Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Vapidity of Uhmericans

Belloc has a comment about tourists in Path to Rome (in contrast to the pilgrim?) -- he is critical of them and their chosen pastime.

Browsing through profiles at dating sites one notices how many women mention that they like to travel. Many are explicitly looking for someone else who shares that interest. They imagine themselves to be cultured and stimulating based on this interest, but the reality is probably very much the opposite. I've looked at only a few profiles of men, but they do not seem to emphasize it as much.

Being "well-travelled" and exposed to different cultures somehow makes them more interesting. Never mind that they usually stay to the tourist areas and resorts, and have very little interaction with the natives except as customers. How many of them learn the language, customs, beliefs, religion, or history of the host people. And yet being a tourist is somehow a great accomplishment of character. It is in part because Uhmericans lack a culture of their own that they are readily impressed by the novel and that which is different to the senses.

People enjoy traveling because they can "relax" and have no responsibilities; nor do they have to worry about the cultivation of social relationships, because they won't be staying long. (Perhaps a few cultivate the awareness that they are guests of a foreign country and act accordingly.) Can one really experience a culture without knowing the people who embody it, and living with them? Otherwise, all that knowledge is just in the abstract. Tourism is just another opportunity to consume and to pursue pleasures of the body, albeit in a foreign environment.

Enjoying travel is no true indicator of whether a woman will be a good mother and wife. But it does make foreign tourist offices happy.

With people describing themselves primarily of their interests, it's no wonder if interest is mostly based on physical appearance and the photos that are available. There isn't much else.

*Setting aside travelling for the sake of true learning, some tourists seek to appreciate the beauty of nature in other lands. Wouldn't it be better to create some beauty at home. Wendell Berry has written on the separation of man from nature in the conservationist movement, and spending time and with nature (or adventuring in the wilderness) This American pastime is now enjoyed overseas as well, along with extreme sports and so on. "For the thrill of it."

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