Saturday, May 7th, 2022
Location: Somewhere between Dobrota and Perast, Montenegro
There's a giant cave blown out of the mountain cliff hovering way above my apartment. I'd love to explore it, though I'm not sure what sort of depraved predator may be living within it. Are there bears? Maybe humans.
Up ahead, the seaside road merges with the highway. My destination sits perched atop the mountain across the bay. The hollowed out remains of a 700-year-old mountaintop church. To get there I'll have to walk along the speeding cars of drunk slavs and tourists before a hike into the wild unknown. It's damn hot out.
My shirt is off so I can attempt to get some sun, I'm always telling my girlfriend that I can get a really nice tan if I try. That being said, I'm feeling quite self-conscious. My body feels fat, as opposed to muscular. It feels like each time another body passes by (much more trim, slender, defined or statuesque than mine!) their eyes erythemate my skin like sandpaper! Though my body may not look the way I want it to today, a shirtless walk should help me get over this discomfort. I wonder to myself if the tattoo on the lower quarter of my stomach will draw peoples' eyes toward my dick.
Each bar and restaurant on this strip blasts third-party poppy covers of popular American songs. They sound so much better than the original. Why are all popular American songs so drab, low-tempo and bleak?
A haiku for a wandering lad at a pit stop next to some flowers:
Orange fly by low
Ivory petal to suck
I won't swat you now
Threatened now carcass eaten
Innards who knows where
I begin my ascent....
I sit on a concrete dock with a beer after I've descended
Rocky was it.
Grassy was it.
Shit of various sizes sat wedged between loose stones, but the stool wasn't loose at all.
Round, hard. Clearly of a hearty diet. Meat, perhaps? I suppose hard shit usually means a fibrous diet, but bears are omnivores. They are also the foremost predators of this region.
My clogs fared cumbersome in this terrain. So was my oft passed over fobia of ticks. At times, my eyes stayed glued to the ground as I twisted and contorted my body to avoid touching the tall grasses. All the while, mosquitos and bugs of all kind gnawed at my exposed flesh.
Even now, as I scribe my journey, lukewarm beer to my right... Nikšićko, I can feel those pests feasting on me. And I will let them, for now. Though I can't help thinking of what may be transmitted.
Back to the shit.
I did my research and there are all types of predators lurking in these mountains. If not predators, then those that may pose the certain possibility of a threat. I came unarmed, save for heightened adrenaline and an acute sense of awareness.
Yes, I was willing to brush my legs against grass and sustain all sorts of injuries to avoid an encounter with some large-to-medium sized beast.
There are felines and wolves and rams and bears, who make these mountains their homes. I wasn't sure where, necessarily, but this area is relatively remote and there were absolutely zero signs of civilization. Nary a peep from another human. Only rustling, and shit.
I take a swig of my beer and belch loudly for all to hear. To signal my presence. To signal my relaxed state. Aloof, even. I pose no threat, unless provoked.
There sits the ruins of an old church 2/3rds up the mountain. That is my destination. I passed by a gated Orthodox graveyard a third of the way up, remote. And did not try to break in out of respect. Here, there were donkeys, ungated, grazing a small grassy steppe before a cliff that held an ancient, yet seemingly occupied citadel. There was not a soul around.
There was a small road to the right, and a cobbled stairway to the left. I chose the left to avoid coming between these donkeys. Even with them, I did not want to pose a threat.
The rocky steps quickly turned into tall grasses, shaded alcoves and increasingly looser stones. These alcoves, I always approached, their arched entryways and damp darkness allured me. It's as though entering them would be to enter another world. Like a cursed grove your grandfather would tell you to stay away from, lest you disappear for all eternity.
I'm now no longer at the dock with my beer, and two days have passed. I sit on a shaded balcony on a perfect day. Moments ago, a flock of fish jumped out of the water in a synchronous dance then scatter, that makes me think this fisherman won't be catching any of them today.
I tried a few times to finish writing this log to maintain its stylistic elements, but gave up. Most of the journey was rather boring, until I saw the hulking figure of a bear not 20 feet from me around a corner. I swear it was the size of a moose, and thankfully unaware or unalarmed by my presence. I did not freeze, I did not freak out, but maintained the momentum of my adrenaline and swiftly disembarked to a more strategic point. Thrashing and tumbling a million stones down the mountain, potentially injuring myself in the process (even to avoid the bear) seemed like a bad idea. I calmly arrived at my vantage point, waited for a moment to see if the bear would follow me from the clear path from where it was to where I am, then lit up a cigarette and breathed a sigh of relief.
