A Few Perfect Hours
by Ivan Mitrevski
translated from Slovenian
Not long ago a scientist and publicist Edward Said died. He was trying to prove that collecting knowledge about other cultures is not as innocent as it seems. Knowledge gathered by misionaries, travelers, ethnologists, and all sorts and kinds of experts for foreign lands, is not merely giving information about those lands. This knowledge ("Orientalism" as Said called it) is often a pretext for political and cultural domination. Said, who wrote an introduction to Joe Sacco's Palestine, would perhaps include Josh Neufeld in his definition of Orientalism.
Josh Neufeld, a comic artist who took on a journey through Central Europe and Southeast Asia and brought home a bunch of sketches and ideas, decided to make a comic book out of them. The comic book itself deals with more or less trivial matters, from the exotic looks of the Buddhist holidays, to the culinary peculiarities of foreigners, to the rudeness of the non-English speaking hotel owners and taxi drivers (a big travel discovery for Josh is the kneel-down toilet, in our parts of the world also known as èuèavac), and does not bring us anything other then a thousand-times chewed images of "strange worlds" so often seen in travel literature. I suppose we cannot expect anything else from a cartoonist that thanks the Lonely Planet guides in his book. A disappointment so much bigger as the artist in question is a talented and promising one.