On Leaving

Toronto’s Pearson Airport is an ideal place from which to leave on a journey. Terminal 1 is shaped like a wing, and if you are flying international, you can enjoy Richard Serra’s Tilted Spheres. At the moment I’m sitting inside Tilted Spheres, enjoying my time before boarding a flight to England. The work is about air travel – the curved flanks of metal suggest the tubular frame of a jet, or its wing. It is wonderful, and at the same time terrifying.

This journey is the longest I have ever embarked on – I will be gone more than 2 months. Most of that time will be spent in the historic region of Palestine in a city which is claimed as capital by Israel and the State of Palestine (neither claim is internationally recognized). But before I arrive in that contested region I will spend time in the Republic of Ireland, the province of Northern Ireland, and France. I will attend a week long summer school, visit friends, and perform at a wedding. There is a lot to anticipate, to prepare for, and to write about.

I think the beginning of a trip is a good time to reflect on the goal and purpose of writing about such a trip. On the one hand, it is to convey to friends and family what I’m up to. It’s also a kind of journaling – an exercise in self-clarification where one is forced by the act of writing to impose narrative structures on felt experience. One worry I do have, however, is my tendency to put too much effort into public writing, such as this blog, and less into academic and private writing. Different forms of writing, for different audiences, play a different role in experience. I can write things in a private journal that I would not write here, for instance. And if I write up philosophical ideas here, they do not seem to develop into formal academic work (although, this may be simply a problem of follow-up on my part). So, while I will still try to provide frequent updates, if are not be as long or extensive as on previous trips it is because I’m concentrating on other forms of writing alongside blogging.

Also, this is not simply a writing trip – it is a photography trip as well. And perhaps more so than any trip I have been on before. On this trip I will try to move beyond “taking nice pictures”, to using photographs to convey meaning. In that vein, I will be changing the colours and header photo relatively often to reflect where I am, and what has been happening.

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2 thoughts on “On Leaving

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