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Choice Quotes from Alain de Botton’s The Art of Travel

The pessimistic school, of which Des Esseintes might be an honorary patron, therefore argues that reality must always be disappointing. It may be truer and more rewarding to suggest that it is primarily different.

On works of art: If we are inclined to forget how much there is in the world besides that which we anticipate, then works of art are perhaps a little to blame, for in them we find the same process of simplification or selection at work as in the imagination.

Life is a hospital in which every patient is obsessed with changing beds. This one wants to suffer in front of the radiator, and that one thinks he’d get better if he was by the window.

The destination was not really the point. The true desire was to get away, to go…

When shall we set sail for happiness?

On planes: There is psychological pleasure in this take-off too, for the swiftness of the plane’s ascent is an exemplary symbol of transformation. The display of power can inspire us to imagine analogous, decisive shifts in our own lives; to imagine that we too might one day surge above much that now looms over us.

Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations that a moving plane, ship or train. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is in front of our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, new thoughts new places.

What we find exotic abroad may be what we hunger for in vain at home.

How flattering it would be to one’s pride if at the moment of leaving you were sure that you left a memory behind, that she would think of you more than of the others who have been there, that you would remain in her heart.

I hate everything that merely instructs me without augmenting or directly invigorating my activity.

A danger of travel is that we see things at the wrong time, before we have had a chance to build up the necessary receptivity and when new information is therefore as useless and fugitive as necklace beads without a connecting chain.

Sublime places repeat in grand terms a lesson that ordinary life typically teaches viciously: that the universe is mightier than we are, that we are frail and temporary and have no alternative but to accept limitations on our will, that we must bow to necessities greater than ourselves.

The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.

…the pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.

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