Boorstin From Traveler to Tourist

Boorstin From Traveler to Tourist - BOOKS BY DANIEL J....

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–22. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 2
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 4
Background image of page 5

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 6
Background image of page 7

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 8
Background image of page 9

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 10
Background image of page 11

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 12
Background image of page 13

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 14
Background image of page 15

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 16
Background image of page 17

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 18
Background image of page 19

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 20
Background image of page 21

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 22
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: BOOKS BY DANIEL J. BOORSTIN Hidden History The Discoverers * The Americans: The Colonial Experience The Americans: The National Experience The Americans: The Democratic Experience * The Mysterious Science of the Law The Lost World of Thomas Jefi‘erson The Genius of American Politics America and the Image of Europe The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America The Decline of Radicalism The Sociology of the Absurd Democracy and Its Discontents The Republic of Technology The Exploring Spirit * I History of the United States (with Brooks M. Kelley) * For young readers: The Landmark History of the American People bgu dal may be pmtected underthe ‘ Laws at the United States In , (Title 17 {1.5. code) Y3“&Hé A Guide to Pseudo-Events »54¢q DANIEL J. BOORSTIN ‘ hmesm-y a rm (1mm CHAPEL HILL v Technology . . . the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it. MAX FRISCH \‘ Atheneum: New York 1937 {k Mk. . mgr.-. 7 6 From Hero to Celebrity: The Human Pseudo-Event hind every prize and the shenanigans in front of every effort to enshrine a celebrity or to enthrone a Queen for a Day. Despite our best intentions, our contrivance to provide substitute heroes finally produces nothing but celebrities. To publicize is to expose. With our unprecedented power to magnify the images and popularize the virtues of heroes, our machinery only multi- plies and enlarges the shadows of ourselves. Somehow we cannot make ourselves so uncritical that we reverence or respect (however much we may be interested in) the re- flected images of our own emptiness. We continue surrepti- tiously to wonder whether greatness is not a naturally scarce commodity, whether it can ever really be synthesized. Per- haps, then, our ancestors were right in connecting the very idea of human greatness with belief in a God. Perhaps man cannot make himself. Perhaps heroes are born and not made. Among the ironic frustrations of our age, none is more tantalizing than these efforts of ours to satisfy our extravagant expectations of human greatness. Vainly do we make scores of artificial celebrities grow where nature planted only a single hero. As soon as a hero begins to be sung about today, he evaporates into a celebrity. “No man can be a hero to his valet”-—or, Carlyle might have added, “to his Time re- porter.” In our world of big names, curiously, our true heroes tend to be anonymous. In this life of illusion and quasi- illusion, the person with solid virtues who can be admired for something more substantial than his well-knownness often proves to be the unsung hero: the teacher, the nurse, the mother, the honest cop, the hard worker at lonely, under- paid, unglamorous, unpublicized jobs. Topsy-turvily, these can remain heroes precisely because they remain unsung. Their virtues are not the product of our effort to fill our void. Their very anonymity protects them from the flashy ephem- eral celebrity life. They alone have the mysterious power to deny our mania for more greatness than there is in the world. 3 From Traveler to Tourist: The Lost Art (yr Travel “You’re just 15 gourmet meal: from Europe on the world’s fastest ship.” ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE UNITED STATES LINES DURING RECENT DECADES we have come to think that our new technology can save us from the inexorable laws of familiarity. By magical modern machinery we hope to clear the world of its commonplaceness—of its omnipresent tree sparrows, starlings, and blue jays—and fill it with rare Sutton’s warblers, ivory-billed woodpeckers, whooping cranes, and rufous hummingbirds. Every bird-watcher knows how hard it is to reconcile oneself to the fact that the com- mon birds are the ones most usually seen and that rare birds are really quite uncommon. Now all of us frustrate ourselves by the expectation that we can make the exotic an everyday experience (without its ceasing to be exotic); and can some- how make commonplaceness itself disappear. The word “adventure” has become one of the blandest and emptiest in the language. The cheap cafeteria at the corner offers us an “adventure in good eating”; a course in self-development ($13.95) in a few weeks will transform our daily conversation into a “great adventure”; to ride in the new Dodge is an “adventure.” By continual overuse, we 77 «416..., ea am. {an}. A a . "I A A mmwmd\ H mm“; .W gnaw“... "zap; . 