19 September 2013

Going Nowhere

Holbrook Jackson, Romance and Reality (London: Grant Richards, 1911), pp. 17-19:
The man who is not going Somewhere nowadays is very rare indeed. The habit is rapidly becoming an instinct. I hardly ever meet people who are not going Somewhere; or if they are not actually doing so it is merely because circumstances are against them; they have work to do, money to earn, masters to serve, homes to support. As it is they devote their spare moments to planning journeys to remote places for the holidays. Journeying has become a part of the ritual of life. The wedding trip is as much a circumstance of getting married as the honeymoon used to be; and you no longer hear of merchants retiring from business and taking things easily; they retire from business, nowadays, to devote themselves to travel. This journeying is always, as I say, purposeful; people are always going Somewhere; and, just as the act of going Somewhere has become a kind of social ritual, so certain places have become the symbols and impedimenta of the ritual. Their names are adorably familiar to all purposeful travellers — Florence and Rome; the Bernese Oberland and the Trossachs; parts of Holland, Belgium, France; Cairo, Morocco, the Land of the Midnight Sun (vide Guide-Books), and even, for the extra wealthy, Japan. It is a far-flung list, but yet a narrow one, for the ritual of going Somewhere, or, to give it its real name, the art of the tourist, imposes upon you the necessity of keeping on the beaten track. Somewhere is a place to which everybody has been or "ought" to go; it has been written about, praised, defined. 
Now when I say that I prefer going to Nowhere, I would not have you jump to the conclusion that I am a contrary person. Were you to do so you would do me an injustice. Nowhere is simply my favourite destination, and I get so much pleasure in going there, that it is not easy for me to imagine why people put themselves to so much trouble in going elsewhere.