THE CELESTIAL CEILING
Sitting at this desk, far away in other lands, it is easy to drift. The eye traces over the unfamiliar terrain, a vast apartment, tidy, clean, and spare. Xavier de Maistre is here, recounting the Voyage around my Room. He’d been kept in his room for 42 days as a punishment for duelling, and during this time carefully negotiated all of the domestic topography that surrounded him. Everything is carefully plotted, a whole chapter on the folds of his coat, a circumnavigation of his writing desk, his chair, his bed, and to his library which is beyond compare as uncharted terrain, “Cook’s voyages, and the observations of his travelling companions, doctors Banks and Solander, are nothing compared to my adventures in this single region.” And at one stage he peeks out the window, beholding the vastness of the night sky above, the empyrean sublimity. Looking up, I notice that right here on the ceiling is a planetary system, the water planets of sprinklers, the vast planetary bodies of light, some with rings around them, others attended by small moons of their own … an entire universe of infrastructure.
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