Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Brain Needs to Travel

I just got back from traveling to Mexico, and then to New York City. I happened to read a few good quotes while traveling.

One was from Chabon's Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. It made me think of travel as a temporary escape:

"The shaping of a golem, to him, was a gesture of hope, offered against hope, in a time of desperation....It was the voicing of a vain wish, when you got down to it, to escape. To slip, like the Escapist, free of the entangling chain of reality and the straitjacket of physical laws....[They] always cited "escapism" among the litany of injurious consequences of their reading, and dwelled on the pernicious effects, on young minds, of satisfying the desire to escape. As if there could be any more noble or necessary service in life."

Then I read an article by Jonah Lehrer, "Definitive Incontrovertible Proof: Why Travel Makes you Smarter" from the San Francisco Panorama. He uses some experimental examples and some thought to show why traveling is so important:

"Such cultural contrasts mean that seasoned travelers are alive to ambiguity, more willing to realize that there are different (and equally valid) ways of interpreting the world."

"...this increased creativity [as a result of traveling] appears to be a side-effects of difference: we need to change cultures, to experience the disorienting diversity of human traditions. The same details that make foreign travel so confusing-- Do I tip the waiter? Where is this train taking me?--turn out to have a lasting impact, making us more creative because we're less insular. We're reminded of what we don't know, which is nearly everything..."

"We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything."

I'm going to plan my next trip....

(more quotes are on my quotes page- see link at top of blog)
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