Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Origins of Wednesday xlvi: The road uproariously taken

I am acquainted with people
who come from large families,
and while I try not to let on
that I envy their diversifica-
sion of hereditary risk, it's
even more difficult to conceal
my awe at prospects they enjoy
for a specialization of labor,
among these strands of siblings
they flaunt, as so many bubbles
from a blow-pipe. Having grown
up with no more than a single
sibling - and he, of an avoca-
tion too precarious for memoir -
and the barest minimum of par-
ents, there never was any ques-
sion of one's father's turning
to young Evremond, for example,
You be responsible for Physics,
and on to sweet Clytemnestra,
You account for English travel
writing. Rather, it put every-
one's feet to the fire of the
basics of the orderly mind, to
have to do the reading for one-
self. The shelves expand, as
you'd fear, with prejudicial
speculation in both directions;
but with the diversions, not to
say procrastinations of experi-
mentation favoring scholarship
by conveyance, I still find my-
self slipping onto a carousel,
back studiously to the window,
to read in the travels of Bos-
well, Fielding, Byron, Durrell, 
Bedford, Chatwin, Paddy, Maugham,
Rory Stewart, and Graham Greene.
I never knew a tongue to spread
itself afield so fabulously, and
turn the telling phrase on time.

Tell me, Clytie: where am I now,
unless this is still Afghanistan? 

      We were well prepared. Bunches of chains, three spades,
      a pick, and stout ropes to prevent the lorry falling o-
      ver the edge, were quickly in action. The next mile took
      four hours. Some dug; some hung on to the ropes; some 
      cast down branches of a peppermint-smelling herb as though
      before the Saviour's ass. The day was almost gone when a
      zigzag spurt and cheers brought us to the narrow saddle of
      the Sauzak Pass. 

Robert Byron
The Road to Oxiana
Paul Fussell
Rory Stewart
Oxford University Press, 2007©

i Stanley Kubrick, photography

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