Sunday, November 09, 2014
Alexander David-Neel: the Joseph Rock connection
Still, it is tantalising to think what would have happened if these two explorers had come face to face back in 1924 on the pilgrim route to the Doker La. The Belgian-French spiritualist and writer who inspired Kerouac meeting up with the irascible self-promoting Austrian emigre scholar. I get the impression that Rock had little time for women, both socially and intellectually. They would have made an interesting contrast sharing a tent and perhaps a cup of coffee in the Tibetan borderlands in 1924. I came across a letter from David-Neel to Rock in the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens archives a couple of years ago - I wish I'd made a copy of it now.
Anyway, it was interesting to read the account of another traveller on the "Dokar Pass" and the route to Thibet as she calls it - and it also acts as a reminder to be sceptical about Rock's claims to be the 'first white man' to explore this area.