Albert Camus on how travel brings us back to ourselves

“What gives value to travel is fear. It is the fact that, at a certain moment, when we are so far from our own country…we are seized by a vague fear, and an instinctive desire to go back to the protection of old habits. This is the most obvious benefit of travel. At that moment we are feverish but also porous, so that the slightest touch makes us quiver to the depths of our being. We come across a cascade of light, and there is eternity. This is why we should not say that we travel for pleasure. There is no pleasure in traveling, and I look upon it more as an occasion for spiritual testing. If we understand by culture the exercise of our most intimate sense — that of eternity — then we travel for culture. Pleasure takes us away from ourselves in the same way as distraction, in Pascal’s use of the word, takes us away from God. Travel, which is like a greater and graver science, brings us back to ourselves.
–Albert Camus, Notebooks 1935-1942 (1991)

Posted by | Comments (4)  | December 8, 2011
Category: Travel Quote of the Day


4 Responses to “Albert Camus on how travel brings us back to ourselves”

  1. Davis Says:

    My, but don’t those French intellectuals carry on?

  2. Roger Says:

    So true, Davis. But I have to admit, the more I read this quote, the more I agree with it.

  3. Davis Says:

    Roger: Only in the final two sentences does Camus say things that strike me as true and insightful, though I do not see how these are in any way derived from what he says before.

    “Pleasure takes us away from ourselves in the same way as distraction, . . .. Travel, which is like a greater and graver science, brings us back to ourselves.” This is the truth at the heart of his saying and with this I heartily agree.

    I understand how you can, upon diligent re-reading, find things to agree with, as do I. I just object to having to work too hard and read too charitably to find them. Difficult thoughts may excuse difficult writing, but I do not think these are difficult thoughts.

    Camus had just finished his graduate studies in philosophy, which may in part explain his manner of expression.

  4. Roger Says:

    Ok, now you’re sounding like Camus :-)

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