This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
, and Sean O’Reilly, eds. Travelers’ Tales: Palo Alto, CA, 2010.
Introduction: William Dalrymple
• Goes to Mani in the Peloponnese, where Chatwin had asked for his ashes to be scattered • Travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor goes with him (famous British travel writer known for bridging the gap between the UK and the Hellenic world) • Both Dalrymple and Fermor have written books about the traveler-wanderer
• Fermor: A Time of Gifts and A Time to Keep Silence: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube (1977) • Dalrymple: Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India (1999)
travelers are often misfits who set out alone .• Travel writing enjoys a bonanza in the 70s and 80s • 20 years later. since travel writing is one of the oldest forms of literature • Instead of being cultural imperialists. academics were accusing all the writers of orientalism and cultural imperialism • This seems wrong.
” (xxi) • Do we need travel writing when we can easily turn to Google Earth and “travel” ourselves? • Rory Stewart (travel writer of the Middle East): travel books allow us to explore in an importantly unhurried way .• Their vulnerability is often “an expression of rejection of home and embrace of the other: the history of travel is full of individuals who have fallen in love with other cultures and other parts of the world in this way.
March 1.• Colin Thubron. we need to keep reading • Dalrymple: “It’s no accident that the mess inflicted on the world by the last US administration was done by a group of men who had hardly traveled…” (xxvi) . 2011) notes that many world places are terribly misunderstood. another current travel writer (To a Mountain in Tibet.
and the man immediately says he’ll come for her .Laura Lee Huttenbach: “Stuck in Bulawayo” • She’s told not to trust anyway in Zimbabwe. stuck because the train to Victoria Falls has been cancelled • She doesn’t know anyone there. but winds up in Bulawayo. but has a contact from someone who hosted her in another village • She’s a tall blond woman—hardly inconspicuous • She calls and says Rafuro gave her the number in case she needed help.
• “I entered Zimbabwe without one contact. I would leave with a notebook full of Zimbabwean friends and family. with the best people in the world. “Now I wished for more time in this beautiful country.• Mark escorts her all around—all on the word of a friend– he didn’t even know whom he was supposed to be helping out! It was enough that she was a friend of a friend.” (24) • Her intention had been to speed through a country noted for danger and corruption.” .
Peter Wortsman: “Epiphany of a Middle-Aged Pilgrim in Tea-Stained Pajamas” • He’s almost falling asleep reading the news when an article catches his eye: a stolen Caravaggio has just been found • He remembers back to 1969. • His parents are ecstatic he’s interested in culture. But it’s mostly the virgins he likes-and Caravaggio’s blend of grace and violence . when he was in Europe and on a quest to track down every Caravaggio he could find..
” (48) . I’ve traveled the length of Italy’s boot to see a painting that isn’t there. he’s devastated to learn that the painting has been stolen • “It’s a bad joke. I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Unable to believe my eyes.• In Palermo he’d been searching for a certain Caravaggio titled “Nativity with Saints Francesco and Lorenzo” • When he finally finds the church. a phantom masterpiece.
• What does this suggest about our expectations for travel? • What are we looking for when we travel? Is it really Caravaggio? • When do we have the right to be disappointed? .
Nigeria. a seething mob of several hundred women takes over the Chevron Texaco Escravos refinery.David Torrey Peters: “Takumbeng. • Are they the stuff of legends? • But they appear in Cameroon as well . C’est Quoi?” • In Ugborodo. the largest oil processing facility in Africa • How do they accomplish this? • They’re all naked.
• Peters gets a grant to study the ties between witchcraft and politics • Keeps hearing tales about the naked women • Peters even goes to lunch with Fru Ndi. Cameroon’s president.” (138) . Nwga Mary-Anne Ngengang • She defines the Takumbeng as “a secret society of women that can only appear when the deities themselves have called the women together. but the man doesn’t want to talk about this group • Peters turns to the work of a doctoral student.
• It’s not a club. It’s a “physical manifestation of a higher power. Men who accidentally gaze at them run the risk of death.” (139) • The members are older women who preserve moral order. (Usually they appear to avenge wives who have been beaten or mistreated. everyone clears out of the way. or at least impotence.) • When they pass through the neighborhoods. .
. they famous ask. reality has to be rational. the natural and supernatural merge. • Novelist Francis Nyamjoh: In the Western world. In Cameroon. “Takumbeng? C’est quoi?” It becomes a joke indicating someone doesn’t know what he or she is getting into.• When French soldiers go to the area. as do the real and unreal. however.
Richard Goodman: “L’Inondation” • He and his girlfriend have been living near Nimes when a terrible flood hits. • He eagerly accepts their help. Houses are destroyed. • They are so moved that they go to help out. nine have died. • The next man they find is streaked in mud. and they spend the whole day helping him and his wife cart mud out of their basement. (cf “angeli del fango” in Florence) • The first people they ask turn down the offer of help. cars are overturned. .
