Questions 1-10 are based on the following
This passage is adapted from MacDonald Harris, The Balloonist. © 2011 by The Estate of Donald Heiney .During the summer of 1897,the narrator of this story ,a fictional Swedish scientist, has set out for the North Pole in a hydrogen-powered balloon.
My emotions are complicated and not
readily verifiable. I feel a vast yearning that is
simultaneously a pleasure and a pain .I am certain
of the consummation of this yearning, but I don’t
5 know yet what form it will take, since I do not
understand quite what it is that the yearning desires.
For the first time there is borne in upon me the full
truth of what I myself said to the doctor only an hour
ago: that my motives in this undertaking are not
10 entirely clear. For years, for a lifetime, the machinery
of my destiny has worked in secret to prepare for this
oment; its clockwork has moved exactly toward
his time and place and no other. Rising slowly from
he earth that bore me and gave me sustenance, I am
15 carried helplessly toward an uninhabited and hostile,
or at best indifferent, part of the earth, littered with
the bones of explorers and the wrecks of ships, frozen
supply caches, messages scrawled with chilled fingers
and hidden in cairns that no eye will ever see.
20 Nobody has succeeded in this thing, and many have
died. Yet in freely willing this enterprise, in choosing
this moment and no other when the south wind
will carry me exactly northward at a velocity of
eight knots, I have converted the machinery of my
25 fate into the servant of my will. All this I understand,
as I understand each detail of the technique by which
this is carried out. What I don’t understand is why
I am so intent on going to this particular place. Who
wants the North Pole! What good is it ! Can you eat
30 it? Will it carry you from Gothenburg to Malmö like
a railway? The Danish ministers have declared from
their pulpits that participation in polar expeditions is
beneficial to the soul’s eternal well-being, or so I read
in a newspaper. It isn’t clear how this doctrine is to
35 be interpreted, except that the Pole is something
difficult or impossible to attain which must
nevertheless be sought for, because man is
condemned to seek out and know everything
whether or not the knowledge gives him pleasure. In
40 short, it is the same unthinking lust for knowledge
that drove our First Parents out of the garden.
And suppose you were to find it in spite of all, this
wonderful place that everybody is so anxious to stand
on! What would you find? Exactly nothing.
45 A point precisely identical to all the others in a
completely featureless wasteland stretching around it
for hundreds of miles. It is an abstraction, a
mathematical fiction. No one but a Swedish madman
could take the slightest interest in it. Here I am. The
50 wind is still from the south, bearing us steadily
northward at the speed of a trotting dog. Behind us,
perhaps forever, lie the Cities of Men with their
teacups and their brass bedsteads. I am going forth of
my own volition to join the ghosts of Bering and
55 poor Franklin, of frozen De Long and his men.
What I am on the brink of knowing, I now see, is not
an ephemeral mathematical spot but myself. The
doctor was right, even though I dislike him.
Fundamentally I am a dangerous madman, and what
60 I do is both a challenge to my egotism and a
surrender to it.