Freedom and belonging Up in the Air: Reconsidering the travel ideal with Jean-Luc Nancy
Adam Doering, Center for Tourism Research, Wakayama University, Wakayama, Japan
Gemma Blackwood & Andrew McGregor (eds),
Motion Pictures: Travel Ideals in Film,
Chapter 6 (pp. 109-134)
Peter Lang: Bern, Switzerland
How does belonging fit into a Western travel ideal so heavily invested in freedom? When one reflects on travel stories in the West the initial response seems clear: there is no belonging. From the colonial binaries of “home/away”, “self/other” and “free/unfree”, to New Age claims of belonging on the road, to the world, or as a global soul – hinting at the end of belonging all together – Western travel “ideals” have been built upon a precarious fascination with the individual’s choice of how to be “free” and where to “belong”. But as contemporary philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy asks, what would such a self-determining free decision mean if it was not also an attempt to remain untouched by every obstacle in life and to maintain a comfortable distance from entering into relations with others?... ...This chapter shifts the focus from the “subject’s freedom” to the experience of freedom itself. Working within and against the Enlightenment ideals that equate travel with free selfhood and a displaced mode of belonging, I begin with a proposition set out by Jean-Luc Nancy in The Experience of Freedom that freedom itself unfolds as a shared exposure with the world. That is to say, the experience of freedom transgresses and is indifferent to whether we are travelling the globe or commuting to work. As we will explore, this reconsideration of the travel ideal revolves around the possibility that freedom is never “my” freedom to attain, possess or act upon. To the contrary, I argue along- side Nancy that freedom is a relational experience of belonging-together rather than a distancing or displacement from it.
Travel Writing, Film Studies, Jean-Luc Nancy, Sense of belonging, and Freedom