Faithful and observant readers will note that my December 14, 2022 has been featured and reposted. It shall serve as the introduction to the tale of a which has consumed my psyche, my energy, and my thoughts since I found the May 29, 1943 Life magazine lingering in my possessions. The original discovery, the loss and the ‘near find’ has taken many twists and turns. It has not reached its ultimate conclusion. Joyously I report that enormous progress was made during my June 27-August 2, 2023 Saudi Sojourn.
When this tale is completed it shall be made part of the ‘permanent collection’. Enshrined as a banner – taking the place of Free Palestine.
It is necessary to examine the meaning of quest to achieve an understanding of this epic journey. Quest s the perfect word – expertly described in Wikipedia.
“A quest is a journey toward a specific mission or a goal. It serves as a plot device in mythology and fiction: a difficult journey towards a goal, often symbolic or allegorical. Tales of quests figure prominently in the folklore of every nation and ethnic culture. In literature, the object of a quest requires great exertion on the part of the hero, who must overcome many obstacles, typically including much travel. The aspect of travel allows the storyteller to showcase exotic locations and cultures (an objective of the narrative, not of the character). The object of a quest may also have supernatural properties, often leading the protagonist into other worlds and dimensions. The moral of a quest tale often centers on the changed character of the hero.”
I get to be both the hero and the narrator. (Dirty work but somebody’s got to do it).Much exertion on my part, numerous obstacles, many including much travel. Countless hours under the auspices of both Air Emeritus and Qatar Air (who are interestingly enough intense rivals, both the countries and the airlines.) Definitely there have been exotic locations and cultures – very different ones. I cannot imagine cultures more extremely opposite than Marin County California, Dubai, in the UAE, and Medina, Saudi Arabia. The magazine discovered in California; missappropriated in Dubai; the identity of the thief discovered in Medina.
Misappropriate a rather polite word: (of a person) dishonestly or unfairly take (something, especially money, belonging to another) for one’s own use: for one’s own use. Synonyms are stronger, less polite: expropriate, steal, thieve, pilfer, swindle, pocket, help oneself to, abscond with, make off with, rip off, snitch.
The object of the quest did not have supernatural qualities, I do not think. Was there a moral to this quest tale? I do think so, it did change my character. Those reflections will be shared at the end of the story.
In the meantime, in between time, back to Wikipedia.
“The hero normally aims to obtain something or someone by the quest and with this object to return home. The object can be something new, that fulfills a lack in their life, or something that was stolen away from them or someone with authority to dispatch them.Sometimes the hero has no desire to return; Sir Galahad’s quest for the Holy Grail is to find it, not return with it. A return may, indeed, be impossible: Aeneas quests for a homeland, having lost Troy at the beginning of Virgil’s Aeneid, and he does not return to Troy to re-found it but settles in Italy (to become an anstor of the Romans).”
It was my intent to return the magazine to Saudi Arabia. The magazine spoke of a ital chapter in the history of Saudi Arabia and the Arab world demonstrating the strength of character and notability of the Royal Family in Saudi Arabia. I had not visited Saudi Arabia and was therefore totally unaware at that time of the reverence and respect that Saudis hold for their Royal Family (quite the opposite to the feelings for the Windsors, for example.) Moreover, the world seemingly had no idea and had never heard of the solution to the Palestine ‘Problem’ suggested by the Saudi King. It was nothing short of brilliant, but it has has never been mentioned in Western media (of course); nor any other publications I have ever encountered.
I was not seeking reimbursement, not even the ten cents it had been originally sold for. My plan was to gift it to museum where it would be read, revered and preserved.
Again back to Wikipedia, worrying about the hero.
If the hero does return after the culmination of the quest, they may face false heroes who attempt to pass themselves off as them, or their initial response may be a rejection of that return, as Joseph Campbell describes in his critical analysis of quest literature, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. If someone dispatches the hero on a quest, the overt reason may be false, with the dispatcher actually sending them on the difficult quest in hopes of their death in the attempt, or in order to remove them from the scene for a time, just as if the claim were sincere, except that the tale usually ends with the dispatcher being unmasked and punished.
All of this getting far too complicated. Besides, where am I supposed to be returning to? I write from my ‘native land’ Canada. Now not too happy to be here, for reasons that have been articulated in prior blogs. The plan is to return to Saudi Arabia.
A literary analysis was also provided by Wikipedia.
The quest, in the form of the hero’s journey, plays a central role in the monomyth described by Joseph Campbell; the hero sets forth from the world of common day into a land of adventures, tests, and magical rewards. Most times in a quest, the knight in shining armor wins the heart of a beautiful maiden/princess.”
I very much doubt that I shall be resplendent wearing a suit of shining arbor, or that I shall win the heart of a beautiful maiden/princess. Shining armor would be uncomfortable and difficult to get around in without a horse. And what would I do with the heart of a beautiful maiden/ princess.
So perhaps it is necessary to look to modern literature for further guidance.
“Quests continued in modern literature. Analysis can interpret many (perhaps most) stories as a quest in which the main character is seeking something that they desire, but the literal structure of a journey seeking something is, itself, still common. Quests often appear in fantasy literature, as in Rasselas by Samuel Johnson, or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy, Scarecrow (Oz), the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion go on a quest for the way back to Kansas, brains, a heart, and courage respectively. A familiar modern literary quest is Frodo Baggins‘s quest to destroy the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings. J. R. R. Tolkien uses all these elements to tell a meaningful tale of friendship and the inner struggle with temptation, against a background of epic and supernatural warfare.”
Occasionally the search is not for a tangible object. Holden, in The Catcher in the Rye is searching for a sense of purpose.
I was initially convinced that finding the pilfering man was essential. Then, and only then would the magazine be reappropriated. He, it seemed, was the key to it all, the missing link. Learning his identity was absolutely essential, all else would fall into place. The web of his deceit revealed, the magazine in the proper hands. But all bets are off.
All bets are off is an expression used to describe a situation in which it is impossible to be sure about what will happen. Idiomatic indicating that a future event appears uncertain, especially one that before seemed more certain. Any prior agreements are no longer valid Anything can happen; any previous preconceptions about what might happen are dismissed. I have no idea where this is going – what I know now will be revealed in subsequent blogs.
Figuring out what reels and photographs to attach was a dilemma. Decided that some humour might be welcomed. Horses were mentioned and luckily there is a carefully preserved reel of the moments just prior to my getting on a horse for the first time in my entire life. This event took place at McKenzie Stables, just outside Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I am not resplendent in shining armor, as you shall see.
One photograph was taken the day I arrived in Dubai, at the airport. The time line of my photos revealed it was just one day prior to my meeting the man who misappropriated the magazine.
The remaining photograph is a framed poster depicting a life long quest – searching and finally finding within myself the invincible summer.
Invincible’s definition; too powerful to be defeated or overcome. Synonyms are: indestructible, unconquerable, indomitable, unassailable; unflinching, unbending, unshakeable, dauntless;, inviolable, secure, safe. I have finally found that invincible summer; it is Allah (SWT). The antonyms describe the winter inside myself: defenseless, vulnerable.