Our Imagined Orders (Chapped Hide) 

Yuval Noah Harari’s book Sapiens has a really interesting and a specific section that is really bending my mind a bit especially being on vacation. It’s under the heading of ” Prison Walls” subsection “The imagined order shapes our desires.”

Obviously more context would help but the most interesting part or relevant portion starts ” the most cherished desires of present- day Westerners are shaped by romantic, nationalist, capitalist and humanist myths that have been around for centuries. Friends giving advice often tell each other ‘ Follow your heart.’ But the heart is a double agent that usually takes its instructions from the dominant myths of the day, and the very recommendation to ‘follow your heart’ was implanted in our minds by a combination of nineteenth-century Romantic myths and twentieth-century consumerist myths.” “Even what people take to be their most personal desires are usually programmed by the imagined order. Let’s consider, for example, the popular desire to take a holiday abroad. There is nothing natural or obvious about this. A chimpanzee alpha male would never think of using his power in order to go on holiday into territory of a neighboring chimpanzee band. […] people today spend a great deal of money on holidays abroad because they are true believers in the myths of romantic consumerism. Romantics tell us that in order to make the most of our human potential we must have as many different experiences as we can. We must open ourselves to a wide spectrum of emotions; we must sample various kinds of relationships; we must try different cuisines; we must learn to appreciate different styles of music. One of the best ways to do all that is to break free from our daily routine, leave behind our familiar setting, and go traveling in distant lands, where we can ‘experience’ the culture, the smells, the tastes and the norms of other people. We hear again and again the romantic myths about ‘how a new experience opened my eyes and changed my life.’ Consumerism tells us that in order to be happy we must consume as many products and services as possible. If we feel something is missing or not quite right, then we probably need to buy a product (a car, new clothes, organic food) or a service (housekeeping, relationship therapy,yoga classes). Every television commercial is another little legend about how consuming some product or service will make life better.
Romanticism, which encourages variety, meshes perfectly with consumerism. Their marriage has given birth to the infinite ‘market of experiences’, on which the modern tourism industry is founded. It sells experiences. Paris is not a city, nor India a country- they are both experiences, the consumption of which is supposed to widen our horizons, fulfill our human potential, and make us happier.”

I feel like that’s been my issue with travel bloggers or traveling in general. This perception that it somehow leads to self actualization and the people who do travel seem to think or tell you how this is happening to them. Quotes, aha moments. It’s all like self loving masturbation and I hate it. Eat, pray, love. That’s how she found herself. Well turns out she goes on to continue to be self destructive and very human after the book and there are so many chicks out there literally quoting her book. It’s distraction. That’s what makes people move on from shit relationships or problems. You literally changed your environment. You’ve ceased interaction with something you would otherwise be engaging with. It strongly reminds me of freshman year of college after we’ve all had a little taste of intro philosophy and literature. Camus, Kafka, Schopenhauer, little Adam Smith and Marx. All the sudden everyone knows something and they’re going to tell you about it even though they’ve never been responsible for their own bills or spend their parents money on drugs. Sweet bro.

Anyway this passage hit home hard because I think we ohh and ahh and you go Glenn cocoa through this travel in your twenties and thirties stuff. If you were a dick before you traveled you probably still are. The enlightenment quotes- pass the cheese, please. I’m very aware I’m guilty of this as well, but I just think I had to put it down on paper.

Vents closing.

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