Samuel E Evans

“Visualizing lives: ‘the selfie’ as travel writing” by Cardell & Douglas

Progygm: Comparison

The selfie is often maligned, and for good reason. It is symbolic of a self-centered consumerist culture in which appearances mean more than substance. From the lens of the self-facing camera, what matters about your vacation is the 4K picture in front of the Berlin Wall that you took, posing in your ripped jeans and yellow vans, not anything of substance you could say or portray about your travels.

           A selfie is empty, a façade, only showing to your selected group of Instagram followers what you would like them to see about you. The image is framed around you; you are the focus, and the locale is only a backdrop. Cardell and Douglas use the example of Anzac Cove, in which selfies taken center, as per usual, around the individual, but then use the caption to reinterpret the context, connecting it back to the memorial of the Cove.

“These subject choices come together to form a micro story about the author’s journey to Anzac Cove – what elements of this experience are central to her, and what she particularly wants to share with her anticipated readership” (114).

The selfie-taker, wants to portray their life as interesting, as does everyone on social media, and to do so will draw from their surroundings, but connect the importance back to themselves. Their life is likely as normal as anyone else’s: a nine-to-five job, bills to pay, a pet or two, but they don’t wish to show this, because this is not attractive, not interesting. The selfie-taker is not a bad person, as Cardell and Douglas say throughout their article, but simply uninformed or a little short-sighted.

           De Botton, in The Art of Travel, envisions a mode of travel far different from the selfie-taker. He believes that to see the world as a traveler through the lens of a camera, wanting to capture it artificially, is an empty and poor way to approach tourism. Instead, in one scene he goes so far as to collect the cameras of a Japanese tour group and gives them drawing supplies instead. To study and interpret your surroundings is to better understand and appreciate them, with no lens, no filter. In contrast to the selfie-taker, one who approaches the tourist gaze in such a way will appreciate and learn more from their travels and is more conscious in doing so. Such self-awareness is necessary for respectful travel, and only people who actively consider the ways in which they travel will be able to do so.

           Cardell and Douglas do provide some complexity to the analysis of selfies.

“The contemporary traveler and travel documenter seek to interact with their experience and to create and share an individual presentation of the encounter to an audience,” they write (114).

However, the selfie is still often on the borderline of being disrespectful or self-aggrandizing. A person who, as in de Botton’s view, is self-aware and observant, does not need to tread this fine line. A selfie, even if taken in good taste and with the intent of being respectful, is still likely to be viewed negatively, as a literally self-centered view of travel.

Nathan Ryan Reeves

Comparison of Theroux’s piece and the rest of the readings

This was perhaps one of the weirder but still equally as interesting as all the other past readings, like Bourdain, and other authors. However, the obvious difference between this one and the other ones is that the story starts on the path of exploration and tourism, but slowly turns into a story of losing control in a place that is not your home, and what the place means to you after you pass the threshold of being a tourist. If that entirely makes sense, I will reword it as, Theroux being a tourist in Africa, got caught up in this obligation to stay with a woman and her family for days on end. Towards the end of the chapter, he expresses that he needs to escape this cycle that he was stuck in. Wake up, go to the bar and guzzle down drinks until the afternoon, a conflict or a fight transpires, and when he comes back to rest and is pressured relentlessly for sex and pleasure with a woman that finds him attractive from the first few pages. He was pressured by this family, and in the end when he wants to leave this ‘trap’, he is, to be brief, rejected by the family that once accepted him for the past few days. This foolishness to trespass in a place that he was not familiar with the area, had effectively taken advantage of this family, and in turn, they were angry and riled up, to the point when he had the opportunity to escape, he ran.

Now, this chapter on tourism is much different in comparison to anything else just since it was about exploiting tourism areas for a place to stay. While it was not his intention, in the beginning, Theroux’s karma came right around as he was trying to escape a hellish situation that he put himself in. He was simply unaware to what power society had over him once he fell into the “trap”. Many of the other readings discuss the differences in culture and values, like Bourdain where he discusses what people did for fun or what their eating traditions are like etc, however, this is brought to a whole other level since this is an occurrence where he can be seen to be taking advantage of these people, for food, shelter, passion or pleasure, and foods and such. But on the other hand, the family is taking advantage of him and making him stay due to his lack of ability to dig himself out of a “debt” that he put himself into.

