Why is it that we value travel in our society as a way to Gain Experience and Learn About Life and the World?
Is someone smarter for having traveled the world than someone who has never left their home town?
And what about someone who hasn’t left the country but spends their days reading?
- Elif Alp
Director of These Adventure Years
Whoa dude, you’re blowing my mind!
This is a bit of the street smarts/book smarts distinction, and a question which really got the ball rolling for Meredith and I thought-wise.
It led me to start wondering about the very idea of travel, specifically the way travel has been marketed and packaged and cruise-shipped to the majority of Americans who do end up going abroad. Of course the biggest and most immediate difference between the experiences of Rich and Bekha as compared to the average American vacationer in Paris is that Rich and Bekha aren’t vacationing: they’re working. Being abroad for them is not a relieving ten days in Hawaii but an intense six weeks on 145th St and Broadway selling Christmas trees. This isn’t to say that they never wish to “get away from it all” and relax by a palm tree on the beach – because honestly, who doesn’t? But in most of their time abroad this hasn’t been the case.
The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton
A beautiful little book that poses poignant questions and quiet observations about the very notion of travel, ensconced between anecdotes of his own experiences abroad as well as those of literary characters, and real life explorers and writers. In brief this book is a small gem for anyone who has ever found it frustrating to actually follow a guidebook or prescribed walking tour, or wondered what it might be like to travel without.
Here’s an example of something he mentions about Flaubert which has manifested itself in our interview list for Rich:
To understand why Flaubert found Egypt exotic, it may hence be useful first to examine his feelings towards France. What would strike him as exotic – that is, both new and valuable - about Egypt was in many ways the obverse of what drove him to rage at home (p77).
What are Rich’s feelings toward England? He’s mentioned in passing to people at the tree stand that he dislikes England and has no intention of ever living there, but why? What is it about England that repels him so much? Unfortunately during the interview with him in New York last winter I didn’t think to ask, and so this has become a bit part of what we plan to ask him next month in Greece.
Have any thoughts / comments / artwork related to these questions?
Responses to Kelly’s questions?
Your own experiences that speak to these points?
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