7 8 From Traveler to Tourist: wear out the once-common meaning of “an unusual, stirring, experience, often of romantic nature,” and return “adven- ture” to its original meaning of a mere “happening” (from the Latin, adventura, and advenire). But while an “adven- ture” was originally “that which happens without design; chance, hap, luck,” now in common usage it is primarily a contrived experience that somebody is trying to sell us. Its changed meaning is both a symptom of the new pervasive- ness of pseudo-events and a symbol of how we defeat our- selves by our exaggerated expectations of the amount of unexpectedness—"adventure”—as of everything else in the world. There is no better illustration of our newly exaggerated expectations than our changed attitude toward travel. One of the most ancient motives for travel, when men had any choice about it, was to see the unfamiliar. Man’s incurable desire to go someplace else is a testimony of his incurable optimism and insatiable curiosity. We always expect things to be different over there. “Traveling,” Descartes wrote in the early seventeenth century, “is almost like conversing with men of other centuries.” Men who move because they are starved or frightened or oppressed expect to be safer, better fed, and more free in the new place. Men who live in a secure, rich, and decent society travel to escape boredom, to elude the familiar, and to discover the exotic. They have often succeeded. Great stirrings of the mind have frequently followed great ages of travel. Throughout history by going to far places and seeing strange sights men have prodded their imagination. They have found amaze- ment and delight and have reflected that life back home need not always remain what it has been. They have learned that there is more than one way to skin a cat, that there are more things in heaven and earth than was dreamt of in their philosophy, that the possibilities of life are not exhausted on Main Street. In the fifteenth century the discovery of the Americas, the voyages around Africa and to the Indies opened eyes, en- Tbe Lost Art of Travel 7 9 larged thought, and helped create the Renaissance. The travels of the seventeenth century around Europe, to Amer- ica, and to the Orient helped awaken men to ways of life different from their own and led to the Enlightenment. The discovery of new worlds has always renewed men’s minds. Travel has been the universal catalyst. It has made men think faster, imagine larger, want more passionately. The returning traveler brings home disturbing ideas. Pascal (three centuries before television) said that man’s ills came from the fact that he had not yet learned to sit quietly in a room. In recent decades more Americans than ever before have traveled outside our country. In 1854 about thirty-odd thousand Americans went abroad; a century later in 1954 almost a million American citizens left the United States for foreign parts other than Canada and Mexico. After allowing for the increase in population, there is about five times as much foreign travel by Americans nowadays as there was a hundred years ago. As a nation we are probably the most traveled people of our time, or of any time. What is remark- able, on reflection, is not that our foreign travel has in- creased so much. But rather that all this travel has made so little difference in our thinking and feeling. Our travels have not, it seems, made us noticeably more cosmopolitan or more understanding of other peoples. The explanation is not that Americans are any more obtuse or uneducable than they used to be. Rather, the travel experi- ence itself has been transformed. Many Americans now “travel,” yet few are travelers in the old sense of the word. The multiplication, improvement, and cheapening of travel facilities have carried many more people to distant places. But the experience of going there, the experience of being there, and what is brought back from there are all very different. The experience has become diluted, contrived, prefabricated. The modern American tourist now fills his experience with pseudo—events. He has come to expect both more strangeness and more familiarity than the world naturally offers. He has a "hem—an 8 0 F ram Traveler to Tourist: come to believe that he can have a lifetime of adventure in two weeks and all the thrills of risking his life without any real risk at all. He expects that the exotic and the familiar can be made to order: that a nearby vacation spot can give him Old World charm, and also that if he chooses the right accommodations he can have the comforts of home in the heart of Africa. Expecting all this, he demands that it be supplied to him. Having paid for it, he likes to think he has got his money’s worth. He has demanded that the whole world be made a stage for pseudo—events. And there has been no lack of honest and enterprising suppliers who try to give him what he wants, to help him inflate his expectations, and to gratify his insatiable appetite for the impossible. I UNTIL ALMOST the present century, travel abroad was un- comfortable, diflicult, and expensive. The middle-class American did not go for “fun.” Foreign capitals offered sophisticated pleasures: conversation with the great and the witty, views of painting, sculpture, and architecture, roman- tic musings in the ruins of vanished civilizations, pilgrimages to the birthplaces of poets, to the scenes of glory of statesmen and orators. Men seeing the “Wonders of the World” felt a wonderment for which they usually were well prepared. This had long been the pattern of European travel by Europeans. “As soon as we have got hold of a bit of Latin,” the French wit Saint—Evremond caricatured in one of his comedies in the seventeenth century, “we prepare to start on our travels. . . . When our travellers are of a literary turn of mind, they invariably take with them a book consisting solely of blank pages nicely bound, which they call an Album Ami- corum. Armed with this, they make a point of calling on the various learned men of the locality they happen to be visiting, and beg them to inscribe their names in it.” The Lost Art of Travel 8 I The serious attitude in the late eighteenth century was expressed by an aristocratic scholar, the Comte de Volney, who explained that, having received a small inheritance: On reflection, I thought the sum too inconsiderable to make any sensible addition to my income and too great to be dissipated in frivolous expenses. Some fortunate circumstances had habituated me to study; I had ac- quired a taste, and even a passion