Art of Travel

Noel's tree
Noel's tree, Kew Gardens, London

Can art bring us closer to sensing our selves in a place than actually going there?

Perhaps, if the place is somewhere we want to go to.

In Melbourne, reading Alain de Botton’s The Art of Travel, (2002, Pub. Penguin, London), I find reference to the Duc des Esseintes, a character in J.-K. Huysman’s novel, A Rebours, published in 1884. De Botton reports that

Des Esseintes ended up un the paradoxical position of feeling more in Holland – that is, more intensely in contact with the elements he loved in Dutch culture – when looking at selected images of Holland in a museum than when travelling with sixteen pieces of luggage and two servants through the country itself. ( De Botton, 2002;16)


The anticipatory and artistic imaginations omit and compress, they cut away the periods of boredom and direct our attention to critical moments and, without either lying or embellishing, thus lend to life a vividness and coherence that it may lack in the distracting woolliness of the present. ( De Botton, 2002;15)

Do most people prefer  pictures of warm places hanging on walls in their houses, than pictures of cold places? If so, what does this say about most people?

What attracts people to desolate places?

On his way to Sinai Desert,  Alain De Botton writes,

Wordsworth had urged us to travel through landscapes to feel emotions that would benefit our souls. I set out for the desert in order to be made to feel small. ( De Botton, 2002;159)