Ryszard Kapuscinski, lonely in Lagos with “some sort of tropical infection, blood poisoning or a reaction to an unknown venom, and it is bad enough to make me swell up and leave my body covered with sores, suppurations and carbuncles,” fought his hot, sweaty affliction with Claude Lévi-Strauss. Ryszard quoted Claude, and now I quote both:
By whom or by what had I been impelled to disrupt the normal course of my existence? Was it a trick on my part, a clever diversion, which would allow me to resume my career with additional advantages for which I would be given credit? Or did my decision express a deep-seated incompatibility with my social setting so that, whatever happened, I would inevitably live in a state of ever greater estrangement from it? Through a remarkable paradox, my life of adventure, instead of opening up a new world to me, had the effect rather of bringing me back to the old one, and the world I had been looking for disintegrated in my grasp.
Then then he went back to Poland, where he no longer existed. Friends would pass him in the streets, looking quizzically at the apparition. What are you doing here, stranger? You’re supposed to be gone, off reporting from somewhere tropical, alive in your dispatches. Existing in abstract. He went away again and was revived.
Realness is a slippery eel.