for knowledge, and the accession to my fortune appeared to me a fresh means of gratifying my inclination, and opening a new way to improvement. I had read and frequently heard repeated, that of all methods of adorning the mind, and forming the judgment, travelling is the most efficacious; I determined, therefore, on a plan of travelling, but to what part of the world to direct my course remained still to be chosen: I wished the scene of my observations to be new, or at least brilliant. Volney decided to go to the Middle East, and his journey through Syria and Egypt (1783—85) produced a travel classic. Arthur Young, the English agriculturalist, took three trips to nearby France in 1787, 1788, and 1789, as a self- appointed surveyor of farming ways; his journal (published 1792) helped revolutionize the agronomy of England and reached its influence far out to the young United States. Jefferson, in France and Italy about the same time, earnestly sought out new plants for Virginia and found the architectural models which shaped the University of Virginia. The young aristocrat went abroad also to grow up and to sow his wild oats. He could enjoy his rakish pleasures at a comfortable distance from home and reputation. Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations (1776), recorded that in his day it was the custom among those who could afford it “to send young people to traVel in foreign countries immedi- ately upon their leaving school, and without sending them to any university. Our young people, it is said, generally return home much improved by their travels. A young man who 8 2 From Traveler to Tourist: goes abroad at seventeen or eighteen, and returns home at one-and—twenty, returns three or four years older than he was when he went abroad; and at that age it is very difficult not to improve a good deal in three or four years.” Smith objected, however, that this was a risky practice which often corrupted the young; the custom, he said, could not have arisen except for the low state of English universities. The wealth of Eng- land had enabled her young people on the continent (as a German observer somewhat enviously remarked in 1760) to “give a loose to their propensities to pleasure, even in Italy . . . having a great deal of money to lavish away, it not only gives them more spirit to engage in adventures, but likewise furnishes them with means for. removing impedi- ments, or buying off any ill-consequences.” Casanova’s amorous Memoirs (1826—38), we sometimes forget, were a record of travels which had taken him through the capitals of Europe—t0 Venice, Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Madrid, and as far east as Constantinople. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries many Euro- pean men of culture liked to boast of having made more than one country their own. To travel was to become a man of the world. Unless one was a man of the world, he might not seem cultivated in his own country. The young Italian, Antonio Conti, for example (as Paul Hazard recalls), was born in Padua, lived for a while in Paris, then in London in 1715 joined a discussion of the recently invented infinitesimal calculus, afterwards stopped to pay his respects to Leeuwen- hoek, the naturalist and microscope maker, in Holland—all on his way to meet the philosopher Leibniz in Hanover. In the old Grand Tour (recounted, for example, in Laurence Sterne’s Sentimental Journey) the young gentleman rounded off his education. Locke, Gibbon, and Hume knew France from extended visits. Gibbon did much of his writing in Switzerland. Monarchs often went abroad, and not' only when they abdicated or were banished. Prince Hamlet went abroad to study. Christina of Sweden lived for a while in Paris, and died in Rome in 1689. Peter the Great at the end T be Lost Art of Travel 8 3 of the seventeenth century traveled in Germany, Holland, England, and Austria. For Europeans foreign travel was an institution of exiled monarchs, adventuring aristocrats, mer- chant princes, and wandering scholars. For Americans, too, until nearly the end of the nineteenth century foreign travel (still mostly European travel) was the experience of a privileged few. Franklin’s great overseas success was in the committee rooms of the House of Com- mons and in the salons (and bedrooms) of Paris. Jefferson and other cultivated Americans, who still believed in a world- wide “Republic of Letters,” were eager to meet their Euro- pean fellow citizens. Henry Adams in Berlin, Rome, London, Paris was an idealized American version of the European on Grand Tour. All the success that Adams or his father or grandfather achieved, so Henry said, “was chiefly due to the field that Europe gave them,” and it was more than likely that without the help of Europe they would have all re- mained local politicians or lawyers, like their neighbors, to the end. When a Franklin, a Jefferson, a Charles Sumner, or a Henry Adams arrived in Europe, he was armed with introductions to the great and famous. Henry Adams called the European journey his third or fourth attempt at educa- tion. Like other means of education, such travel had its delights, but it was hard work. The scarcity of postal facilities and the lack of newspapers gave an added incentive to travel. At the same time, the hardships of a virtually roadless landscape restricted the foreign journey to those with a serious or at least earnestly frivolous purpose, who were willing to risk robbers, cut— throats, and disease, and to find their own way through track— less heath, vast swamps, and mud that came up to the car- riage axles. “Under the best of conditions,” one historian of the eighteenth century records, “six horses were required to drag across country the lumbering coaches of the gentry, and not infrequently the assistance of oxen was required.” It was not until nearly 1800—and the work of two Scottish engi— neers, Thomas Telford and John Macadam—that the modern 8 4 From Traveler to Tourist: science of roadbuilding