Travel Ideals in Film
Chapter Six: Freedom and Belonging Up in the Air: Reconsidering the Travel Ideal with Jean-Luc Nancy
Freedom and Belonging Up in the Air: Reconsidering the Travel Ideal with Jean-Luc Nancy
How does belonging fit into a Western travel ideal so heavily invested in freedom? When one reflects on travel stories in the West the initial response seems clear: there is no belonging. From the colonial binaries of “home/away”, “self/other” and “free/unfree”, to New Age claims of belonging on the road, to the world, or as a global soul – hinting at the end of belonging all together – Western travel “ideals” have been built upon a precarious fascination with the individual’s choice of how to be “free” and where to “belong”.1 But as contemporary philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy asks, what would such a self-determining free decision mean if it was not also an attempt to remain untouched by every obstacle in life and to maintain a comfortable distance from entering into relations with others?2 ← 109 | 110 →
Freedom continues to permeate the Western travel imaginary as images of the emancipated traveller on a journey of self-discovery and self-transformation surface with relative consistency in contemporary popular culture.3 This should hardly come as a surprise since, as Kaplan suggests, the emphasis on freedom as “an internalised consciousness of the bounded individual subject” has a longstanding relationship with travel to the extent that “Western modernity since the Enlightenment tends to privilege mobility of one kind or another”.4 What is surprising however, from both a creative and intellectual perspective,...
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