“Authenticity” is often a pointless fetish for travelers

“Talking about the authentic is often what we do when we the overfed and privileged are discussing the fetish we cultivate for lives that look unchosen, for lives that are inherited, and thus seem to us unbeset by the anxiety of choosing one thing over something else. We juxtapose the inheritances that structure a traditional society with the sense of total arbitrariness we feel about our own lives, and we long to be relieved of the burden of choice by just being told what to do. As I say in [my] book, I think this kind of dynamic is what drives the impulse to make a big deal out of, you know, eating where the locals eat. But that’s so problematic for so many obvious reasons. Like, a lot of people in little street stalls in Thailand love to eat their pad thai slathered in ketchup. Personally, I think it tastes gross. Maybe that’s a trivial example. But, to me, all of these examples are trivial in their own ways. My feeling about authenticity is that we’re all best off when we don’t worry about it too much and just get on with the business of trying to travel in ways that feel meaningful to us, for whatever reason.”
Interview with Gideon Lewis-Kraus, World Hum, April 25, 2012

Posted by | Comments (1)  | December 15, 2014
Category: Travel Quote of the Day

One Response to ““Authenticity” is often a pointless fetish for travelers”

  1. Roger Says:

    The more we want the world to be accessible by commercial airplanes, global corporate enterprise, mass media and internet connections, the less authentic it will be. The world was much larger and more mysterious when only the rich could afford to travel long distances, or those blessed with unusual circumstances, who got to see the outside world. The question is, in the future, will this trend continue to expand or contract? I predict some of it will and some won’t.