All 8 entries tagged Ted Simon

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December 12, 2007

The Gypsy in Me by Ted Simon – review

Walking is simple, surely? We all have feet. 1500 miles across Europe? Hard, but not unimaginable. But this isn’t ordinary walking. This is no ordinary walker. Ted’s journey re-discovers a different mode of walking, of travelling. A gypsy kind of journey; travelling against the grain of thousands of years of European history. But perhaps a mode of walking, of being, that offers a radical answer to the violence and pain of European history?

In his book The Medieval Traveller, the historian Norbert Ohler estimated that a person travelling by foot, as most did at the time, could expect to cover between 15 and 25 miles a day. A surprising multitude and variety of people were on the road in this manner; whenever war, pestilence and the climate of the time allowed. There were well established routes, often leading to popular places of pilgrimage. For example the Pilgrim’s Way through Kent to Canterbury, along which I once managed to hobble a few muddy miles. There were also more adventurous types out on the road, cutting across these paths, or even escaping altogether, beyond Europe and Christendom. How far we have come since then? A few years ago in Silicon Valley I rashly decided to walk between a train station and a nearby business centre. Walk! For a start no one could give me directions that would be viable for a pedestrian. As I tramped off in the direction that I had assumed to be right, the inevitable road crossings were met with everything from disbelief to aggression. I wonder how many thousands of cars passed me in that hour? One could easily believe that the total number of miles travelled by pilgrims during the entire middle ages would easily be surpassed by the total number of miles travelled by motorised vehicles along the roads of a major city in a single early 21st Century day.

The act of walking is not, in the contemporary mind, in itself heretical. It is the purpose of the walk that matters. Walking for therapeutic or spiritual reasons is considered noble. Walking simply for leisure, given that leisure time now is the sacred, is similarly exulted. But walking out of necessity? Walking as a mode of transport or labour? Walking as a way of life? Walking through urban and post-industrial landscapes, far off the leisure guide’s map – tramping? How offensive does that word sound to us? ‘Tramp’: in reality one of the many terms for the itinerant travellers who walk out of necessity. ‘Gypsy’ is another such word. This prejudice no doubt extends to other lesser forms of transport. In Ireland there is a small but entirely respectable travel industry based upon tourists travelling by horse drawn ‘gypsy’ caravan. And yet who are the most despised, the most abused of Europe’s minorities? – those for whom that is a way of life. The title of the book under consideration, The Gypsy in Me, might at first seem a little odd. It could be read as the story of a diasporic jew’s return. There is indeed an element of that. But the book isn’t The Jew in Me. Ted has a keen and sometimes comic interest in pigs and (organic) pork products; assuring there’s no devotion to orthodoxy or racial purity here. It is an encounter with gypsies, in Romania towards the end of the book, that retroactively adds sense to the fragmented events and sensations of the journey: it is a gypsy journey; the un-constrained, joyous, irreverent, landless, journey of a gypsy; a very different kind of walk, a very Other kind of walk. A journey as old as Europe, and as old as the European paranoia that has repeatedly driven the continent to extremes of persecution and violence.

The Gypsy in Me is travel writing with a radical undercurrent. It contains many propositions that challenge our dangerously cosy Euro dream. It is the story of a man walking, tramping even, across a large part of the continent; not only the picturesque and fertile lands of the Euro dream, but also post-Communist urban and agro-industrial wastes, which seem more determining of the journey’s character. Ted Simon is perhaps more a migrant who writes than a conventional travel writer (although he is brilliantly skilled as the latter). And so travelling is for Ted serious work; sometimes fun, sometimes grim, but always engaged with fully. But there lies the tension in his writing, in his travelling. Successful travel writing is necessarily eventful. That’s its work, that’s what he has to offer to us the readers and to them the subjects of the story amongst whom he travels. He presence makes things happen. But at the same time he must travel lightly, with low social impact, never seeming to be a threat. Finding ‘work’ to do, but not ever threatening the local order. Eventful and ordinary. Magical but familiar. Is such a gypsy journey possible in Europe today?

