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Phillip Wade Wilson

The Foreign Spell – Commonplace

Iyer has been providing us with what he believes travelers and tourists should be in the world by supplying the concepts of openness and appreciation for another’s culture. In my opinion, much of the world views differing cultures and places with exoticism or a negative connotation simply for being different; Iyer takes this typical way of explaining another culture and provides an exemplary way to appreciate another’s way of life without appropriating or downplaying the significance of certain aspects. Iyer envelops his audience in this narration of his life and travels but does not come off as culturally insensitive when referencing a happening in another place not native to his own beliefs and customs. I believe his point of view as a non-western, non-white person offers such an incredible insight into how those of us who are western and white should attempt to view the world.

In my experience, I have very few friends who look at other cultures and see the same value in another as they do on their own. Iyer sees the importance of every part of the world’s global culture and raises the unknown to be on par with the known. As he did in previous readings for class and within his TED talk, Iyer provides backing for his subtle, yet ever-reverent, notion that each one of us regardless of where we are from is so similar to the next person in infinitely many ways we only like to focus on the overtly glaring differences we can point out in each other. He notes how each one of us, as travelers/tourists, provides insight into what the populace of a certain country is like to those outside our normal interaction field and ultimately help acclimate social globalization in ways that are as simple as traveling to another city or country and being a living exhibit for people to see.

5 replies on “The Foreign Spell – Commonplace”

Phillip this is a great summery of how Iyer sees the influence and connection between tourist and native. I agree that more people, especially in circles we may share like American students, or young westerners, need to be more considerate of different cultures. My question is when you say, “each one of us, as travelers/tourists, provides insight into what the populace of a certain country is like to those outside our normal interaction field” Do you think that insight has positive or negative connotations? Does it mater who the tourist is? Is this view subjective or objective?

I definitely think it can have both positive and negative connotations. I think even Iyer talks about how we act in different countries or even in different regions of our own countries and how that can impact how others view us. For example, Jennifer Lawrence got into some hot water when filming in Hawaii by scratching her derriere on some sacred rocks and then in an interview laughed about it which made the native Hawaiians rightfully unhappy with her disregard for their culture. Another example can be viewed by how Americans generally regard the french people, more specifically Parisians, as rude but in their culture good service means leaving people alone (in restaurants and stores), and their slang is used to understate whatever they mean. Every person is different and everyone perceives things differently so I would say it would depend on the person, where that person is, what preexisting notions they have about the world, and how people interact with them at the place they’re in.

It’s nice to read how much you also appreciate how Pico Iyer talks about experiencing foreign cultures. I share many of your thoughts, especially how he manages to weave around appropriation and tokenization. The relationship between tourists and natives is delicate and he approaches it as so.

It’s nice to read how much you also appreciate how Pico Iyer talks about experiencing foreign cultures. I share many of your thoughts, especially how he manages to weave around appropriation and tokenization. The relationship between tourists and natives is delicate and he approaches it as so.

This is a great summary/commonplace about Pico Iyer and the text that was read. What I liked best is that you showed the appreciation for his work, but I am really glad that you did was not only allude to the Ted talk, but you instated your opinion along side all examples. I agree that being an outsider gives a unique perspective of the culture observed, and that adding in the anecdote is a good way to develop the rest of what you’re discussing.

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