Trust

Trust

Trust

Trust

Synopsis

Trust is inherent in travel. We ask a stranger for directions, or for a ride. We live among people whose language, culture, and motivations we don't understand. Trust binds us to another with an intoxicating energy; it is brave, giddy, joyous, and lustful. A sudden attraction careens into sexual surrender, and trust becomes unconditional. Trust laughs at danger and leaps into the unknown.

The author of Abuses and Foreign Bodies, Alphonso Lingis has traveled the globe for many years, and in Trust he reflects on journeys from Latin America to Asia to Antarctica. Whether feeding chocolate sauce and tuna to the baboons who visit his campsite in Ethiopia, celebrating the millennial New Year in Mongolia, or indulging in a passionate love affair in Vietnam, Lingis evaluates what happens around him and how it affects him and others. From these experiences he gains new understandings about spirituality, masculinity, love, death, ecstasy, and change.

In the tradition of such international travelers as Paul Theroux, Pico Iyer, and Ryszard Kapuscinski, and with insight reminiscent of John Berger and Joan Didion, Lingis shares both the private revelations and the universal connections he acquires on his exotic journeys. "Travel far enough," he concludes, "and we find ourselves happily back in the infantile world"-where trust is ultimate.

Alphonso Lingis is author of The Community of Those Who Have Nothing in Common, Dangerous Emotions, Abuses, and Foreign Bodies. He is professor emeritus of philosophy at Pennsylvania State University.

Excerpt

On a walk in the rain forest we come upon an orchid; it spreads the trembling contours of its petals before us and unreservedly fills our eyes with the tones and glow of its colors. However completely the orchid had been described to us, the moment we see it with our own eyes there is shock, astonishment, and discovery. We station ourselves on Antarctic cliffs to watch the penguins scramble up the rookery and each locate its own baby, we descend into the oceans to watch the fish that dwell in different niches in the coral reefs and different depths of the waters. That the great whales sing like birds has been only recently discovered by biologists, for their songs do not pass out of the water into the air. Modern recording technology has transferred these songs to phonograph disks so that we can hear them with our ears across the air of our living rooms. But when we descend into the ocean with the whales we find ourselves immersed in song; our whole bodies, themselves mostly composed of water, reverberate with melodies in the substance of water. All there is to know about the ancient cities now in ruins, about gods long forgotten whose temples are now protected and even meticulously restored, we get from the words and images of books and videotapes. But we go to linger among the stones and there make contact with what, though long past, is still there and sacred. We go for the shock, astonishment, and discovery.

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