The journey begins with Ted and two companions. It quickly transforms into a solo effort – as Ted the migrant/writer comes to the fore. It’s never an easy journey, but is throughout reported with good humour. Fun is even poked at some dangerously sore feet (definitely not a leisure walker). It certainly is not a comfortable journey. Which is good. The reality is that Europe is an uncomfortable place for anyone who must walk out of necessity. Europe does not like ‘tramps’, and perhaps never has. The fabric from which it is woven is incompatible with the tramp. It has been that way for a very long time. Think back to those medieval travellers. As Ohler establishes, travelling was even then already part of a highly regulated business. Travelling, by foot, horse or boat, was very much necessary. But already that necessity was qualified by noble motives: for the spirit and for the church. A whole network of hospitality extended to ease the pilgrim on their way. Did this network extend to travellers with other motivations? Surely its purpose was abused by merchants and opportunists (Chaucer gives good account of them). But those who travel out of necessity have always been seen as suspicious. My informed guess is that there is a binary valuation at work in European history, culture, geography, deeply embedded in the European mind: the tramp and the pilgrim, or more recently, the migrant and the tourist. Furthermore, it is a continuum. The identity of the pilgrim slides into that of the tourist, then into that of the merchant, and then, inspiring the kind of fear that drives pogroms, into the ‘racial infiltrator’. This ambiguity, its paradoxes and confusions, are at the base of our confused European sense of self, and I believe, are there in Ted’s book as the problem worked over by the journey. Like most if not all of us Europeans, he is a potentially uncomfortable mixture: Jewish, English, German, Romanian…pilgrim, gypsy, immigrant, migrant, tourist, travel writer.

But then much of Europe is also populated by people who never travel. People who’s people have never travelled – or so they assume. On his journey, Ted finds many of these. In Kaliningrad, it is as if the rotting Russian occupying force, and its commander (Ted befriends his family), had always been there. Almost all traces of the former German town of Konigsberg have been erased and replaced by a new Slavic [dis]order. European history is of course a bloody mess of invasion and occupation. Perhaps it enriches the soil. Nonetheless, the foundation of communities and lineages by fresh migrants must be elided. Conventional wisdom declares this to be the only precaution against a relentless cycle of revenge. Communism regulates and limits travel through stifling state controls. Capitalism regulates travel through an assemblage of values, desires, narratives, and circuits: the travel industry. Even when migration does occur, it is perceived more as a form of eternal holiday (the villa in Spain). In both cases, the required effect is to make the sedentary population feel secure. They may have thousands of people moving through their land, but it’s OK, they are just tourists. The real colonisation is well hidden by the perpetual peace of the happy holidaymaker.

But if a community forgets how to travel, how can it adapt to change? How can an up-rooted farmer move on, ripped from the soil of his cultural and agricultural roots? The elision of travel, of the experience of migration, adds to the pain. Perhaps there is another way? A way of travelling in space and time that avoids conflict and pain?

Ted embraces the fact that travel, of the most primitive and unregulated kind, walking, is a political response to the cycle of revenge, to the ebb and flow of territorialization and deterritorialization. It is the absolute opposite of the blitzkrieg. A person walking can be observed slowly approaching, and thus assimilated physically and mentally by the observer. A car, motorcycle or Panzer, on the other hand, arrives far too quickly. Furthermore, one may see the walker’s face immediately. Individuals on foot tend to seep into consciousness. Could they represent a less threatening means for encountering the political or psychological Other? The book is punctuated by an idea, a very significant notion that seems, even to Ted himself, to be rather eccentric. But given these thoughts on the nature of walking, and the history of walking in Europe, it might not be that mad after all. There’s a dark shadow falling across the whole of the journey, cast from a land to the south: Serbia and Kosova. The atrocities were very much public. As public as the failure of NATO and the UN, with all their vehicles, to stop the killings. Is the idea now obvious? Perhaps the conflict could be seen as a continuum of the tensions between territory and migration, land and travel, repeated throughout European history? In which case the best response might be to subvert the very grounding of that conflict. The proposition was thus: a people’s walk, not a march, an unthreatening gypsy-like joyous drift of thousands of ordinary people, into the war zone.

