The best writing occurs when a writer encounters the evidence firsthand

“Travel writing emphasizes solitariness. The best writing, literary or journalistic, occurs under the loneliest of circumstances, when a writer encounters the evidence firsthand without anyone of his social, economic, or professional group nearby to help him filter it, or otherwise condition his opinions. William Faulkner’s works, according to Malcolm Cowley, “are the books of a man who broods about literature, but doesn’t often discuss it with his friends; there is no ease about them, no feeling that they come from a background of taste refined by argument and of opinions held in common.” Officially, journalism encourages such independence of thought and experience. But while travel writing demands both a horizontal journey to another geographical space and a vertical journey outside of one’s own subculture of some duration, working journalists — having evolved into a professional caste — are subtly expected to do the opposite. They move from one seminar and conference and dinner gathering to the next, a pattern that promotes uniformity rather than diversity of outlook. Even when abroad, reporters are most comfortable hanging out together. They go to the same hotel bars and restaurants to such a degree that these places become emblematic of a particular era in reporting: famously the Commodore Hotel bar in Beirut in the 1980s. This engenders fond reminiscences, but not a variety of experience.”
–Robert D. Kaplan, “Cultivating Loneliness”, Columbia Journalism Review, Jan-Feb 2006

Posted by | Comments Off on The best writing occurs when a writer encounters the evidence firsthand  | February 9, 2006
Category: Travel Quote of the Day

Comments are closed.