We have seen, ladies and gentlemen, how selfhood has grown and gained a foothold, become increasingly distinct and affecting. Previously barely marked, prone to being blurred, subjugated to the collective. Imprisoned in the stays of roles, conventions, flattened in the press of traditions, subjugated to demands. Now it swells and annexes the world.
‘Once the gods were external, unavailable, from another world, and their apparent emissaries were angels and demons. But the human ego burst forth and swept the gods up and inside, furnished them a place somewhere between the hippocampus and the brain stem, between the pineal gland and Broca’s area. Only in this way can the gods survive – in the dark, quiet nooks of the human body, in the crevices of the brain, in the empty space between the synapses. This fascinating phenomenon is beginning to be studied by the fledgling discipline of travel psychotheology.
‘This growing process is more and more powerful – influencing reality is equally what we have invented and what we have not. Who else moves in the real? We know people who travel to Morocco through Bertolucci’s film, to Dublin through Joyce, to Tibet through a film about the Dalai Lama.
‘There is a certain well-known syndrome named after Stendhal in which one arrives in a place known from literature or art and experiences it so intensely that one grows weak or faints. There are those who boast they have discovered places totally unknown, and then we envy them for experiencing the truest reality even very fleetingly before that place, like all the rest, is absorbed by our minds.
‘Which is why we must ask, once more, insistently, the same question: where are they going, to what countries, to what places? Other countries have become an external complex, a knot of significations that a good topographical psychologist can unravel just like that, interpret on the spot.