Wednesday, January 23, 2008

on cartography

the plane lies ahead. a blank, stark plane.

no lines, no grid. no cardinal directions.

i have been set to draw a map upon this plane.

"draw lines, any lines. just know, you must follow them."

the terrifying task of drawing a map in the ether. the endless possibilities of success, of failure. of happiness, of sorrow.

she walks behind me, sees the page still blank and gently nudges the rubbery eraser next to my hand, as if to say: these lines are not permanent. you can change your mind.

but what i know is, once you draw a line, it can never be completely deleted. it leaves imprints in the fibers. and even if no one else can see them, you still know they are there. and some lines clear easily, while others... the act of trying to remove them might cause damage, a rip or tear in the medium.

and we mustn't have that.

i see myself as charlie brown, crouched over the desk and paper, head cocked and tongue jutting absent-mindedly out of the corner of my mouth.

chuck would brood just as i do now. and after much pondering, perhaps with the help of linus, he would draw a line.

and everyone, including charlie brown himself, would know that the line is completely wrong.

this is what i fear. because it's not just a map.

every line, every shape, every destination holds pains and joys and demons and oracles.

and there's really no getting lost in a map and territory i've set out myself. in this task, any loss of direction is stubborn willfullness. is a self-imposed confusion, an imagined paralysis. a purgatory.

i've never drawn on a blank plane before.

every other map i've sketched began with the marks of others. sometimes i followed those other lines religiously, only tracing what already existed. sometimes i petulantly scribbled over what already was. sometimes the lines were so faint, i bled from them inadvertently. and sometimes i've asked for a line to be drawn, only find out it was false: written with vanishing ink, or with a stroke so broad it was impossible to continue on the same map.

i say i am surveying the land. but i have lingered long enough. the time has come to pull the first stroke.

i am deeply afraid.

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