• Neighbors had brought over food—which the couple shared with Goodman and girlfriend • When they leave. so he’d been eager to accept help. • At lunchtime they manage some conversation using rudimentary French. rugs. photos. they shake hands and say goodbye. . The man had been a policeman. That’s it.• Everything in the house had been ruined— furniture. at 5pm. exhausted. but he had a bad back.
They still had much to do— weeks of work at least.• “They thanked us. but it wasn’t effusive or melodramatic.” (182) • Goodman and girlfriend come back twice more and help strangers all day. I’m sure they were still stunned. They don’t mention what they did in the village (they assume their neighbors will think they’re crazy) • Goodman’s recent book: French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France (2002) . That’s what they were thinking about.
then Japan. had the best mind I’d encountered in a lifetime of traveling. startled me every day.. and still keep going.” (184) • “If the test of a first-rate mind.Pico Iyer: Living among Incompatibles • During the traditional Gion Matsuri festival in Kyoto.” . these contradictions. small boys with cell phones. is the ability to hold two opposed ideas at the same time. I thought. as F. he notices gangster symbols. • “When I first came to Japan. women with artificial tans. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote.
” .” • “This allows them to collect an almost indefinite number of selves and surfaces without remaining any less themselves within.• Perhaps part of the beauty of Japan is that “it invites.” (184) • We may assume a culture is modern or traditional. and sometimes forces the foreigner to leave his assumptions at home.. • “The Japanese are happy to see both things simultaneously. But it’s not usually so simple. They adhere to a belief in both/and and more than in either/or. refined or coarse.
belonging to different worlds.” • After playing your role. is the opposite of the way it might be for us.” • “It’s not uncommon. • Everything is reversed in Japan. to see a Zen abbot stepping out of a late-model Mercedes on his way to his favorite bar in the red-light district. and what is normal. so “what is exotic for them.” (186) .• He postulates that this might be partially due to the fact that the Japanese think in images—which can “sit side by side. you’re allowed to slip out of your robe. near where I live. like parallel lines in haiku.
” . • McDonald’s offers “Moon-Viewing Burgers”.• How can they manage this? By drawing strict lines between their worlds. • One result: appearances in Japan are more deceiving than anywhere else. Japanese baseball players smile when they strike out • “The newcomer arriving in Japan will probably find more that she didn’t expect than in any other country in the world.
less like a monument than a river.” • Near still Kyoto temples lie pachinko parlors • “The self.• “He will find. for example.” (189) . whether it belongs to Mrs. and everything slips through your hands. Suzuku or Japan. is a pliable. mutable thing in Japan. fluid. Try to put a Western frame on it. a quiet people who (maybe for that reason) love nothing more than noise.
and the gods possess both with divine madness. • Dionysus intoxicated his worshippers and possessed them.Tim Ward: Frenzy and Ecstasy • Goes to Skyros for the festival of Dionysus. . The women would abandon their husbands and turn violent as they were filled with ecstasy. in which the men become man-beasts. the women become wild maenads.
drinking. he can only be reached through extreme acts: dancing. • Web writer: “Many people might cringe at these accounts.” (315) • Divine madness can bring great results. or great ruin .• But this exists in modern Greece as well. Since Dionysus is a god of extremes. tearing apart live animals. there is no way to tiptoe up to Dionysus and tap him on the shoulder. but there is no middle road for the wary. A Dionysus website writer explains to Ward about this strange religious ecstasy.
crushing everything in its path. which is an incredibly dangerous but exhilarating path.• “For those who wish to go Beyond. to see the outer realms. there is no choice but to surrender part of oneself…” • Ward has felt Dionysus too. He recognizes in all this “the force that tore through my life ten years ago like a whirlwind.” (316) . to touch the gods.
” • “I began to lead a double life. a werewolf in my clothing. a Hyde to my Jekyll. in a brief moment of passion.” .• “For me there was the sexual barrenness of my married life. but just as my wife and I were talking of divorce.” • “It was as if a split personality emerged. It shocked me that this ferocious thing in me proved so adept at seducing women. we conceived a child. so desolate. I have never felt so twisted and confused in all my life: so happy over the child soon to be born. bound by that child to a woman who recoiled at my touch.
• Dionysus reigns in him… but eventually he gets caught. they drink ouzo! . These shaggy man-beasts. so see them dance round and around the streets. it was if someone had taken a picture of my insides and thrown it out in front of me. I felt such strong kinship. To keep going.” (318) • The men who perform the rite today wear very heavy costumes and have to run up and down the streets for hours. and his wife takes off with the child. • “In my first glance at the “geroi” (old men). such recognition. Now he has to live in the States to be near the child… but his ex won’t let him back into her life.
• Ward attempts to use the festival to understand relationships between men and women. • Books: Savage Breast: One Man’s Search for the Goddess (2006) and Arousing the Goddess: Sex and Love in the Buddhist Ruins of India (1996) . but the results are confusing.