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The Life of Pi, Chapter 78 (Excerpt)

by Yann Martel

To be a castaway is to be a point perpetually at the centre of a circle…the geometry never changes. Your gaze is always a radius. The circumference is ever great. In fact, the circles multiply.

To be a castaway is to be caught in a harrowing ballet of circles. You are at the centre of one circle, while above you two opposing circles spin about.

The sun distresses you like a crowd, a noisy, invasive crowd that makes you cup your ears, that makes you close your eyes, that makes you want to hide.

The moon distresses you by silently reminding you of your solitude; you open your eyes wide to escape your loneliness.

When you look up, you sometimes wonder if at the centre of a solar storm, if in the middle of the Sea of Tranquility, there isn’t another one like you also looking up, also trapped by geometry, also struggling with fear, rage, madness, hopelessness, apathy.

Photo: Andrzej Szymański