Thursday, February 8, 2018

Eurasian Pole of Inaccessibility

W.G. Sebald (photo: Susan Wyndham)
"China’s Ambitious New ‘Port:’ Landlocked Kazakhstan" (NYT, 1/1/18) was the headline that greeted readers only a day or two into the New Year. The piece in question was almost like sci-fi and certainly futuristic in its descripition of how China’s largest shipping company, China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) has acquired a foothold in one of the most landlocked places on earth. The description of the location in itself was quite affecting: “The barren wilderness close to the border with China stands near the Eurasian Pole of Inaccessibility, meaning that nowhere on the landmass of Europe and Asia is more distant from the sea.” Of course there are the gulags of Siberia immortalized by Solzhenitsyn, but the Khorgos Gateway described in The Times piece, however devoid of penal associations, still radiates a feeling of apartness that's as chilling to the consciousness as it must be to the bones for those who get “shipped off” to work there. Nurkent is the town that has been built to service all the workers. W. G. Sebald often wrote about the sublime feeling occasioned by historical memory. Psycho-geography is a word that's been used to describe some of his peregrinations. But what would he have done with a far off, but newly created town with such exotic coordinates and the absence of a past? And what Moby Dick inhabits such a foreboding vastness--that's not the sea?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.