Jol Thomson: The Wrong Journey and Fugitive Values


Image from Hitchcocks ‘The Wrong Man’

Image from Hitchcocks ‘The Wrong Man’

In the immediacy of the necessity to revalue all values, of course how we travel and the speed at which it supposedly needs to take place, is one band of the multi-spectral issues of ideological oppression and species infantilization that is commanded over us from the plutocracy and its minions. Can we also speak about our hypocrisy in a world unjustifiably at war, radically inequal, superficial, passive/obedient, conformist and the complacency with which, as Noam Chomsky has often noted, the intellectuals so often serve the interests of power?

Ideal New York Times newspaper by the YESMEN

Ideal New York Times newspaper by the YESMEN

Is there a trade-off between engagement and emission? Doubtful but perhaps arguable. We love travelling, we need it for perspective, to engage in difference, to perceive the “water in the fishbowl”. The symbolic ushering in of the renaissance, the climbing of Mont Ventoux by Petrarch – the opening up of the landscape – was of course climbed by foot and hand, without the burning or expropriation of fuels. Today even the energy (with extremely contentious origins) by which we travel, itself travels long inefficient distances, sometimes with return tickets. 

"Global Gas trade both LNG and Pipeline" by Crossswords - Jol Thomson. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

“Global Gas trade both LNG and Pipeline” by Crossswords – Jol Thomson. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Is there a way to avoid the emissions and still operate on a global or post-national level? And if there were, would this not remain a specific privilege of an elite class? Is the GENI program, influenced by Buckminster Fuller’s ‘World-game’ worth promoting? What about ballooning as suggested by artist Tomás Saraceno as an alternative travel system?


The difficult to face or even comprehend level of hypocrisy in the 21st century is fundamental, and I find myself included in that category – and these are the concerns I face daily – it is inescapable if you live in a modern, tyrranical western society. We remain in a state of what Mark Fischer in his book “Capitalist Realism” refers to as interpassivity and depressive ahedonia (which overcoming would be a major break for socially and environmentally engaged, for Life to actually flourish and progress).


If meetings of minds, collegial or otherwise,became more like a pilgrimage where the very act of getting there – slowly – the possibilities and encounters, the differences, could be enveloped within the very topic of the conference itself – discussed and confronted – perhaps we would learn-by-doing and find better approaches to arrival or journey or expedition or being-together. Processes.

Perhaps we could relieve or erode some of the psychological stresses inhibiting us by actually changing our modes, methods and behaviours – overcome the traumas that contribute to our actual situations, thereby interpellating a clearing, a path, a possibility. . .


/Jol Thomson