November 20, 2007

One Man Caravan by Robert Edison Fulton Jr. – review

Book front cover
Title:
One Man Caravan (Incredible Journeys Books)
Author:
Robert Fulton
ISBN:
1884313051
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
Robert Edison Fulton Jnr. made what might have been the first circumnavigation of the globe by motorcycle. This book gives an account of that journey’s many adventures. More importantly, it established motorcycling as a form of long distance travel that more easily connects the traveller to their surroundings and the people of the traversed lands.

To mankind’s age old comment on the journey of life that “the first hundred years are the hardest,” the traveler on a motorcycle could add that the first thousand miles are equally tough. p.12

And what of those first thousands miles, down the Dover road and across a depressed Europe, June 1932? Tedium and the uncomfortable wearing together of metal, rubber, muscle and bones that motorcycle manufacturers term “the running-in period”. Robert Edison Fulton Jnr. was perhaps the first of many to take the hard way round: eastwards across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the USA. Ted Simon recommended this book to me. Bernd Tesch provides the foreward to this recent edition. They both know what it’s like to sit high over a rumbling air-cooled boxer engine for immense distances. Ted and Bernd ride BMW GSs, like mine. As travelers and writers, we are all descended from Bob Fulton, just as the DNA of his boxer engined Douglas bike is present even today in the latest high powered BMW bikes (some authorities claim that BMW copied the Douglas engine for its early bikes, mounting it transversally rather than longitudinally).

Every long journey by motorcycle has its “running-in period”, whether aboard a new machine or revisiting an old companion. But it doesn’t stop there. Beyond that first 1000, there is a slow oscillation around the point at which all runs smoothly. On a bike their is a much tighter and much more critical feedback loop between the environment, the mind and body of the rider, and the machine; all in fine balance, or working their way out of equilibrium:

As the day wore on the sound became more alarming. When I started that morning, the steady drone of the exhaust had been deep and chesty. But now, after half-a-dozen hours of desert driving, it seemed to fill with static, the machine began to wobble, the tires seemed flat, the whole engine seemed on the verge of falling apart, collapsing.

It wasn’t the machine, it was nerves; strung tight, pulled tighter by the constant thought of “what would happen if something happened?” p.65

Ride a motorcycle if you want to know and master paranoia; get a grip upon the awful power of the human mind to envisage even unlikely disasters, and to be pulled head first towards them. Psychologists now call this “target fixation”. If you look at the kerb you will hit it. That’s lesson 1 on day 1 of any riding course.

Bob Fulton’s journey is about transforming that negative target fixation into something positive: how to fall into the right kind of trouble; how to make something out of almost nothing, even amongst the emptiness and desolation of receding empires and expanding deserts. It is quite an amazing story. In many ways such a journey was easier then. America hadn’t given its people an often undeserved bad name. Imperial outposts provided staging points and frontiers linking every hiding place. Even beyond the beat of the colonial bobbies, their influence reached far: his ride into tribal Afghanistan would make a modern traveller deeply jealous. Then it was treacherous, coming at the tale-end of a serious disruption of the internal balance of terrors. Islamic hospitality was his saviour, along with enlightened rulers and friendly peasants. Now, especially for an American, it would be impossible. One is reminded of Chevy Chase hanging upside down from a wooden post: “hi, we’re Americans” – big mistake, one of many.

