Underthecurrent


Write/delete
June 28, 2010, 4:20 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

[experiments with email posting continue – typos on the up]

At the office. Trying to force work.

Missing L.G. like I can’t even explain.

Packed. The dry run is done, forcing me to recognize what will need to go to my parent’s house. In the apartment in the middle of my bedroom sits a small backpack and a large one. They are pretty much it. It doesn’t feel liberating at this moment, more so maybe insane.

The questions have started. Is there some point to answers? It’s probably safer not to answer, because the questions aren’t looking for information. And I am, admittedly, a little anxious and I get a little annoyed, too easily.

Right and wrong used to come out like sedimentary layers in a science experiment. Shake and wait. There was basic right and wrongness, then advanced level catagorization about utilitarianism and social contracts, and then, for the those with a lot of time or frustration, the critical theories. The basic remains – like how inflicting pain on another person blindly is wrong. But the rest of it is a confusing mix.

Travel, in itself, is both good and evil. On one hand, there’s an argument it produces more responsible people – exposed to difference, engaged in cultural exchange, worldly and open to different solutions. In fact, many of the most promising nations, like Brazil and Canada, are comprised mostly of immigrants – representing a certain kind of semi-permanent travel. The diverse backgrounds of the children of these nations create a sort of global super-citizen.

On the other, travel consumes resources (fuel alone), creates potentially unstable or harmful economies, pollutes ‘unspoiled’ areas, and can replicate colonial relations: it is often “whiter” nations, or the whiter inhabitants of those nations, that are able to afford the most travel and the greatest swath of a kind of travelling racial immunity. There is a fine line between creating a job for the man who carries your bag and play acting a master-servant relationship. Maybe it’s this: when the people you are creating jobs for are forced to attune to your comforts by culturally adapting, you are both potentially re-colonizing. However, these adaptations can also be considered simple innovation – selling what the market demands. Who are you to say the way any given people are choosing to participate in the market are wrong? Are you going to save them from themselves by refusing to be a patron? Do you even really know what you are preserving? All indigenous ways of life are not pleasant or desirable for the people living them.

It gets more complicated, as it often does, when the entrance to a market is facilitated by a foreigner. It might be easier to swallow a colonial-styled resort on a far flung island if the proprietors are locals who have grasped a particular sense visitors like to have for an era we probably shouldn’t have much affection for (though some of the aesthetics – beauties. It’s why I like giving Pier 1 a solid wander once in awhile). They get television, you get a gin and tonic and your affectations. But what if the business is started by a foreigner who takes a modest cut – enough to live off – and is aiding the people who live on the island through his knowledge of (a) capitalism and (b) the preferences of people with money to spend. Should the foreigner be working for free? Does it make them morally better if they do? If foreigners are expected to set things up for free to better the people living there, isn’t there a blind judgment about the quality of their life and likely some loss of autonomy by the community? Should the foreigner return home as soon as the operation is running because they are able to earn an income elsewhere and what they are doing is simply using some of what is generated that is better left to the people living there who likely do not have the opportunity to seek other income opportunities? There are only questions and few answers.

It’s a whole mixed up thing. Travel anywhere, of course, has value. Another city in the same country, another country on the same continent. Small town versus big city life. But travel to a radically different culture for long enough to start to feel it is mind altering and verges on transcedent.

[Aside from all of the above rambling, I offer only one observance I’ve made: if you are going to go at all, you may have to go for a sufficiently long enough time to adapt.

Different people adapt at different rates. Some people meet others and immerse more quickly. But the fact is, my favorite place outside of my own country isn’t really liked by anyone who spends less than three months there, as a rule. The typical evaluation is “it was good, but I wouldn’t go back.” Yet the cohort who volley back and forth are all members of the three-months-and-up club. Every last one. The oddest part is how much this has affected future plans – I don’t want to spend three weeks anywhere, afraid of the same effect in a potentially brilliant place.]

This procrastination has gone on long enough.

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