Saturday, February 21, 2009

`New Images to His Reader'

We left for Mexico in the dark and returned home in the dark Friday night. Such symmetry is pleasing, a form of resolution. Our youngest turns six today and he coughed most of the way up the coast, from Loreto to Los Angeles to Bellevue. This morning he wakes to presents, a head cold and the certainty of a party with friends in the afternoon. Like all of us, he’s glad to be home, where the familiar is a comfort regardless of your age. Mexico, for David, was an opportunity to swim outdoors in February, stay up later than usual and eat tortillas every day. A reader urged me to “stop behaving like an American kid that suddenly finds himself out of his bubble and start enjoying the place [that is, Mexico] and taking it for what it is?” I thought I had. I started our vacation with a passage from Samuel Johnson, and for the sake of symmetry I close it with another, from The Idler #97:

“Every writer of travels should consider that, like all other authors, he undertakes either to instruct or please, or to mingle pleasure with instruction. He that instructs must offer to the mind something to be imitated, or something to be avoided; he that pleases must offer new images to his reader, and enable him to form a tacit comparison of his own state with that of others.”

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