THE ART OF TRAVEL – ALAIN DE BOTTON (incomplete)

1. Artistic accounts involve severe abbreviations of what reality will force upon us. (p.14)

2. At home, as my eyes had panned over photographs of Barbados, there were no reminders that those eyes were intimately tied to a body and mind which would travel with me wherever I went and that might, over time, assert their presence in ways that would threaten or even negate the purpose of what the eyes had come there to see. (p.20)

3. It is unfortunately hard to recall our quasi-permanent concern with the future, for on our return from a place, perhaps the first thing to disappear from memory is just how much of the past we spent dwelling on what was to come; how much of it, that is, we spent somewhere other than where we were. (p.23)

4. We will not enjoy – we are not able to enjoy – sumptuous tropical gardens and attractive wooden beach huts when a relationship to which we are committed abruptly reveals itself to be suffused with incomprehension and resentment. (p.26)

5. How quickly the advantages of civilization are wiped out by a tantrum. (p.26)

6. He remained in his villa and surrounded himself with a series of objects which facilitated the finest aspect of travel, its anticipation. (p.26)

7. I travelled in spite of Des Esseintes. (p.27)

8. The building was architecturally miserable, it smelt of frying oil and lemon-scented floor polish, the food was glutinous and the tables were dotted with islands of dried ketchup from the meals of long-departed travellers, and yet something about the scene moved me. (p.32)

9. I felt lonely but, for once, this was a gentle, even pleasant kind of loneliness because, rather than unfolding against a backdrop of laughter and fellowship, in which I would suffer from a contrast between my mood and the environment, it had its locus in a place where everyone was a stranger, where the difficulties of communication and the frustrated longing for love seemed to be acknowledged and brutally celebrated by the architecture and lighting. (p.49)

10. Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train. (p.57)

11. It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestic setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, but who may not be who we essentially are. (p.59)

12. From the late 18th century onwards, it is no longer from the practice of community but from being a wanderer that the instinct of fellow-feeling is derived. [The Country and the City – Raymond Williams] (p.60)

13. Why be seduced by something as small as a front door in another country? Why fall in love with a place because it has trams and its people seldom have curtains in their homes? (p.76)

14. (…) we may value foreign elements not only because they are new, but because they seem to accord more faithfully with our identity and commitments than anything our homeland could provide. (p.78)

15. What we find exotic abroad may be what we hunger for in vain at home. (p.78)

 

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