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1.2.1 Coherent fragmentation through travel  



The two central thesis of the last blog 1.2 were based on the concept of a hyper connected field. The basic notion is that a travel narrative accumulates as travel progress a bit like a career. The hyper element is that the narrative pervades all points of the travel career, due to its being intrinsic to the conscious experience, unless the traveller moved without being able to account for the travel in any rational sense. The possibility of a null narrative state may be accounted for in various ways. A traveller does not want to make the story public, or simply is not capable of forming a story. Alternatively a traveller does not care to create a particular discourse qua narrative but just perceive the passing sensory field, limiting narrative to a kind of internal monologue.

The first is a political act, whilst the second is a cognitive factor, and the third an intentional act, akin to a being a mystic.


Case study.

Overland to India the narrator states travel the time was the journey began in 1967 where he began in Istanbul and continued to Iran, and then from Iran to the Afgan border to the Khyber pass. The fact there is qualitative content apart from the locational facts entails the traveller has a narrative and wants it to be public. Though how is that connected to other travels given there is no mention of previous journeys. The sense is that its implicit within the text through rhetorical devices. A very common rhetorical device is to refer to the encounters as being outside the life of the traveller, as ‘ Kafirs spoke their own language and practised their own religion. Their lifestyle greatly contrasted to the neighbouring Pathans.’ ( Overland to India. Kevan, British. India bites you somehow- true-life tales)

The connected field refers to various forms of consumption. The form that links to most travel narrative styles is the cultural connected field. The story usually links into a cultural theme that evolves into a journey though with a focus on a kind of cultural activity. A style that mimics ethnography of anthropology interested in how non Europeans lived has been enacted by numerous travellers who desire to evade the ever more encroaching, brand driven destinations associated with mass tourism.


Case study

A Czechoslovakian in 1986 tells her story called ‘Dancing with tribals’ She and a friend headed to Orissa in eastern India with the aim to find ‘the people who escaped modern civilization’. Their travels took them through villages ‘we could not believe India still had tribes that looked so primitive.’ The travellers’ did connect the activities of various tribes the visited through a very basic ethnography. The pair stayed with each tribe for a day or two so unlike an institutionally funded ethnographer who can spend a year or more with a community, a traveller is limited due to funds and support so has an impulse that is akin to making an art work. It is by ‘meeting people who escaped the impact of modern civilization that aroused our curiousity’, seems to be a motivator for travel. It entails moving on without follow up, as was indicated by the claim “ I do not know if they have been able to keep their simple lifestyle or have been influenced by modern ways’.(Dancing with tribal. India bites you somehow)


The next thesis pertains to imaginative objective realism.

The self exists as an objective fact that can be a statistic but also known qualitatively as having subjective states, which amounts to only I know my subjective states. World politics akin to international relations gives rise to the metaphysics of travel. This refers to the balance-of-power encountered through various forms of globalization which is a kind of soft power politics typified by advanced economies. It refers to various forms of global consumption, dubbed as McDonaldization.


Travellers’ regularly encounter such forms of corporate domination. Therefore travellers are international actors, acting in a form of diplomacy that conforms to theory of coherent fragmentation.

Diplomacy as soft power is a marked cross over as in cloth, music and body language. If the traveller encounters neo-patriarchical societies that are neither modern nor traditional their values usually default back to one or another common commodity associated with dominant paradigm of global culture. Although a counter factual is the tourist who encounters and fragments off so as to uptake a feature of that society. Another common response is the traveller as active seeker of cultural immersion never finds any worth pursuing and so continues to travel, or as anthropologists might say ‘they opted out of going native’. (readings for this section included globalization as hybridization: Pieterse)


Case study.

A traveller named Shree from Japan found her calling in the form of Indian music called Dhrupad. The sense of its authentic nature became apparent from how the traveller came to dedicate sixteen years counting to the classic music known as Dhrupad. There are a few areas of this travellers’ story that relates to the above theory. Shree engaged in cultural immersion to a high degree through here commitment to the one teacher and discipline. The encounter was with a society that neither traditional nor modern. Her travels lead her to decide to study music in Varanasi India where she eventually focused on one style after experimenting with many styles. Her travels where not geographic but contained within a sphere akin to music ethnography. (Dhrupad, Divine Music. Shree, Japanese. India bites you somehow. True life tales)


A philosophical approach to coherent fragmentation.


How is it that the person who travels is the same person as the person prior to travel? A question such as this involves the metaphysics of travel. The metaphysics of perspective involves being a particular kind of person. If the person has reasons that are common to other travellers’ then there seems to be some fundamental identity that coheres various fragmented identities. This could be a universal soul, or from a materialist perspective its a cultural construction that are fundamental for individuals to have a sense of community even if its an abstract view.

Metaphysics prompts trivial questions with profound results like if it is me that travels then who travels? The impulse to claim it is me is true in a trivial sense but does not answer who travels from the general perspective that includes not just different points of a life. So if it is I that travel, it only refers to some present tense as the kind of person that exists in a formal sense as person that has a passport and other formal identity markers affiliated with the nation state. This objective self does not answer a more profound question. Who travels from the perspective of what might be dubbed as the continuing subjectivity?


This philosophical problem of personal identity implies the self as continuing subject is identical to past selves. It implies a kind of fragmentation of self. However this would imply a contradiction given there is a problem of numerical identity where continuing subjectivity is a subset of all other continuing subjectivities that generally denote one and the same person over time. The other more intriguing conundrum, peculiar to cultural travel is that travel appears to mark impressions of a timeless cultural present. The continuing subjectivity glimpses a kind of life that could have been, as a possible world.


Case study.

A traveller from the developed world entered the very poor mud hut in the underdeveloped part of India. Upon eating a meal she witnessed the host crying, and was told she cried due to not having enough food to offer. The present self linked up to past associations of ‘my mind ran snapshots of my overflowing cupboards full of food that I had left behind a short while before’. The timeless culture present is marked by human interactions around the theme. ‘She dipped the cup and gently poured the cool liquid over my hands. I lost myself in her soft obsidian eyes’. The self fragments into a beautific view in this instance as ‘mother and daughter disappeared, I saw two shining goddesses before me’. (Warm Chapattis. Kai, American. India bites you somehow.)

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