Ehren Joseph Layne

Airports are Terrible, just ask Amaan – Narrative


*This piece is my attempt at a comedic retelling/narrative of the experience that made me hate airports forever(besides the countless other experiences where I was individually searched  out of suspicion that I might be concealing a weapon because it’s a crime for a teenage black boy to have a Nintendo in his back pocket)*

Airports don’t often advertise this, but we all know this to be true: airports are shit. To those of you who have had positive experiences in airports, I congratulate your white privilege and generous will from your grandfather. For the rest of us non-white persons and non-trust fund babies, airports are extremely hostile, racist, pee-scattered arenas where only the strong and stoic survive. If you fail to be both, you are thrown into an environment best described as “Could be worse”; that is, of course, till it gets worse. 


During the summer going into my  Freshman year of high school, I decided that it would be best to spend my vacation in a foreign country studying its culture. I’ve always had an immense appreciation for and infatuation with Spanish cultures, and so I spent 2 weeks traveling the beautiful country of Ecuador. I could drone on and on about Ecuadorian culture: the marketplace in Quito(where I almost got mugged), the rain forest(where I had to sleep with another student because we both were terrified of spiders), the Cotopaxi volcano(which almost erupted during my stay), and Ecuador’s infamous waterfalls(where a group of students almost got ran over by a herd of bulls). Needless to say, Ecuador was a trip I will never forget, but not because of the reasons I just listed. I will never forget Ecuador mainly because of my friend Amaan. Amaan is an Indian American who, if you know him well, is neither strong nor stoic, but rather kind and flamboyant. During our stay in Ecuador, Amaan and I got close and eventually cemented our friendship by way of both being car sick during our departure from Ecuador’s cloud forest. He and I shared many of the same qualities, such as neither of us being strong nor stoic and both of us having a strong condemnation towards airports. To this day, I consider Amaan a good friend and tell this story in the hopes to relay three important messages: one, airports are shit, two, don’t use hair gel, and finally, TSA agents are way too bored.


Rather than having a direct flight from Mariscal Sucre International Airport to JFK, a group consisting of myself, Amaan, 10 or so other classmates, and 3 chauffeurs from our Middle school, had a connecting flight. From Mariscal Sucre International Airport we flew to Miami International Airport, where we found ourselves stranded in one of America’s worst yet best states for two and a half hours. During that time, as teenagers tend to do with time, we did nothing but gossip, complain, and watch YouTube videos while using some poor sap’s Hotspot. Around 45 minutes before our flight, we began making our way to the terminal. Mistakes were made, and we had to, as a group, go through the conveyor belt-thingy again, taking off our shoes and belts and other objects that the TSA considers “threatening”(because, much like everybody else, I can hijack a plane with my size 9 Air Force Ones). As a black kid, going through security is always a risk, for being black is, if you didn’t know, a risk many black people have to take. On this day, however, I made it past security safely and patiently waited for my good friend Amaan to pass through as well. As I viscously attempt to put my shoes back on(it’s always more difficult once you’ve already passed security), a siren begins to sound, emitting from the conveyor belt-thingamajiggy. As I look up from my sorrowful attempt at tying a shoe, I see my good friend Amaan being surrounded by TSA, as they position themselves in the frightening and formidable “we don’t have guns but we are still a challenge for a 14-year old” formation. I audibly gasp (as any good friend would) at the horror of seeing Amaan surrounded, nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. Over the loudspeaker, an unenthusiastic white female ( I assume) begins to speak. She says, “Travellers do not panic. The bomb squad has just been called and there will be a temporary pause in flight departures and arrivals. We ask that you remain calm.” At this point, everyone is panicked, and after 20 minutes of complete chaos, three men in ABS uniform walk up to Amaan (and yes, these men were white) in a very intimidating manner, sharing looks of disgust at the possible 14-year old Indian American terrorist before them(have I mentioned that Amaan has no relation to Islam?). Without a moment’s notice, they began rummaging through Amaan’s carry-on bag (I thought the bomb squad would be more careful), scanning it ferociously for bomb residue or other bomb-like fluids. This process takes around 15 minutes. During those 15 minutes, Amaan was having a panic attack; he was crying, hyperventilating, and was, at times, seconds away from passing out entirely. As Amaan wept, and the 15 minutes of rummaging had stopped, the men from the Bomb Squad began to laugh and walked towards the nearest TSA telling them that all was clear. They said,  and even though I was out of earshot, I imagine it was something like, “Man are we dumb. It was just some hair gel! It was nice being needed for a few minutes. You guys have a nice day.” Hair gel. They mistook hair gel, for bomb residue. I am yet to pay taxes but when I do, I want to make certain it is not wasted on machinery and men who mistake hair gel for bomb residue. After 20 or so minutes of apologies from not-so-apologetic TSA agents, we made our way to our terminal where we sat, in awe, of what had just happened. After this day, I never touched hair gel again, and even better, haven’t said thank you to a TSA agent; I imagine Amaan has done the same. 

