by Kevin Cullen
Entering into a country isn’t as straightforward as presenting a border agent with your passport (and these days—a PCR test) and traipsing through customs at the airport. That process, the physical act of crossing a border, is merely a shadow of another, more profound crossing that happens on some other less tangible plane of reality.
What does it really mean then to enter into a country? The surface-dwelling visitor (i.e. the tourist) is content to know the physical geography of a place; its ski slopes and hiking trails, its coastlines, beaches and museums. But authentic immersion requires somehow penetrating to a more subterranean, treacherous strata of national topography and attractions; that of a nation’s collective unconscious. It means charting the peaks and valleys of a nation’s neuroses, its hinterlands of domestic ecstasies, its marshlands of child-eyed dreams and despair. It means finding that basement bar hidden beneath the basement bar, where its ancient epics and folklore and ballads are secretly brewed.