in the novel, italo calvino depicted marco polo inspecting and reporting to kublai khan on his ever-expanding territories. the way the venetian traveler described each city was mesmerizing. the great khan found comfort and consolation in polo's accounts of his unique and bizarre journeys. at the same time, he was offered no practical information. the stories told were at once magical and irrelevant.
i remember being fascinated when i read the book 20 years ago. upon revisiting it during thanksgiving break, it is now that i can fully embrace and connect with the way calvino described his intellectual depression: "... i ceased to be young. perhaps it's a metabolic process, something that comes with age, i'd been young for a long time, perhaps too long, suddenly i felt that i had to begin my old age, yes, old age, perhaps with the hope of prolonging it by beginning it early." he wrote this at age 43.
when you've come this far in the journey, you seek no longer the black or white. it's the shades of grey in between that is enchanting and offers meaning. it's the substance lying beneath the surface that breathes life and truth into everything.