August 6, 2009

The End Of Adventure, Literature As Michael Chabon Knows It. Them. Also Maps

Here's what I hear: We don't let children go out in the woods today alone anymore, because of our unfounded fear of strangers in vans. The result of this Razing of the Wilderness of Childhood is, in the future, no one will write like Michael Chabon.

Seb Chan, meanwhile, had a more inspired/inspiring takeaway:

I was reading Michael Chabon's piece on childhood last week and one section popped out of the screen -
It captured perfectly the mental maps of their worlds that children endlessly revise and refine. Childhood is a branch of cartography.
Walking my daughter to school we tiptoe "past the wizard's house" at the top of my street - a rather rundown old building full of props and what, to small people, appears very much like magic equipment. A little further up the road is where the "scary man" sleeps rough. This got me thinking about the possibilities for children's maps of their neighbourhoods overlaid on 'official maps'.

Manhood? Manhood for Amateurs: The Wilderness of Childhood [nybooks.com]
Maps are all around us [powerhousemuseum.com via cityosound]


UPDATE: Alright, so I went looking for a Marvel-related map image for this post [Chabon's well-documented interest in superheroes being the hook], and that led me to a 2006 post on atlast(t) ["mapping, landscapes, and you."] about the awesome-sounding Marvel Atlas Project. Which, unfortunately, seems to have disappeared. In atlas(t)'s sidebar is this 1946 quote from George Orwell:

The books one reads in childhood, and perhaps most of all the bad and good bad books, create in one's mind a sort of false map of the world, a series of fabulous countries into which one can retreat at odd moments throughout the rest of life, and which in some cases can survive a visit to the real countries which they are supposed to represent.
which makes me wonder if kids aren't just gonna get their crazy maps from somewhere, so we might as well let them outside. Or keep them inside reading, I don't know.

Riding Down The Bangor" by George Orwell, orig. pub. 22 Nov 1946 [george-orwell.org]

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