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Diversion 4: The Cartographer

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A Complete Study on the Design And Construction of Culverts in America

~~~~~~~~~chapter four~~~~~~~~~~


My name is Doet and I live in the Village of Nuham. I make maps. Many sorts of maps containing the directions to many things. Even if it were not my avocation, I would still make maps. From my expensive apprenticeship learning the practical use of surveying tools, mapmaking was my trade. In many ways, my life itself seems a map to me. And I find myself sometimes seeing nearly all things in terms of a grid. Every moment, event and each thing distinct, but predictible to the next in it's slope and characteristics. The exact nature of which can not be drawn until it's own time of discovery. My favorties are hydrological maps of imaginary watersheds. From youngest memory, I have felt compelled to diagram and detail wonderfully complex, inter-connected, marvolously constructed, dykes and drains, ditchs and levees, impoundments and culvert systems. Both of the sort that actually exist in this world and the even grander designs of my fantacy. And the names I give them. The making, organization and review of these maps takes up most of my time and concentration. I gladdly pay that price because no one else can or will. I do it because to study and document the control of land and water through excavation and elevation, calms me. Their connections. Their cause and effects. Their predictable, random inter-dependance. All bring me solace when nothing, or no one else, can or will. I am now old, retired by physical incapacity, and teach, sometimes, Cartography at the University.

My lifelong obsession and mastery of navigation, flow and distribution naturally tends to make some others in Nuham nervous. I think they wish they knew all the things that I know, that they can not know, and that leads them to fear me. But i don't play lies on little children, just because I can. Like they do. I don't pretend to feel things that I don't or be someone that I'm not, just to gain a small measure of trust. And then use that trust only to steal something small, just because I can. Like, while bitterly resenting the loss of their own childhood, they do. And I don't allow the monster of my tedious learning and aged foresight born of disapointment to become a vampire of their naive innocence. But they do.

There are diversions everywhere. In some ways, there exist only diversions. Some as small as the trench left by a worm that has crawled through some mud. Others, shallow ditchs and canals directing tiny streams from an ocean of tide drawn by fingers on sandy beachs. The largest culverts are forged in oppressive foundrys from molten stone and transported long distances before being assembled into intricate arrangements capable of turning a flood into a deep and usefull pond.

When people wonder why flood stops fail, they don't wait for answers. Because answers normally require a long and complex explanation. Instead they wildly speculate based on their un-admitted ignorance and almost always are wrong. And even when they are right, they don't know why they're right and so learn nothing. Too lazy and impatient to really study and understand the reasons but too foolishly pridefull to admit that they are. This bothers me. I could tell them. I know where the weak points are. I can see the breaks well before any rainy deluge. But they wouldn't understand. And, they would not admit that they did not. And that makes my voice grow sharp and cruel and then they think I am talking to them as one would to a two year old. And I feel as if I am. And that will make them shun me still more. So, I say nothing. And I let them make their mistakes. And they know that I know much more than they're even interested in knowing, and this just makes them scorn me more. Alone instead, I quietly make the maps that will someday say everything. And I keep my journals. And each is stored and sealed in film and kept in a place that should stay dry. So that even after the flood waters of time finally drown the air from this mortal life, they will be there waiting on the chance that a truly curious student might arrive someday to this village.


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This might be my favourite of the series, so far.

It suffers less than the previous ones from a quirk of your writing style, namely your tendency to break up sentences with unnecessary short clauses or, in some cases, misplaced adjectives. This tendency results in a certain disjointedness, a lack of fluency, which is detrimental to the piece, and could be obviated be a greater attention to sentence structure and consideration of what is necessary (to convey meaning) and what is superfluous.

Before this observation is taken the wrong way: I recognise this flaw, (if I may refer to it thus), because it is one which I share, to a greater or lesser degree, and which I have to manage in my own writing, whether this be for creative, study or work-related purposes. My written work inevitably requires painstaking editing to redress my tendency, sometimes, but not always, to insert, with alarming and ill-conceived frequency, sub-clauses, which, if not handled sensitively, result in disjointed- and some might add, excessively convoluted- phrasing. Which spoils the effect.

This characteristic of your writing was more prevalent in "the one about the clown", where I noticed several examples of phrasing which might have been improved by a reduction in clauses and greater attention to syntax. Here,less so...but still one or two cases in point.

No time to go into specific examples from the texts, but I definitely think it is one area where your otherwise relatively splendid and thoughtful pieces could be improved, in terms of "the reading experience".

Hope you don't mind me making these observations, which are offered with the best of intentions. I have inadvertantly caused offence in the past, when offering what I genuinely felt to be constructive comment. Wouldn't want to go through that again. Just let me know if my critique oversteps the mark.

I find your pieces intriguing. I figure that we are getting only shards of insight into the various existential crises experienced by the characters you inhabit, but I like the direction your series is taking and the clues to its thematic undercurrent.

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My written work inevitably requires painstaking editing to redress my tendency, sometimes, but not always, to insert, with alarming and ill-conceived frequency, sub-clauses, which, if not handled sensitively, result in disjointed- and some might add, excessively convoluted- phrasing. Which spoils the effect.

:laughing: :laughing: :bow:

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Re: my observation (above). In fact, there is only one fairly innocuous example of this trait in this piece. So my comment is a bit "wrong time, wrong place". The trait is something I observed in your earlier pieces, but upon which I never got round to commenting.

Not at all! Not even a tiny bit! I understood and I hold nothing but appreciation and give great thanks for your kind words and suggestions. I could not have paid for better observations or critique! And for your sentence in explanation ;) Over-explaining. On the page, and (I am fairly sure just about everybody but me notices) in everyday conversation. I catch myself every once and rare again. I need to work harder at catching myself more often :P And letting myself believe, as much as I can, in my own 1st explanation. :D

And, again, I thank you! :bow:

p.s. to anyone else out there, thank you for reading. And sure I'm as sensitive as the next big tough goldfish, but I can take a little criticism, and I'm happy to have any feedback at all. I just hope I can think of what to say next :goof:

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