Field guide to getting lost
A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca SolnitWhether she is contemplating the history of walking as a cultural and political experience over the past two hundred years (Wanderlust), or using the life of photographer Eadweard Muybridge as a lens to discuss the transformations of space and time in late nineteenth-century America (River of Shadows), Rebecca Solnit has emerged as an inventive and original writer whose mind is daring in the connections it makes. A Field Guide to Getting Lost draws on emblematic moments and relationships in Solnits own life to explore the issues of wandering, being lost, and the uses of the unknown. The result is a distinctive, stimulating, and poignant voyage of discovery.
A FIELD GUIDE TO GETTING LOST
Does that list give you nightmares? Solnit looks deeply into how various people and peoples have faced all of these seemingly negative aspects of existence and how she has faced them in her own history. It has to do with a recognition that, first, none of these is avoidable, and that, second, each is the yin to a yang of some seemingly positive aspect of human existence. Darkness is part of the texture of light. Near the very end of her book, Solnit tells a story of having a dream one night of carrying a leaking tortoise around her childhood bedroom.
Solnit is one of America's most prolific and original writers, providing an antidote to the contemporary European wastelands of urban psycho-geography. She has left the social wilderness of the city and her punk sensibility behind, preferring to travel to places where the wild things really are: bears, snakes, mountains and forests where one wrong move can spell death or disaster. Her friends work in search-and-rescue teams in the Rockies, where the art of finding is only gainsaid by Solnit's even cannier art of getting lost. Solnit's writing stands in the tradition of American transcendentalists such as Emerson and Thoreau, and their modern counterparts Annie Dillard and Barry Lopez. The earth is a fragile thing, losing species and ecological character.
Before you ask, this book won't explain why a bunch of beautiful actors are marooned on a desert island or what causes those strange noises in the jungle. If you want to get Lost, buy the DVDs. This is probably a mistake that quite a few buyers will make - encouraged by the publishers, who have cunningly designed the cover so the book looks like a spin-off from the show - but I hope lovers of Lost don't ask for a refund. If they keep reading, they'll discover that Rebecca Solnit's intentions and obsessions aren't that different from their own. She probably doesn't even own a telly, but she is fascinated by how and why people get lost and, more importantly, what happens when they are found, find themselves or decide to stay lost.