Saturday, January 24, 2009

I've been reading a memoir (research for future calligraphy pieces, you know!) by Jack London on Gutenberg, The Cruise of the Snark, about the building of a boat and consequent attempt at sailing it around the world beginning in 1907. I've never actually read anything by Jack London before, but you know what? He's quite a good writer. (who knew?). The first-person narrative is nice, showing his peculiar sense of humor. And did you know he was a socialist? I didn't (but then, I didn't know anything about him, other than that he wrote Call Of The Wild).

Anyway, I recommend it. The part I'm up to now, they've just arrived in Hawaii and are learning to surf. He surfs Waikiki and the Pipeline. In 1907. Lovely, detailed descriptions of the process of of learning to surf, its joys and dangers, and talks a bit about some of the surfers (rather, 'surf riders') who give him tips along the way. It's uncanny to hear him talk about how one guy in particular just taught himself in the past month and has gone out every day, obsessed with it and no signs of stopping. The timeless appeal of surfing, and its timeless lessons.

"The whole method of surf-riding and surf-fighting, learned, is one of non-resistance. Dodge the blow that is struck at you. Dive through the wave that is trying to slap you in the face. Sink down, feet first, deep under the surface, and let the big smoker that is trying to smash you go by far overhead. Never be rigid. Relax. Yield yourself to the waters that are ripping and tearing at you."

Of course, he couldn't go out the next day because he was too sunburned to walk. Oh yeah-- no sunblock in 1907.

1 comment:

sherry said...

That's an interesting piece. Funny, I think of cold when I think of Jack London. My "to read" list is getting longer and longer.