was developed and cheap and effec- tive hard—surfacing became possible. The travel experience was an adventure, too, simply be- cause so few could afiord or would dare its hardships. The modern hotel—the place which George Bernard Shaw later praised as “a refuge from home life”—had not been in— vented. In the picturesque inn of the travel books every comfort had to be specially negotiated. The luxury of a pri- vate bed was hard to come by, not only because of the con- stant companionship of cockroaches, bedbugs, and fleas, but because innkeepers felt free to assign more than one guest to a bed. Englishmen traveling in France noted how rare it was to encounter fellow travelers, much less fellow country- men. Arthur Young in the late eighteenth century found “a paucity of travellers that is amazing”; he traveled a whole day on a main road thirty miles outside of Paris and “met but a single gentleman’s carriage, nor anything else on the road that looked like a gentleman.” Even later, when sleep- ing accommodations had improved, the traveler on the con- tinent might expect to find “comfortable hotels, but no un- comfortable crowds.” As late as the 1860’s an English traveler to Holland noted that “tourists were comparatively rare and there were no cheap trippers.” II SOMETIME PAST the middle of the nineteenth century, as the Graphic Revolution was getting under way, the character of foreign travel—first by Europeans, and then by Amer- icans—began to change. This change has reached its climax in our day. Formerly travel required long planning, large expense, and great investments of time. It involved risks to health or even to life. The traveler was active. Now he be- came passive. Instead of an athletic exercise, travel became a spectator sport. This change can be described in a word. It was the decline The Lost Art of Travel 8 5 of the traveler and the rise of the tourist. There is a wonder— ful, but neglected, precision in these words. The old English noun “travel” (in the sense of a journey) was originally the same word as “travail” (meaning “trouble,” “work,” or “torment”). And the word “travail,” in turn, seems to have been derived, through the French, from a popular Latin or Common Romanic word trepalium, which meant a three- staked instrument of torture. To journey—to “travail,” or (later) to travel—then was to do something laborious or troublesome. The traveler was an active man at work. In the early nineteenth century a new word came into the English language which gave a clue to the changed character of world' travel, especially from the American point of view. This was the word “tourist”——at first hyphen- ated as “tour-ist.” Our American dictionary now defines a tourist as “a person who makes a pleasure trip” or “a person who makes a tour, especially for pleasure.” Significantly, too, the word “tour” in “tourist” was derived by back—formation from the Latin tornus, which in turn came from the Greek word for a tool describing a circle. The traveler, then, was working at something; the tourist was a pleasure-seeker. The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes “sight-seeing” (a word, by the way, which came in about the same time, with its first use recorded in 1847). He expects everything to be done to him and for him. Thus foreign travel ceased to be an activity—an experi- ence, an undertaking—and instead became a commodity. The rise of the tourist was possible, and then inevitable, when attractive items of travel were wrapped up and sold in pack- ages (the “package tour”). By buying a tour you could oblige somebody else to make pleasant and interesting things hap— pen to you. You could buy wholesale (by the month or week, or by the country) or retail (by the day or by the individual foreign capital). The familiar circumstances which had brought this about 8 6 From Traveler to Tourirt: are worth recalling. First and most obvious was the casing of transportation. In the latter part of the nineteenth century railroads and ocean steamers began to make travel actually pleasurable. Discomfort and risks were suddenly reduced. For the first time in history, long-distance transportation was industrially mass-produced. It could be sold to lots of people, and it could be sold cheap. For a satisfactory return on in- vestment, it had to be sold in large quantities. The capital invested in any of the old vehicles—a stagecoach or the pas- senger quarters in a sailing ship—was minute compared with that in a railroad (even a single sleeping car) or a luxury liner. This enormous capital investment required that equip- ment be kept in constant use and that passengers be found by the thousands. Now great numbers of people would be in- duced to travel for pleasure. Vast ocean steamers could not be filled with diplomats, with people traveling on business, or with aristocratic Henry Adamses who were intent on deepen- ing their education. The consuming public had to be en- larged to include the vacationing middle class, or at least the upper middle class. Foreign travel became democratized. The obvious next step was the “personally conducted tour.” Well-planned group excursions could entice even the more timid stay-at~homes. Of course guided tours of one sort or another had been very old: the Crusades had sometimes taken on this character. We can recall, in Chaucer’s Canter- bury Tales, in the late fourteenth century, the knowledge- able, generous host of the Tabard Inn, who offered And for to make yow the moore mury, I wol myselven goodly with yow ryde, Right at myn owene cost, and be youre gyde. . . . But later guides seldom offered their services free. The guided tour itself actually became .a commodity. Adventure would be sold in packages and guaranteed to be consumed without risk. In England, with its short distances, its rising middle classes, and its early-developed railroads, came the first or- ganized tours. According to legend the very first of them was The Lost Art of Travel 8 7 arranged in 1838 to take the people