And after the Middle East and Central Asia, on to “French” Indo-China as it was then, before the first great US foreign policy disaster extinguished that world of relative innocence. He had assumed the service station owner at Angkor, Cambodia, was trying to rip him off. In fact it was the other way round: he was trying to give money to the brave motorcyclist! Bob Fulton realised, as many others have since, that the world is on the whole friendly and helpful, on a personal level. It’s on a more international global level that nightmares erupt. Japan for example, which in 1933 was deeply in love with all things American. If the Kobe Motorcycle Club had achieved the political power that they so clearly deserved, WWII might have been settled on the race track, aboard Indians and Harleys. And Bob Fulton might have been there cheering his new friends on. At a personal level, amongst the small band of Japanese riders with whom he crossed the islands, there could only ever be great respect.

One Man Caravan: a great adventure. Well written, with a scattering of fascinating pictures and maps. Honest. Full of excitement and exoticism, but with many connections between that world (now disappeared) and the present day.

May 02, 2007

Dreaming of Jupiter by Ted Simon

Writing about web page http://www.jupitalia.com

Book front cover
Title:
Dreaming Of Jupiter
Author:
Ted Simon
ISBN:
0316732273
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
Ted’s new book is out. I rode down to Dorset to meet him and get a copy. It is really good. Worth reading even if you haven’t read Jupiter’s Travels yet (surely everyone has read that travel writing classic).

59,000 miles on a motorcycle is, in experiental terms, quite a journey. It is many times greater than that same distance travelled by car. And by air? – there is no comparison possible. There is always something special about travelling by motorcycle. Ted Simon has developed conclusive arguments on the subject: being exposed to the elements and the terrain, covering large distances with ease, experiencing sudden contrasts and juxtapositions, meeting people on their own more human terms, the constant physical and mental difficulty that intensifies experience, the ability to just stop anywhere at anytime, changing direction or just letting unplanned things happen, and quite often the humility of being a small individual on a big road. Speed and agility should of course also be mentioned. And danger? Yes, as Ted recently explained to me, that has to be part of it too. You’ll find all of these factors throughout Ted’s latest book, Dreaming of Jupiter. Both on the journey that it documents, and in the resulting book, they combine to make for an exciting and important read.

In 29 months, between January 2001 and June 2003, Ted piloted his bike, with varying degrees of skill and luck, on a journey of just that great intensive and extensive length. For a second time, he encircled the world and joined up countless distinct points and narratives just as he had in the ‘70s, resulting in the classic Jupiter’s Travels . On many occasions, chance and geopolitical forces conspired to pull him away from his planned route, which should have followed that of the 1973 journey. Afghanistan was out of the question, with consequences for Pakistan. The results are, however, still as interesting, and perhaps even more significant in providing us with a picture of how the world has changed in 30 years, and to where it might be heading. Perhaps the most important thread joining the two books together is that of migration, and the plight of the migrant. In 1973, I have claimed (and Ted says I’m on the right track) he was a migrant amongst migrants. Now he returns to the ever moving ever striving ever changing “unfinished world” (Ted’s great alternative description of the developing world). The intensity of it’s desires and frustrations is shocking. This book acts as a warning to the rich nations.

So there then are a few good reasons to read Dreaming of Jupiter. But there’s a lot more. Ted’s style, a master of the art of travel writing, sets these arguments within a thoroughly enjoyable context. There’s more humour than the first book. Characters and situations are drawn up rapidly, but without resorting to cliches and stereotypes. Add to that lots of action (including one of the most dangerous high altitude breakdown rescues ever), beautiful ladies, fun with the Allende’s, and a BMW R80GS, what more could you possibly ask for?


March 21, 2007

Lawrence in training to go RTW by motorcycle

Follow-up to Jupiter's Travels by Ted Simon – a really great book of travel or migration from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

A couple of photos of Lawrence at the Museum of British Road Transport in Coventry, with some quite famous overlander bikes.

