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I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


"...I did join Time Magazine. I was in the curious state of writing world affairs for them. Curious because, as perhaps you know, Time and Newsweek have this peculiar system whereby half the people actually go around the world covering the news and the other half just sit in New York in little cubicles writing on it. So I was in that second category. Every week I would write palpitating, breathless accounts of foraging my way through Philippine jungles or ascending the Andes to find the Sendero Luminoso gorillas or seeing an uprising in South Africa without ever having been to those places and without knowing what they look like."

"....Well, that is what decided me to become a travel writer. I made the fatal and unforgivable mistake of beginning to take holidays and I took them in some of the places I was writing about. I quickly came to the conclusion you just enunciated, which is, "Why on earth am I sitting in a cubicle writing about these places at one remove when I could actually be there." That is when I started writing my books and moving away from Time Magazine. But writing world affairs for them was a very good discipline in writing clearly and concretely. It was also a good crash course in world affairs because, literally, every week I would come in on Tuesday and be told, "You are going to be writing this week on Paraguay," or "Haiti," or "Ciskei." I wouldn't have even heard of them before, so I would desperately learn everything I could about them so as to be able to turn out a seemingly authoritative article two days later."

"....I think the main reason I travel, if I were to sum it up in one word, is for ambiguity. The reason I love travel is not just because it transports you in every sense, but because it confronts you with emotional and moral challenges that you would never have to confront at home. So I like going out in search of moral and emotional adventure which throws me back upon myself and forces me to reconsider my assumptions and the things I took for granted. It sends me back a different person."

Sounds familiar? Sounds like someone you know? Sounds like you?

Or all of the above?

Well, well, if you haven't already got it, it's one of the best travel writers of our time.

Read Pico Iyer's insightful conversation on PostModern Tourism with Scott London here.

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