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Dear followers of my Journey to the East致东游记读者



Dear followers of my Journey to the East,

亲爱的东游记读者,


I have reached the remotest, hottest, driest, and stormiest place on the route from Amsterdam to Shanghai. All my efforts to find a middle way—geographically, environmentally, philosophically, and psychologically—have now run into the extreme temperatures and drought of the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts in Xinjiang, China. Climate change has even destroyed the most resilient factor of mitigation, Springtime, making it feel already like August here. At least, that’s what the locals say. All my speedy progress to reach this region before the summer heat strikes, has come to nothing in this merciless desert zone, patiently waiting for my surrender. This should not happen. So I stand still at the big thermometer at the Flaming Mountains, indicating a heat beyond human endurance, and think twice.

我已经到达了从阿姆斯特丹到上海途中最偏远、最炎热、最干燥和风暴最猛烈的地方。所有在地理、环境、哲学和心理方面寻找中间道路的努力,现在在中国新疆的戈壁和塔克拉玛干沙漠的极端高温和干旱面前都遇到了极大的挑战。气候变化甚至摧毁了春天这个最具恢复力的缓解因素,让这里感觉像已经是八月了。至少,当地人是这么说的。为了在夏季高温到来之前尽快到达这个地区,我的所有努力在这个无情的沙漠地带都化为乌有,仿佛它正耐心地等待着我的投降。但这不应该发生。所以我站在火焰山的大温度计旁,显示着超出人类耐受极限的高温,仔细思考。



This is the second time on my journey that circumstances have become stronger than me. Both times relate to the core argument of this project: the clash between West and East and how to overcome. The first time, it were the hostilities between the western foothold in the Muslim world and the Islamic Republic of Iran, verging on the brink of war, that prevented me from continuing through Turkmenistan. Now, it is, in some respects, the clash between a linear concept of modernity and the cyclical reality of nature that makes the climate so completely out of joint. Both situations show the dead end of the collision course the planet is on, lacking the imagination and willpower to fundamentally break with the conventions of zero-sum thinking and the mechanisms of colonial and extractive mindsets.

这是我旅途中第二次遇到无法控制的局面。这两次都与项目的核心论点有关:东西方的冲突以及如何克服这些冲突。第一次是由于西方在穆斯林世界的据点与伊朗伊斯兰共和国之间的敌对行为,战争一触即发,导致我无法继续穿越土库曼斯坦。现在,在某种程度上,是线性现代概念与自然循环现实的冲突导致气候完全失调。这两种情况都表明地球目前走在一条不可持续的道路上,缺乏想象力和意志力,无法从根本上打破零和思维的传统以及殖民和掠夺心态的桎梏。



I can be forced to change my transportation for the sake of my health. But I won’t be stopped the further exploration of cultural clues on how to overcome winner-takes-all mentality. For this, the region I’m traveling through is full of references. Xinjiang is a province of China with dozens of ethnicities, developed over hundreds of years in the wake of Silk Road-driven exchange, dialogue, collaboration, and shared values. Along this Silk Road, a Buddhist spiritual life developed that is fundamentally different from the linearity of the West, let alone the exponential linearity we see in recent decades, leading to unbearable tensions as experienced in Tehran and now in Turpan. I’m looking forward to reaching a deeper understanding of the Buddhist paradigm that became a lifeline for centuries. So, I will continue the journey on foot or using local transport services like buses and slow trains, to visit places reminiscent of a tradition that does not divide, like an Iron Curtain, that does not dogmatize, like the Council of Nicaea, and that does not judge, expel, deny, or at best reconcile opposites, like Solomon on his Throne in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, that I all wrote about before. I’m looking for places representing a completely different mindset, from which I hope to learn.

为了健康,我可能被迫改变交通方式。但这不会阻止我继续探索如何克服赢家通吃心态的文化线索。为此,我正在旅行的这个地区充满了参考。新疆是中国的一个省份,拥有几十个民族,经过数百年的丝绸之路交流、对话、合作和共同价值观的发展。在这条丝绸之路上,形成了一种佛教精神生活,它与西方的线性思维根本不同,更不用说我们在近几十年中看到的指数级线性增长了,这导致了德黑兰和现在的吐鲁番等地的无法忍受的紧张局势。我期待着深入理解这种成为几百年生命线的佛教范式。因此,我将继续步行或使用当地的交通工具,如公交车和慢火车,去访问那些不会像铁幕一样分裂、不会像尼西亚会议那样教条化、不会评判、驱逐、否认,或者至多像我之前在吉尔吉斯斯坦奥什写到的所罗门在宝座上一样调和对立的地方。我在寻找那些代表完全不同思维方式的地方,从中我希望能学到一些东西。



Perhaps the most peculiar aspect of this moment is that it happens exactly when my Journey to the East crosses one of the most powerful Chinese legends, the Journey to the West, in search of Buddhist sutras. In this 16th-century novel, when the monk Xuanzang reaches the Flaming Mountains and only overcome the heat by a mythical intervention, secured by his disciple the Monkey King Sun Wukong. Alas, I have no disciples, nor am I in touch with the Iron Fan Princess who can help me cool down. So, I will look for some learning at a slower pace before resuming the journey by bike as soon as I find my clues here.

或许此刻最奇特的一点是,我的《东游记》恰好在这里与中国最著名的传说之一《西游记》相遇。那是寻找佛经的旅程。在这部16世纪的小说中,当玄奘法师到达火焰山时,只能通过徒弟孙悟空的神奇法力来战胜酷热。遗憾的是,我没有徒弟,也联系不到能帮助我降温的铁扇公主。因此,我将放慢步伐,先在这里学习一些东西,一旦找到线索,就会继续骑行之旅。



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