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Saturday, August 14, 2004

Loner In A Lone Country

All this kind of philosopher can do is to express, as fully as he can, his world, and attract our undivided attention to our own.
-- Stanley Cavell in "The World Viewed"

Finally finished Craig Thompson's latest graphic novel slash travel diary Carnet de Voyage. It's a wonderful sketchbook combined with funny and sad insights on travelling alone in France, Marocco and Barcelona. It's a delight to read how Thompson is feeling homesick after a broken relationship and isn't afraid of writing all his thoughts down. There are moments where you even begin to wonder if it was such a good idea of him to make this trip but then he will make this sharp observation and you just know that he's content with the tremendous influence the journey is having on him. It reminded me of another paragraph Cavell wrote in The World Viewed:
We must be willing to allow the self to exhibit itself without the self’s intervention. The wish for total intelligibility is a terrible one. It means that we are willing to reveal ourselves through the self’s betrayal of itself. […] It is why the path of self-knowledge is so ugly, hence so rarely taken, whatever its reputed beauties. The knowledge of the self as it is always takes place in the betrayal of the self as it was. That is the form of self-revelation until the self is wholly won. Until then, until there is a world in which each can be won, our loyalty to ourselves is in doubt, and our loyalty to others in partialness.
Carnet de Voyage does exactly what Cavell is hinting at. It goes down a travelling path that is rarely taken. Travelling doesn't have to be fun all the time, it's not about forgetting all your sorrows at home, visiting the next palace some sultan build and throwing a couple of coins to the first beggar you see, so he will stop bothering you. It can easily be about drawing a camel in the desert and feeling miserable because you got diarrhoea again. So on your next voyage, make sure you have this little book with you!

ps for more reviews, Bookslut offers yet another good one.

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