Two Years Before the Mast. "In the following pages I design to give an accurate and authentic narrative of a little more than two years spent as a common sailor,before the mast, in the American merchant service. It is written out from a journal which I kept at the time, and from notes which I made of most of the events as they happened." At the beginning of his third year of Harvard a severe attack of measles interrupted Henry Dana's studies, and so affected his eyes as to preclude, for a time at least, all idea of study. The state of the family finances was not such as to permit of foreign travel in search of health. Accordingly, prompted by necessity and by a youthful love of adventure, he shipped as a common sailor in the brig, bound for the California coast.
"At the center of the universe is a horribly wounded angel. It is nothing anyone would call conscious, and is only in the barest, barest sense of the word still alive. If anything resembling awareness remains, that awareness consists of nothing but an infinite field of gridded black and white squares, a test pattern scattered with dancing dots that shift and jump and blur into one another. This test pattern is useful. " This piece of fiction, which appears on kuro5hin, evokes echoes of Douglas Hoftsadter (Godel, Escher, Bach) and Nancy Willard (Things Invisible To See, Sister Water , and lots of children's books) simultaneously. [more inside]