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Phillip Wade Wilson

Why We Travel – Chreia

Why We Travel by Pico Iyer is an anecdote that personifies his beliefs on why humans travel and, in my opinion, essentially establishes a need for people around the world to travel. He notes that we, as travelers and tourists, can be a “carrier pigeon” in ways that extend beyond transporting messages between people and places… we transport ideas of what citizens around the globe are like, we incite discussion and discourse, we provide an understanding of concepts and ideologies not available in other parts of the world and the same can be said of the citizens of those places to us…

“Travel is the best way we have of rescuing the humanity of places, and saving them from abstraction and ideology”

Iyer walks us through his travels and what he learned along the way to provide us with the backing for his claims through personal experience and gives us insight into how he believes we ought to travel. Combined with his TED Talk, Iyer makes a compelling argument for the traversers of the world to shed their biases and what they think they know about our global community and fully immerse ourselves into what it is. I found his essay and video to push us along a path of acceptance and understanding while simultaneously being open to the unknown. He references the Dalai Lama’s use of “I don’t know” as a way to give his audience clarity into what being open to the unknown is and can be. The way he transitions from topic to topic with an introductory structure between his essay’s paragraphs and his talking points enables his message to be comprehended with little effort on the part of the audience.

Iyer’s diction, in comparison to Stevenson, Wordsworth, and Perrottet, sets him apart from the previous travel writers in the simple fact that he states what he means and does not give cause for confusion. The other writers use a sort of flowery language that can be misinterpreted and, at times, difficult to fully realize what is being explained at that moment. Stevenson’s convoluted and deeply imaginative style creates a beautiful expression of his love for autumn. Wordsworth’s allegories, metaphors, and similes compare this-to-that which, for some, can mean completely different things given a separate culture or ideological standpoint. Perrottet, in my opinion, does not fully contextualize his claims and arguments which lead what he means to be misinterpreted as what he is critiquing. Iyer noted “rescuing the humanity of places, and saving them from abstraction and ideology” is best done through travel; I believe this is what he does within his essay and video. By allowing us to accompany him through his life’s journey we travel where he has been in order to learn what he learned without needing to make the mistakes he made. He saves us from the abstraction and ideology other writers provide and rescues the humanity of the cities, towns, villages, and countries he has visited.

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