Friday, 26 March 2010

Thursday, 25 March 2010


“The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.
Pascal, Pensées

From around 1799 to 1804, Alexander von Humboldt undertook a journey around South America, later entitling the account of what he had seen Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent.

Nine years earlier, in the spring of 1790, a twenty-seven-year-old Frenchman, Xavier de Maistre, undertook a journey around his bedroom, later entitling the account of what he had seen Journey around My Bedroom. Gratified by his experiences, in 1798, De Maistre undertook a second journey. This time he traveled by night and ventured out as far as the window ledge, later entitling his account Nocturnal Expedition around My Bedroom.

Two approaches to travel: Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent, Journey around My Bedroom. The first required ten mules, thirty pieces of luggage, four interpreters, a chronomoter, a sextant, two telescopes, a Borda theodolite, a barometer, a compass, a hygrometer, letters of introduction from the King of Spain and a gun. The second, a pair of pink and blue cotton pyjamas.

…it was not Xavier’s intentions to cast aspersions on the heroic deeds of the great travelers of the past: Magellan, Drake, Anson and Cook. …it was just that (de Maestre) had discovered a way of traveling that might be infinitely more practical for those neither as brave or as wealthy as they. ‘The most indolent beings won’t have any reason to hesitate before setting off to find pleasures that will cost them neither money nor effort’. He particularly recommended room-travel to the poor and to those afraid of storms, robberies, and high cliffs.”

Alain de Botton – The Art of Travel p243-245

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Switzerland with a Baedecker

I've not been out in the hills as much as normal lately (see previous post..) so have been looking through some of my books on mountains for my only fix. The fold out images from my Baedecker's guide to Switzerland are quite fantastic, so I scanned them a couple of weeks ago with a plan to do something with them. Still in progress, but here are two panoramas.

There are a good deal more in this fabulous book, and the one with the Mer de Glace is particularly fine. Having travelled to Chamonix, France a few summers ago, the mental travel of the Baedecker is proving really very enjoyable.


current collaboration with Jim! (...this image was made after 13 wk's and 4 days)

Sunday, 7 March 2010

aurora borealis

One more pretty wild image by Truvelot, this time of a rather exaggerated aurora borealis.

Partial eclipse of the moon

Partial eclipse of the moon. Observed October 24, 1874. (1881-1882), again by Trouvelot.

Étienne Léopold Trouvelot (1827-1895)

November meteors
star cluster in Hercules

More of Trouvelot's lithographs can be found here