A note for the foreign reader: I translated my last post into English so you could also read it. I’m not really worried about grammar or orthography, I just hope it would be sufficiently understandable, so I did my best.
Beyond corny reviews and travel tips; 5 things that I learned while traveling almost one year and 5 months –and counting-.
1. The place that Chile occupies in the world and my chilean condition.
Chile is chile. Neither the coup d’etat or the sports players, or Argentina, or the Atlas, or the copper place Chile in the map of the common citizen of the world and its closest references comes from Mexico and from America and its latino conception. As an anecdote to mention, people have said to me that I look from Malaysia, India, Thailand, Brazil, Phillipines…
According to my observations, only people circulating as travelers across the world or the ones who have some touristic, political or economical interests knows Chile, most of them by direct contact with some rare chilean specimen.
At the same time that the self-references die, ties grow and a sense of commitment takes place, a commitment that’s not towards the nation but in defense of your own history or register instead. That´s why talking about the “roots” has been nothing more than a platonic perception for me, like a museum of absolutes with whom I don’t share on a daily basis and which I’ve never felt identified with.
When I spoke about commitment with our own register, on the last topic, I’m reflecting in a way on this; with nationalities (wathever you got), comes certain responsibilities.
Our educational model or the way in which the world is registered is mainly european and we got it this under that prism, from a secondary position. This makes that us, the southamericans, need to make a double effort to take part in a serious way and from an authentically common base in our relations with european people, otherwise they wouldn’t overcome their perception of us as “an exotic place to visit” (same as the case of Asia, Africa, Oceania and so on…) as Jorge Gonzalez said, and from our side, we won’t overcome the antagonism that this same situation stimulate on us –and I say this in the most positive sense-.
This scenario, sort of create the conditions for a common space which makes us -the rejected ones- come closer and, in my case, brought me to become closer with Asia, being more than just a matter of geography and turning my old fascination with Europe a thing from the past.
Considering this, I claim that “the journey” is one of the ways to break with this unilateral description of the world as it alowes us through an empirical finding of the things, an own production of personal significance that changes the way in which we perceive and process the things, letting us participate in the social tissue with an own narration that could build realities in a much more positive way.
I’m interested in languages. It something that it’s easy for me to learn and since that I was living in Chile that I wanted to speak English properly. Being involved daily in this language in an native environment, nonetheless, changed my perception.
If our thoughts are structured by the language, then the acquisition of another language MUST be problematic. The problem of “not knowing how to say it” turned into “not being able to say it” and –in a more radical aspect- in “what do I have to say it”. We acquire the English language, while a language, just because; it’s not a free choice neither is a public agreement based on some studies of language compatibilities on a big scale and it wasn’t being established through a revelation, its establishment is despotic (remember how the English passport flows across the continents) and its function is merely “political”. Given those conditions, my idea of “speak English properly”, became irrelevant or relevant but in an inverted/different sense. Speaking English feels now like calling Mom to the new girlfriend of your father (ex of your mom): artificial, “to phony to fake it”, therefore my pronunciation on this time went from trying to sound good to try to find the middle point between my original language and my new artificial one, what I think is the more accurate middle point. I put Zizek as an example, who with an English that anyway is understandable in terms of the words, doesn’t abandon the tonal root of Slovenian. Of course, many consider the Zizek’s English as horrifying.
4. The problem of the social class.
Just recently I was reading on a Zizek’s book (called Violence), how the habits, notions and such things are conditioned by the social class which we belong, something that also keep much relation with the previous topics, if this is being understanding well.
I came to work as a labourer in seasonal jobs. I developed different tasks (good experiences) but the one that without a doubt marked me more, was working as a packer in a kiwi packhouse. It was the most monotonous, stupefying and exhausting, most of all in mental terms, that I performed: 13 hours per day, 6 days a week; reasons enough to develop the most extensive reflections about the mass production, the labour reality, the nature of the work, how the system works, the market and others.
In my case, it marked me a lot in terms of social class, because I had a direct experience, even though soft, with what needs to happen everyday, in a little bit uncovered way, for the daily function of the society. At this respect, it seems very illustrative to me what happens on the scene of the movie “The Beach” by Danny Boyle, when Di Caprio have to go to Bangkok to buy a list of requests, because nobody else wants to go; in this case, the fantasy of the self-sufficiency in a “natural world” is sustained through a world of artificial productions, which you don’t see and to which you don’t have access in a direct way.
Under the currently scenario, the industrial work is for better or for worst, indispensable to the social development and yet is considered as an aberration of a “human” society. Thus, scenes like Samsara ones, now circulate on internet with an intellectual mass claiming “consciousness and action” about the (over)consumption and others similar topics, from a position held within this industrial scenario. You’ll see, there always will be somebody performing the dull and monotonous task in a chain production of consumer goods, because our production is artificial, because our expansion exponential and because our desires are potentially infinite and simply because nobody really wants to give up to our facilities, specially to the wide rank of supply (number the options available of a same product) which we all are used to. And I’m not talking about just goodies like snickers or cellphones, I’m talking about bulbs, stethoscopes, knifes, pens…kiwis.
The work of the labourer holds ALL the rest of our world of artificial productions and, therefore, the industry of artificial productions holds all our working world, including the work of the labourer. In this logic of production, the problem of the social class become present, as in between other things like the management pursuing profit, the working class has to serve also as a scapegoat so the intellectual people and the dominant elite can deliver righteous but morally insensible speeches about “working in the things that you are passionate about” and the over consumption.
6. Enjoy life.
Even this could sound strange after all what I’ve said, my most precious acquisition during this time, is to have a positive attitude towards life without reject this kind of confrontations.
Countless experiences and misfortunes, taught me to rethink the ways of living and perceiving things, to get closer with nature and redefine my participation towards the environment; to become more receptive and live all the unnecessary things behind. To live and work more because of own will than social imposition, even when all of this takes me away of the humanity as much as bring me closer and, finally, to let go.
I’m learning all these things while I’m traveling, I’m my own project and as Herman Hesse said: “Each man’s life represents a road toward himself, an attempt at such a road, the intimation of a path.”