I was thinking about D.H. Lawrence this morning, how he succumbed psychologically, psychically and finally physically to the effects of immersion in an alien culture. (Now if that’s not an implied alliteration, I don’t know what is.) Carl Jung has described this state of travelers experiencing an altered reality as ‘Tropo’, or, the effect of a foreign culture on the mind of a person of the western civilization.
We saw this character played out in extremis on the big screen by Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz in the role of Joseph Conrads character in the novel ‘Heart of Darkness’ in the Vietnam epic ‘Apocalypse Now’….”The horror..The horror’.
Thinking about Lawrences books’ ‘Mornings in Mexico’ and ‘The Plumed Serpent’ while sitting outside on this rapidly warming Texas morning with Spanish speaking ladies swirling around as they serve ‘huevo’s revuelto’s’ and ‘cafe con leche’ I understand how a staid 19th century Englishman traveler like Lawrence had his mind blown in slow increments, and in the end lose his mind in between the two worlds and in wracking amoebic dysentery.
‘You can’t go back’ , is a quotation we often hear, when trying to describe having experienced something so profound that that experience has changed the meaning of life. That person, once affected, is never the same again. I know this from having observed people whom I have known after having gone out into the world and have come back into the fold appearing to have experienced a kind of ‘Jerusalem Syndrome’.
In past comments I have used the analogy of the common accountant who returns to work in dreadlocks and newly inked ‘tribal tattoo’s, as if the latitude of pseudo-primitive drumming sessions and nights of ganja on the Jamaican beach became stuck against the modern backdrop in his sub-conscious and sent his mind reeling into a previously unrealized space and time, in fact I have witnessed the extremes as well. The newly primitive accountant sometimes gets better after a few days in his own bed…but occasionally remains lost in that DH Lawrence state of ‘other-consciousness’.
Many travelers bring home memento’s and souvenirs to trigger and key back the lost state of higher consciousness that they may have experienced while on vacation. I am guilty of this, entire industries are built upon the act of psychological compliance to the mystery of compelling altered states to reappear on a cold dark Euro- morning. For me, it is refrigerator magnets.
These innocuous magnetic photographs are a map of my historic attachment to the past mind and constant reminder that I have the ability and wherewithal to make the world go away should I require.The mini-vacations I experience every time I go ‘to the box’ for a snack or milk in my coffee have a way of lightening my load throughout the day. This ability to alter my reality and shift through time and space is quite extraordinary.
Like Lawrence and Conrad, I am too far gone to ever go back. I don’t have a clue what I’d be returning to. Would it be possible to reverse course and begin a journey of a million miles by retracing my steps backwards through time? Would anyone want to do that. If you had the chance to live your life over again, would you want to? I will decide as of this moment that today is the final resting place of my yesterday. I must run to catch up with tomorrow.