GOING OVERBOARD


[T]he great flood-gates of the wonder-world swung open.


—Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

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I wasn’t sure how or if I’d get to all the places on my map, but perhaps that would be the point. The toys had gone adrift. I’d go adrift, too. The winds and currents would chart my course. Happenstance would be my travel agent. If nothing else, it would be an adventure, and adventures are hard to come by these days. And if I were lucky it might be a genuine voyage of discovery. Medieval Europeans divided the human lifetime into five ages, the first of which was known as the Age of Toys. It seemed to me that in twenty-first-century America, the Age of Toys never ends. Yes, stories fictional and otherwise can take us on illusory odysseys, but they can also take us on disillusory ones, and it was the latter sort of journey that I craved. It wasn’t that I wanted, like Cook and Amundsen and Vancouver and Bering and all those other dead explorers, to turn terra incognita into terra cognita, the world into a map. Quite the opposite. I wanted to turn a map into a world.


—”Going Overboard: The Map”