The epiphanies of travel + Writing a travel book is an absurd undertaking

The epiphanies of alternative travel

EXCERPT: . . . Europeans tend to imagine themselves as standing in the present and peering forwards into a murky future, with the past behind them. But Maoris adopted the opposite mental posture.[...] As one anthropologist has put it, the Maoris were ‘walking backwards into the future’. Their gaze was firmly fixed on the past. And the idea of progress was absent.”

Norman Davies came to this realisation during a six-month journey around the world, begun in the first half of 2012, which included a spell in New Zealand. During his stay he travelled from the southernmost tip of South Island to the northernmost tip of North Island. Using road, rail and ferry, it was a journey that took over a month and covered a thousand miles. The reward, he writes, was “enchantment”. It was not only the beauty of the country that Davies appreciated. One of the benefits associated with travel has been that the mind is opened to other ways of thinking, and there can be few more striking illustrations of this than the discovery that a forward-looking sense of time is not universal.

By itself, travel cannot produce such epiphanies. “In a world where travel has lost many of its mental and physical exertions,” Davies writes, “one meets people who fly thousands of miles to do a bit of shopping in Dubai, to lie on a beach in Bali, or to watch a cricket match in Adelaide… Some travellers travel enormous distances and keep all their preconceptions intact.” Having spent much of his career reassessing received narratives of the events that formed the world we live in, Davies wanted to do something quite different. He aimed to circumnavigate the world with a view to seeing its countries and cultures in new ways – an exercise that required close and deep knowledge of their histories.

Another motive for Davies’s journey may have been late-life wanderlust....


Writing a travel book is an absurd undertaking

EXCERPT: . . . The antithesis of a swashbuckling hero, Leiris is assailed by doubts—and by insects: “All these days remain hollow. My motions are purely mechanical. Again, I am being driven to hate my companions.” And: “I am being devoured by fleas.” Pages are devoted to the mundane logistics and challenges of the expedition: trucks stuck on bad roads, protracted negotiations with donkey and mule owners, the car sickness of an expedition dog, Potamo. Exasperated, Leiris reflects, “Writing a travel book is an absurd undertaking.” The absurdity takes the form of a ubiquitous, swirling undercurrent, rather than the sudden flashes of defamiliarization you might expect from a writer who made his reputation as a surrealist and was chosen by Griaule for the expedition, though he had no ethnographic experience, because of a mutual affiliation with Georges Bataille’s journal Documents....


Possibly Related Threads…
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  NASA Travel Posters Yazata 0 126 Feb 27, 2019 06:48 PM
Last Post: Yazata
  Could a space helicopter find life on Saturn's moon Titan? (travel, vehicles) C C 0 144 Feb 24, 2019 08:16 AM
Last Post: C C
  (travel) VG launches 1st space passenger + SpaceX Crew Dragon test flight gets go C C 0 103 Feb 23, 2019 02:01 AM
Last Post: C C
  Nasa CubeSats disappear after flying past Mars (travel, vehicles) C C 0 164 Feb 6, 2019 07:19 PM
Last Post: C C
  One-third of Americans consider living abroad (travel) C C 0 152 Dec 17, 2018 06:44 PM
Last Post: C C
  Experts explain near-death experiences (otherworldly travel) C C 3 287 Dec 9, 2018 10:31 PM
Last Post: C C
  Seagulls travel 20,000 miles & complete 2,300 trips in 100 days C C 2 259 Nov 11, 2018 09:55 PM
Last Post: C C
  British-built rocket blasts off on Mercury mission (travel, vehicles) C C 0 193 Oct 20, 2018 07:08 PM
Last Post: C C
  Spreading life through the galaxy (travel) + Returning to starting point in space C C 1 229 Oct 16, 2018 04:21 PM
Last Post: Zinjanthropos
  Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail (travel) C C 0 155 Oct 7, 2018 07:27 PM
Last Post: C C

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)