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March 10, 2014

Gideon Lewis-Kraus on the idea of pilgrimage as pretext

“Part of what interested me so much about pilgrimage as a concept—what made me think it might work as a structure to hang a bunch of other stuff (questions of restlessness and purpose and forgiveness) on—was that, the more I read and talked and thought about it, the more capacious the idea seemed: Pretty much anything can be described as a pilgrimage. People talk about pilgrimages to Graceland or Cooperstown, or to see Saturn Devouring His Children at the Prado, or just to Flushing to get good soup dumplings, so one of the challenges I faced was how to limit the discussion. There’s a whole bit in the book where I talk about why, for example, I chose not to convert to Islam to go on the hajj. But what it ultimately came down to, for me, was the idea of pilgrimage as pretext: It’s an arduous (which, obviously, means very different things to different people, but the implication is at least some minimal experience of inconvenience or austerity) trip where the eventual arrival is generally besides the point, at least in retrospect.”
–Gideon Lewis-Kraus, interviewed in World Hum, April 25, 2012

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Category: Travel Quote of the Day


One Response to “Gideon Lewis-Kraus on the idea of pilgrimage as pretext”

  1. Jennifer Miller Says:

    I’m reading his book now… in preparation for my Camino walk this June. The whole concept of Pilgrimage intrigues me, from the historical, religious and biographical senses, of course, but also what it has come to mean, or is evolving towards in our post-modern world where religion is, for many, becoming less of a driving force in life. It is one of the things I hope to study and think about as I walk this summer. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for connecting me with Gideon, he’s already proved a valuable resource.

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