The Sea of Flames

Two weeks ago I flew from Sydney to Madrid and spent a total of 32 hours in transit. It was sticky and sluggish; time didn’t play by the rules. It warped. It got sucked into the propellers and caught in the wings of the Airbus 8380 as it cut through the skies at nine hundred kilometres an hour. Spat out in a million pieces and rearranged in my woozy body.

The day before my flight, I found myself in a bookstore, my eyes grazing over all the colourful covers and bold titles, looking for something special to take with me. I knew I would need company. I saw the cover of Anthony Doerr’s novel ‘All the Light We Cannot See’, read an extract from the middle, and didn’t hesitate to run to the check-out counter. I’m so glad I decided to treat myself that day. What if I had never found this book?

The brain is locked in total darkness, of course, children, says the voice. It floats in a clear liquid inside the skull, never in the light. And yet the world it constructs in the mind is full of light. It brims with colour and movement. So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?

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