In lieu of a preface.
Why don't I take a ride from Paris to Tobolsk?
In June 2022, this phrase in my online post caused bewilderment among friends in Russia and European countries. And I partly understand their reaction.
The world has been changing for several years, erecting one ‘iron curtain’ after another.
COVID restrictions, sanctions are all that politicians can offer their subjects in an effort to resist socio-political challenges, but with an eye to stay in power at any cost.
The culture is rapidly being suppressed by propaganda, the international space of communication and friendly ties between people on opposite sides of the borders are shrinking to zero.
It already happened in the last century. To illustrate this, I will quote Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom by Thomas E. Ricks:
Orwell and Churchill realized that the key question of their century was not who controled the means of production, as Marx thought, or how the human psyche functioned, as Freud taught, but, rather, how to preserve the liberty of the individual during an age when the state was becoming powerfully intrusive into private life.
In 2022, at a new historical turn, the issues of the inadmissibility of wars and the killing of people are pushing the issue of individual liberty to the margins of the discourse.
Unfortunately, this happens again and again with the world society.
The history of the division of mankind goes around in circles, falling into the trap of myths and superstitions, under the onslaught of the propaganda rhetoric of the rulers just in different interpretations.
Under the pandemic, driven home with covid passports.
After the Ukrainian events since February 2022, deprived of the opportunity to cross the borders. However, when such an opportunity appears, the price of travel expenses and travel time become horrendous.
In the spring of 2022, the way, for example, to Baden-Baden took 18 hours with a transfer in Constantinople (the ancient name of Istanbul) instead of 3 hours in 2021 and the cost was 1500 euros instead of 150.
Political emigration and refugees from conflict zones are reminiscent of an exodus.
Now, not only the opportunity to leave their homeland has become the privilege of citizens, but also the opportunity to come back.
I cut through my personal window to Europe long ago, even before my trip around the world. I don't say I knew what was awaiting us, but I hung my blank ballot for the presidential election in March 2000 on the wall of a booze barn in Moscow's Trekhprudny Lane.
Historical patterns return again in 2022, making the lives of ordinary people dangerous. Indeed, how could such an extravagant desire be born: to ride a motorcycle from Paris to Tobolsk, taking into account the described circumstances?
The work on the book The Smoke Trader, in which I used the diary entries of Christopher Columbus, sparked my interest in the question of who was the author of the first travel notes in history.
It is important to note here that the question was about traveling by road, since there had been many ship logbooks before the advent of land ones, for example, those belonging to the mentioned Columbus, Marco Polo or Afanasy Nikitin.
My finding was the starting point for preparing a new project.
It turned out that the French astronomer Chappe d'Autroche was the pioneer of a new literary genre — travel notes, which will enjoy an incredible popularity in the 19th century.
His journey from Paris to Tobolsk in 1761 was crowned with the book A Journey Into Siberia, Made by Order of the King of France published in 1768.
You can read more about that at the link – Chappe, Jean d'Autroche — Wikipedia (wikipedia.org )
The context of the time when the astronomer's journey took place is as interesting as the book itself.
This is the time of the Seven Years' War in Europe. This interstate conflict disrupted the system of military-political alliances that had developed in Europe and caused a reorientation of the foreign policy of a number of European powers, known as the 'reversal of alliances'.
There was a year before the coup d'etat of 1762 in Russia, as a result of which Pyotr III Fyodorovich, who ruled after the death of Elizabeth Petrovna for only six months, was overthrown by his wife, born Frederika Augusta Sophia, Duchess of Anhalt-Zerbst, in Orthodoxy – Ekaterina Alekseevna, the future Catherine the Great, who had nothing to do with the Romanovs.
It is also interesting that Tobolsk was actually the eastern border of the Russian Empire at that time.
The travel notes of Chappe d'Autroche, the reaction to their publication by Russian elitists in 1768, the political and social context of Europe and Russia at that time – all this is the immense material for study, which will be discussed in my future book and film
The Journey from Paris to Tobolsk. A Rally on a Motorcycle following the Route of the French Astronomer in 1761.