of Wadebridge by special train to the nearby town of Bodmin. There they witnessed the hanging of two murderers. Since the Bodmin gallows were in clear sight of the uncovered station, excur- sionists had their fun without even leaving the open railway carriages. The real pioneer in the making and marketing of con- ducted tours was of course Thomas Cook (1808—1892). He began in the early 1840’s by arranging special-rate railroad excursions within England. His first planned tour took nearly 600 people the eleven miles from Leicester to Loughborough for a temperance convention—at a reduced round-trip third- class fare of one shilling a head. Soon Cook was sending hundreds to Scotland (1846) and Ireland (1848), and for thousands was arranging tours of the Crystal Palace Exposi— tion in London in 1851. In 185 6 he advertised his first “grand circular tour of the Continent,” visiting Antwerp, Brussels, the Field of Waterloo, Cologne, the Rhine and its borders, Mayence, Frankfort, Heidelberg, Baden-Baden, Strasbourg, Paris, Le Havre, and back to London. Then, with the help of his enterprising son, he offered Swiss tours, American tours, and finally, in 1869, the first middle—class Conducted Crusade to the Holy Land. He quickly developed all kinds of conveniences: courteous and knowledgeable guides, hotel coupons, room reservations, and protection and advice against disease and thievery. Sophisticated Englishmen objected. They said that Cook was depriving travelers of initiative and adventure and cluttering the continental landscape with the Philistine mid- dle classes. “Going by railroad,” complained John Ruskin, “I do not consider as travelling at all; it is merely being ‘sent’ to a place, and very little different from becoming a parcel.” An article in Blackwood’s Magazine in February, 1865, by a British consul in Italy, attacked this “new and growing evil . . . of conducting some forty or fifty persons, irrespec- tive of age or sex, from London to Naples and back for a fixed sum.” “The Cities of Italy,” he lamented, were now 8 8 From Traveler to Tourist: “deluged with droves of these creatures, for they never sepa- rate, and you see them forty in number pouring along a street with their director—now in front, now at the rear, circling round them like a Sheepdog—and really the process is as like herding as may be. I have already met three flocks, and any- thing so uncouth I never saw before, the men, mostly elderly, dreary, sad—looking; the women, somewhat younger, travel- tossed, but intensely lively, wide-awake, and facetious.” Cook defended his tours, which he called “agencies for the advancement of Human Progress.” The attacks on them, he said, were sheer snobbery. The critics belonged in some earlier century. How foolish to “think that places of rare in- terest should be excluded from the gaze of the common peo- ple, and be kept only for the interest of the ‘select’ of society. But it is too late in this day of progress to talk such exclusive nonsense, God’s earth with all its fullness and beauty, is for the people; and railways and steamboats are the result of the common light of science, and are for the people also. . . . The best of men, and the noblest minds, rejoice to see the people follow in their foretrod routes of pleasure.” Still, in the United States, where everything was suddenly available to everybody, it was far more profitable to deal in immigrants than in tourists. Mobile, immigrant-filled, primi- tive America saw less glamor in travel, whether at home or abroad. Among Americans, even longer than among English- men, foreign travel remained close to its aristocratic origins. Until early in the twentieth century, Americans who wanted a planned European excursion still relied on Thomas Cook & Son. President Grant used Cook’s. And one of the best testi- monials for Cook’s new foolproof, carefree travel commodity came from Mark Twain: Cook has made travel easy and a pleasure. He will sell you a ticket to any place on the globe, or all the places, and give you all the time you need and much more besides. It provides hotels for you everywhere, if you so desire; and you cannot be overcharged, for the The Lost Art of Travel 8 9 coupons show just how much you must pay. Cook’s serv- ants at the great stations will attend to your baggage, get you a cab, tell you how much to pay cabmen and por- ters, procure guides for you, and horses, donkeys, cam- els, bicycles, or anything else you want, and make life a comfort and satisfaction to you. Cook is your banker everywhere, and his establishment your shelter when you get caught out in the rain. His clerks will answer all the questions you ask and do it courteously. I recom- mend your Grace to travel on Cook’s tickets; and I do this without embarrassment, for I get no commission. I do not know Cook. Cook’s has never lost its early leadership. It is still the larg- est travel agency in the world. The principal competitor in the United States was to be the American Express Company. It grew out of the famous Wells, Fargo and other agencies which by the mid-nineteenth century were forwarding goods and money across the vast American spaces. In the nineteenth century these agencies profited from the immigrant influx, by going into the business of arranging remittances from successful, recently arrived Americans to their needy families back in Europe. In 1891 the first American Express Travelers Cheque was copy- righted, and in the years since it has done much to ease the traveler’s cares. (By 1960 about two billion dollars’ worth were being sold annually.) In 1895 American Express opened its first European office. At first all it offered travel- ing Americans was a mail-forwarding service, help in secur- ing railroad tickets and hotel reservations, and help in finding lost baggage. President James C. Fargo, in charge until 1914, insisted there was no money in the tourist business. American Express, he said, should deal exclusively in freight and express. But the consolidation