Were these maps of the future, I wondered, as I began to focus my attention on certain of them, while looking for their names. And why were the veins red, not blue, for example — as I expected rivers to be depicted in blue. There were smudges and smears of blue, though, as various shades of sea, ultramarine being a colour that I had somehow heard of, but here it was not so much ultra as faded. Later, I found more swirls of red whereby I imagined furnaces breaking the surfaces, elements not to help us cook but to melt the meat we offered to meet such boiling fires.
Still no names, though. Surely this was not an atlas of the Earth, nor even a future Earth when our green hopes had been due to be dashed. This was perhaps another place altogether, another haven between the Heaven and Hell of the Bible.
Yet, still no names. No names to last us out a whole future. No names to give me clues as to why I was so bemused. Perhaps it was an unknown place, one which whereby we hadn’t yet christened any of the configurations of substance and sea that we had seen through our probing telescopes. An unknown place upon our horizons of hope.
Still, no names, though. I turned further towards the end of the atlas to discover if there was an alphabetical index to guide me. No such chance. It was paper, though, real paper made from trees — or the pages certainly felt like that between my fingers. I even tore one of them straight down to prove my point — through one of the land masses, a jagged schism to outdo any earthquake or sudden chasm. But then I realised I had, by chance, chosen the page that bore some of the swirling fires that failed, not to cook, but to melt the meat that happened to wander near such bubbling swirls.
But now I thought I knew at least one name for sure, even though it wasn’t written down. But this was at least a start. And it was as if I was myself the First Mover. Or the First Christener, at least.
At last an atlas at least with a name inside it. But a name not yet written down.
As I closed the atlas, I sighed. One name, even when it was later written down, was not enough to make it an atlas proper. But then my thoughts took a new turn: what shall I name the book itself, now that I had unnamed it? What as yet nameless title indeed shall I give these words that I have at least written down about it?
Now a single title as name would suffice at least to last us out, to become a name at last, or about to be written down as a name that it was ever entitled to bear.
But not as yet.
Still no names.
It always seems to take an endless time, alas.