Phillip Wade Wilson

Comparison Between Journey into Night and Trespass

I feel in both of these narrations, the Americans are being taken advantage of due to their own negligence, though on the basis of different things. In Journey into Night, I feel that it revolves around Americans being taken advantage of by the system of travel itself (albeit this can be applied to anyone, but he’s American so that’s where I’ll be focusing). In Trespass, the American is being taken advantage of by another culture, and the lack of understanding of society. I wonder if this has to do with something similar found within American society that leads these two to be taken advantage of. 

Sedaris talks about how paying thousands of dollars more gets him stares because of his placement on the plane and the way other passengers and the cabin crew associate with him. What I found interesting is the way he relates to people seeing him in a better part of the plane to seeing regular-looking people step out of a limo. It’s strange the way that we relate wealth and placement on a plane to placement in society and then to importance. Whereas Theroux is being sexually manipulated and then monetarily abused, in part to his own negligence and ignorance. 

This plays into the tourist gaze we’ve been discussing so much in class because of the ways in which both of these men are viewing the world, and how their views are altered as their narration continues. At the start of each of their pieces, both authors don’t seem to have a fully fleshed out idea of how they’re viewing the world or at least the lens they’re looking through for their experiences. Though, in the end, both narrators seem to find what they were lacking before. Sedaris, satirically, details the ways in which he understands class and travel, and Theroux understands that he should look for the signs of when he’s being taken advantage of and not to put so much trust in strangers in a foreign land. 

Samuel James Conroy

Theroux Vituperation

Vituperation Progymnasmata

            Paul Theroux is a great American travel writer who wrote about his adventures into parts of the world that most Americans have never heard of. Theroux is from Medford, Massachusetts and attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Theroux is part of a famous family as both of his sons are famous documentarians and he is also the uncle of famous actor Justin Theroux. In Theroux’s short story, “Trespass,” he describes his time in Malawi. Theroux was in Malawi shortly after it had gained independence. He was a member of the Peace Corps and was assigned to work as a teacher in Malawi. Theroux was one of the first members of the Peace Corps as it had just been established in 1961 where his travels took place in 1963.

Around Christmas time, Theroux decided to travel to neighboring Zambia and go to a local bar. At this bar, there were only two other attendees, a man and his sister who Theroux mistook for his wife. The man told Theroux that his sister “likes you very much” (Theroux). Theroux let his lust take over and went with these strangers on a long taxi ride to their home. Theroux and the woman made love, however, the next morning when he attempted to leave, both the woman and her brother would not let Theroux leave. They made him go the bar again because it was Christmas. Once again, Theroux returned with the woman, made love, and was forced to go to the bar again the next day for Boxing Day. He was now stuck in a vicious cycle where he was being forced to stay in this village. The longer he was there, the more Theroux realized how messed up of a situation it was. The two Zambians started to become more aggressive towards him, the thought of sex started to become more frightening, the food was bad, the hut was rundown, the drinking was making him ill, he was giving them all of his money, they spoke a language that he did not understand, and that he really had no way out. He was now a captive. The next day at the bar Theroux realized he had to try and escape. He attempted to use the outdoor restroom when the girl tried to send a man out there with him to make sure he did not escape. She stated, “he will not come back,” knowing exactly what his intentions were. Theroux left his jacket and some cash for them to show that he would return, once outside, he ran quickly down the street until he could grab a cab out of the village.

