Distractions

My goal (vain hope?) has always been to keep this blog regularly nourished with updates, and though the tail end of 2014 saw a decided failure in that arena, I was optimistic regarding 2015. Still, there’s not much knitterly to report here. Instead I’ve returned after a hiatus of approximately a quarter-century to read more about one of my childhood nightmares: the Franklin Expedition that was lost in the Canadian Arctic in the 1840’s. I know well enough now to keep clear of all photographs of the poor souls exhumed on Beechey Island in the 1980’s – John Torrington haunted me for months as a child – do not google him if you have an aversion to partially preserved corpses – and this time around, with a master’s degree in history far behind me now, I’m reading with  voracity all the primary source material that I can find online. (In other words, using 15-year-old remnants of conversational Swiss-German in an attempt to force one’s way through Klutschak’s Als Eskimo Unter den Eskimo, even in a version that isn’t printed in blackletter, leaves little time for much else. Still, without further ado, here are the links for your reading pleasure.)

The voyage of the “Fox” in the Arctic seas in search of Franklin and his companions

Narrative of the second Arctic expedition made by Charles F. Hall: his voyage to Repulse bay, sledge journeys to the straits of Fury and Hecla and to King William’s land, and residence among the Eskimos, during the years 1864-’69

Als Eskimo unter den Eskimos: eine Schilderung der Erlebnisse Schwatka’schen Franklin-Aufsuchungs-Expedition in den Jahren 1878-80

These are microfilm books. Each page is photographed and then the pictures collated so that the book can be browsed (and searched!). I don’t feel that the principle differs much from Kindle. Yet Kindle, to my mind, sterilizes and adds distance to the drama. Browsing these photographs of the books as they were originally printed, complete now with yellowing paper and fading ink, brought a freshness and closeness to the mystery and terror – though the latter may relate more to my anxiousness about coming across a page that would reveal gruesome depictions of the fate of some of Franklin’s men. As it turns out, I can best describe the illustrations as innocuous as they related primarily to Inuit implements and landscapes.

Still, M’Clintock’s descriptions (in the first link) of skeletons being more than enough to make me keep a wary eye on the closet door at night, I later attempted to distract myself from the grimness of death in the Arctic by watching a clip of Bonejangles in Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride.

Aaaaaand Odd-Even and I went to see The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies and I came home not so impressed by the cinematography as curious about the textile traditions of Middle Earth. All those half-mittens and wristwarmers!

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