Stage 3 - First Threshold
Joseph Campbell: “With the personifications of his destiny to guide and aid him, the hero goes forward in his adventure until he comes to the ‘threshold guardian’ at the entrance to the zone of magnified power. Such custodians bound the world in four directions—also up and down—standing for the limits of the hero’s present sphere, or life horizon. Beyond them is darkness, the unknown and danger; just as beyond the parental watch is danger to the infant and beyond the protection of his society danger to the members of the tribe. The usual person is more than content, he is even proud, to remain within the indicated bounds, and popular belief gives him every reason to fear so much as the first step into the unexplored. The adventure is always and everywhere a passage beyond the veil of the known into the unknown; the powers that watch at the boundary are dangerous; to deal with them is risky; yet for anyone with competence and courage the danger fades.”
Wiley is asleep now (it’s about 5:30 am) but I seem to still be suffering from jetlag. We’re lying in a little bed in a little hotel in a little town in Germany, somewhere near the border of Austria along the river Inn. The lights been coming in through the window stronger over the past hour, and as it does some terrible application on my brothers computer adjusts the white balance of the computer screen with it - compounding the confused-by-it-all feeling of my jetlag and the desire to go back to sleep. But I’m awake.
To set the scene there is a tented metallic clothe over the bed, hanging off a feaux wrought iron hook sticking out from the wall. Next to the hook on the left there are four cartoonish sculptures of musical notes, golden chromed, affixed haphazardly to the wall. On the right there hangs, what I can only assume is, a medieval male chastity belt/dick torture chamber. It looks like regular underwear made out of metal but has a chainmail penis sleeve hanging off of the front and a mysterious hole in the back. A few things to note about the device:
- the hole in the back of the thing is cleverly barbed outwards but not inwards allowing for free evacuation from the body, but challenging entrance into the body. It reminds me of the one-way salmon traps that the Ohlone would weave to trap the fish as they swam up river, but not for fish.
- the penal sleeve at the front of the undies is huge. Like really, really, cartoonishly big.
- the whole affair is attached to a nice medieval style plaque with a bunch of writing on it. The writing is of course in German and a mystery to me so I can only guess that it explains why this penis torture device is suspended three feet above my brother’s sleeping head in an otherwise charming hotel.
The end of last week was spent in anxiety - running errands all over the Bay Area, trying to say goodbye to as many friends as possible in as little time as possible, preparing our house for the people that will renting it for the next couple of weeks and getting our bikes close to some sort of functionality. But finally we headed to the airport and, after a harrowing 40 hours of missed flights and lost bags, we eventually found ourselves in Munich. We had come to hunt down whoever sent us the mysterious parcel, or perhaps to find another clue. We knew that it wouldn’t be flat-out easy, but we thought that something would jump out at us - that there would be a chaffeur with a ‘Rogers Bros’ sign at that München International Airport, or that the Information lady in town would have something waiting for us, or that we’d see some object that only had unique significance to us, maybe something from our childhood that only we would know, and that above that object would be a sign that read:
<———- ; )
But there when we got to Germany we found no mysterious signs, or chauffeurs, or smiling faces (emoticon or otherwise). So we went to the beer garden, and visited the cathedral and followed the München ghost tour - all the obligatory highlights for two directionless Americans in Munich. On the upside I did meet the most beautiful woman in the world (Her name was Irena and she was enormously fat, and short and made of stone. She was missing all the fingers on her hands and the toes on her feet (maybe they were never there to begin with) but she didn’t seem to mind. The disfuguration gave her limbs the appearance of fleshy flippers, tools for soft verbs like smoothing, and rubbing, and kneading…) Anyways she was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen and I was sad to see her go but we had come here with a purpose, and we would not be distracted by porcelain women, or deterred by a seeming lack of any direction.
Regardless, our second morning in Europe things we’re desperate - I had an angry red spider bite on my left calf that hurt a little when I touched it and Wiley had just realized that a Gyro meat tower is not a ‘part’ of the animal, but rather many parts stuck together like chipboard - we were desperate. Quite luckily, that morning we checked in with the internet and received an exciting comment on Facebook from my wise friend Tony Baker. He, with profound insight, had seen our first video and had noticed that it “kinda looks like the arrow said Austria”. Yes! He was right! Despite our endless preparation and strict adherence to the mysterious diagram we’d received in the mail - we had miscalculated and landed some 405 km to the west! Thank god for Tony Baker!
Hopeful again we set out yesterday on our trusty bikes. By bike path, road and autobahn we are headed east - towards Vienna - towards our next clue.
And now, the church bells of Muhldorf are ringing outside, Wiley is snoring next to me, and the morning sun is just glinting off the hinge of a penis sleeve above him - we should have never have come to Germany, we know that know, but we are rectifying our mistake mile-by-mile and even so, it has been kind to us in a cold and formal way. Except for Irena, the least cold and most beautiful creature this side of the Danube!
Munich Ghost Tour - this is an ad that we found for the ghost tour that we took in Munich - Kristen was very knowledgable and friendly, if there was a Yelp for people he would get 5 stars!
the next video chapter is coming soon!