of the different express services as part of the war effort in World War I inevitably changed the business. Even before the end of the war Ameri- can Express had begun to develop an extensive travel service, 9 0 From Traveler to Tourist: and after the war its travel department grew spectacularly. By 1961 American Express, serving tourists everywhere, had 279 offices throughout the world. American Express sent the first postwar escorted tour to Europe in October, 1919. Soon afterwards the first Mediter- ranean cruise went out in the Cunard liner Carom'a, under joint control of American Express and Cook’s. In 1922 American Express dispatched the first all-water round-the- world pleasure cruise in the Laconia. Afterwards a similar cruise was arranged every year. The great backwash had be- gun. Americans were returning to the Old World in the great tourist invasions of Europe which have fluctuated with our domestic fortunes, but which in recent years have been greater than ever before. By the middle of the twentieth century, foreign travel had become big business. It was a prominent feature of the American standard of living, an important element in our cultural and financial relations with the rest of the world. In 1957, for example, about ten million American residents spent over two billion dollars on international travel. Of these travelers, 1.5 million went overseas. For the summer of 1961 alone, it was estimated that 800,000 Americans were visiting Europe and were spending there about seven hundred million dollars. Foreign travel now had, of course, become a commodity. Like any other mass-produced commodity, it could be bought in bargain packages and on the installment plan. It was con- sidered a strange and noteworthy event, a peculiar quirk, when Charles Sumner in early nineteenth-century Boston borrowed money from a couple of old friends who had faith in his future, to finance his tour of Europe. Nowadays more and more travelers take the trip before they can pay for it. “Go Now, Pay Later.” Your travel agent will arrange it for you. When travel is no longer made to order but is an assembly- line, store-boughten commodity, we have less to say about what goes into it. And we know less and less about what we The Lost Art of Travel 9 I are buying. We buy so many days of vacation pleasure with- out even knowing what is in the package. Recently on a lec- ture tour I flew into Hyderabad, a city in central India, of which I had not even heard a year before. Seated beside me on the plane were a tired, elderly American and his wife. He was a real estate broker from Brooklyn. I asked him what was interesting about Hyderabad. He had not the slightest notion. He and his wife were going there because the place was “in the package.” Their tour agent had guaranteed to include only places that were “world famous,” and so it must be. A well-packaged tour must include insurance against risks. In this sense the dangers of travel have become obsolete; we buy safety and peace of mind right in the package. Some- body else covers all the risks. In 1954 the suspense-thriller movie The High and the Mighty depicted the troubled flight of a luxury air liner from San Francisco to Honolulu. The assorted vacationers aboard were flying to the mid- Pacific for a week or two of relaxation. As the engines failed, the nerves of the passengers began to fray. Finally, in order to keep the plane in the air, the captain ordered the baggage jettisoned. I saw this movie in a suburban theatre outside of Chicago. Beside me sat a mother and her young son. He seemed relatively unperturbed at the mortal risks of the pas- sengers, but when the plane’s purser began tossing into the ocean the elegant vacation paraphernalia—fancy suitcases, hatboxes, portable typewriters, golf clubs, tennis rackets— the boy became agitated. “What will they do?” the boy ex- claimed. “Don’t worry,” comforted the mother. “It’s all in- sured.” When the traveler’s risks are insurable he has become a tourist. III THE TRAVELER used to go about the world to encounter the natives. A function of travel agencies now is to prevent this 9 2 From Traveler to Tourist: encounter. They are always devising efficient new ways of insulating the tourist from the travel world. In the old traveler’s accounts, the colorful native inn- keeper, full of sage advice and local lore, was a familiar fig— ure. Now he is obsolete. Today on Main Street in your home town. you can arrange transportation, food, lodging, and en- tertainment for Rome, Sydney, Singapore, or Tokyo. No more chaflering. A well-planned tour saves the tourist from negotiating with the natives when he gets there. One reason why returning tourists nowadays talk so much about and are so irritated by tipping practices is that these are al- most their only direct contact with the people. Even this may soon be eliminated. The Travel Plant Commission of the In- ternational Union of Official Travel Organizations in 1958 was studying ways of standardizing tipping practices so that eventually all gratuities could be included in the tour pack- age. Shopping, like tipping, is one of the few activities re- maining for the tourist. It is a chink in that wall of prear- rangements which separates him from the country he visits. No wonder he finds it exciting. When he shops he actually encounters natives, negotiates in their strange language, and discovers their local business etiquette. In a word, he tastes the thrill and “travail” which the old-time traveler once ex- perienced all along the way—with every purchase of trans- portation, with every night’s lodging, with every meal. A planned excursion insulates the tourist in still another way. From its first invention by Thomas Cook in the early nineteenth century, the fully prearranged group tour promised good-fellowship with one’s countrymen in addition to the exotic pleasure of foreign sights. The luxury ocean liner and the all-expense “cruise” (the word in this sense is very recent and is possibly an American