Ted Simon probably wouldn’t mind (he let me sit on his R100GS), but the security guard certainly did. However Lawrence absolutely insisted upon climbing up onto the Triumph Tiger made famous in Jupiter’s Travels:

On Ted

And here’s a photo of me on Ted’s GS:

Ted Simon

The Long Way Round expedition by Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor was a genuinely tough RTW, leaving many scars on this R1150GS Adventure, including some rather neat welding to the rear subframe carried out in Mongolia. Lawrence of course prefers the old Airhead R100GS, but was happy to pose next to Charlie’s bike:

On Charlie


February 04, 2007

Why travel by motorcycle?

Follow-up to Jupiter's Travels by Ted Simon – a really great book of travel or migration from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Because things like this happen…

Arriving at a hotel in Peru, no doubt looking somewhat worn out by a hard ride across South America, Ted Simon is pleased to be given a discount:

‘Por essos que llegen en coche, ochenta. Pero essos en moto son muy hombre,’ said the clerk with a grin. In other words, car drivers pay the full rate but there is a discount for heroes. p.288

Heroes deserve discounts!


January 16, 2007

Jupiter's Travels by Ted Simon – a really great book of travel or migration

Book front cover
Title:
Jupiter's Travels
Author:
Ted Simon
ISBN:
0140054103
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
Ted Simon has a new book, Dreaming of Jupiter (published March 2007). It documents, with his usual wonderful style, his recent retracing of the original 1973 round the world ride made famous in Jupiter’s Travels. Find out more on Ted’s Jupitalia site. Meanwhile, I’m still working on a reading of his work from 1979 – a really great book on many levels. Here’s the reason why I think it should be studied seriously.

A very great book, many agree on that. But what kind of book is it? For a while I thought that I could take an interest in the travel writing genre, having enjoyed and learnt greatly from Jupiter’s Travels. I read a lot of travel books. Some are impressive in their own ways. But I remained disappointed. Then recently I read Ted Simon’s classic for a fourth time. Half way through Africa, the second of the journey’s six continents, my mistake became obvious. It’s not really a travel book at all. It is a book of migration, diaspora, escape.

You can, if you want, read Jupiter’s Travels as a great adventure story, which it certainly is. It’s a good, if not the best, motorcycle travel book. If that’s what you want, then just read it. But there’s more. Much more. This is my response to the first two chapters…

Conventional travel books are essentially long postcards dispatched to home. ‘Wish you were here’. Or in some cases, ‘bet you’re glad you’re not here’. Eventually, as we know right from the outset, the writer gets back to the home that was always there. But there is never really a homecoming, or even a home in Jupiter’s Travels (the sequel to Jupiter’s Travels was at one point published as Riding Home, but is now entitled Riding High). Yes, the world was encircled in Simon’s tightening noose. The two ends of the journey, start and finish, twisted around each other on the return to Coventry. The rope tightened…but around thin air. The world had slipped away and refused to be suffocated.

A life, the journey, continued, jumping back and forth across the surface of the world, California, India, France, Romania etc. It continues even now. Part Jewish, part German, part Romanian. Human shrapnel dispersed the First World War and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Culturally English, living in America, perhaps even a little bit Indian (spiritually). Part this and part that: Ted Simon – like half the people in the world, on the move, looking for opportunity and experience. A migrant amongst migrants.

Why does this matter? What difference? Travel writing has a recurrent fault: the writer/traveller never really lets go. The journey remains as an interlude within the career. The people and places that are documented never rise above the status of curiosities. The events, the interruptions, are mere diversions. Reality, coincidence, only distracts from the essence of places, or rather landmarks, represented as recollections, travellers tales, postcards, ideals and ideas. But the world is actually full of migrants and coincidences who, to the travel writer, may seem incidental, never true to a place. The vast majority of people in or from the developing world are migrants. Accident, the interconnections between the unstable and shallow surface of things, is the real. Real places, real experiences, which may seem permanent and eternal to the travel writer, are in fact transitory and temporary constructions of coincidence. History (human and natural) proves this, although the power of the travel industry transforms the mistaken apprehensions of the travel writer into self-fulfilling prophecies: places become more like the stories that are told about them. The importance of Ted’s book is that he actually becomes a migrant (or perhaps always was one), and is thus able to encounter the world and its people on their own terms. Being a migrant amongst migrants allows the writer to value people, places and events. I can’t think of single location in its 447 pages that could ever become a new tourist attraction. They are all far too real and minor. Many of them no longer exist, having been swallowed up by development, decay or dessertification. An epic book of an epic journey, never serving the imperialistic colonising travel industry. The philosophers Deleuze and Guattari invented the term ‘minor literature’ to describe writing that comes from migrants and under-dogs. It may still be great literature. Kafka they say is minor literature. But it doesn’t come from the dominant major culture within which it swims. Jupiter’s Travels is part of a related genre: minor travel literature. This is how it’s done…

