Posts Tagged ‘snark’

Where are we?

At this moment I’m somewhere on the Howgill fells again. I can see the M6, Lambrigg windfarm and the old viaduct near Beckfoot, however if I had to give directions to someone else then I don’t really know where I am. I sort of followed some roads out of Sedbergh in an upward direction. When the road I was on went into open fell then I pulled over and walked up the fell beside me.
Fortunately my phone knows where I am…

So that’s OK then.

Maps have been on my mind this week:

Routing through boxes in the spare room I found the Snark Hunting Map my wife  bought for me for my birthday a few years back.

Snark Hunting Map - 1794

She got it from the shop at the end of the road we were living on at the time. It was a small antiquarian bookshop in what felt like someone’s front room. I collect illustrations of Alice through the Looking Glass and the shopkeeper fished this print out for her. The Hunting of the Snark is one of Lewis Carroll’s lesser known works, but in many ways a more superior piece than either of the Alice Books. It loosely describes a hunting trip to find a mysterious monster (the Snark). When asked what a Snark was, Carroll would always say he hadn’t a clue. Interestingly Christo and the late Jeanne-Claude confessed much the same about most of their works. But I digress. In the Snark, the Bellman produces a blank map to guide them over the sea:

He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.

“What’s the good of Mercator’s North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?”
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
“They are merely conventional signs!

“Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we’ve got our brave Captain to thank:”
(So the crew would protest) “that he’s bought us the best—
A perfect and absolute blank!”

In fact this map predates Carroll. Mine comes from the late 18th century and was probably from a vast book of carefully drawn maps. I presume it’s a page of open sea or desert, but could easily be any featureless landscape. In isolation the map is meaningless but probably made sense in the context of the book.

Another map from this week was the draft map of a trail of some of my work being devised in a forest somewhere. I can’t say what or where yet as it’s all top secret at the moment. All the pieces are in place now and apparently look fantastic. Still, I now have a map of where they all are so I might go and have a hunt for them myself soon.

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