Saturday, 24 January 2009

The Narrative: Part 2

[Fawkner Park, Melbourne]

One of the reasons to travel is to escape the everyday, the boring, the expected, the things that hold us back. I feel free in a new environment because I am anonymous. While I can get anonymity in Melbourne (because it is a large city), I am still restrained by the all too familiar everyday: the same food, the same clothes walking by, the same streets I know too well. Travel offers me freedom from this familiarity. Even if my everyday is only a little bit different (say I go to Sydney), then there is a exponential rise in my freedom.

Although the everyday offers me a form of freedom (freedom from thinking, freedom from care, freedom from myself), the downside is that it is what Jean-Paul Sartre would call viscous. Sometimes it is hard to even realise how stuck I am in the everyday. In his novel Nausea, the main character is sitting on a park bench when he notices the root of a tree. It is then that he realises how everything gets its meaning from its entanglement with other elements. 

"And then, all of a sudden, there it was, as clear as day: existence had suddenly unveiled itself. It had lost its harmless appearance as an abstract category: it was the very stuff of things, that root was steeped in existence. Or rather the root, the park gates, the bench, the sparse grass on the lawn, all that had vanished; the diversity of things, their individuality, was only a appearance, a veneer. This veneer had melted, leaving soft, monstrous masses, in disorder -- naked, with a frigthening, obscene nakedness." -- Nauseaby Jean-Paul Sartre 

While travelling I have these moments all the time. I see everything as a mass. The freedom of travel is this distance I have between myself and the everyday. For a short while I can escape its viscosity.