63,000 miles on that feeble little machine! Hacked together from the Meriden parts bin, amidst a near-death experience for the old Triumph company, and then the total collapse of Midlands industry. Only hours south from that miserable place the crankcase spewed its store of lubrication across the road. Failure in the 1970’s was just part of the plan, quality control to be undertaken by the customer out on the road. It was rebuilt and the journey stuttered into life again.

Half way across Lybia and the engine had already started to self-destruct. In those days a spare piston was just part of any long distance rider’s toolbox. The ability to strip and rebuild an engine somewhere out in the African bush? Taken for granted. And finally, just south of Louis Trichardt in SA (where by coincidence I once broke a gearbox) valves dropped, a sleeve corrugated, rings warped and the piston seized:

“The broken metal had penetrated everywhere and again I was struck by the force of the coincidence that all this havoc had been wrought virtually within sight of Johannesburg”. p.173

The end clearly being both nigh and divinely ordained, any normal person would have bailed out. But Ted Simon is no ordinary person. He still had another four continents to crash through (with increasing grace and understanding): interrogations by the Brazilian police, vast landscapes to carve out, portraits to draw of hundreds of people in detailed miniature, love and ideals, horrible accidents (when fishing not riding), India, and an encounter with destiny.

Apparently, a machine only works when it breaks down. Or as the journey demonstrated:

”...the interruptions were the journey.” p.132

And what a machine! A literary machine, an intellectual machine, a desiring and sometimes paranoiac machine. All wired into the bike, the journey and its improbable rhythms:

“The movement has a complex rhythm with many pulses beating…all this metal in motion, amazing that it can last for even a minute, yet it will have to function for thousands of hours [like a human heart]...Through all these pulses blending and beating I hear a slow and steady beat, moving up and down, three semi-tones apart, a second up, a second down…Is it the pulse of my own body intercepting the sound, modifying it with my bloodstream?” p.28-29

The rhythm is both dependable and on the edge of breakdown. Like consciousness itself. It acts as a single line through time and space against which the world is measured. Marking time both produces and absorbs intensity. And then looking outwards from this beat, time and its extension in space is conquered:

“From Tripoli to Sirte is three hundred miles, and I’m really flying with the engine singing for me and everything rapping along nicely. There’s a lot of rain, but I’m less nervous of the wet now, on tar at least. The land and sea lie flat out forever, and I can see the weather coming maybe fifty miles ahead. I have never seen so much weather. I can see where it begins and where it ends; I can see the blue sky above, and the approaching storms and then the good times beyond. Remarkable. Like having an overview of past and future. I am a world spinning through visible time.” p.53

And at the end of Africa:

“I have just ridden that motorcycle 12,245 miles from London…As I think about it I have a sudden and quite extraordinary flash, something I have never had before and am never able to recapture again. I see the whole of Africa in one single vision, as though illuminated by lightning.” p.183

He is of course that lightning flash, connecting thousands of disparate and ever moving points across the vastness of Africa. That interconnection of surfaces is then his essence, the essence of the migrant. He qoutes Gerard Manley Hopkins on the strangeness of being (he revived the medieval philosophy of Duns Scotus and its notion of coincidental but non-decomposable, un-dissolvable uniqueness and identity: essence through accident).

