Ghost Train to the Eastern Star

Just a quote from one of my heroes Paul Theroux:

“You think of travellers as bold, but our guilty secret is that travel is one of the laziest ways on earth of passing time. Travel is not merely the business of being bone-idle, but also an elaborate bumming evasion, allowing us to call attention to ourselves with our conspicuous absence while we intrude upon other people’s privacy – being actively offensive as fugitive freeloaders. The traveller is the greediest kind of romantic voyeur, and in some well-hidden part of the traveller’s personality is an unpickable knot of vanity, presumption, and mythomania bordering on the pathological….”

“…Most writing about travel takes the form of jumping to conclusions, and so most travel books are superfluous, the thinnest, most transparent monologuing. Little better than a license to bore, travel writing is the lowest form of literary self-indulgence: dishonest complaining, creative mendacity, pointless heroics and chronic posturing…of course it’s much harder to stay at home and be polite to people and face things, but where’s the book in that? Better the boastful charade of pretending to be an adventurer in a lusty “Look-at-me!” in exotic locales.”

“…The best of travel seems to exist outside of time, as though the years of travel are not deducted from your life. Travel also holds the magical possibility of reinvention: that you might find a place you love, to begin a new life and never go home. In a distant place no one knows you – nearly always a plus. And you can pretend, in travel, to be different from the person you are, unattached, enigmatic, richer or poorer, anyone you choose to be, the rebirth that many travellers experience if they go far enough.”

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, 2008

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