Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Incomplete Time II

Sometimes, with journeys that start in the west and ends in the east, the effects of jet lag are more pronounced. As the body counters the natural ‘circadian’ rhythm, days are experienced as dragging somewhat longer. Those with sleeping problems should in theory be better equipped in facing this unnatural rhythm, as they are more used to staying up later than what normal sleeping hours dictate. With flights to Jakarta that land around 6pm, my body, seemingly unaware of having left London, is often forced to endure more than 24 hours worth of a day. It is the same predicament that leads John Self, the protagonist in Martin Amis' 80s novel Money, to countless cups of coffee and pornography.

The mood of jet lag is thus further specified by which direction you are going. True to all jet lags are mild degrees of depression and emotional distortions that accompany dehydration and fatigue. Entering the familiar realm of jet lag, my senses are warped and I experience the world as if from within a protected vessel. My body is doubly removed, fragmented a few times over: first temporally, and then in trying to adjust with, for instance, alien climates. When compounded with the thick, humid air of the tropics, as my recent trip to Jakarta exemplifies, the symptoms of jet lag are characterized by a sense of things as being somehow weightier, more oppressive. My reactions to what surrounds me appear leadened and detached, marked by involuntary disinterestedness. 

Contrastingly, with a 12pm arrival in London, having now accustomed to the daily patterns of Jakarta time, I return strangely energetic. I begin to create irrational errands, and conversations would soon be peppered by wildly sentimental remarks. What center my body created by adhering to previous location is, as expected, disrupted once again, only to be resolved as I gradually disengage with past place.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Incomplete time

Tired of jet lag on a recent trip to Jakarta, I find myself wishing for my body to momentarily suspend its own duration and cohere with local time. My body insists that it is elsewhere, resistant to the temporal demands of present place, while being firmly located at a specific 'here'. Within this displacement, a clearing opens up, burdened by a sudden clarity: I am split between two places. 

Being split between two places means that the body is neither fully there, at the place we departed from, nor here, at the place we have arrived at. As a consequence, the place that we are currently in is experienced as a void, lacking the sturdiness of a place that the body has grown accustomed to. Prior to the body reinstating its habits onto place, the body, for a moment, has no hold of that place.

Unattached, the body that is in a state of transition nevertheless remains complete in terms of experience as the body that is committed to a given place. This commitment begins by the taking over of sleep. Sleep marks the end of displacement, as the body will soon enough adopt the rhythm of 'local time' and reconciles itself with the place it currently finds itself in. Once gathered, then dispersed, the body takes in what is inserted by place into it, keeping the traces of traveling that not so long ago was 'lived' so intensely, at bay.