For FALL 2010's delicious offerings of books, art, food, film, and unique travel--check out the NEW ISSUE of our online magazine FEAST--you will not go away hungry-- http://www.feastofbooks.com/

Between issues, read our blog posts as we and our special guests share thoughts, ideas, and recommendations about books, art, food, film, and travel. We love to hear from our readers, so please post a comment! Thanks-- Rosemary Carstens, editor

SNAX ONLINE is moving during the first quarter of 2011 -- stay tuned!

Snax Online is undergoing a redesign and will be moving to a new location. Check back from time to time for a link. In its new format, this blog will cover a wider range of topics but also its usual five. In the meantime, keep up with what's happening in the world of books, art, food, film, and travel at http://www.FEASTofBooks.com --

See you in 2011!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mapping our Imaginations through Books, Art, Food, Film, and Travel

September already. It doesn’t seem possible. Summer flew by in a blur of sharp blue morning skies and, from the plains where I live, beckoning jagged-edged mountain ranges. Riding my motorcycle into cooler elevations this month, the dry scent of pine swirls around me as I twist ever higher up the road. The sun warms my arms and I feel the exhilarating pull of gravity as I power in and out of turns. Each second brings a quick snapshot: a flash of blue and a squawk of jay; a whiff of skunk; a glimpse of elk huddled tight in a meadow. I leave behind the everydayness of work and words and enter a world of the senses, of intense focus on each moment. Each turn of the calendar the landscape changes and evokes renewed dreams of discovery, exotic sights, memorable images to recombine with the old. I lean into the uniqueness of each season and experience strong correlations between them and our human life spans—they express a comforting continuity and renewal.

As autumn arrives we gird ourselves for the holiday season, gear up for a last push to reach our year’s goals. Because for so many years September signaled a new school term, I often still feel a spark of energy that causes me to take on new challenges in the fall; it becomes not only a time of retrospection, of wrapping up, but also a time of renewed commitment to the passions of my life. Fall, then, is a time when the angle of light changes and casts revelation upon our personal landscapes, allowing us to see freshly our own geography.

Thinking about personal geography reminds me of a book I read some years ago titled A Mapmaker’s Dream: The Meditations of Fra Mauro, Cartographer to the Court of Venice, a journal translated by James Cowan (Shambhala Books 1996). In the late 1980s, Cowan made a visit to the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni in the Venetian lagoon in search of unpublished materials of Lord Byron. Going through archives left undisturbed for centuries, Cowan came upon a copy of a journal written by a Venetian of the sixteenth century, a man named Fra Mauro, who lived in the monastery of San Michele di Murano. He became fascinated with the work and decided to translate it. It is a jewel! This simple journal proposes new concepts of “mapping”—not only geographic, but spiritual and intellectual territory—that is particularly applicable in the fall of the year. To quote:

The map we draw becomes a representation of these impressions, each one contributing to that sublime image we believe exists but so far have not yet discovered . . . I now realize that the world is not real save in the way each of us impresses upon it his own sensibility. More importantly, this sensibility results from a belief in the world being a measurable whole, rather than something that extends beyond time and place. . . . Such a world emerges not from the sea as an island appears to do after a long voyage, but from a state of enchantment inspired by the mind taking leave of itself. . . namely the elusive power of the imagination . . . (emphasis mine)

If we accept that the world is more than a collection of geographic or topographic features, of longitudes and latitudes, parallels and meridians, but is also a complex composition of human imaginings of destinations, lives, and perspectives, then our personal geography becomes a unique individual map. As we take in new combinations of images and ideas, and as they shape and mold our thinking, morphing into even more personal influences, our landscape, our map of the world, is altered. In the fall issue of our award-winning webZINE FEAST at www.CarstensCommunications.com/FEAST.html, which will be out in the next few days, I hope you will find some startling, satisfying, reinforcing, and revitalizing images and concepts that will change your landscape, your view of the world in small or even large ways.
Enjoy the Fall!
-- Rosemary Carstens
Editor, FEAST: Books, art, food, film, and travel