Bell’s Christmas Trees

A lot of eminent historians and archaeologists insist that Plato invented Atlantis completely, but the explanation that the most important philosopher of all time would just make up this elaborate story about a sunken city and stick

AFTER FANBOYING OUT OVER HIS BOOKS AND TAKING A FEW SELFIES INTERVIEW:

I grew up outside of Chicago and studied English in college. I went off to grad school thinking I was going to be an English professor, but after getting my master’s, I took a year off and tended bar. One night a friend of mine said she’d met the managing editor of Outside magazine and that she thought I should apply for their internship program. Working for a magazine had never really occurred to me; it seemed like something people did in the movies.

In 2009, I was working as an editor at National Geographic Adventure magazine and realized I was seeing pictures of Machu Picchu everywhere—on the cover of the magazine, in the office hallways, in the materials we sent out to potential advertisers. At that time Machu Picchu had roughly the same status for travel magazines as pre-scandal Tiger Woods did for Golf Digest. You could put it on the cover again and again and again and people didn’t care. They’d buy it every time because it was on their wish list.

Another important thing to remember is that Plato was writing about Atlantis when written history was a new technology. For more than 2,000 years everyone assumed that The Odyssey and The Iliad were made up stories, but now many experts believe that they were based on real events. So the question is, how much of the Atlantis story that Plato tells did he intend to be fictional and how much of it did he intend to be taken at face value?

He may be telling stories for purposes we don’t fully understand. The Atlantis story, at least the first part, comes at the beginning of the work called Timaeus, which is Plato’s attempt to explain the nature of the cosmos, to explain how the universe worked, arguably the most important topic that could possibly be discussed. A lot of eminent historians and archaeologists insist that Plato invented Atlantis completely, but the explanation that the most important philosopher of all time would just make up this elaborate story about a sunken city and stick it at the beginning of what may have been his most ambitious work strikes me, at the very least, as a little weird.

Since people can’t go to Atlantis like they can Machu Picchu, this book is much less a travel book than the other. What do you want people to take away from this story?

Well, that raises the question of what a travel book is. Hemingway’s novels in Spain? In Patagonia? A Rick Steves book? The Viking Cruises catalog? The thing I always tell people when they ask me how I became a travel writer is that I never became a travel writer—I just became a writer, or to use a term that is overused these days, a storyteller. Everything I write is a nonfiction story with plot development and characters that change in some way during the events conveyed; many of those stories just happen to take place in interesting locales.

WHAT ARE YOUR THREE PIECES OF ADVICE

My grandmother was very into Atlantis, Ancient Aliens, crystal skulls, and the like so when I was younger she would always talk about them with me. Having grown up with an intense fascination with this stuff, I found the science and research behind proving/disproving the myth fascinating (my take: I think Atlantis existed as an advanced society by contemporary standards in Spain). Mark is a captivating writer and both his books were delights to read. Next year, I’m heading to Peru and plan to visit some of the off the beaten path Inca sites mentioned in his book. Time to put on my own Indiana Jones hat!

  • Put your phone down
  • Portrait Studio and using
  • Will be impressed
  • You travel, and if you
  • Opportunity to explore

He may be telling stories for purposes we don’t fully understand. The Atlantis story, at least the first part, comes at the beginning of the work called Timaeus, which is Plato’s attempt to explain the nature of the cosmos, to explain how the universe worked, arguably the most important topic that could possibly be discussed.

WHAT ARE YOUR THREE PIECES OF ADVICE

A lot of eminent historians and archaeologists insist that Plato invented Atlantis completely, but the explanation that the most important philosopher of all time would just make up this elaborate story about a sunken city and stick it at the beginning of what may have been his most ambitious work strikes me, at the very least, as a little weird. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, lacus eu erat integer bibendum rutrum, sed arcu molestie, in quis ornare, rhoncus sceleris nam feugiat nibh leo. Ac suspendisse turpis posuere, cursus fames eu eget dolorem sapien. Eget cras urna nam, ultricies proin interdum facilisis arcu, eget sed quam enim nam, sit pede nonummy viverra dolor sed orci, nec feugiat donec phasellus

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