It is no more essential to the understanding of a proposition that one should imagine anything in connexion with it, than that one should make a sketch from it. -- Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations
I had no idea what lay out there in the wider world. I imagined enemy dive bombers in the tenement airshaft, plummeting down like raptors with siren voices screaming in the American city night. I listened through the darkness to the sounds of Chicago & North Western train whistles and tried to imagine a world beyond the narrow and confined kingdom of my childish nutshell finitude. A starving minor normal boy I devoured all the books of marvels. The seas were wide and the mountains were tall. I sailed the Mediterranean with brave Ulysses, rode over the Alps on an elephant with Hannibal and retraced each fateful step of Hernán Cortés on his fateful trek to the dark glittering heart of the Aztec Empire. I crossed the Australian outback on foot, climbed the Matterhorn, flew a light plane over the summit of Mt. Everest and swam the Panama Canal. I set out upon the burning sands of the Sahara in the direction of Timbuktu and when I passed out from dehydration and heat prostration was awakened after an indeterminate period of time by a sensation as of light drops of rain upon my forehead, which I imagined to be the sympathetic tears of a beautiful nomad woman of whose visage I was able to see only the eyes. I chartered a leaky Chinese junk and in it tackled the Indian Ocean during a typhoon. At the Rajang River I took the chief of the local tribe of head-hunters for a ride in my plane and was rewarded by the tribe with a prize of a large fibre sack containing fifty shrunken heads. The shrunken heads I dumped in the river once I was pretty sure the head-hunters weren't watching, somewhere toward morning and the necessary dawning of another spell of temporary unimaginability.
Steam locomotives of the Chicago & North Western Railway in the roundhouse at Chicago railyards, December 1942: photo by Jack Delano, Farm Security Administration (Library of Congress, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection)
Peyto Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta: photo by Tobias Alt, 2005