Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Michael Crichton's Travels

Travels is a book that has been recommended to me for a while (thanks Case!) and I finally got around to reading it before and during my Costa Rica trip. This is by the same Michael Crichton that wrote Jurassic Park, Andromeda Strain, etc. but this book is more autobiographical than fictional. It was extremely different from what I expected, but I think I ended up loving it even more because of that. Which is, of course, why I should remember not to put too much weight on expectations.

The book doesn't even begin with much traveling. The first 80 pages or so are all about going through med school. (Did you even know he was a doctor? I sure didn't.) I figured I was going to get bored and just slog through that part, but it turned out to be fascinating. The chapter called "A Day at the BLI" was about different women's experiences in the delivery room, and packed more punch per page than anything I had read in a while. It was also interesting to read about how he views our responsibility towards our own health, and how we affect it by our mental and emotional states, as well as our physical states.

After med school, he gets to the actual traveling part of the book, which tends to be pretty adventure-oriented travel: climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, scuba diving with sharks, crossing a landslide in Pakistan, etc. But after a bit, you realize that there's more going on than just scooting around the world. There's a lot of self-observation happening, too, particularly regarding relationships with the various women going through his life at these times.

Also as the book progresses, he starts exploring different types of experiences as well. When staying in London, he visits the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain nearly every day, evaluating the different psychics there and trying to determine the validity of the phenomena he observes. Later, he goes to meditation conferences, and energy work sessions, and learns to see auras. Some of this material is more fascinating to me than the stuff that I expected the book to be about. I particularly recommend the chapter on "Cactus Teachings." The postscript to the book is the text of a talk (never delivered) to the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, about why he believes there is some validity to certain psychic phenomena.

I've already got Mom and Lacey lined up for borrowing my copy of the book. It's definitely going on the "highly-recommended" list.


Quena said...

I MISSS YOOOOOUUUUUU!!! But I shall see you soon! Whee!

Ev said...

Indeed! I loved Travels when I read it a few years ago. Thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

As Arte Johnson used to say on Laugh In, "Verrry interesting!"

Baron von Raab