Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Quotations: If A Baron Falls in the Forest, and No One Hears Him...

And so, from Prince Sanchez' laconic exclamations and a detailed account by the gentleman in black, Cosimo succeeded in reconstructing the story of this colony living on plane trees. They were Spanish nobles who had rebelled against King Charles III about certain contested feudal privileges, and been exiled with their families as a result. On reaching Olivabassa, they had been forbidden to continue their journey. Those parts, in fact, on account of an ancient treaty with His Catholic Majesty, could neither give hospitality nor even allow passages to persons exiled from Spain. The situation of those noble families was a difficult one to cope with, but the magistrates of Olivabassa, who wanted to avoid any trouble with foreign chancelleries, but also had no aversion to these rich foreigners, came to an understanding with them. The letter of their treaty laid down that no exiles were to 'touch the soil' of their territory; they only had to be up on trees, and all was in order. So the exiles had climbed up there for some months, putting their trust in the mild climate, the hoped-for arrival of a decree of amnesty from Charles III, and Divine Providence. They were well supplied with Spanish doubloons and bought many supplies, thus giving trade to the town. To draw up the dishes they had installed a system of pulleys. And on other trees they had set up canopies under which they slept. In fact they had settled themselves very comfortably, or rather, the people of Olivabassa had settled them well, as it was to their advantage. The exiles, for their part, never moved a finger the whole day long."
--The Baron in the Trees, Italo Calvino.

The Baron in the Trees is an odd book; it does what it says on the tin, in that it's about a young boy who goes to live in the trees after a fight with his father. And stays there. And eventually becomes baron, and rules over his people, all without ever setting foot on ground again. It doesn't have the metanarrative or structural complexity that I've come to expect from Calvino; rather, it's closer to the sort of thing Borges or Gabriel Garcia Marcez might write. That is, there's a dreamy yet matter-of-fact sort of innocence to the whole thing.

Sorry for the long blog silence. It's been a busy few weeks: conferences, defenses, and a lot of playing through Planescape: Torment for the dissertation. I think it's going to be the last game I go through at such length--unless you're writing a book on nothing but that game, this level of thoroughness is nice, but not really warranted, given the desired results is a dozen or two pages of analysis.   Expect more blogging in the next few days.

Later Days.

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