The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 9 (April 1, 1933)
Gullible'S Travels — Perpetrated And Illustrated By Ken Alexander
Perpetrated And Illustrated By Ken Alexander.
Ocean Rolls and Bank Rolls.
There is no doubt that travel often broadens the outlook at the expense of the income, but after all a roll on the ocean is better than a “roll” in the bank, and departures mean more than “returns” in the long run, or even the short trip; for wanderlust is as inherent to the homo as garlic is to the breath of suspicion. Man must wander or wilt; but every man has the option of travelling either in agitation or imagination. Some can afford to wander at will, while others are reduced to wandering in the mind. Wandering in the mind is a Cook's tour without the cookeries, but a combination of menu and imagination oft provides a mental meal. The advantage of travelling incog. (which is short-leg for “in cogitation”) is that one can be moved without movement, get inspiration without perspiration, and see without seething.
Many otherwise normal citizens pursue their awful occasions day by day, harbouring in their head-pieces an imaginary world calculated to cause the Geographical Society to doubt their own allegations about the Alleghanys and the number of sips in the Mississippi; for the sit-sighter has it on the sight-setter in that he can improvise his own geographs and sail the seas guided only by his temperature chart. He can alter the face of Nature at will, and practice plastic splur-gery on the scenery of the sphare. Should he opine that New York is too new, Old Madrid too old, Little Tichbury too little, Upper Lowbury too uppish, Lower Highbury too lowering, Siam, Yukatan, Rotterdam, Anagram and Astrachan too amorous, he may, by mental disorder in council, rearrange the panoramic “props” to suit the mood of the moment. He may even create new lands, such as Switzer-dam, Amsterwitz, New Zealephant, Muscatelaphone, or even Australastic—by stretching a point. He may insert icefloes in Florida, the Taj Mahal in Chicago (if America has not already bought it), rubber trees in Tyre, the kangaroo in Kalamazoo, Cleopatra's Needle in Stitchbury, and Uncle Tom's cabin on the shores of the Black Sea. He may place Mount Egmont on the Hen and Chickens, the Island of Dogs off the coast of Yap, the childblain in Chile, the hot dog in Houndsditch, the cold shoulder in Freising, the frozen asset in Otago, the elephant in Tuscany, the wild cat in Wall Street, and the wild oat in Mayfair. He can put the bridge of size in Sydney. Niagara Falls wherever it's dropped, mustard gas in the Sandwich Islands, pawns in the Solomons, nit-wits in the Scilly Isles, cuttle fish in Kut, and loans in London. He may sail down the Hoogly on a wapiti, or up the Indus on a cafateria. page 14 There are no limitations to the scintillations of his wanderlustre. The world is his onion, and he peels it without tears.
If he dislikes the manner in which Chicago parts its heirs and wears its crepe-de-machine, he can slip it into Biffin Bay to cool its All-Caphoneyism and Big Billiousness. He can put Cape Cod on the Hook of Holland, and can make Venice as dry as a gondolier's nightmare, or the Sahara as wet as a camel's imagination. He can grow bismuth at Bisrah, put the yak in Yonkers, the dried herring in Salt Lake City, and the vulgar boat song in Billingsgate. He can wander at will through the impenetrable jingles of London's money belt without being stung by the deadly misquoter, otherwise known as the confidence tick. He can wade through India in rubbers, climb the steppes of Siberia on the fleet-footed ogpu; see Uruguay, Paraguay, Carraway, and such spots where the seed of revolution sprouts, without dying for some one else's country; “do” Scotland if it can be “done,” take a bight in the Bay of Biscuits, practice life-saving in the Dead Sea, and see the world before it sees him first. All of which obviates disappointment, for the globe-trotter who actually trots out real cash to see Ozzwozz-on-the-Wrinkle often finds it a little ante-climatical to discern that it differs little from Muddle-in-the-Mud, his home base, except for a trace of new odours and a brace of old pagodas.
Another method of travelling without travelling is to know your groceries. Every shop shouts from its shelves of foreign parts—of rice and romance, vanilla and villainy, dates and palms, nuts and Maya, treacle and treasure. Consider the necromancy of nomenclature! Chow-chow, Ipecacuanha, vermicelli, Scotch herrings, molasses, macaroni, Brussels sprouts, Brazil nuts, Turkish delight, Gorgonzola cheese, cochineal, vanilla, tapioca, tomato, polony, saveloy and sedlitz.
What an array of exotic exhalations, breathing of stringed yams strumming on the reef, of the paw paw calling to the mum mum in the hula hula highlands; of bull fights in the hacienda, of dog fights in the fiesta, and street fights in the contata; of the betel nut flitting between the bites, of a blow out on the Golden Horn, a wash out on the Grand Canal, and a throw out on Ellis Island; of Sir Harry Lauder the laird of Scotland Yard, of cherry blossoms on Fujiyama, and rum blossoms in Jamaica. Oh, for love, life, laughter and lassitude! For strange sights and stranger smells! And all this can be got in the halls of commerce. The soul is cosseted, courted and caught by the exotic terminology of trade.
Getting the “low-down” on “uplift.”
Putting the Mind on its Feet.
But after all it is better actually to see what you see, than only to think you see what you would like to see. Imagination certainly is a necessary precedent to peregrination. Man first visions the vistas of vagabondage and then, if his purse is strong enough to back his fancy, his feet follow his imagination and he sets out to disprove all the geographical preconceptions inoculated in his unwilling mind during the defenceless years of his youth. He may have a hazy conception of the population of Pernambuco, the number of isles in the Archoo Archipelago, and he may try to remember whether Popocatapetl is the capital of Esperanto or the name of the last Inca king. And then he goes a'sailing and finds that the geographical germinations in his mind are knocked cold by the acme of actuality.
But because the subconscious condiment is the spice of life he adapts it to the dish of fact, unless his stertorian strata are disturbed by uncontrollable sight-seizures; for the best method of sight-seeing is to let the sights seize you rather than that you seize the sights. Personally, if I wanted to see Paris (which I do, but can't), I would park my personal props under a tree in the Rue de Rowdy, Champs de Chumps, or some such irrelevant spot and let Paris show her curves whilst I absorbed “vin de vin” and “vin de vie” out of the same bottle. Everything comes to him who waits—if he waits long enough.
The Philosophy of Peregrination.
Thus, when you travel, don't look for the world, but let the world find you.
“Travel in comfort” is not idle propaganda of the protagonists of pleasure, but the true philosophy of peregrination; for, if a rolling stone gathers no moss, a hurtling meteor gathers no star dust. Thus we say with Gullible:
Who would answer the call
Of the wild, the exotic, the free,
Should do so, not lightly
Nor dull and politely,
But rather to capture the key
Of the door to the garden
Of Slavery's Pardon,
Where only the “seers” may see.
The object of travel
Should be to unravel
The wool of the sheep from the mind,
And not to run hither
And thither to blither
Of where you have dallied and dined;
Or how you've disported
Where caliphs once courted
And potentates wintered and wined.
The reason for roving
Should be the untroving
Of treasure—not baubles or pelf,
But gems undiscovered,
In vanity smothered,
Which lie in the depths of one's self.