Susan Sontag on how paradise is always being lost

“Travelers continue, in ever larger numbers, to make trips to exotic, non-Western lands, which seem to answer to some of the old stereotypes: that simpler society, where faith is pure, nature pristine, discontent (and its civilization) unknown. But paradise is always being lost. One of the recurrent themes of modern travel narratives is the depredations of the modern, the loss of the past — the report on a society’s decline. The nineteenth-century travelers are noting the inroads in the idyllic life in, say, the South Sea made by the modern money-economy, for travelers who would never dream of living like the natives generally still want the natives to stay wholesome, rustic, sexy, and uncomfortable.”
–Susan Sontag, Where the Stress Falls: Essays (2002)

Posted by | Comments (3)  | October 13, 2011
Category: Travel Quote of the Day

3 Responses to “Susan Sontag on how paradise is always being lost”

  1. Davis Says:

    Paradise is always a wasting asset. Like the Eden of our childhood, it is the coming together of a particular time in the history of a place and of a particular time in our life, and cannot be expected to last. Fortunately, others can come along at the right time in their life and it can be a paradise for them.

  2. Arundhati Says:

    People would like to lead comfortable lives with all the benefits of a money economy and amenities, but like others to lead more pristine lifestyles……I have to say I’m one of those people!

  3. Austin Beeman Says:

    The ‘paradise lost’ traveler is perhaps the worst kind of all. For him, the quaint poverty of the locals is just another site to see along the way. She pretends to care about the locals as long as they don’t actually improve their status. It is “Traveler’s Colonialism” and perhaps even more pernicious than the colonialism of years past.

    If one really wishes to preserve traditional cultures – stay home. If one will not stay home – stop complaining.