What for?

We breathe, sleep, drink, eat, work, and then die! The end of life is death. What do you long for? Love? A few kisses and you will be powerless. Money? What for? To gratify your desires. Glory? What comes after it all? Death! Death alone is certain!

The old poet, Norbert de Varenne in Guy de Maupassant’s Bel Ami

Walls

1745 23 May, Pacific Highway Crossing, Canada
Crossing into Canada, May of last year

The kick for these day-trippers is treading over disputed ground, walking below bullet holes, and telling their friends back home that a boy with a rifle waved their cameras away. I can’t blame them — I felt the same excitement passing through the fences in Tripura, after all — but the thrill is artificial. When the walls are not meant for us, our crossings through them have no meaning. Our steps have no historical weight and none of the urgency born from memories of war. Instead, we are tourists exchanging holiday dollars for an inauthentic experience. We pass through the walls too lightly.

from Walls: Travels Along the Barricades by Marcello Di Cintio, a very interesting tour of some of the world’s various borderlands.

The News

dead tv (4)

The daily news is little more than a series of video clips so slowed down that we get to view only one issue at a time. It is as if events are not connected through history and society. We never get to see the complete story, just fragments – or, in the cases described previously, disjointed events. In democracies, we continually hope that the media will lead discussions of public affairs, but they rarely do. Its superficiality is illustrated by the vulgarity and sensationalism of its output. We are fed a steady diet of scandals, secrets, outrages, conflicts, quarrels, sex, celebrities, and gossip. The media is less concerned with what is in the public interest than with what interests the public!

Robert J. Jackson, writing in Global Politics in the 21st Century

Odessa Dreams

I find it extraordinarily surreal that this man who has barely left the confines of North Dakota for several decades, and for whom making the 90-minute drive to Fargo is clearly considered something of an epic voyage, is currently spending ten days in southern Ukraine. This trip so far outside his geographical comfort zone does not appear to have awakened a great curiosity for other parts of the world in Darren. He appears utterly uncurious about the city around him and although he flew here via New York and Istanbul, he decided against stopping off for a day in either of these two cities.

From Odessa Dreams by Shaun Walker, describing men who go to Ukraine to try to find love…

Dripping with intrigue?

‘As the United States moved toward entering World War I, concerns about international espionage joined Americans’ worries about upholding neutrality laws, repelling raiders, and dodging stray bullets along the boundary line. “If the people of Los Angeles knew what was happening on our border, they would not sleep at night,” reported the Los Angeles Times in April 1917. “Sedition, conspiracy, plots and intrigue are in the very air. The telegraph lines are tapped, operators have been seduced with gold and spies come and go at will. Men who are known all over Europe hob-nob with Mexican bandits, Japanese secret service agents and renegades from this country.”

Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border by Rachel St John page 138

Sadly, I think the reality was far more mundane…