Sunday, June 3, 2007

when names disappear

There was a minute or so yesterday I forgot names and maps. It was as I ascended past Nawo Village on the scooter into lusher, fresher climate. My visor was open, the fresh air and warm sun overcame me in a shock. The shock was sensual pleasure after long separation: suddenly a beautiful woman disrobes and presses against you.

For a minute I rode along slightly disoriented, awash in heaven, uneasy. The power of the wave of beauty swept away the mental map I normally spin anywhere I go, the space-defining thumbtacks of self-orientation. I just drove on, on, in wonder and vague unease – as if I were about to float away from the surface of the road. Names too vanished. I know because I fumbled briefly about in my brain for them. When it occurred to me “Taiwan” was the name for where I was, it rang foreign.

This is when we have touched the earth: when the political name for a place loses its aura of naturalness in our mind, and we look at that mountain or stream as having no name, and we, too, the same: nameless. Rounding the folds of the mountain I rode through pockets of air cold and warm.
The other side was less lush, and more marked by man.

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