Hello dear readers, new and old. Wow: so many more of you now. Getting Freshly Pressed (thanks, WordPress editors!) really throws a writer for a loop, audience-wise. What lovely, thoughtful responses you’ve left, occasionally asking for more stories about Afghanistan. As I was discussing with Read Stuff with Me (http://readstuffwithme.wordpress.com/) my depictions are admittedly very romanticized, rosy portraits from memory, as subjective as they come, bearing little to no resemblance with the Afghanistan you’d find today. (See Xenogirl for more up-to-date reflections: http://xenogirl.com/2012/07/30/culture-shock/ .)
The theme of my tale of Afghanistan–the great theme, if I might call it that, of this entire blog–is longing. In my scholarly life I’m researching longing for liberty in Greece. (Pop quiz: Let’s see a show of hands: how many knew that the nation of modern Greece is younger than the United States?) Greeks may have won their war of independence in 1830 but they’re still longing for political and economic liberty. Yet to travelers Greece has long been seen as a place to go to find freedom. So I’m also exploring that longing for liberty (personal, political, spiritual) that drives people to travel there.
Do you travel because you long for liberty?
Why do some places seem to promise it more than others?
There’s clearly a political answer to that second question, but I’m curious about the geographical or topographical answer. The answer, that is, of landscape.
How many of you are drawn to wild landscapes? Do they make you feel free? Scotland and Greece capture my freedom-loving spirit more than England and Italy (two other beloved and somewhat related places) for the raw wildness of the landscapes, I think, in contrast to the domesticated, agricultured, groomed. Similarly, among my many childhood homes (I had a peripatetic upbringing), Boone, North Carolina is remembered as most freeing because of imprinted images of breathtaking mountain passes, while Omaha, Nebraska conjures the homey security of well-groomed old homes and elm trees. Cue Burke: let’s launch into a debate of the sublime over the beautiful. Why is Alaska the most stunning of the states? Why, more scope for sublimity.
What are the landscapes you long for, and why? Are they different from the landscapes you grew up in?