Return to Home Page

February 14, 2013

Travel with a THICK open mind

Thick as a Brick? - picture credits:Viqi French/Flickr

This is my gift to all the lovers – and all the others, too – on this Valentine’s Day:

“Culture is public because meaning is. You can’t wink (or burlesque one) without knowing what counts as winking or how, physically, to contract your eyelids, and you can’t conduct a sheep raid (or mimic one) without knowing what it is to steal a sheep and how practically to go about it. But to draw from such truths the conclusion that knowing how to wink is winking and knowing how to steal a sheep is sheep raiding is to betray as deep a confusion as, taking thin descriptions for thick, to identify winking with eyelid contractions or sheep raiding with chasing woolly animals out of pastures. “ Geertz, C., “The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays”, p. 14

We do not have to be anthropologists when we travel, but what Clifford Geertz said in 1973 is pretty damn actual even today. By crossing this world with a preconceived idea of our culture as the lens through which EVERY other culture should adapt to our own travelling experience, we incur in the gross mistake of observing reality in what Geertz considered the “thin” aspect. Thus, thin becomes our perception of the world: “thin” is the travel experience we get if we gallivate around the globe by sticking with our own group, by enlarging the safety net of our experience to the thinness of a hostel and its dwellers. Too easy to try to understand the world through the demystifying lens of the English language, the Anglo-American perception, the thinking that by being there, in that remote locale, we have already established deep contact. Unfortunately, it is not like that. And things seem not to have changed in the past 40 years, and well, they have become increasingly more complex, as more complex is the fabric of the postmodern world. Next time, try to think if your effort is going towards the THICK, more than the thin.  We are humans and we have to make mistakes to improve ourselves; nevertheless, make sure you get mistaken along the right way. Make THICK mistakes. That way, you will feel fuller inside, and slowly you will prefer to stay rather than to go, because this is the real essence of cultural THICKNESS.  A whole different way to travel, looking inward, deeply, and all around you.

Posted by | Comments (1) 
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind, Travel Quote of the Day, Vagabonding Life


One Response to “Travel with a THICK open mind”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Damn Marco, that’s a profound reminder to anyone living in a foreign country thinking relocation and establishment automatically means they’re embedded in and therefore fully experiencing a culture. A post worthy of a bookmark – thanks!

Leave a Reply

Main

Bio

Books

Stories

Essays

Video

Interviews

Events

Writers

Marco

Paris

Vagabonding.net

Contact


Vagabonding Audio Book at Audible.com

Marco Polo Didnt Go There
Rolf's new book!


Vagabonding
   Vagabonding

RECENT COMMENTS

Raymond: Thanks Jess! :)

Best cheap protein powder: If you desire to increase your know-how just keep visiting...

jcp thousand oaks hair salon: At Supercuts, our designers are a few of the finest been...

Selma: Good information. Lucky me I ran across your blog by accident (stumbleupon)....

Gerald: If such is your thought, then the latest news of the US ending the 50 year...

Andrea Kirkby: Agreed that the fogginess can make winter Europe tricky to visit. I find...

Roger: I spent six winters in London in the 1980s and early 90s, and I know what you...

Roger: The more we want the world to be accessible by commercial airplanes, global...

Jess Canadian: Great interview, Raymond! You are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing...

Penny: Hey fools and Ralph, Ron Wood & M. Jagger, Bono & Ron Wood – AKA...

SPONSORED BY :



CATEGORIES

TRAVEL LINKS

ARCHIVES

RECENT ENTRIES

What adults can learn when traveling with their parents
Vagabonding Case Study: Kristin Addis
Korea’s no-man’s land
Pros and Cons of Off-Peak Europe Travel
Vagabonding Case Study: Jennifer Doré Dallas
“Authenticity” is often a pointless fetish for travelers
Traditional Christmas in Europe
Being vegetarian on the road
Teen travel- more than being “thankful for what you have”
Vagabonding Field Report: Sharing a Simple Meal with a Humble Family


Subscribe to this blog's feed
Follow @rolfpotts