||"And briefly, when the sun had gone
So had I spoken with them, every one,
That I was of their fellowship anon,
And made agreement that we'd early rise
To take the road, as I will to you apprise. ..." --General Prologue
|Introduction: Call me Tapestry... As of 2006, I had already attended three Burning Man festivals. My previous trips to Burning Man took me throughout the American Southwest, on adventures past many interesting and historical sites. In 2006, I decided to do things a little differently. Instead of driving, I took a cross-country train. Instead of sleeping in my car, I took a tent. Instead of loading myself up with everything I might possibly need, I packed only the bare essentials. Instead of taking on all the responsibility for my journey, I elected to trust in the kindness of others to help me along the way.|
quotes at the top of each page are from "The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey
Chaucer, written around 1400. It is the story of a group of people from
all walks of life who travel as pilgrims on their way to the Shrine of
Saint Thomas à Becket in Canterbury, England. In the Middle Ages,
people believed that a pilgrimage to a holy place would help purge them
of their sins. Islamic law still requires devout Muslims to make a pilgrimage,
or Haj, to the holy city of Mecca at least once in their lifetimes.
As they travel, Chaucer's pilgrims tell stories to each other to kill time on their journey. The stories have various themes, from romance to humor to drama. Some of the stories are told in what seems to be a response to an earlier story. What was unique was that Chaucer's characters were average, everyday people, speaking as everyday people spoke. (Some translations vary slightly in content. The quotes are reproduced here in Modern English, but still retain their original flavor.)
Many of the tales seem to be fragments of longer stories. According to his General Prologue, Chaucer intended for each pilgrim to tell two tales on their way to Canterbury and two tales on the way back. That would have been over a hundred little stories. He never finished his enormous project. Scholars aren't even sure what order the tales are supposed to be in. Nevertheless, "The Canterbury Tales" remains one of the classics of English literature. It is also one of the few classics of English literature that has fart jokes. I'd never read it before. I thought it would be interesting to read about a journey while going on a journey.
|I had never camped in a tent for more than a couple of nights before. I had never taken a train ride longer than a few hours. I had never left on so long a trip without my own transportation. There was much I was leaving to chance. There were many things that could go terribly wrong. With hope and fear in my heart, I headed out for Burning Man. I had no idea what would happen...|