The Town Where Life Stands Still

The Town Where Time Stands Still #

Background and Context:

An excerpt from an autobiographical novel The Pillowbook of Doctor Jazz is autobiographical fiction in the tradition of Jack Kerouac: on the road in the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia. Recalling the Japanese Pillowbook of Sei Shonogan, Dr. Jazz records the sights and sounds of his journeys, in the ironic voice of a traveller at end of day.

The quote is from Geok-lin Lim, Shirley, ‘The Town Where Time Stands Still’. Lim considers the motivations and the after effects of physical travel. Motivations are varied, for profit, pleasure and instinctive need to find the centre of things (genii loci).

The composer distinguishes between pedestrian or prosaic to more transcendental or spiritual aspirations where we move (travel) to “be moved, blessed and altered”.  *  *

Physical external geography is also contrasted to “irresistible  force” of metaphysical internal psychology.  The need to return to our origin is also significant.


As in Journeys over Land and Sea, this passage sees an instinctive need to travel:  *“compulsion” *  Compelled – people are driven by intrinsic needs to discover new areas.


People who use language to express feelings, and evoke emotions will use a subjective approach.

Writers who feel the need to air and express their emotions and opinions will attempt to engage their audiences to share their experiences. They either write novels, plays or poems.

Characteristics of Imaginative language:

 Emotive words: charged with associations, colouring, evaluation, bias;  “*baser”,  “compulsion”  “purer”…. *

Figurative language: language which is not literal rather full of comparisons or contrast. ie.; “Travellers have threaded”, is figurative suggested that motivations are mixed, complex and ambiguous.

**Personal Subjectivity: **The writing is permeated with the personality of the author. The writing is reflective, philosophical and ruminative with the reader invited to identify and relate to universal aspirations feeling empathy and acceptance.

Action verbs. Participants revealed by thoughts, actions, interactions and description.

Emphasis on subtlety (implicit) of expression rather than explicitness. “**Blessed (Spiritual overtones) and altered (more than changed – irreversible.

 Varied sentences structures. Subject - verb - object, order of sentence construction can be inverted.

**Third Person;  ***“they, and humans”  *non-gender specific

Relevant to all three, forms of journeys  but more germane to inner and imaginative journeys. 


Genii loci:   Latin term suggesting centre of the world, adding gravitas or weight to the passage. People do like to visit places of historical significance (what the aboriginals (Sally Morgan) call a sense of “My Place”;

      where the Garden of Eden existed,

where Christ was crucified,

Sacred Shrines such as Mecca, where Thomas A Beckett was killed,

where Abraham Lincoln was born,

where Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, or

where Aristotle taught.