Monday, June 23, 2008

On travelling (3)

Actually, the way I described travelling in my blog of May 26 (2008) gives a very narrow view of it. It is travelling as tourists do. I knew that, of course, but I realized it fully when I read Peter Sloterdijk’s passage about it in his Im Weltinnenraum des Kapitals, last week. Travelling as I defined it is a rather new phenomenon. Before the Renaissance, usually it was so that people went on a trip because they had a purpose: they wanted to visit someone, they were moving around because they were trading, they needed goods, they had to go somewhere, they were soldiers, or who knows for what reasons they travelled. There was what we could call an external reason for it. Since then a new kind of travelling has come into being: travelling without an external reason, but for the sake of travelling as such. We can call this travelling for an internal reason. This kind of travelling is done only in order to be able to see unusual or new things and maybe later be able to tell about it (cf Sloterdijk p. 65) or, in the modern way, to show one’s photos or video of the trip to family and friends. Essentially, it is done for the experience of travelling. Even simple relaxing cannot be called an aim of tourism, for the moving around that is called travelling is often quite tiring if not exhausting. Maybe, during the trip one feels relaxed, far away from the daily activities, but once back home often one feels tired for the first couple of days, or how long that may be, and one feels sometimes even the need to take a holiday, by way of speaking. Tourism is hard labour in a certain sense.The famous journey made by Montaigne was a kind of tourism in the modern sense. Montaigne enjoyed it for its own sake, it seems, and he was open to many new experiences, as we notice, when we read his travel diary. But in some respects it wasn’t tourism. Montaigne had a medical purpose for his journey: visiting medicinal springs, hoping that he would be cured of his problem of kidney stones. It is true, he wrote (or dictated) a diary of his trip, but he did not publish it, although he used experiences from his trip when writing his essays. But even if Montaigne’s journey can be called a kind of tourism, the modern mass tourism was yet far away.

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