Theroux had let his guard down and let lust get the best of him. This moment of weakness led him to a place where he was lucky to escape from. He states at the end that this moment was the one that scared him the most on his journey and made him feel the most “American.” Theroux did indeed become an American tourist through his actions, he mistook hostility for kindness and ended up in a vicious cycle for it.

Lucas Enrique Fernandez



In Paul Thoroux’s Trepass we saw the utter difference Thoroux felt when he went to Malawi. In this case both him and the people he stayed with were using each other, which is not the most common experience for tourists in common tourist places around the world. This story made me think of Jamaica Kincaid and Antigua. She had grown to hate the White people after the racism and neo-colonialism they brought to Antigua. The pain that they caused her and others was immeasurable, so it is natural that they are distrustful towards others. This experience is one that many African countries have felt as well, such as Malawi. Due to this, I understand why the people he stayed with acted the way they did. They learned to exploit the White man as a way to get back some of what they lost.

I also believe that the end of the reading relates to one of the earlier readings we had from the beginning of the semester. At the end of the narrative Thoroux realizes how American he is after his experience. This goes along with the point from the readings that going to different places and experiencing other cultures causes one to be pushed further in their own culture. Thoroux also wasn’t able to overcome the difference and otherness felt from visiting another place for an entire year. He learned that in fact he didn’t come to understand anything about their culture at all and was instead a trespasser.

Aongus Mui

Journey into Night- David Sedaris

Journey into Night- David Sedaris
Progym: Description/Narrative

Travelling is something that I am fortunate enough to be able to do. I’ve road tripped to neighboring states with car rides up to six hours long. For international vacations however, planes are obviously one of the best ways to travel. There is a very specific feeling of being on a plane. It starts at the airport, waiting for the workers to call your group to board the plane.

“Passengers in group A may now board at this time”
“Passengers in group B may now board at this time”
“Passengers in group C may now Board at this time”

Typically this is when my family and I would board the plane. We walked past the booth, each of us holding our own boarding pass, scanning it as we walked by the booth. As we walked the slightly downward corridor to the plane. When we enter the plane we are instantly greeted by the pilot standing right outside the cockpit, and shortly after by the flight attendants. The people sitting in the upper class seats, the part that screams luxury, are already sitting comfortably in their abnormally large seats. I keep looking for my seat looking down at my boarding pass to find the correct seat and looking back up to find the matching seat. We come to a halt, waiting for other passengers to put their luggage in the overhead compartment. Finally, I reach my seat, I put my luggage away and relax in my chair.

While the rest of the passengers finish boarding the plane, the plane gradually gets louder. Clearly the engines are firing up. As we prepare for takeoff the signal for the seatbelts come on. The plane backs out of where it is parked, we go to the strip where we prepare for takeoff. We start moving forward, gradually gaining speed to the point where everything outside becomes a blur, and eventually the wheels lift the ground and we are in the air, gaining altitude every second.

I pass the time with a movie and with the snacks provided by the flight attendent. But my main thought is about the destination, of what I was going to do and experience there. I could hardly hold back the excitement of landing in a completely new location. The only thing holding me back is the time left on the flight, waiting patiently to arrive in a new place. As cliche as plane rides are, it is a type of travel. A good experience for some and a poor experience for many.

Paula I Arraiza

Airplane Nostalgia

Type of Progym: Description

“The thought of my sisters and me, so young then and so untroubled, was sobering, and within a minute, Chris Rock or no Chris Rock, I was the one crying on the night flight to Paris. It wasn’t my intention to steal anyone’s thunder; a minute or two was all I needed. But, in the meantime, here we were: two grown men in roomy seats, each blubbering in his own élite puddle of light.”