Before I tell you about the 2022 route, I would like to mention the motorcycle race Moscow-Paris-Moscow of 1927 https://www.zr.ru/content/articles/131343-pionery_mototurizma/
Although this route was completely different from the way of d'Autroche, it also took place at the time of a great turning point of interstate relations and it will also be discussed in my project.
I learned about this motorcycle race by studying the work of the artist Konstantin Aleksandrovich Vyalov (1900-1976), whose works I plan to use as illustrations in my book and, in particular, the history of the creation of my favorite painting Motorcycle Race (Moscow-London), 1923, exhibited at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
ARTIST KONSTANTIN ALEKSANDROVICH VYALOV (1900-1976). THE SECOND RUSSIAN AVANT-GARDE. PART I.
In conclusion, about the Paris – Tobolsk Rally 2022.
Anyone who is at least a little interested in motor racing knows the legendary Paris-Dakar Rally. If not, you can read about it at the link Dakar Rally — Wikipedia (wikipedia.org)
Let me remind you that after the scandal around the cancellation of Dakar-2008 due to the threat of terrorist attacks, by the decision of the rally organizers, the rallies from Dakar-2009 to Dakar-2019 were held on the territory of South American countries. Since 2020, the route of the rally has been running in Asia through the territory of Saudi Arabia.
This means that the rally has nothing to do with Paris or Dakar for 14 years. In fact, this is the same myth as political projects, but in the commercial aspect.
I thought that the Paris niche was free, so the idea to make a Paris – Tobolsk Rally was born.
‘An idiot with a bloated self-importance,’ most likely you thought, reading these lines, and you may be right in part if you have not heard about my projects before.
I heard such an assessment many times in my life when I started my projects – from traveling around the world on a Harley-Davidson Sportster 833, as it was believed to be a motorcycle not adapted for this, creating a Russia-based international cigar brand, the birth of the best blues festival in the post-Soviet space to making myself a writer.
‘The road begins with the first step, and visionaries change the world for the better’ – perhaps, it is a controversial thesis, but I believe in it. That is why the idea of a rally does not seem absurd to me.
This year, I will take the first step and, perhaps, this project will become a success in 5-10 years, or maybe it will remain on the pages of my book, in movie frames and posts on social networks.
The probability is 50% to 50%, either this or that. However, agree that the talon is not bad, taking into account what you have read in this text.
How do I see it for myself:
A multi-day journey of 9,000 kilometers from Paris to Tobolsk will be divided into stages.
Each stage will provide for special segments (extras), according to which the time will be measured. The beginning and the end of the time of each special segment will be the photofixation of receipts from gas stations.
You can pass special segments taking both the entire route of the Paris-Tobolsk Rally and any of segments available in your region at any time.
You can send the information about the passage of a special segment after it has been passed to the rally website by paying for registration. After verification of the information, the data will be posted on the rally website, and the participant will be sent a patch and sticker of the participant and a time verification certificate.
In addition, at each stage, the time and place of which will be announced, riders can ride together in the location of the stage and socialise at the liaison. Why not an opportunity for public diplomacy and communication between people?
(Liaison is a part of the distance at the beginning and end of the stage, which runs along public roads – from the bivouac to the beginning of the special segment and from the end of the special segment to the next bivouac. No time is recorded at this distance).
I will ride the entire route in the Paris – Tobolsk journey 2022, describe the special segments and form the first ranking, which will include one participant and, as you can guess, one winner.
Let's see next year whether I do everything right to bring this idea to life.
During the journey, I will keep diaries and shoot videos on my mobile phone. Quadrocopters and sophisticated equipment will no longer surprise anyone, I will try to make a film about the journey through the ‘eyes’ of a mobile phone.
This project will include many historical parallels and reflections on where we are now and why it happened.
I hope I managed to explain that my phrase 'Why don't I take a ride from Paris to Tobolsk?' has much more meanings than it might seem at first.
Start on August 10, 2022.
Subscribe to social networks of the travel if you are interested in it. I will post there all the information and lives during the route.
If you have the desire and opportunity to support the project – contact me. I am open to cooperation, except for any propaganda and political slogans.
All links – https://paristobol.taplink.ws