Friday, May 15, 2015

Jon Turk profile in summer edition of Adventure Kayak

Happy to see my profile of kayak explorer Jon Turk finally out, quite a while in the making. Thanks to Adventure Kayak for appreciating the importance of Jon's message.

An excerpt: "The real distinguishing factor for Turk, the core of his wonderful anachronism, is that small-craft exploration is not an end in itself, but a means to develop and test explanations for unanswered questions in human history. How do Arctic peoples relate to their Asian forebears? How did the earliest migrations to North America happen, what beliefs motivated them and what tools or vessels helped them traverse incredible distances?

“It’s boring to just recite details from the trip,” says Turk. “I’m more interested in what grand journeys like Ellesmere, and the massive migrations undertaken by our ancestors—what do these teach us? What wisdom do they impart, and why have humans undertaken such journeys throughout history?”

Against the current tide of photogenic free climbers, big wave surfers and kayakers dropping over 200-foot waterfalls, Turk echoes an older tradition of scholar-explorers who sought answers in the wild, beyond the reach of laboratories and scientific debate."

Full article here. Longer Q&A with Turk here

Friday, May 08, 2015

Magical drinking in Congo

Like alcohol anywhere, palm wine is a formidable social lubricant but its undercurrent of magical thinking sets it apart. Amos Tutuola, Nigeria’s answer to H.P. Lovecraft, first chronicled the ritualistic, surreal excesses of palm wine in his 1952 novel. I first tasted palm wine ‘in the bush of ghosts’, and rightly so—the phrase figures in the title of Tutuola’s follow-on experimental work.

Read the entirety of this little rumination on palm wine over at Roads & Kingdoms, a newish site I'm quite infatuated with.