That is part of a quote from one of my favourite books, Blue Sky Green Sea. The whole quote reads: "I know, it's the same old story, a gathering with his disciples in the wildest and most primitive region."
There are many "most primitive regions". In some of my favourite writings by language philosopher and psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva, she writes about the emotional, preverbal wilderness that exists within man. I often think that this is an attempt to describe that part of ourselves where we go to become open to inspiration. The point being that we go "in" ourselves to open ourselves to the larger sources of inspiration. But Kristeva writes a lot about drives, those overwhelming impulses that come from the emotions of being alive. There are different levels and qualities of inspiration.
Another wilderness is represented by literal wilderness. There are such places in the country where I live. In fact, the nature here is mostly untouched, so different from the orderly Europe, where the trees line up in a most civilized manner. Many Chinese calligraphic and watercolour prints depict this wilderness, to which intellectuals retreat, usually because of an unfavourable political climate (they would either be exiled, or retreat of their own volition). As one such print depicts, "the retreat becomes a reservoir of calm at the vortex of a world whose
dynamic configurations embody nature's creative potential but may also
suggest the ever-shifting terrain of political power."
One must go to wilderness to get the bigger picture. If the terrain is unsettled, it will reveal nature, as it is. I think that we very often forget nature in our "civilized" world, which is only terrifying because there are fewer and fewer corners on this earth where one can find retreat. Rather, the wildest and most primitive region is now one's own backyard - where many have started to raise chickens and brew their own beer within the context of the wilderness of new discoveries of self. One can hear people say things like, "I don't know where this will take me, but I want to give it a try." Just like back in the frontier days. People strike out to forge new paths, yet untravelled - the wilderness is now a substratum or sur-stratum cutting across ordered and over-cultivated regions. People want to step outside of the ways that have been or are taken for granted and find a more intuitive way of doing things.
Why is the intuitive, emotional joined to the wilderness? Why is it "the same old story"? I won't answer the questions you are sure to have answers to yourselves. Rather, I wish to point to the wilderness in this post, to love the wilderness, to love that which is most primitive. After all, primus is first: "of a thing from which something is derived, not secondary." And yet we were taught so thoroughly in school to disdain the primitive, especially the native. Remember the phrase, "to go native"? It was said with such judgement, but that doesn't mean such judgement was right.
"I know, it's the same old story, a gathering with his disciples in the wildest and most primitive region. Sing and dance, sing and dance. Like a landslide and a tidal wave. I know there were people who had set off on this journey from time immemorial. Yes. Yes. Yes."