To Connect, or Not to Connect

Dalrymple used to spend months isolated from all acquaintances while journeying arduously through Third World continents, but now he grows anxious if away from his cell phone for a few hours. In Taki’s Magazine he considers how much he misses his old isolation:

I once crossed Africa by public transport. It took me about six months and in many places, indeed for most of the time, I was isolated from everyone I knew, without possibility of calling upon them for anything. In a small way I felt like Arthur Koestler in his condemned cell in Spain waiting to be executed; that is to say, freer than I had ever been before in my life. I was thrilled to be told in Equatorial Guinea that if anybody in authority there knew that I was a writer (of sorts) I would be killed, cut up and thrown into the sea: I had never been important enough to be worth killing before, and in a way I was flattered. This was all thirty years ago next year; the then president, who is still the president, had overthrown his uncle, the first president, in a military coup. The first president was known by the title of The Only Miracle, and certainly he had produced startling changes in the country: a third of the population had either been killed or had fled…

It was exhilarating to be utterly incommunicado.

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