I’ve always found planes to be extremely nostalgic and sentimental places. Flights are filled with people from all different walks of life, while you may be going on an exotic holiday the person sitting next to you might be coming back home and dreading doing so. However, there’s something about the silence and fluorescent light of an airplane that always makes me reminisce and over-analyze every single moment of my life. Our lives are usually so busy that we don’t get time to just sit alone with our thoughts for even a couple of minutes yet being on a long flight is the perfect opportunity to do so. We get completely disconnected from the world as we know it, with no contact with the world as we know it. It becomes one of the only moments where we can actually sit in peace with our thoughts, without any distraction except a stewardess asking if you want more snacks. As someone who can never sleep on a plane no matter what I do to try and relax, it always feels as if I’m the only one actually there, along with two or three other people suffering from the same restlessness as me. As the lights are shut down except for the fluorescent emergency and bathroom signs and maybe one or two reading lights, my mind always begins to wander and analyze my own life. Even as I try to distract myself by watching another subpar movie, which I won’t pay attention to at all, I always end up going back to thinking and doing some sort of deep introspection of my feelings, something I rarely do. With my noise-canceling headphones blaring some sort of calming playlist, which is most likely filled with emotional songs, to try and get myself to sleep for at least ten minutes, my mind always reaches a place I can only reach when I wake up abruptly at three in the morning while everyone in the house is sleeping. Somehow, just like Sedaris and the Polish man, I end up shedding a tear or two thinking of some nostalgic moment I’ve lived through, or realizing I need to completely change some part of my life in order to better myself, or reminiscing on the marvelous trip I just had or am about to have. Whatever it may be, flights are always filled with tremendous emotion and thoughts I wouldn’t have the time to think had I been having a normal day on land.

Samuel E Evans

“Journey Into Night,” by David Sedaris, “Trespass,” by Paul Theroux

Progym: Impersonation

I love to travel, and I am lucky to be able to do so, or rather I like the parts of travel that don’t actually involve the process of getting there. I enjoy the destination or the activity, but there is little that is worse than sitting in an airport at 5:00 AM or trying to sleep on a stomach full of rest-stop food in the back of a minivan. Those are the moments that make you wish that teleportation existed, so you could snap your fingers and appear on the beach, at the trailhead, in front of Big Ben, at Grandma’s house.

One such experience for me occurred after the Christmas break of my Sophomore year of high school. My parents, sister, and I had spent the better half of the two-week holiday at our second cousin’s beach house in South Carolina, along with an assortment of uncles, aunts, and grandparents. All in all, there were over a dozen of us crammed into the house, which didn’t have a steady internet connection, on a gated island community that generally had no draw except for the beach. For that week, the daily high temperature never surpassed 65 degrees, and most days saw at least some rain and a whole lot of frigid Atlantic wind.

My one uncle, Pete, who, though we love him dearly, is known for being a little eccentric, arrived for the week already somewhat sick. He proceeded to cough, sneeze, and complain unincumbered the entire time, despite the obvious irritation and concerns of all others present.

“It’s just a cold,” he said in response to our unease, “don’t let me get in the way.”

Halfway through the week, we went into town to a highly-rated, authentic South Carolina barbeque restaurant for lunch. I, being a foolish and daring teenager, ordered a massive rack of ribs, of which I ate four-fifths before beginning to feel quite ill. While walking around the quaint downtown afterward, I quickly became aware that something was up. Sure enough, I subsequently spent much of the remainder of the week, including New Year’s, laid up with what could only be Uncle Pete’s mystery cough.

The week finally ended, and we said our goodbyes, gave out hugs and piled into our rented Ford Focus bound for the Atlanta airport. It was there, in the seemingly boiling hot leather backseat of that automobile that I felt the illness crawl like some animal from my abdomen up into my head over that three-hour journey. Suddenly I appeared, standing in the lobby of the airport in line with our family’s luggage, staring at the ceiling as some demon poured boiling water into my eyes and ears while I internally cursed my Uncle Pete.

And the airport, which I had thought at that moment to be the worst place to experience some kind of mutant full-body flu only paled in comparison to my experience on the flight. Each elevation change awoke me from my ill slumber by sending searing shockwaves down my ear canals. What joy that must have been for the man sitting next to me, having a noticeably sick teenage boy restlessly sleeping mere inches away from him.

