What's The Story?
Despite ongoing civil conflicts Myanmar has recently opened its doors to foreign visitors, promising reform and a transition to democracy, and Ash Hoden is inexplicably compelled to explore the nation’s jungles. Through a back alley winkie-wink handshake he acquires a mechanically prone Chinese motorbike, which it is illegal for him to rent or drive, and takes to the road. Evolving from a blind stumble to a wide-eyed limp, the voyage reveals a stark, behind the scenes glimpse of the social and environmental conditions found in this oppressed and unsettled nation. Assuming economic isolation equated to an abundance of raw wilderness, he finds desolation instead; frontier zones where resources were plundered and shipped to international production zones, further impoverishing tribes who depended on them. Rather than isolating Myanmar’s natural resources from market forces, international sanctions exposed them to lawless pilfering by its military regime. Aimlessly driving from sucky here to sucky there, struggling to find cause for continuing such a seemingly pointless endeavor, he slowly comprehends the nation’s distinct cultural conditions — preserved by force in a vague midpoint between tradition and modernity.
Myanmar is a fledgeling, incoherent conglomerate of ethnicities and folk tribes, all struggling to survive under an oppressive regime. It is a window through which the preliminary stages of constructing a nation-state are on display, complete with the need to establish a national identity as a means for homogenizing disparate people into a uniform, contemporary notion of The People — much the way it happened in the United States.
Layered into the adventure itself, elucidated piece by piece with each twist and turn, is the birth of a philosophical framework for living an exquisitely less obedient life. The meaning and excitement of Deviation as an ethical pursuit blossoms in tandem with the meaning and excitement of the author’s own deviation. Involving crossings through war terrain, detainment in a remote military outpost, frequent mechanical breakdowns, and lots of pondering about the nature of it all, this is Deviation’s origin story.