On the Eccentricities of Memory

(TIBET, Shigatse) As Nietzsche said, "When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." (Photo taken by the author.)

(TIBET, Shigatse) As Nietzsche said, “When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” (Photo taken by the author.)

This blog was originally designed to be a travelogue. (Readers can gather as much from its name.) My intention in creating it was to preserve the insights and reflections provoked by travelingwith the occasional piece about life back home thrown in.

Unfortunately, I discovered that it’s exceedingly hard to write about my travels retrospectively. Besides the fact that my memory excels at retaining only the most useless things (like the meaning of the word “ambergris”) while ejecting sections of my personal history wholesale, it’s almost impossible for me to distinguish between (let alone separate) my past and present perspectives.

Which simply means that anything I write now about my travels then would be a chronicle of today’s revelations rather than a record of yesterday’s epiphanies.

In short, travel writing (for me at least) has to be contemporaneous with the journeying. Otherwise, everything devolves into a factual (but dry and meaningless) recitation of facts and histories, landmarks and itineraries.

All that I can wrest from the photographs now are emotions and impressions—most of which have proven to be surprisingly durable (never mind if somewhat vague and colored all over with the patina of nostalgia).

Which is how I discovered that the fossil record of my travels reveals nothing more (and nothing less) than the evolution of my psychic life.

Funny how the journey outward is just another way back in.


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