Thursday, July 30, 2015
My copy of THE FAMILY OF MAN arrived. I leafed through it a few afternoons ago and that evening watched THE SALT OF THE EARTH documentary about Sebastiao Salgado with Carol who was away on a business trip when I viewed it the first time.
One of the blurbs on the cover of THE FAMILY OF MAN is “The Whole Story of Mankind” from the PHILADELPHIA ENQUIRER which is not true.
THE FAMILY OF MAN is affirmative. That is the key to its success. But it is too affirmative to be a complete picture of mankind. It has been observed that our history is the history of war. There are two dead soldiers in THE FAMILY OF MAN, one from the Civil War, one from WWII; a famous photo from Korea of one soldier comforting another in his arms; another famous photo taken by an unknown German photographer of Jews being marched out of the burning Warsaw ghetto. Four photos out of five hundred and three is hardly representative of what members of the human family do to one another. Though he has also celebrated labor and the primitive world and peoples, Sabastiao Salgado’s photos of famine and genocide are a necessary corrective.
Having said that, I enjoyed looking through THE FAMILY OF MAN. Though I’ve not seen them for several decades, I remembered a surprising number of the photographs.
The exhibit dates from 1955. The terrible first half of the century, certainly among the worst our species has endured, was just over. The world was a very different place. Some of the captions on the photos are of “Belgian Congo” and “Bechuanaland,” which my spellchecker doesn’t even recognize.
I was thirteen years old that year and had never been outside the United States. I studied those photos and wondered about the world and what it means to be man.
I remembered and added life is the process of turning baby smooth skin into scar tissue to the ‘wit and wisdom’ post.
Several of you have written offering suggestions, for which I thank you; but mostly they have been things I’ve quoted and believe in, including “Why should I fear death, for when I am, death is not, and when death is, I am not.” But that is Socrates, and the ‘wit and wisdom’ is meant to be only those words I’ve written myself.
Should you be interested you can find more of what I admire and believe in the quotes used in front of my books on the lists page.
Among the authors I most admire is the French aviator/writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I’ve read all of his books except THE LITTLE PRINCE several times. Once was enough for the prince. Not long ago I downloaded the Kindle edition of AIRMAN’S ODYSSEY, containing NIGHT FLIGHT; WIND, SAND AND STARS; and FLIGHT TO ARRAS.
Yesterday afternoon I reread NIGHT FLIGHT, a short and exceptionally fine novel about the early nights of flying mail in South America.
Reading Saint-Exupery is cross training for sailing.
I’ve received some questions about my plans for next year.
After being in New Zealand September and October this year, I will return in late February/early March of 2016 and sail onward when the cyclone season ends about May 1.
I will sail west for Australia, though I’ve not yet decided on my port of entry. It may again be Cairns.
Whatever the place of arrival, I’ll go north to Cape York and then west, west, west. Darwin, Cocos, perhaps Mauritius, South Africa.
Distances in nautical miles as measured on electronic charts:
Opua to Cape York: 2300
Cape York to Cocos: 1800
Cocos to Mauritius: 3100
Mauritius to Durban: 1700
These are rhumb line distances some of which cross land, so obviously I will be sailing farther.
I expect to reach Durban in September or October and will decide then how soon to press on.
Steve Earley went sailing on a Drascombe and observed that he was initially disconcerted by the loose-footed main and mizzen.
I once met John Watkinson, the Drascombe designer, and asked him about the loose footed sails.
He replied: “I didn’t want to hear the sound of a boom hitting my wife’s head.”
That is an exact quote. Not “I didn’t want a boom to hit my wife’s head.” No. John didn’t want to hear the sound.
His wife was present and didn't seem to mind.