Though he does little to develop it, one of the enduring images for me of William Gibson’s novel, Pattern Recognition, is his idea of jet lag, and the disconnecting of the body and soul, how the speed of modern travel unravels us. He writes:
She knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien’s theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can’t move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.
This image has always stayed with me. It’s something I’ve pondered at different times, likes yesterday while reading the BBC web site.
Nilson Tuwe Huni Kui came to New York from the rainforest to study as part of Tribal Link’s Indigenous Fellowship Program. Of his trip, he says:
I came to the city of New York directly from the rainforest. It’s a very long trip. First you arrive physically and you are very tired. But only after a while, your soul gets here too. Because the plane is very fast, but the soul takes longer to arrive.
It’s a beautiful thought, and I’m glad to have been reminded of it again.