Review of “The 2012 End of the World Tour” by Jonathan Frost

Frost has another book coming out soon, and he was kind enough to send a review copy. My review of his first book is here.

This new book is filled with anecdotes from Frost’s recent travels in Southeast Asia, where he went after quitting his civil service job in Canada.

The book is well-written and enjoyable. It’s thoughtful but ultimately a bit unsatisfying. If you’re expecting to read this book and think "Frost shouldn’t have quit his job" or "quitting your job and traveling the world is sure to be super deep and meaningful" you’ll be disappointed either way. The truth is that it’s not clear.

I have a couple good friends who decided to try to "find themselves" (or whatever the preferred euphemism is these days) by traveling in Southeast Asain countries (interestingly, I only know one person who decided to try to find herself in Africa, everyone else goes to Asia – or maybe it’s that women go to Africa and men go to Southeast Asia). I should say upfront that I’m very skeptical of this path to enlightenment. To be brutally honest, I think it’s a big self-indulgent.

Frost’s experiences match those of my friends. Before they leave the US (or Canada, in Frost’s case) they’ve filled their lives with jobs they don’t like, lots of drinking, and either short-term relationships or a series of medium-term relations. They find this existence unsatisfying . . . because it really is unsatisfying.

When they’re traveling outside the US (or Canada), they fill their lives with sleeping late, lots of drinking, and a series of short-term relationships with other twentysomethings from Australia, Scandinavia or the British Isles. Unsurprisingly, they generally find this unsatisfying . . . because it’s unsatisfying.

I should say right here, that if you’re unfamiliar with the thinking behind why someone would do this with their life, you should read this book. The book is well-written and introspective and honest.

Before Frost leaves Canada, he felt like "a man who had given up on greatness . . . [he] knew he was on the wrong path." As he travels though, he says a few things that make me wonder whether he’s coming to the realization that he’s still on the wrong path. For example, he says, "You did something that made you happy. At the end of the day, what else matters?" He "embrace[s] nomadic, nihilistic hedonism" and seems to find it wanting.

He takes a shot or two at the people who waste their life away on "the soft suicides of TV, video games, internet addiction, alcoholism, drugs, an empty vacant hook-up culture, the unthinking pursuit of material status symbols, and the Puritanical Neo-Calvinism of modern political movements." Yet many of the people I know who were most into some of these soft suicides are among "the legions of young Westerners drinking, fucking and tripping their way through Southeast Asia." Is the latter a different form of soft suicide?

Honestly, from my vantage point, I can’t see much of a difference.

Frost is honest enough to admit that he’s found . . . nothing, but some good times (and some good stories). It’d be nice to know a little more about what lessons he’s drawn from these findings. I guess we’ll have to wait for the next book.

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23 Responses to Review of “The 2012 End of the World Tour” by Jonathan Frost

  1. B says:

    >women go to Africa and men go to Southeast Asia

    I can’t for the life of me imagine why.

  2. […] Foseti’s take on Frost. Share […]

  3. asdf says:

    Yeah, but what are you going to do? I feel for Frost, because what were his options really. He wanted to be an investment banker, which is just the same lifestyle x3-5. “More” is really all people have to strive for.

    There really isn’t much to do in this world. Most useful work can be done by a tiny portion of the population. Another tiny portion is gifted with artistic talent. The rest of us just exist. Even the thing people who just exist used to do, raise a family, is largely off the market if you’re a rational male.

    • B says:

      >The rest of us just exist.

      Really? Dude, there has never been opportunity for the average dude to create like there is today. You can learn code, you can learn how to fabricate anything from furniture to robots for next to nothing (check out the fab labs,) you can learn how to farm, you can just work a boring job and still make enough money to keep yourself fed, clothed, sheltered and have access to the works of the great minds of history at the click of a mouse. The reason most dudes’ lives suck and are boring is not that they don’t have “much to do in this world.” It’s because they are boring faggots content with leading an amoebic existence with minimal risk or effort in a world which caters to that lifestyle.

      • asdf says:

        Why do we need more of XYZ? Am I going to find meaning in pumping out more consumer shit? What am I fabricating and why does it matter?

        Only a tiny percentage of the population can farm, the economics are obvious.

        Reading good books is fun, but it’s not productive work. Nobody is going to be looking at these blogs 100 years from now as part of the western canon.

  4. B says:

    You can make or grow whatever you can imagine. Not consumer shit-cool stuff you and your friends and family can use. The point is that you can be creative, not a consuming amoeba.

    Small scale farming is quite accessible to the average person. Again, the point is not to get rich-it is to be in a creative relationship with your environment.

    Reading good books can, if done properly, lead to good ideas, which can lead to good actions, which can lead to a good life. This will not happen if your focus is on the approval of some sort of abstract strangers (who will or will not be looking at your blog 100 years from now.) I guarantee you that the people whose creations made the world around us and which we look up to did not create with these priorities foremost in their minds.

    • asdf says:

      So I get a garden and do some crafts. Paid for with the money I earn at corp job, since its not economically viable on its own. Meaning here I come.

      I’m not saying these things are bad, its just that its all niche. It requires other people do dehumanizing things so that you can sit around doing economically unproductive activities in an attempt to recreate simpler times.

      Maybe its just me, but if we can’t all do it, if it doesn’t scale, then it doesn’t pass the “societal solution” test. It may be great personal advice but beyond that who cares.

      • B says:

        Of course it will scale and be economically viable. That’s the point of the whole fab and resilient community movement. Is it there yet? No. Making it so is a massive, open-source project. So, you were complaining about not having much to do in this world, right? There you are.

