Glimmer of Greatness, Global Province Letter, 11 April 2012

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things ---Corinthians, King James Bible

For What's Not There. The canny traveler does not go to Turks and Caicos Islands for a stay at Amanyara so as to gorge on resort cuisine or to play charades, scrabble, and shuffle board. He's there for what's not there. Turks and Caicos is a curious little country a short 3 ½ hours away from New York City that the British Crown has snatched back after its giddy bout of corruption under Premier Michael Misick. Nominally British, it has odd Brit touches (the doctors in Providenciales, the main commercial island, are London exports), but it uses the U.S. dollar and is utterly dependent on American tourism. Affairs are nicely stalled at the moment, with half completed houses and arrested developments all about the island.

It is blighted somewhat by the Caribbean economic disease: Floriditis. A section of Providenciales known as Grace Bay is a Miami Beach look-alike, but the island as a whole is not jammed with tall condos and shops and all the clutter that has become the lot of the well-known islands of the Indies. The local population of all the islands adds up to 35,000 people, a population smaller these days than that of each of the New York suburbs.

Amanyara is much like a national park, peopled by relatively few dwellings, and indeed its land abuts conservation districts. You don't go there to stuff yourself with anything. The food, though more than adequate, is not cruise-ship voluminous and it is far from gourmet. The very attractive bar area does not do a huge business. In fact, one does not see that much of the other guests, maybe bumping into a crowd at the beach amounting at its height to 30 or 40 people. Nor are you bothered by celebrity types, all of whom flock instead to Parrot Cay, a spit off in an entirely different direction.

At Amanyara, as the travel mags make clear, the best to do is to read, to stare at the man-made pond extending out from one's very architecturally pleasing villa, to go snorkeling in the mottled blue waters off the island, or to latch on to a nature hike which reveals that the island has a geological story to tell. With a guide one finds out that the scrub brush all about the land and even the impassive rocks on the beach hide a very pleasing diversity of nature. We found the old-man cactus particularly endearing:  its beard reminds one that some grizzled fishermen or--who knows--even Hemingway may have once hung about these islands. My Turks and Caicos Blog, the work of some folks who rent out some modest accommodations on Providenciales, beautifully captures much of the plant life on the island. Pools of salt collect on the rocks, and one learns that another island in the group originally put the Turks on the map by supplying salt to commercial traders. We ourselves spent an inordinate amount of time simply staring out at the ocean, perhaps for an hour's time. During the very minutes when all the screens in Wall Street were flashing meaningless digits, we ourselves were basking in cosmic nothingness. The point in the Turks is to intensely focus on achieving nothingness. Indolence has its uses.

We shall comment further on Amanyara and its unique sister resorts which got their start in Thailand in much more granular detail on the Global Province at a future date

Without Paraphernalia. Without the cobwebs of our ordinary existence, we chance here to think about oceans, and nature, distant countries, and starlit skies. A trip away to the islands is not merely a chance to rest one's bones. Suddenly one can thing of big things and put trivia aside.

One of our aphorisms is that big thoughts make big men, and it takes big men to get things done. The task of any man of character in the modern developed world is to get beyond the digital junkstream that overwhelms us with meaningless information and drives us to do things that don't count. We expand upon this proposition in "Big Beliefs Make Big Men."  We always are thrilled to remember that the mentor of John Roebling of Brooklyn Bridge fame was the dialectical metaphysician Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

We learn now that Governor Romney is to be the candidate of the once great Republican Party. The question for both him and President Obama is to show us that they have the glimmer of greatness, that they can think big thoughts and lure the rest of us to greatness. That, more than this policy or that, more than so-called results and performance, will be the litmus we must lay to each of them. The soul of the nation cries for an end to micro thinking and parochial concerns. Brows are furrowed and people often seem to be running in place. It is time to lift our eyes upward.

P.S. Readers of Caesar's Gallic Warswill remember that his armies constantly had to think about res impedimenta, its heavy baggage which had to be carted along to keep things functioning. To get anywhere, we must leave our res impedimenta behind.

P.P.S. Leisure has become a foreign concept to many go-getters. Savage looks cross their faces as they strain on the treadmills, grunting much like the beautiful Russian women tennis players. To drink in the world beyond the cares of urban conclaves, one must discard frenetic activity. Even in Turks and Caicos a good many do not seize that opportunity.

P.P.P.S. Immanuel Kant distinguishes for us between phenomena and noumena.  Phenomena are what and how we perceive of the external world through the strainer of our mental apparatus. Noumena are the things out there before we coat them with the hues and twists that our brain and consciousness impose. In the islands, we suggest, one may get some bare inkling of the noumena, some whiff of the universe that is not tainted by man's subjectivity.


Back to Top of Page

Return to the Index of Letters from the Global Province

Home - About This Site - Contact Us

Copyright 2012 GlobalProvince.com