Mar 19, 2014

Embassy to the Hyper-Advanced Pony People of Frisland

"We will commence with a question: does steak love lettuce?"
-- Racter

This year of our Lord 1578, March or maybe June. The sun and stars move like drunkards in the sky. Maggiolo leapt out of the boat into neck-deep water, so taken was he with sights of naked youth of both sexes, beckoning to us from the white shore. Some carried large, plum-like fruits in bags that glistened in the sun. Others of the crew dropped the oars despite my oaths and intimations, following Maggiolo.

Frisland, the phantom island given currency by Mercator, among others.

Gerard de Kremer (1512-1594), aka Gerardus Mercator, was a Flemish mapmaker and the first to use the word Atlas for a collection of maps.

And he made artfully sophisticated maps.

Racter was -- purportedly -- the AI author of The Policeman's Beard is Half-Constructed, which you can read at UbuWeb.

What connection could possibly exist between Racter and Frisland? At least one: the matter of veracity, or what some people might call authenticity. Look at our species, we're hungry for stories, and framework our lives into tales that include protagonists -- you and me -- antagonists, -- the client who refuses to pay you, the boss who treats you with less respect than you deserve -- and goals such as jumping on a Black Friday deal or closing that real estate sale and get the biggest commission of your life.

Fiction weaves into our lives in more ways than we care to notice. Stories help you to believe. Santa was real to me at one point. The Easter Bunny, not so much. If I were a Dutch burgher living during the Age of Discovery I would like to believe that Frisland existed; now at the dawn of the Anthropocene, I don't know what to make of Racter, Bigfoot or Thomas Gold's claims about the origins of oil in the "deep hot biosphere."

Fox Mulder had a poster in his office that read, not I believe, but I want to believe. "Want to" makes a huge difference.

After the jump: Music for people who want to believe

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