“We have seen, ladies and gentlemen, how self-hood has grown and gained a foothold, become increasingly distinct and affecting. Previously barely marked, prone to being blurred, subjugated to the collective. Imprisoned in the stays of roles, conventions, flattened in the press of traditions, subjugated to demands. Now it swells and annexes the world.
“Once the gods were external, unavailable, from another world, and their apparent emissaries were angels and demons.
“This fascinating phenomenon is beginning to be studied by the fledgling discipline of travel psychotheology.
“There is a certain well-known syndrome named after Stendhal in which one arrives in a place known from literature or art and experiences it so intensely that one grows weak or faints. There are those who boast they have discovered places totally unknown, and then we envy them for experiencing the truest reality even very fleetingly before that place, like all the rest, is absorbed by our minds.
“Which is why we must ask, once more, insistently, the same question: where are they going, to what countries, to what places? Other countries have become an external complex, a knot of significations that a good topographical psychologist can unravel just like that, interpret on the spot.”
Extracted from Flights by Olga Tokarczuk
A darkly funny, quirky and insightful book that combines compelling short stories of wanderers and voyagers, with personal anecdotes and philosophical forays. Read my review