Nathan Ryan Reeves

The Foreign Spell/Encomium

I haven’t personally been to too many places in the world, in fact, I haven’t left the North American continent, and one day I hope to do so. Traveling as a concept can be such a cool experience due to the endless amounts of different cultures across the world, all seeming foreign in their different ways. Meaning, that the foreign countries can be distinct in what they have to offer and that people that can travel, should take the experience with an open mind and open arms. This should be so since you are the foreigner going to the country of choice, and there are no limits to what someplace has to offer.

Iyer was an Indian boy born in England, who immigrated to the US feels that due to where he is from, feels like a foreigner in any place that he visits. He develops the idea in the reading that from his perspective that–

“Foreignness became not just my second home, but my theme, my fascination, a way of looking at every place as many locals could not”- simply put, he’s implying that he looks at different cultures in different ways compared to others”.

Iyer recounts of the time he was going to Bali where he had felt relief upon arrival, that he felt comfortable and at home while being reminded that he had also felt like a foreigner. He was talking to a Balinese man who had said that he was “afraid to go out at night”, but Iyer just didn’t yet understand what he was going to see or get himself into. Just like the Ted talk that we had recently listened to and watched when they had gone off the path, they too were reluctant to where they were going, and what they were going to see.

I feel as if that if you feel foreign in a place, take the experience with open arms because just like Iyer, embracing the unknown can be a good thing.

Samuel E Evans

“The Foreign Spell” by Iyer, The Grand Tour by Towner

Progym: Encomium

           Pico Iyer describes how he is “always foreign,” or brings with him a sense of foreignness almost wherever in the world he goes. He was born in England to Indian parents, and spent much of his early life in California, feeling doubly out of place there and not feeling at home with any of his three possibly identities. Iyer is of Hindu origin, and he describes his possible personal connection to Bali or the Ganges in India, but again he says,

“everywhere I knew was foreign, which meant that nearly everywhere had the power to unsettle and surprise me, forever,”

which is the essence of what Iyer writes of in this piece (Iyer).

           Iyer attended school in England, and he describes “flying alone over the North Pole six times a year” to attend first preparatory school and then Oxford University, all while still living with his parents in California (Iyer). This also must contribute to Iyer’s eternal foreignness, his early disconnect from any kind of solid, familial home. This could be disastrous for a young person, but Iyer seems to imply that it was more freeing and enlightening, allowing him to have the perspective he now employs. Iyer was also raised on the road beyond just this, so to speak, as he talks about spending months traveling, continent to continent. He says that

“the door to the world was swinging open for those of us ready to live rough and call ourselves foreigners for life” (Iyer).

           All of this, alongside his formal education and being raised by a political theorist father and being from a line of writers and thinkers, seems to have led Iyer to want to reexamine travel, and tourism, through a new lens, a critical and picture-perfect lens. He describes how the world has become smaller, yet not less diverse or more homogenized as some may claim. Instead, the world has only changed along the lines it was already coursing. He writes about how Bali has changed, now equally full of fast-food and beachfront resorts as temples and shrines, but that it is not “spoiled” as some may say. He writes that

“this is what the island has been tempting every visitor to say since the beginning,”

and the visual alterations hardly detract from how wonderfully foreign it continues to be (Iyer).

           Iyer’s writing continues to portray travel in a new light, as not ruining the world while seeing it, but rather continuing to find new ways that the world is worth traveling. We are not becoming more monotonous and uniform, but rather we are adapting alongside one another in a multitude of different and amazing ways. In this way, you could compare Iyer’s work to Steinbeck, who writes about the trials and hardships of the American man, but not to say that America is terrible, but to say why it is worthwhile. Through critical analysis, thought, and storytelling you can come to see each’s perspective and see how their respective subjects are multifaceted and dynamic. Much as the West is in turmoil during The Grapes of Wrath, the world travel writers describe is being massively altered by globalization and the tourism industry. But the argument in from both Steinbeck and Iyer is that this doesn’t mean they are being ruined, but much the opposite. Iyer says that what we see now is a continuation of culture, of new things being born along the lines of what came before, and this only makes it more worth seeing.

Paula I Arraiza

A Love Letter to Traveling

Type of Progym: Encomium

In his piece Why We Travel, Iyer focuses on describing to us the reason why many people travel, or why you should travel. He praises the act of traveling, describing it as a way to both lose and find yourself. Throughout the article, he gives various reasons as to why some of us travel, all of them being positive. In other words, he praises the act of traveling. For example, he states,

“You can teach them what they have to celebrate as much as you celebrate what they have to teach”.

Iyer is stating that traveling gives us the chance to not only celebrate different cultures but have others celebrate our cultures as well. Not only do we learn about the culture we immerse ourselves in when traveling, but we are also teaching those around us about our home culture, which they may not know about. Basically, he calls traveling an educational experience for both parties involved. On a similar note, he states that travel

“guides us toward a better balance of wisdom and compassion of seeing the world clearly, and yet feeling it truly.”

When traveling, we see the world in a different light, since we are constantly learning and experiencing things we wouldn’t if we were stuck at home. Iyer definitely believes that travel opens up your mind and changes your perspective. Perhaps the highest praise he does in his article is comparing the emotions traveling brings to us to the emotion of being in love. When talking about traveling and comparing it to love, he mentions,

“For if every true love affair can feel like a journey to a foreign country, where you can’t quite speak the language, and you don’t know where you’re going, and you’re pulled ever deeper into the inviting darkness, every trip to a foreign country can be a love affair, where you’re left puzzling over who you are and whom you’ve fallen in love with.”

Both traveling and being in love gives you that sense of excitement for the unknown. Iyer compares them both to a

“heightened state of awareness, in which we are (…) ready to be transformed”.

This ties into his past claims, since learning and experiencing different cultures and places while traveling definitely transforms us as a person. All in all, Iyer definitely believes traveling is one of the best experiences you can give yourself, which is why he praises it highly during this article.