The travel experience, and I mean the journey, not the destination, is nearly always bad. Clichés to the contrary which imply some great significance to the act of getting places are lies because I don’t know if I’ve ever really gleaned anything from spending time in airplanes and airports besides the knowledge of how much I hate it. This is, however, the common experience of the airline traveler. Whether you are on your way to a weeklong Mediterranean cruise or off to a business conference in Tulsa, you have to sit together on this speeding tin can for several hours, hating your existence. At least, that’s what I think everyone else is doing, because I am.

Catherine Dodd Corona

A Journey into Night

Mimicking David Sedaris’s Essay: Journey into Night

Progymnasmata: Narrative

The flight from Charles De Gaulle to JFK takes the same time as New York to LA, but the international destination alters the environment of the plane. With the time difference, the flight takes a full night to get to Paris, but the actual duration is about 5 hours. The airline tries to mimic a full night by serving dinner, dimming the lights and four hours later serving breakfast, as if the time between was a full night of rest. 

David, not yet comfortable in Business Elite, watches as people in lesser class seats cautiously file back to their seats. He thinks of their disappointment when they see his normal appearance after expecting someone greater filling a better seat. He thinks of how he was only rewarded this seat for a book tour in New York. He is seated next to a French man, as he drifts into sleep after popping some pill. 

The plane departs and the seat belt sign dims. Passengers slowly move about the cabin. Sporting loose pajama like clothing, and methodically lining up at the bathroom with toothbrushes and face wipes. Everyone wades in a similar place, a limbo of sorts. They await for air that smells different or similar. Some, are filled with anticipation of a new adventure. Others groan with exhaust from habitual business. Some more marinate in their past travels as they return to familiarity. 

Not long after take off a flight attendant approaches, addresses David as Mr. Sedaris and asks, “There is a man that is causing some other passengers to complain, would you mind if he switched seats? I am sorry for the inconvenience.” David responds “Is he a kid?” When the flight attendant responds with a no, David asks “Is he drunk?” He concludes that it would not matter but her vague description caused him to be curious. She explains that his mother recently passed and people are irritated with his crying. David says, “They are irritated by his crying?” 

“Yes sir, that is all” she responds.

David agrees and she disappears to the back of the plane. Moments later the man appears. His eyes red, and head most likely aching form the crying. His face was rough, with strong features and big hands. A man who could casually pull off a hat, and still come off as humble and well mannered. The flight attendant quietly thanks David and returns to her usual duties. 

David naturally reflects on his mother’s funeral, while he thinks of this grieving man’s condition. He recalls the heat of North Carolina, and some heavy hearted laughs with his sister. He wonders if he should offer some sort of condolences but concludes that the man wants to be left alone and diverts his attention to the extra amenities of Business Elite. Tuning into his private screen, and mashing the stiff buttons to find the most comfortable position. Dinner arrives and David’s new seat-mate refuses his meal. Though, he assumes the man is envious when he tears the foil off his meal. The man begins to cry again, not in a distracting way, but with a steady stream of tears. David is a little perplexed by the magnitude of grief. A good amount of time must have passed since he received the news. He imagines there must be some regret added to this man’s grief. He pictures an old woman, on her deathbed, pleading for her son to visit, but the distractions of the present got the best of him and he couldn’t make the time. Now she rests in a morgue, pumped with formaldehyde, eyes glued shut, make-up smeared on her face to give it a less dead look. He does feel sorry for this man and begins to reflect on another funeral experience. In high school a girl died of Leukemia. He remembers the unvalidated grief he had until another classmate expressed the same emotional turmoil. 

The serious energy and ignorance to the feasible pleasures of Business Elite urges David to decline whipped cream and a second serving. While the plane effortlessly bolts to New York, David could not help but to succumb to his reflections of past grief. His empathy and the lack of distraction peeled away at his normal emotional guards. Slowly past experiences crept out of the deep grooves in his mind, like gremlins crawling out a crevasse into his subconscious. His nose stung and the seams that held his tears inside slowly began to unzip. For a brief moment, not too long so the gravity of this man’s grief did not go unvalidated, they were two men crying quietly soaking in solitude.