QUESTION: What character from any book would you like to be, and why?
Words: “Did his mother leave him nothing, then?” asked Herbert, in pained surprise. “Nothing at all,” assured Mark, complacently. “That is very strange and unjust.”
“I don’t look upon it in that light.”
Excerpt from: Horatio Alger, Making His Way
Video excerpt from installation at “How Posters Work” in the Milwaukee Art Museum by Sonnenzimmer, the Chicago-based, internationally known graphic art studio.
Animated illustration by JimM.
The making of me in the characters in stories which shaped my childhood.
Which shaped me.
Inescapable now, so many years later, they remain vividly relevant.
I have seen the albatross, wings outspread, gliding on the wind above a rising sea.
I have staggered across the wave-swamped deck of a ship with only a lifeline for safety.
Green water, blue skies, white sails, the creak of wood and the slap of waves against the hull.
The roar of cannon, smell of gunpowder. Grapeshot and langrage slicing through ship’s rigging, holing sails.
Oak shatters. Splinters fly to ruin human flesh.
In the orlop at my surgeon’s post, blood gushes as I cut, wipe, stitch. Next! A mangled arm. Ligature. Cauterize, bandage. Next! A leg that can’t be saved. Saw, suture, bandage. Next!
The black cloud from the butcher’s bill lifted and cleared when we reached port.
I beheld the rhinoceros of Sumatra and a gentle siamang dwelling with the holy monks.
A moment of grace. Like so many moments of grace. On land, at sea. With a sturdy boat, good captain and a willing crew, we hold fast to weather the storms and battles of life.
I will know a deep abiding love for a beautiful woman. The joy of a daughter.
And an enduring tested friendship with the ship’s captain. Jack Aubrey.
I’d be Stephen Maturin.