The Mind Wanders: Stray Thoughts on Travel and Writing
No one can save the traveler from himself. That is, from the impulse to travel.
Greg Deninig's Islands and Beaches is an extraordinary work about Natives and Strangers, illuminating how "one knows oneself in caricature because of the differences, but others hardly at all."
Italo Calvino's miraculous Invisible Cities presents variations on the theme of travel and story. As Calvino's Marco Polo explains to Kublai Khan, the more he traveled, the more he understood the places he'd left behind; " the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, un-possessed places."
Susan Stewart, in On Longing, writes, "the souvenir must be removed from its context in order to serve as a trace of it, but...must also be restored through narrative and/or reverie. What it is restored to is not an 'authentic', that is, a native context or origin but an imaginary context...whose chief subject is a projection of the possessor's childhood."
My guess is that, though the world is smaller and technology more abundant and pervasive, there's quite a difference between traveling and staying home. Though how to choose, I'd have no way of knowing.
My mother, the late Norma Farber, wrote, "Why should I travel, where else would I be? / Dream is my distance and it comes to me."
I remember, I remember a Beatles' line from the Sixties: And have you traveled very far?
--From MANOA Journal, "LAND BENEATH THE WIND" issue,