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Batt, James R. (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 20, Number 4 (Fall 1974)

Hove, Arthur
Sending and receiving: On finding one's way,   pp. 30-31

Page 30

         By Arthur Hove
         O  n    ~~~~ f i n d I nf                       n   ea
I find that I have lost my way.
Oh what a wide expanse I see,
Without a wood, without a tree;
No one at hand, no house is near,
To tell the way or give good cheer;
For now a sign would be a treat,
To tell us we might drink and eat.
  So lamented Doctor Syntax two
hundred years ago at the begin-
ning of his tour "in search of the
picturesque." His problem is a
thoroughly modern one. Most of
us need signs to make our way
through our crowded and complex
contemporary environment.
  But, contrary to Doctor Syn-
tax's experience, any traveler
down the modern highway is be-
sieged by signs. The road is well
marked. Too well marked in most
instances. Instead of sirens wailing
from the rocks, the modern trav-
eler has to resist the seductive
beckonings of flashing lights that
march through the air as they lure
one to visit places where virtually
every kind of desire can be ful-
filled. One is implored to buy
things or to do things in response
to the messages emblazoned on
billboards or other devices that
quite often obscure the natural
landscape to the point where they
create an environment all their
  Ulysses lashed himself to the
mast of his ship to resist the fatal
temptation of the sirens' call. The
modern traveler has almost no
protection unless he can summon
up an iron will to resist the hyp-
notic pull of the flashing lights
and the flat but colorful billboard
  Road maps, of course, are in-
dispensable as a guide to the
modern motorist in much the same
way that charts, astrolabe, and
sextant were to the first navigators
who overcame the geographic
mysteries of the high seas. Besides
indicating the shortest distance
from here to there, road maps are
the source of encyclopedic knowl-
edge. They often tell you the name
of the tree, bird, flower, animal,
song, and governor of the state
you are passing through or intend
to visit. They reveal the location of
parks, colleges, airports, forests,
campsites, and fish hatcheries.
  For the motorist who wants the
security of even more detailed di-
rections than those printed on the
normal road map, your friendly
automobile club will send you a
trip ticket which features a step-by-
step unfolding of the route you
should take if you want to proceed
as painlessly as possible from
Point A to Point B. You can flip
the pages as the miles go by, se-
cure in the knowledge that the trip
ticket will forewarn you of detours
and other hazards that may loom
up on the horizon.
  The armchair t r a v e l e r can
spend many free hours gazing at
road maps and planning trips
which may never be taken. Greater
distances can be bridged and more
exotic climes can be reached by
consulting atlases or attractively
colored travel booklets. Then there
are tour brochures designed to
entice you to spend money and
leave the comfort of your living
room to roam the high seas of
adventure in the company of an
attractive and personable guide
who is fluent in all the Indo-
European languages and who can
charm the socks off a camel driver
in the Khyber Pass at high noon.
  If, however, you want to strike
out on your own for an unfamiliar
place-whether it be close to home
or halfway around the world-
there are guide books to help you
explore the mystery of places
ranging from Kankakee to Kat-

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