Tuesday, September 04, 2007

For Prayer Give Me Shackleton

Some stories typlify endurance and fortitude. Without further ado, regarding Shackletons survival and leadership in the Antartic:

"The story we're going to tell you for the next hour is true: 28 men lost in Antarctica for almost two years, fighting ice and the ocean. The world gave them up for dead; but every one of them survived. As fantastic as it sounds, it's all true. It's the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Endurance, and the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914. "

John Rabe, on American Radio works. He quotes:

"For scientific discovery give me Scott. For speed and efficiency give me Amundsen. But when you're in a hopeless case and disaster strikes, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton."

"In 1916, a world worn down by World War I was treated to just such a story. On June 2, 1916, almost lost in all the news from the front, readers of the Times of London picked up the paper and learned of a miracle:

The Times, 6/2/16, p. 8:

"Sir E. Shackleton safe. Marooned men in danger of starvation. The King yesterday sent a gracious message to Sir Ernest Shackleton on his wonderful journey."

"The men of the Endurance had been lost in Antarctica for the better part of two years, and by the time the story ran in the paper, everyone had assumed they were dead. As one scholar put it, when they re-emerged in 1916, it was as if they were walking out of history."

Monday, September 03, 2007

Invisible Cities, The Longing for...

Cities & Desire 5

"From there, after six days and seven nights, you arrive at Zobeide, the white city, well exposed to the moon, with streets wound about themselves as in a skein. They tell this tale of its foundation: men of various nations had an identical dream. They saw a woman running at night through an unknown city; she was seen from behind, with long hair, and she was naked. They dreamed of pursuing her. As they twisted and turned, each of them lost her. After the dream, they set out in search of that city; they never found it, but they found one another; they decided to build a city like the one in the dream. In laying out the streets, each followed the course of his pursuit; at the spot where they had lost the fugitive's trail, they arranged spaces and walls differently from the dream, so she would be unable to escape again.

"This was the city of Zobeide, where they settled, waiting for that scene to be repeated one night. None of them, asleep or awake, ever saw the woman again. The city's streets were streets where they went to work every day, with no link any more to the dreamed chase. Which, for that matter, had long been forgotten.

"New men arrived from other lands, having had a dream like theirs, and in the city of Zobeide, they recognized something from the streets of the dream, and they changed the positions of arcades and stairways to resemble more closely the path of the pursued woman and so, at the spot where she had vanished, there would remain no avenue of escape.

"The first to arrive could not understand what drew these people to Zobeide, this ugly city, this trap."

from Invisibel Cities, by Calvino

A Sum Total of Life, by Old Turkey