I began re-reading Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness this morning. Amid a wrenching head cold and after four days of semi-narcotic, cold-medecine coma, nothing felt more comforting than the most famous journey of all down the river. Perhaps my own death-defying river journeys, down the Nile and the Peruvian Amazon, have tainted my imagination, but then again suffocating from mucus in 40 degree temperatures in humidity you could taste were it not for the flies, might say something. Maybe I belong to the Marlows of this world who believe that if you didn’t almost die, then you did not go far enough…hard to say. So tonight it had to be India negatives dragged out to the Epson V700 scanner.
India is the darkest place to which I have travelled. India is a land of poverty and riches beyond our own understanding. She will never be cleansed by our modern world, nor will her struggle find peace for her struggle is her peace. I hated India, and yet I was amazed at just how hard a simple train trip could become [between scams and lost tickets I am lucky to be alive]. I do look forward to returning some time soon with V., as I know it is a place that we should try together before it becomes too difficult due to climate, politics or health.
But into the heart of darkness…India is a place where you might easily disappear; perhaps by your own desire. I firmly believe that, like a siren, it is all too easy to fall in love with the exotic paradoxes that permeate Rajasthan like sweet oleander. The British almost understood that it was too easy to fall sway to the mysticism and beauty that would swallow you whole; lulu lemon wearing yogi today would be consumed were it not for the feces and trash ruining their perfect morning asanas. I will take my poor head cold into the night, and read how Marlow seeks Kurtz down a mystical African river.
I should mention that all of these photographs were taken with a broken down Pentax Spotmatic, and that the first one, of the tree, brought me great ridicule from the driver who I made stop in the middle of the road. The second was snapped while ignoring pleas to enter yet another tourist trap rug shop. The third was of a sideshow village wherein you could see opium drinkers purify the drug through a dirty sock before drinking it – another group of Americans tried it and may have never returned from the desert. The last photograph is of a fort in the midday sun before I collapsed from either heat or dysentery, Old Chap.