John Harrison’s “Off the map”, is an account of an eccentric Englishman on an Amazonian journey. I am never in the mood for English eccentrics, particularly when they are – as they do tend to be – not really eccentric at all, but just opinionated un-original anti-American lefties.
In Deorla Murphy’s foreword to Harrison’s “Off the Map” she writes “the Harrisons wanted to remain in touch with…life as it was lived…before technology rendered our survival skills redundant”.
This is the purest nonsense. Technology has not rendered our survival skills redundant; it has only changed what those survival skills are. These people would reduce us to hunter-gatherers, and they should be stamped on from a great height!
Harrison writes of garampeiros (gold prospectors) “they are a different breed from the Brazilians who opt to stay at home. They are sharper, harder working, more adventurous and less tolerant of hierarchies and bureaucrats” [there is more.] This is a profound and powerful truth. It goes to the heart of what R.A Heinlein writes, that those who emigrate are inherently cleverer and more able than those who remain behind. This description of the Brazilian Amazon frontier is most instructive.
Harrison can surely write the most excellent English, but he comes across as someone I’d not want to meet.