|Finding lost books in Paris.|
"Every individual is however capable of producing a sort of cold revolution within himself by stepping outside the infomercial flow. It's very easy to do. It has in fact never been simpler than today to adopt an aesthetic position in relation to the world: all you have to do is take a step to the side . . . It is enough to pause; to switch off the radio, unplug the television; not to buy anything else, not to want to buy anything else . . . It is enough, literally, to be still for a few seconds."
The above passage is taken from an essay called "Approaches to Distress" that appears in The Paris Magazine (not to be confused with The Paris Review). The essay is by French writer, poet, and philosopher Michel Houellebecq (pronounced "Well-beck"); the English translation is by George Miller.
|What book did I find? Ovid!|
"Approaches to Distress" is a very packed philosophical essay. In it, Hoellebecq takes on the functionality of contemporary architecture, the commodification of life at the microsociological level, and how literature is perhaps the only art form that can "digest unlimited amounts of derision." I promise: this post is not that complicated.
No, the reason why I wanted to share the above quote with you is because it kind of explains how this blog got its name. Sometimes when I tell people that my travel site is called Of Revolt, they look at me like I've got six different kinds of WMDs stashed in my purse. Why call it something that sounds vaguely combative, instead of something soft, friendly, like Little Yessie's Happy Travel Thoughts?
|The aesthetic position I have adopted here: reclining.|
Well, I chose the name I did because 1. it sucks way less than Little Yessie's Happy Travel Thoughts and 2. when Dan and I decided to travel the world and follow our respective dreams of music and writing, the decision felt like a major rebellion. I felt, as Houellebecq writes, that I was "producing a sort of cold revolution within" myself - one that existed outside of wanting things, one in which I would de-program from the constant intake of advertising, one where I would be more alert to global politics and the effects of these policies on the world and its people.
For years, I had already been taking small steps to remove myself from the "infomercial flow." I no longer owned a television (though I delighted in regular deliveries of Mad Men from Netflix). I dabbled in veganism and became a vegetarian (though I adore French saucisson and have no qualms about indulging). I learned to control every little feeling of covetousness, and identify what I really wanted instead.
|The arch in front of the Louvre in Paris.|
The "aesthetic position" I have adopted in relation to the world is this: I do believe that travel will change a person for the better and that people, especially Americans, deserve more time off from work to do just that (did you know that the U.S. is the only advanced nation in the world that doesn't guarantee its workers vacation time? How progressive! *Snort*). That being said, I don't think you have to quit your job and travel the world wearing hippie pants and Chacos for an indefinite period of time just to be a good person. People can produce their own revolutions just by making informed, thoughtful choices in their daily lives - whether it's about what they're eating, what they're wearing, or even just what they're choosing to read before bed at night (does anybody else still do that? Holla!)
So go ahead: switch off the radio, unplug the television, pause, be still for a few seconds. It will be your own moment of revolt.
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P.S. I just realized this post has the last pictures of France you'll be seeing for a while! I leave for the Netherlands this afternoon, so check back later this week to see what shenanigans Dan and I have gotten ourselves into in Amsterdam. (I bet you can guess what we'll be up to . . . !)