²⁰ Notes from an island.
Colours have not overtaken the world; call it dawn. It is silent. The landing strip seems to extend into the faraway, longer, leaner than the island itself. The structure that hosts us is steel and glass, it is modern, but its only shop is yet unopened.
I peer out, through the facade — I had not thought such untroubled vastness possible here. This is Distance, protected by barbed wire and, beyond it, the brooding Autumn sea.
Why had I not noticed it upon arrival ? I remember that from above, our destination had seemed a speck of dust, and instinctive fear had seized the aircraft. The possibility of landing on such a land, utterly unmoored and lost, seemed extraordinary and I had closed my eyes.
Feet shuffle: the small aircraft’s propellers have been activated and we must step in and leave. The captain’s speech is swallowed by the noise. Perhaps, he told us — I did not hear — that we will land in Africa today or that we're going somewhere far and forgotten.
The flat rooftops blend into the ground; already the cliffs have ducked into the waves and we have left it all behind, the sea has swallowed it up, it is over.
It is difficult to measure emptiness. From above, the island had appeared like a dried-out sponge, washed atop the sea’s glittering surface.
This happened long ago. Already years had passed. I skimmed through the latitudes on old maps — rather than materialise, the island seemed to vanish into the folds of the yellowing paper; within me, the sponge seemed to grow, brushing the ribs and the arteries' swell. An unrelenting landscape, that burries dreams, both animal and man, where ships and lives run amok. Thirst brings me back there, and so does heat, and the desert, and the hurricane that had passed within sign of the coast.
Confronted with emptiness, the geographer’s instruments become unreliable and rust. Descriptions falter and sway on the page.
Lucian writes :
“Though it outline was dim and vague, we seemed quite close to the Island of Dreams. It had something dreamlike in its very nature, for as we approached it receded, and seemed to get further and further off. At last we reached it and sailed into Slumber, the port, close to the ivory gates where stands the temple of Rooster. It was evening when we landed, and upon entering the city we saw many strange dreams.”