"What might touching lead to? This light and tentative verb anticipates the many stronger acts of connection we might find in a thesaurus of settlement: to touch, to caress, to infect, to cheat, to improve, to confiscate, to madden, to overwhelm. But in the nautical instance, touching for cargo is soon followed by the carriage and dis-embarkation of passengers who are coming ashore to stay, and they make a landing place or beachhead from which other landings, other exchanges will follow. The landing place is neither the beach of first contact nor the strand of a settled region, but a middle ground enlarged and transformed by traffic coming across it each way. "
From "The Settler's Plot" Alex Calder