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An Existential Guide to Travel

An Existential Guide to Travel

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Published by Ash Hibbert

Through a study of Western authors and their representations of themselves and their Japanese experiences, I argue for a mutually complementary relationship between the philosophies Existentialism and Phenomenology, and travel, and attempt to codify features of a hypothetical ‘Existential traveler-hero’. I will study a collection of Western writers who have travelled to and written about Japan, and try to analyse how their ‘travel strategies’ resemble an arguably Existential and/or Phenomenological paradigm. I do this through looking at philosophical and technical strategies within travel writing, as demonstrated by the lives and writings of authors such as Donald Richie – whose approach to cultural understanding clearly privileges engagement with the locals over construction of theoretical models – and French existentialist philosopher and pioneer Jean-Paul Sartre. It is specifically through Richie’s writings that I attempt to illustrate the qualities of an ‘Existential traveller-hero’, as well as the ‘perfect soul’ described by the mystic philosopher-monk from Saxony, Hugh of St Victor. How other writers have expressed and facilitated their engagement with Japan through their writing has been a key interest, because, while the research component of this dissertation has adopted the form of an academic paper, my motives have been more in line with the writerly. Consequently, the critical component sits alongside a novella manuscript that depicts one day in the wanderings of a Melbournian journalist based in Tokyo. His experiences and relationships in Tokyo relate to his life upon his return to Australia. Principally I have hoped to address the tension generated from creative writing’s presence in academia and proposing a ‘marriage’, by demonstrating that both critical and creative writings are two legitimate media for the exploration of different philosophical modes of travel. Such an exercise is chance for a fruitful negotiation within English and Cultural Studies, and Literature and Creative writing.

Through a study of Western authors and their representations of themselves and their Japanese experiences, I argue for a mutually complementary relationship between the philosophies Existentialism and Phenomenology, and travel, and attempt to codify features of a hypothetical ‘Existential traveler-hero’. I will study a collection of Western writers who have travelled to and written about Japan, and try to analyse how their ‘travel strategies’ resemble an arguably Existential and/or Phenomenological paradigm. I do this through looking at philosophical and technical strategies within travel writing, as demonstrated by the lives and writings of authors such as Donald Richie – whose approach to cultural understanding clearly privileges engagement with the locals over construction of theoretical models – and French existentialist philosopher and pioneer Jean-Paul Sartre. It is specifically through Richie’s writings that I attempt to illustrate the qualities of an ‘Existential traveller-hero’, as well as the ‘perfect soul’ described by the mystic philosopher-monk from Saxony, Hugh of St Victor. How other writers have expressed and facilitated their engagement with Japan through their writing has been a key interest, because, while the research component of this dissertation has adopted the form of an academic paper, my motives have been more in line with the writerly. Consequently, the critical component sits alongside a novella manuscript that depicts one day in the wanderings of a Melbournian journalist based in Tokyo. His experiences and relationships in Tokyo relate to his life upon his return to Australia. Principally I have hoped to address the tension generated from creative writing’s presence in academia and proposing a ‘marriage’, by demonstrating that both critical and creative writings are two legitimate media for the exploration of different philosophical modes of travel. Such an exercise is chance for a fruitful negotiation within English and Cultural Studies, and Literature and Creative writing.

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Published by: Ash Hibbert on Oct 05, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/17/2013

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