It was a nice hike.
I'm not some survival expert, and the confidence I exude in this passage is not really indicative of anything real. More perceived. In reality, if the bear decided I was a threat and tried to attack me, there's a decent chance I would have been mauled or killed, or at least decently injured slipping down the mountain in my clogs. I wouldn't have gone limp, I would have fought back if I could. Protect my torso and head with my limbs and attempt to poke at its eyes, or throw my belongings or clogs at it. But that's all the fantasy of someone who enjoys danger. Especially a natural danger. This is not the first time I've put myself in harm's way for a thrill, gone just a bit further than the anxiety or fear in my belly warned me not to go farther.
A kid jut rode by on a bike doing a wheelie, I wonder what he feels.
But yeah, going up there and triggering a natural adrenaline in my body made me feel like a man. There, I said it. Though, it's just a simulation of something I feel I am not. Not yet at least.
And here, I'm not talking about this sort of misogynist meninism that is growing in reaction to the mainstreamification of a sort of corporate feminism, the soyboy phenomenon, post-mortems on a patriarchy of the past that has morphed into something a bit more covert and unintelligable, by disenfranchised dudes who thought life was simpler when there were just men and woman, and they had their roles to perform. Really, I know they want what we all want: community, love, to feel good about themselves.
Anyway, to me a capital-m MAN is just a collection of ethics and morals that I think the ideal male should contain, a.k.a. just me, a male, who after much thought likes the idea of playing a masculine role. So I guess what I'm trying to say is because I prefer to perform a masculine role, it's what makes me feel aligned and good about myself, my own ideas about what being a MAN is is really just an ideal way of being- given the particular brand of masculinity that I inhabit and exude. Not that I don't often project this onto other men, they're all different with varying levels of what they perform (often based on whatever is learned).
With this being said, one of the traits I think a man should have (remember what I said above) is a knowledge and respect for nature that allows him to survive if need be, and protect others whom he may be with. The end goal should be to cause as little a reverberation as possible, to establish yourself as a dominant force (or at least one who can hold their own if a predator gets spooked or hungry and decides to attack) but to pose no threat. And to recognize that another animal may attack out of fear if you are in its territory or nest. I and no one I am with have no dealings in the nest of a predator, and would already attempt to avoid entering into its inner sanctum. Sure, these lines are not drawn in sand, unlike in the hives of human civilization, and other beings of all sizes roam seemingly free from this conception. Us humans are animals too of course, but are infected with a deep sickness, separated by our self-quarantine and technology, that saw us lose most of our instincts which these animals have that allows them to live in relative harmony.
Much much much earlier I mentioned that putting myself into danger made me feel like a man, but that it is a simulation. This is because I have not regained the proper knowledge or nose for this stuff that would allow me to completely act in the way I described above. But, by venturing out into the unknown and following my body's reactions, whether they be helpful or detrimental, makes me feel like I am brushing up against those very things I want to learn to inhabit.
Though, it's also very stupid to put yourself in harm's way to brush up against a feeling. It's honestly pretty funny to write it down like this. Then again, it all depends on how far one goes to scratch this itch, to explore a feeling. Did I go too far? I don't think so, I played it safe and I really wasn't that far from civilization. And I'm still here to move where my body tells me to. I have no death wish, and I am not describing (I hope) an addiction to heightened adrenaline. I still have common sense!
Well, I went well off course, but there you have it.
I apologize for using this Travel Log to harp about some ideas about my own behaviour. Though, one of the reasons I created this site, which I have yet to do, is write about my ideas on masculinity in a time and place where many who choose to embody it are confused by the rich new dialogues and attitudes toward femininity, gender and queer theory. In this, there are many guiding voices for men, like 90% of film, tv, literature, etc. But more often than not, these depictions, these guiding sources of inspiration sit in opposition to these ideas of feminist and queer theory, and especially when paired with ideas from, say Jordan Peterson or something that reinforce more of the same. Don't fight the change, join 'em, I say. We need updated conceptions of masculinity that don't stifle others but put us in line with them.
I'd like to enter some of these ideas into some sort of discourse and see how they can be refined and offer a conception of a man that feels good and helps others feel good too.
Until next time.