To a child, the Wilderness is anywhere that is unfamiliar, unexplained, exotic, unconquered, a tad off-putting, possibly frightening. The Wilderness is anywhere outside the realm of one's own complacency. The Wilderness is a place of infinite discovery.

A number of sentences and passages from Chabon's essay spurred me to consider Astral Weeks and how Van Morrison's interminable adolescent journeys through the vast landscape of 1950s Belfast produced that album's most transcendent moments. Those sentences and passages are quoted here:
Childhood is a branch of cartography.
Most great stories of adventure, from The Hobbit to Seven Pillars of Wisdom, come furnished with a map. That's because every story of adventure is in part the story of a landscape, of the interrelationship between human beings (or Hobbits, as the case may be) and topography.
Childhood is, or has been, or ought to be, the great original adventure, a tale of privation, courage, constant vigilance, danger, and sometimes calamity.
The traveler soon learns that the only way to come to know a city, to form a mental map of it, however provisional, and begin to find his or her own way around it is to visit it alone, preferably on foot, and then become as lost as one possibly can.
Art is a form of exploration, of sailing off into the unknown alone, heading for those unmarked places on the map.

No comments:

Post a Comment