21 October 2005

travel and soul lag

in William Gibson's recent novel Pattern Recognition one of his characters, the main one, actually, is constantly on the move from one continent to another—today it's Japan, tomorrow, London, the next day, Moscow. And unlike other books or especially TV shows (can you say Alias?) that seem to move folks around the globe as if this was no big deal and only takes a commercial break, Gibson actually discusses the problem of world travel, and encapsulates it in a single phrase: soul lag. It's not that you're tired, or that there's some mysterious thing associated with jet travel known as "jet lag" (which, much like allergies, I find is something difficult to believe in. "allergies" is for another post...). instead, he acknowledges that one feels, well, not quite all there when one gets to another place, as if your soul, unlike your body, cannot travel as fast as an airplane and therefore takes a little while to catch up with you. I find this a brilliant insight, one I am experiencing right now. it's like you're existing about half an inch to the left of your actual body, and you can't seem to reconnect with it. my soul is likely somewhere over Ontario right now, wondering where the hell we're going and why I decided to fly halfway around the world for a conference. sometimes, in extreme circumstances, your soul never catches up. I think this is in part what happens in Lost in Translation. and has happened to all of us in one international place or another.

at least it's beautiful in San Diego, at least it's beautiful half an inch to the left of myself...

2 comments:

Transient Gadfly said...

Dude, how Platonic are you? Kidding, totally kidding. But, seriously, how Platonic are you?

Emmet Dunne said...

It took me a seemingly endless number of Google searches but finally I came across someone else who describes exactly what I am feeling after a 6 day road trip. Got home last night, and this evening as I lie in bed got the strangest feeling that I was still in the hotel room where we spent the last 3 nights. The feeling really encompassed me, I was literally transported there for a brief moment. I could feel the room around me. Then I came back to reality. To me it felt like I experienced the moment when my soul caught up with me. I had been feeling a little down since I got home but chalked it up to end of vacation blues. As soon as that sensation of my soul returning came I felt an uplift in my spirits. Hmmm, maybe I'm just tired. Or maybe there's more to life than science can explain ;)