But how many people need to go through 63,000 miles of pain and pleasure to get a home, to clarify and solidify their own substance?

Why? What motivation? There was something demonic, possessing – not just the fire in the cylinder bores, although the bike is important in itself. Rather some circuit in Ted himself, circulating round and round iteratively, sometimes whirling like a tornado of doubt and fear sucking events into its core. At times the force is intense, a whirlwind ripping across the surface of the Earth. Is the journey there to satiate and extinguish that force entirely? Therapy? Or perhaps travel of this kind, and its writing, is a learning process: the question being how to tame and harness that power. How to live successfully as a migrant? Perhaps that could help us with our conflicts and confusions? In Tunisia the effects start to look dangerous. In Libya and Egypt, the raging Yom Kippur war perhaps distracts the police and the people from the effect. And then in Egypt it comes back even more fiercely:

“Could turbulence and change be ‘carried’ and transmitted like a disease? I knew I had brought excitement into those three lives, but the news from the front was always good. I wondered, unhappily, whether I was destined to leave a trail of grief and misery behind me too.” p.74

This is the fate of the migrant. But by the end of Africa, enough has been learned upon which to form a new way of being a mobile difference engine on the road. That is the art of the migrant. However for a while, when physical movement ceases, these lessons no longer make sense. The journey must be taken up once again. And then by California, the traveller and the reader are to a much greater extent able to stop the extensive spatial movement through space while still retaining an intensive movement on the spot, still governed by the habits of a well practised traveller. At this moment relations with other humans are able to deepen and stabilise, at least for a while. Ted finds love, but as the interconnection, intertwining of a set of mobile and tensile surfaces, soon to spring back into life: Australia and Asia.

Coming soon…

Dreaming of Jupiter


November 06, 2004

The power of the migrant versus the authority of Heidegger and the Volk–State

Follow-up to The ethics of rivalry, friendship and the creation of concepts in Ancient Greece from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Deleuze and Guattari on Heidegger's membership of the Nazi party:

Perhaps this strict professor was madder than he seemed. He got the wrong people, earth and blood. For the race summoned forth by art or philosophy is not the one that claims to be pure but rather an oppressed, bastard, lower, anarchical, nomadic and iremediably minor race – the very ones that Kant excluded from the paths of the new Critique. Artaud said: to write for the illiterate – to speak for the aphasic, to think for the acephalous. (What is Philosophy? p.109)

Geophilosophy then is about the engagement with minor races, or better (to avoid the mistakes of the English) the engagement between minor races: at the edge of understanding, in discomfort. And then to take that a step further, which is the point of so much literature that comes out of this geophilosophical deterritorialization, to make oneself, ones body, path, existence, a composition of such minor races, minor species:

I looked at myself in the same light, as a monkey given my life to play with, prodding it, trying to stretch it into different shapes, dropping it and picking it up again, suspecting always that it must have some use and meaning, tantalized and frustrated by it but always unable to make any sense of it. Ted Simon, Jupiter's Travels

Travel writing, deterritorialization, creativity and philosophy.


November 03, 2004

Migration and geophilosophy

Follow-up to Ted Simon and the art of deterritorialization from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Two perspectives on migration and deterritorialization, the recieving milieu and the migrant…

…philosophy was something Greek – although brought by immigrants. The birth of philosophy required an encounter between the Greek milieu and the plane of immanance of thought. It required the conjunction of two very different movements of deterritorialization, the relative and the absolute, the first already at work in immanence. Absolute deterritorialization on the plane of thought had to be aligned or directly connected with the relative deterritorialization of Greek society. Deleuze, What Is Philosophy?, p.93
I looked at myself in the same light, as a monkey given my life to play with, prodding it, trying to stretch it into different shapes, dropping it and picking it up again, suspecting always that it must have some use and meaning, tantalized and frustrated by it but always unable to make any sense of it. Ted Simon, Jupiter's Travels