invention; originally it meant “to sail from place to place, as for pleasure, without a set desti- nation”) have made this kind of travel amount to residence in a floating resort hotel. Shipmates now replace the natives as a source of adven- ture. Unadvertised risks from pickpockets and bandits are The Lost Art of Travel 9 3 replaced by over-advertised risks of shipboard romance. The sights which disappoint the bachelor or spinster on a cruise are not the Vatican, the Louvre, or the Acropolis but the ship- mates. Except for tipping and shopping adventures, returning cruisers have little to report about encounters with the na- tives, but they have a great deal to say about their country— men on tour with them. The authorized centennial history of American Express recounts the tribulations of a cruise di- rector on a round-the-world cruise. He was obliged, among other things, “to rescue a susceptible young playboy from the wiles of a cruising adventuress; play cupid to a British baronet and an American actress; guard the widow of an Australian pearl magnate who carried tin cans full of matched pearls loose in her baggage; quietly settle an attempted murder in Calcutta; protect his charges during the pitched battle with which Hindus and Mohammedans celebrated the Harvest Festival in Agra; reason with a passenger who demanded a refund because he lost a day when the ship crossed the inter— national date line; and hold the hand of a lonely old lady as she lay dying in a hotel in Rome.” In the old days, an excur- sion. director was called a “guide”; now he is a “social di— rector.” Of course the voyager, even on a planned excursion, is likely to be less insulated on land than on sea, and he is least insulated if he goes alone. But the notion of packaged tour— ing has so prevailed that when a person goes by himself the American Express travel department gives his package a spe- cial name, “F.I.T.” or “D.I.T.”—for “Foreign (or Domes- tic) Independent Travel.” If you want to buy a vacation tour package all for yourself (that is, voyage alone and at will), this is actually oflered as a “special feature.” It is described as an attractive new departure from the routine group ar- rangements, much as only a half century ago the group ex— cursion was offered as something special. The individualized package, the American Express chronicler explains, “is for individuals who prefer to travel alone rather than in a con- ducted group. A tour is planned to meet the particular speci— 9 4 F ram Traveler to Tourist: fications of the client. The exact cost is reckoned and, on pay- ment of this amount, the traveler is given the familiar Ameri- can Express package containing tickets and coupons to cover his entire trip.” Today more than ever before the traveler is isolated from the landscape he traverses. The newest and most popular means of passenger transportation to foreign parts is the most insulating known to man. By 1958 about four times as many international travelers from the United States went by air as by sea. Recently I boarded a plane at Idlewild Airport in New York at 6:30 one evening. The next meming at 11:30 I was in Amsterdam. The flight was routine, at an altitude of about 23,000 feet, far above the clouds, too high to observe landmark or seamark. Nothing to see but the weather; since we had no weather, nothing to see at all. I had flown not through space but through time. My only personal sign that we had gone so far was the discovery on arrival in Amster- dam that I had lost six hours. My only problem en route was to pass the time. My passage through space was unnoticeable and effortless. The airplane robbed me of the landscape. The tourist gets there without the experience of having gone. For him it is all the same: going to one place or to an— other. Today it is only by going short distances, which we still traverse on land, that we can have the experience of go- ing any place. When I have driven from Chicago toa sum— mer resort in nearby Indiana or Wisconsin, or when I used to commute from a suburb to the University by train or by car, I have had more variety of sensations, have observed more varied scenes, and have met more varied people, than I did when I went from New York to Amsterdam. For ages the sensations of going there were inseparable from the experience of being there. Nowadays, “Getting there is half the fun.” “Rome,” announces the British Overseas Airways Corporation, is “A Fun Stop.” And there is nothing more homogeneous than fun, wherever it is found. Now we can have plenty en route. United States Lines advertises: The Lox: Art of Travel 9 5 You’re just 15 gourmet meals from Europe on the world’s fastest ship. Caviar from Iran, pheasant from Scotland . . . you can choose superb food from all over the world, another rewarding experience in gra- cious living on this ship. There’s a pool, gym, 2 thea— tres, 3 Meyer Davis orchestras. It’s a 5—day adventure in the lost art of leisure. In an accompanying photograph we see how “Mrs. Leonard Kleckner shows off her dogs to Chief Oflicer Ridington. This great modern ocean liner has dog kennels with a veterinarian and a dog-walking area.” Shipboard swimming pools, cock- tail lounges, and the latest movies! “One of the World’s great Restaurants sails for Europe” whenever a Holland-America liner pushes off from New York. The experience of going there has been erased. For it we have substituted all the pleasures of de luxe relaxation. Even better than at home. If we go by air, then too we are encompassed in music, and enjoy our cocktail in a lounge with the décor of the best resort hotel. In 1961, TWA began showing first—run movies on a special wide screen in the First Class section of its Super Jet flights. A full-page color advertisement for Lufthansa, German Airlines, portrays the attractive Miss Dietland von SchiSnfeldt—a typical Lufthansa stewardess, of “gracious background, poise and charm, intelligence and education” who, of course, speaks fluent English. She “Invites