Jason is a Welsh Musician, and in this short book, he details his most recent Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage experience. He takes the Camino Portugués from Porto, a follow up to his previous encounter with the more traditional, and more widely known and popular, Camino Frances. We find Jason alone in his hotel room in Porto in a dusky predawn, a crazed band post-gig, having departed, and left the protagonist with little money and equipment and a pipe dream to escape yet again on pilgrimage to Santiago. This book is a modern pilgrimage, a journey to self. We are not sharing the voyage of a medieval religious monk, we share our modern chav hobbit’s punk desires. He needs not mass, blood wine and body bread, but wifi, bocadillos and plastic auberge mattresses. Our modern day pilgrim needs not God’s guidance, but is savouring the beauty and tranquility of a rustic, muddy countryside, as his mind ventures into the pilgrim spirit and devours itself in questions of self-exploration. A host of characters is met and through the hero’s transcript of muttered profanities as he describes the lurid animals he meets en route we make friends with a myriad of personalities from dotted around the globe. Most notably, German astronomer-theologian Thomaas and later, Irish reveller and journeyman Eoin. Interspersed with Spanish natives and kind Portuguese innkeepers and waiters, our bubbly hero sounds off his thoughts and shares in the rich tapestry of life of his fellow men, all the time progressing his own mind’s journey and in a self-revelatory manner, touching our soul with more profound deeper and wise philosophy. Jason loves his woman in Wales. He never quite transcends and escapes his homeland of Wales. From the murky sacred Ulla river reminding him of his hometown, Newport, to thinking of his absent grandfather having disappeared to Australia on his journey’s End, nostalgia is always a containing force to Jason, preventing him from moving on and getting the success and desires he so craves from life. Is it money he seeks? He answers and affirmative no and sees it as a means to an end in life’s great journey. He does seek Broadband and Wifi, yet after we lose communications and move out of the realm of technological contact with the outside world, our hero is not lost but finds himself again and can let his hair down properly in the taverna and hostels, enjoying more ancient revelry, wine and brandy, guitar-laden five star meals and the warmth of traditional hospitality so frequented by the tourists of these ancient routes over the Millennia. The language of Jason’s book is often shockingly coarse, but equally it is a direct language and the best philosophy succeeds in its directness. We move with the writer along the pilgrimage and as you read the book you can feel the rain pelting down, the books brevity comforting us as each night draws to a close and we settle down for the night on the auberge mattresses. Blankets or not, Chav Punk Hobbit reveals to us our own conflict in a modern age, where religion matters little and journeys of self are replaced by instant gratifications.I feel jealous, having not directly journeyed the route myself, green as I cannot feel the a priori mental revelations that resound in between the fast-flowing narratives. We must all strike out in this world and go on personal journeys to reveal our deepest thinking and to share with others the pleasures of life. Chav Punk Hobbit is an adventure and to overlook the beauty in the book’s touching simplicity means that you are not grasping the Welsh Hemingway’s poetic raison d’être. It is modern day philosophy in its most rawest essence. ENJOY!
The philosophy of Jacques Derrida keeps cropping up on my reading in Translation Studies. I’m getting a vague idea of deconstruction but really need to tackle the works of the man himself to truly understand his philosophy. I thought I’d try this short introduction as a taster to better familiarise myself with his ideas. I think that Derrida is slightly more complex and difficult to understand than more traditional philosophers. He gathers poles of thought within the philosophical movement. It seems that either you love or hate Derrida. I think the fundamental precept of Deconstruction is to reevaluate one’s ideals, to tear apart more traditional modes of thinking and to analyse a subject from a completely different, new perspective. This introduction left me, at times, feeling as though I was beginning to understand Derrida, yet at other times things went flying over my head and removed what knowledge I thought I had gained. I think the Derrida work on language is more accessible and I look forward to tackling ‘On Grammatology’. His work with words and language seems more logical and accurate and easier to digest than some of the less direct musings on philosophy or the nature of animals. From reading this book I can see why some people could easily dismiss Derrida. His ideas do provoke strong reactions and nowhere more so can this be seen than the reaction to his honorary degree at Cambridge University. think that what is certain about Derrida was that he was a true intellectual, a clever man with original ideas, who wasn’t afraid of ruffling the feathers of the established ways. The twentieth century was an era of vast change and there is no reason why new ways of dissecting the world should not arise. I anticipate building a deeper relationship with Derridean philosophy once I enter into his actual works. This introduction was enlightening in a sense but can be deconstructed into equally maintaining an illusion of confusion about this complicated man.