  5. Dan B. says:

    Foseti,

    I would recommend Houllebecq’s book, “Platform,” as one of your next reads. It deals with hedonistic westerners fucking their lives away in Southeast Asia. A must.

    • spandrell says:

      I much prefered Whatever as a tale of horny lame guys.
      Valerie’s character in Platform is so damn onanistic it made me feel bad. A man is not supposed to write about his sexual fantasies. Not in 300 pages.

      I know its supposed to be about modern man and his delusions, but it didn’t feel like that.

      • Dan B. says:

        Regardless, Platform is the better written book, and an important one to read. Yes, it’s pornographic. So? A lot of that stuff exists to make it hard for the readers who can’t handle it. Like Foseti, he pares down his readership by scaring away the weaklings.

      • spandrell says:

        I’m not scared about he fantasising about having a black dude penetrate his girlfriend’s ass while he teams up with the other hole.
        I just don’t see the point. Because he describes it positively.

      • Anonymous says:

        He is more critical of free love in “The Elementary Particles” (“Atomised” in Britain) which is the best I’ve read of his to date. I do think that part of the descriptions have to do with the main character’s obsession with sex. He has no really breakthroughs and comes to no major conclusions, but he feels very good when he comes. The human mind has been highly sexualized by pornography, and this book covers that, refusing to cast it in a clear moral light.

  6. Frost says:

    Thanks for the review!

    I too would have preferred for the book to end on a triumphal flourish i.e, “Aha! So THIS is the meaning of life! This is what I’ve been searching for! This is what I must now commit my life to!”

    Like you said, maybe the next book… or the one after that. I promise that my readers will have all the answers just as soon as I do. Until then, all I can write about is the journey.

    I completely agree with your take on the majority of westerners in Southeast Asia. They aren’t doing much, but they are firm believers in the sanctity and importance of their great and noble chosen profession as TRAVELERS.

    I also think that anyone who spends a year getting wasted in Sihanoukville, Vang Vieng and Ko Phan Ngan, and expects to come home more enlightened/focused/wise than they left is in for a surprise.

    But I think I’ve been making much better use of my time than that group. There’s been plenty of debauchery, but also hundreds of hours of martial arts training, meditation and yoga, the beginnings of a real, classical ‘great books’ education, a book written, and in the future, a 1000km walk across Spain, a month building stronger relationships with my brother and sister in France, two languages learned…

    And even in the event that I wind up living a relatively quiet life as an overpaid public servant with a leisurely life and a happy family (the horror!), the Canadian PS is not exactly the and of wine and roses now, with a Conservative majority insisting on 20% cuts across the board. Ducking out for a year may actually have been a net positive career move… especially if I get ‘laid off’ and so receive a year OR MORE of severance… ah public sector employment. Perhaps one day we’ll have a pint and trade some stories.

    Anyways! Thanks again for taking a look at the book and sharing with your readers. It’s a shame I couldn’t tie it off with a happy ending, but it’s eluded me so far. I’m heading off to the Siege Of Rome pub crawl with a bunch of 19 year olds though, if I find the meaning of life at the bottom of the complimentary shot glass we’re getting at bar #3, I’ll report back at once.

    Cheers,

    Frost

    • Simon says:

      Frost, will you please just fucking read Pascal. If you wrestle with him, and come out on top, I’d love to see how.

      If that book doesn’t change your life there really is no hope for the West.

    • Foseti says:

      “But I think I’ve been making much better use of my time than that group. ”

      Apparently it didn’t necessarily come across in my review, but I think (and hope) that this is the case. Frankly, if I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t have read and reviewed it.

      I’m up for a pint any time. Good luck

  7. […] since the 20th century. The bafflement over the biological diversity, disparity of civilizations, the hollowness of modern lifestyle, serves as a major hit that struck modern leftism to forcibly (and painfully) evolve but have not […]

  8. Matt says:

    Well, if you’re looking for meaning, why not try Christianity? It’s so crazy it might just work.

  9. samsonsjawbone says:

    Small scale farming is quite accessible to the average person. Again, the point is not to get rich-it is to be in a creative relationship with your environment.

    Yes, you’re offering good advice. Man was made to till the garden, asdf, and that’s what makes us happy (even if there was no literal Garden, the ancients sure were full of wisdom). Family; friends – real ones, I mean; a decent job that pays the bills but also allows time for meaningful work-hobbies like farming, woodworking, etc; doing good towards humanity; and remembering God – these are the things that joy is made of. There’s no secret, no gnosis – it’s right there for you.

    Well, if you’re looking for meaning, why not try Christianity? It’s so crazy it might just work.

    For some reason a lot of smart people in our culture, even ones who read this blog, have this idea that true enlightened joy must be difficult to find.

  10. […] Foseti thought it was aight: “The book is well-written and enjoyable. It’s thoughtful but ultimately a bit unsatisfying. If you’re expecting to read this book and think “Frost shouldn’t have quit his job” or “quitting your job and traveling the world is sure to be super deep and meaningful” you’ll be disappointed either way. The truth is that it’s not clear.” […]

  11. I enjoyed F25 emmencly even though I’m 55 and have a 5 and 6 yearold. Enough said Connor I have paid for and shipped F25 to anyone who means anything to me or that I just fell sorry for in the hopes of them getting it.

    I’m looking forward to enjoying a second Frosty the first one went down so terribly cold and thirstquenchingly good.

    Cheers John LeBlanc

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