Unusual reading matter in my new lodgings in Mexico City…
Philosophy books were almost spilling out of the bookshelves. The relevant sections of Foyles and other well-appointed stores in far-off London hold more titles: but not a vast amount more than here, in this back bedroom tucked away a small street hard by the multi-laned arterial road called Insurgentes Sur.
Putting down my bags, I looked at the spines of the books: Nietzche, Hegel, Kiergekaard. I was momentarily rather excited by the idea that I was surrounded exclusively by existentialists. How unforgettably weird! But disappointingly, I spotted Descartes.
Even so, sharing a room with so many existentialists matched my overriding feeling at that early point in my Mexico stay: unease. The sense that something could easily go wrong, or was soon to go wrong. Out of place in a strange land, and strange not only in the sense of foreign or unfamiliar.
The world felt disorientating for me, abroad and with Spanish language skills too underdeveloped to grasp what was routinely being said around me.
Six weeks in, I felt ‘thrown into’ (to use an existentialist concept) this world of job seeking in a foreign city. Somehow, I had no say in the matter.
Naturally, I had chosen to book my flight and pack my things. But was I really in control of my decision making? I suspected that fate was at least as responsible as my free will, but pondering it all only confused me more. I needed some help from those philosophers.