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Marco Polo and The Dream of Validation

Date: 30-Aug-2006/1:36+3:00


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I became curious about how the accounts of explorers like Marco Polo were received in their time. Were stories of uncharted territories overseas just a fringe interest, the way astral projection is today?
Wikipedia has this to say:
On their return from China in 1295, the family settled in Venice where they became a sensation and attracted crowds of listeners who had difficulties in believing their reports of distant China. According to a late tradition, since they did not believe him, Marco Polo invited them all to dinner one night during which the Polos dressed in the simple clothes of a peasant in China. Shortly before the crowds ate, the Polos opened their pockets to reveal hundreds of rubies and other jewels which they had received in Asia. Though they were much impressed, the people of Venice still doubted the Polos.
Jewels do indeed seem like a pretty lousy proof, and I'm not entirely sure I'd be convinced. In fact, modern historians are skeptical that he reached China at all:
Chinese records of the time do not mention him, despite the fact that he claimed to have served as a special emissary for Kublai Khan—which is puzzling, given the careful record-keeping in China at that time. In recent times, while most historians believe Marco Polo did reach China, some have proposed he did not get that far and only retold information he had heard from others. Those skeptics point out that among other omissions, his account fails to mention Chinese writing, chopsticks, tea, or foot binding.
Bizarre. I'm wondering if I'll ever truly bring back something that will fascinate and prove to the world that what I undergo is real, and that leads to the development of a map or a bridge to the dreamworlds.
Note I was inspired to put this into words because of a dream in which I read about having my ideas validated, which felt pretty good.
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The accounts written here are as true as I can manage. While the words are my own, they are not independent creative works of fiction —in any intentional way. Thus I do not consider the material to be protected by anything, other than that you'd have to be crazy to want to try and use it for genuine purposes (much less disingenuous ones!) But who's to say?