The Art of Travel, selected quotes

Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel. 2002

A german couple traveling the globe by Jeep stop for a sunset.“i felt lonely but, for once, this was a gentle even pleasant kind of loneliness because rather than unfolding against a backdrop of laughter and fellowship, in which I would suffer from a contrast between my mood and the environment, it had a locus in a place where everyone was a stranger…” pg. 49

“The figures in Hopper’s art are not opponents of home per se, it is simply that, in a variety of undefined ways, home appears to have betrayed them, forcing them out into the night or on to the road.” pg. 54

“What he loved in Egypt could be traced back to central facets of his personality. Egypt lent support to ideas and values that were part of his identity but for which his own society had little sympathy.” pg. 82

“I’m no more modern than ancient, no more French than Chinese, and the idea of a native country, that is to say, the imperative to live on one bit of ground marked red or blue on the map and to hate the other bits in green or black, has always seemed narrow-minded, blinkered and profoundly stupid. I am a soul brother to everything that lives, to the giraffe and to the crocodile as much as to man.” pg. 100

“I’m obsessed with inventing stories for people I come across. An overwhelming curiosity makes me ask myself what their lives might be like. I want to know what they do, where they’re from, their names, what their thinking about at the moment, what they regret, what they hope for, their past loves, their current dreams…” pg. 90

“It is like being hurled while still asleep into the midst of a beethoven symphony, with the brasses at their most ear-splitting, the basses rumbling, and the flutes sighing away; each detail reaches out to grip you; it pinches you; and the more you concentrate on it the less you grasp the whole…” flaubert, pg. 84

“Nietzsche began with the extraordinary assertion that collecting facts in a quasi-scientific way was a sterile pursuit. The real challenge was to use facts to enhance ‘life’. He quoted a sentence from Goethe: ‘I hate everything that merely instructs me without augmenting or directly invigorating my activity.” pg. 112