Truth be told, I’ve always been a restless spirit, easily bored. In the past few years I’ve spent countless hours skydiving (~3000 jumps), paragliding, cycling long distances (~30K miles), blogging, trekking, even dancing. All of this while sustaining a career in software engineering. Before that, I spent eleven years becoming the best musician I could be—studying at the Eastman School of Music, the Juilliard School, and (with the help of two Fulbright Scholarships) at the music conservatory and university in Cologne, Germany.
Not that any of that matters. What matters is this chance I’ve taken on a different kind of life. The road is sometimes rough, but so far, so good.
Most mornings I roll out of bed, bright and early, to find myself in Pokhara, Nepal. (Nepal!) Do I have a job? No. But every day I climb the short flight of steps to my rooftop balcony and gaze upon the sleepy tranquility of idyllic Phewa Tal. Still rubbing sleep from groggy eyes I look upwards at the Himalayas(!)–at Machhapuchhre’s austere, triangular face peeking over Sarangkot’s distant ridge.
And me? Awestruck. That’s me in a nutshell: awestruck. At everything, everywhere, all the time–drop-jawed and wide-eyed.
I invite you to join me; to pull up a chair and share this journey with me. If you want to ride or fly or trek along with me in person, send me an email; we can probably make that happen. It’s a big beautiful world out here–vastly different from what we’ve been led to believe–and there’s plenty of room for friends old and new. Step off of that Hamster Wheel for a moment–whatever form it takes in your life–and join me. In person or in spirit, come laugh at my never-ending foibles, add them to your own, and let’s see what happens.
To each of you, on whatever journey you find yourself, I wish you bon courage.
Your Quixotic Wanderer,
—jim bennett, The Transglobalist
“…many of the problems now faced by Third World countries (hunger, overpopulation, spirtual decay) arose because ecologically sound and spiritually satisfying forms of life were disrupted and replaced by the artifices of Western Civilization. […] The messengers of progress and civilization destroyed what they had not built and ridiculed what they did not understand.”
“…scholars studying the history of non-Western civilizations and communities found that hunger, violence, increasing scarcity of goods and services that had once been available in abundance, alienation, and ‘underdevelopment’ can often be traced to the disruption, due to the advance of Western science and technology, of complex, fragile but surprisingly successful socioecological systems.”
Like Paul Feyerabend, I find myself with little patience for our First World compulsion to Westernize, “civilize,” develop, and commodify the world’s so-called primitives and their cultures. Transglobalism is my way of embracing, rather than destroying, the world’s greatest riches–which have nothing whatsoever to do with economic wealth.
When I chose the name “Transglobalist” I was in the midst of preparations for a trip to Istanbul and Ölüdeniz—my first visit to Turkey. I was discovering the musics of Ibrahim Tatlises and Mustafa Kandirali, Kani Karaca, Mercan Dede, Ceza, Sagopa Kajmer, the Kronos Quartet’s Floodplain album, and about a thousand others–most of them new to my insatiable ears.
One track fully captured my imagination. I played it over and over again, looping it endlessly while I moved, played, sang along, danced. That song was Transglobal Underground‘s infectiously joyous, irrepressible groove, Ali Mullah.
Subtly perched above it all was this perfect little word: transglobal.
I was at an imaginary concert, standing at the cultural crossroads that is Turkey in general, and Istanbul in particular: the oft-touted amalgamation of Ancient and Modern, Orient and Occident, Islam and Christendom, Arab and Turk and Kurd, Asian and European which–stretching back millennia–makes a so-called melting pot like New York City seem pedestrian.
At the same time, I was researching potential cycling routes through India and Southeast Asia; reading travel journals from the wilds of western Tibet and central Mongolia and mainland China. My brain was teeming with new places and plans, with daydreams and wonder.
These details are important to convey my intentions precisely: transglobalism means embracing every cultural artifact and experience one can get one’s hands on, as-is and for its own sake. It’s about opening oneself to all these new and divergent and sometimes contradictory places, people, and things; about being transformed by them; about increasing one’s personal perspective and understanding; about finding as-yet-unspoiled and (personally) unexplored places on our shrinking, increasingly exploited planet and sharing those experiences with you: my readers and friends.
Transglobalism is the fundamental, inviolable nature of mutual curiosity and respect, and their transformative power in matters of international exchange. Transglobalism is never-ending wonder while adrift amongst the beautiful juxtapositions and recombinations of philosophies, religions, languages, arts, crafts and other aspects of culture which arise as previously insular communities and individuals and ideas collide and mix and adapt and adopt.
It is in no way related to globalization–the market-, corporation-, and government-directed, forcefully imposed, imperialist, perversely capitalistic, typically Western and inevitably ruthless drive towards global homogeneity for the sake of expanded economic opportunity back home in Empire. Globalization (which is today synonymous with neoliberalism) is one of the greatest scourges our planet has ever known.
There is overwhelming evidence demonstrating that our world’s problems are infinitely worsened by this prevailing policy of economic colonialism and capitalist Manifest Destiny–wielded, as it always has been, by the powerful haves, to the universal detriment of the have-nots.