Lonely Planet

I have been reading the lonely planet series for more than a decade. The first lonely planet book I read was Europe, before the exchange vacation program. During those days, smartphones were just in the cradle, far from being called ‘smart’. And my computer was soaked with Germany’s winter snow. The sole information source I could rely on was the Lonely Planet Europe book. With maps, hostel addresses, and tourist attractions, this book guided me through the entire ten days.

In the next ten years, I have not been able to explore many new countries. The only books I have read, and the only destinations I have been to are Russia and Mexico. This year, I was fortunate enough to have stepped into both Great Britain and the South American continent. And early next year, I will set out again to Japan. Though I prepared for my London trip without Lonely Planet, I did scrutinize Chile and Argentina. Several days ago, I got my Japan series.

I enjoy traveling, not only physically being there, but virtually as well. Even without modern technologies like AR/VR, I could still enjoy foreign atmospheres by reading books and browsing websites. I often spend time on Google Maps on a whim, reading signs and pictures, reviews and comments. It feels surprisingly real and surreal at the same time, that 8 million people live on the same planet, busy minding their businesses.

Tying Up Loose Ends

Recently, I have been playing the game Elden Ring for almost 200 hours. I enjoy playing games with open-world settings like this quite much. The first game of this genre that I played was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which was exactly 10 years ago. (I landed in the United States 10 years ago and immediately I bought my first MacBook Pro and installed that game.) One major reason these games are so intriguing is the ‘freedom’ of roaming around the entire world without being tightly restricted to a single linear questline. Multiple events happen simultaneously in all places and the gamer can hop between different storylines and experience the intertwined plots at the same time.

Just like the real world, loose ends scatter around everywhere. While I am pushing forward the story between D and Fia, I need to take care of Ranni’s quests and follow what Blaid tells me to do. Meanwhile, I have to check where Nepheli or Alexander is and keep track of Hyetta’s grapes. Each time I switch from one character’s questline to another character’s question, I must retrieve some old memories and invoke the contexts around them - picking up the loose end, figuring out the current situation, and then starting to tie it up.

The cost of switching between different contexts is already so much in such a straightforward game mainly describing several powers seeking to be dominant. As has been stated, in the real world, our lives will only have many more loose ends than in games. You are planning two or three trips at one time, booking itineraries and adding points of interest. Besides, you are working on some home improvement projects, with certain tools not yet delivered. Meanwhile, you need to maintain some daily or weekly fitness or social routines, some of which get conflict with others. At the same time, you have piles of cleaning up work to deal with, such as organizing the last trip’s photos, getting rid of some unwanted items bought accidentally, eating up what has been left in the pantry that is impending its expiration date, etc. Till now, I have not mentioned a word about work.

I admire people who organize so well of anything, all the loose ends. Without extraordinarily excellent memory, one could only do two things to survive: 1) limit the number of loose ends as hard as possible; 2) provide contexts that could be used for picking up the loose ends as much as possible. Exactly the same problem as multi-threading.

For the first item, one shall try to close any tasks with their best effort. However, nobody knows if a task is actually closed, and by no means will it be reopened. Thus, in order to achieve the second goal, the ultimate approach, at least for me, is to write notes, to dump all thoughts that have been lurking around in the mind into words and letters, and to make it easier to read and follow even with zero background knowledge.

Subsequently, the task becomes managing loose ends in the notes. Oh, what a recursive problem.




// 之后填补更多细节



不得不说,我的伦敦之行为全书的阅读体验加分了太多。故事背景一大半发生在伦敦—,尤其是几块著名的街区,几条充满历史的地铁线路,地铁站,火车站,教堂,以及伦敦周边的几个城市。伦敦城经历了多少战火也依然保存了众多历史在城市各个角落,行走在其中的我也有着穿越进书本,或穿越回百年前的闪回。此处不得不提到另一个出发前做的功课————重新打开刺客信条·枭雄(Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate)。预先跑一遍各个景点,从各个塔顶、楼顶俯瞰一下城市全貌,阅读一下游戏编写人员的小百科,踩点一下之后肉身要打卡的名胜古迹。拿出游戏地图和谷歌地图左右对照,虽然不是一笔一等比例缩小,但重要地点一个不少,对应分享的故事也都饶有趣味,着实适合预习。

回到小说。总之这部长篇一定是得与伦敦有“羁绊”的人才最适合一读,或者你刚从那回来,还记得Leicester和Pret a Manger怎么发音,或者你正准备去,需要大概知道地铁站名都叫啥,再或者你是个老伦敦,生活好久了。这些人在读这部小说时候一定都能有更好的体验!