Announcement: Histomat goes to Latin America!
As people in the UK have probably noticed, the nights are getting in and winter is now almost upon us. However, some lucky bastards are able to avoid the cold and the wet and Blair's new attacks on civil liberties and go on holiday at this time of year - and a good friend of mine happens to be doing just that. I have been discussing protest in my last two posts (I've been a bit busy lately to be able to write anything original - apologies) - and it is therefore appropriate that my friend has decided to visit the continent of Latin America - which has seen huge mass movements emerge and struggle against neo-liberalism. Lenin's Tomb has covered the latest developments here far better than I could - just as it brilliantly deals with just about everything else from riots in Paris to war crimes in Iraq. Anyway, I am very happy to introduce my (still as yet anonymous) guest writer who is about to depart for warmer climes, on what I like to call his 'Che Guevara tour' - not that I am jealous or anything:
'Hello. I am Histomatist's new foreign correspondent -
a kind of John Simpson for the radical blogosphere,
though I'm not intending to liberate any cities I
visit. I have, however, been allowed by Snowball to
write a few posts about a two month trip I am making.
The trip will begin in Argentina in mid-November, end
on New Year's Eve in Rio, and may take in Chile,
Bolivia and Paraguay en route.
I think travel is an odd one. On the one hand, what
could be more enlightening than exploring a different
country? It is an opportunity to learn more about
other cultures, to meet interesting an adventurous
people, and to digest life without the oppressive
cloud of work hanging over you.
And yet I'm not sure I've ever known anyone who
returned from travelling any more free-thinking or
open-minded than they were before they left. Travel
has been fetishised to such an extent that it is now
just a standard rite of passage for the average
middle-class youth. The Western liberal version of
multi-culturalism, whereby all cultures are tolerated
so long as they adopt Western customs and renounce
rituals which might offend Western sensibilities,
means that we are even more closed to experiences
which might challenge our innate sense of cultural and
I don't pretend to be the most adventurous traveller
in the world, but hopefully I may be able to find out
a few scraps of interest about Latin America. Parts
of the continent are currently something of a lone
voice in left-wing politics, with a handful of
countries openly challenging the neo-liberal system
which has been foisted on so much of South America. I
go there knowing little about Latin American culture,
politics or history, so hopefully my observations
won't be too ignorant or trite.
Overall though, my objectives for this trip are fairly
- to learn to tango (not such a modest objective, as
anybody who has seen me dance will testify, but I saw
it on Strictly Come Dancing the other night and it
looked like a piece of piss);
- to successfully chat someone up in Spanish;
- to find a Bush supporter and call him "un pendejo"
(the insult President Chavez fired at Bush at a recent
UN summit meeting - it literally means "a pubic hair
caught in a man's foreskin");
- to avoid getting dengue fever / altitude sickness /
addicted to cocaine;
- to read my five allotted books: Hasek, "The Good
Soldier Svejk"; Nabokov, "Bend Sinister"; Twain,
"Pudd'nhead Wilson"; Lorca, "Poet in New York";
"Zizek, "The Metastases of Enjoyment". A rum
selection if ever I saw one.
Since I'm a guest blogger, I guess I'd better have a
nickname. Any suggestions would be gratefully
received, as would any recommendations from
Histomatist readers on where I should go in South
America. Hasta luego!'
Edit: to add an article by John Pilger on Latin America here
Labels: Latin America