You to an Unusual Supper Party. . . . Every flight is a charming, in- formal Continental supper party, eight jet-smooth miles over the Atlantic.” The airline stewardess, a breed first developed in the United States and now found on all major international air- lines, is a new subspecies of womankind. With her standard- ized impersonal charm she offers us, anywhere in the world, the same kind of pillow for our head and the latest issue of Look or The Reader’s Digest. She is the Madonna of the Airways, a pretty symbol of the new homogenized blandness 9 6 From Traveler ta Tourist: of the tourist’s world. The first airline stewardesses were the eight girls hired by United Airlines on May 15, 1930; their union was organized in 1946. By 1958 there were 8,200 of them employed by American-owned airlines. They were be- ing trained in a program which lasted about six weeks. The general requirements, as a careful reporter summarized them, were that the young lady be twenty-one to twenty-six years old, “unmarried, reasonably pretty and slender, espe- cially around the hips, which will be at eye level for the pas- sengers. She should have been to high school, be poised and tactful, have a good disposition and a pleasant speaking voice.” Stewardesses with similar qualifications were later trained for service on trains and long-distance buses. Cabral’s company, which went from Portugal to India in 1500, did not, of course, have the advantage of slender- hipped, smooth-voiced stewardesses. They spent over six months at sea. They could not help knowing they had really gone somewhere. In the days before refrigeration or canning the passenger cuisine was not for gourmets. Fresh water was rationed, and fresh fruits and vegetables were not to be had. Scurvy was the plague of seafarers. Typhoid, typhus, and malaria were rife. The Mayflower passengers were at sea for nearly two months, from mid-September to early November, 1620. On arrival William Bradford reported, “They fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the periles and miseries thereof, againe to set their feete on the firme and stable earth, their proper elemente. . . . Be- ing thus passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles.” Knowl- edge that they had come so far stayed with them even into the second generation. Increase Mather gave over the first chapter of his catalogue of divine providences to “remark— able sea-deliverances.” These were as important in the American experience as were the forests or the Indians. For Americans moving westward in the nineteenth cen- tury, their ways of living together en route shaped their lives The Lost Art of Travel 9 7 on arrival, just as the proverbial forty years during which Moses led the children of Israel from Egypt through the wil- derness to the promised land shaped them into a nation. As westering Americans organized against the perils of the trip they framed constitutions and by-laws which prepared them to organize new communities at their destinations. Now, when one risks so little and experiences so little on the voyage, the experience of being there somehow becomes emptier and more trivial. When getting there was more trou- blesome, being there was more vivid. When getting there is “fun,” arriving there somehow seems not to be arriving any place. The tourist who arrives at his destination, where tourist facilities have been “improved,” remains almost as insulated as he was en route. Today the ideal tourist hotel abroad is as much as possible like the best accommodations back home. Beds, lighting facilities, ventilation, air conditioning, central heating, plumbing are all American style, although a shrewd hotel management will, of course, have made a spe- cial effort to retain some “local atmosphere.” Stirred by air travel, international hotel chains have grown phenomenally since World War II. In 1942 Conrad Hilton took over his first hotel outside the United States, the Chihua- hua Hilton, just over the border in northern Mexico. “I felt,” he later recalled “that by organizing week-end bus excur- sions with guides, large—scale entertainment at the hotel, an all-expenses-paid holiday, we could make a very good thing of it—which we did.” At the end of the war Hilton Hotels International, Inc., was founded. “What used to be a month- long vacation trip,” Hilton explained, “is now almost a week- end possibility. . . . The airplane is here to stay. Americans not only can but want to travel farther, see more, do more, in less time. . . . Father Junipero Serra set his California mis- sions a day’s journey apart. Today you can fly over the whole string in a few hours. If we were to set our hotels a day’s journey apart, we’d be around the world in no time. So perfectly sound business is in line with national idealism.” 9 8 From Traveler 20 Tourist: Hilton changed his slogan from “Across the Nation” to “Around the World.” The Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico, opened in 1947, the Castellana Hilton in Madrid in 1953, the Istanbul Hilton in l955—and these were only a beginning. By 1961 Hilton Hotels were also operating in Mexico City and Acapulco, Panama City, Montreal, Cairo, West Berlin, St. Thomas (Virgin Islands), Santiago, and Honolulu. There were associated hotels in Sydney, Mel- bourne, and Queensland. Hotels were under construction in Port-of-Spain (Trinidad), Athens, Amsterdam and Rotter- dam, London, Teheran, and Rome, and projected in Paris, Mayaguez (Puerto Rico), Tokyo, Addis Ababa, Bogota, Dorval (Quebec), and Tunis. The spirit of these new hotels was well expressed in Con- rad Hilton’s own account of the Istanbul Hilton opening in 1955, to which he brought a planeload of American celebri- ties and news makers. “When we flew into Istanbul for the opening with our guests from America, Carol Channing, Irene Dunne and her husband, Dr. Francis Grifl‘in, Mona Freeman, Sonja Henie, Diana Lynn, Merle Oberon, Ann Miller, repre- sentatives of the American press, John Cameron Swazey, Bob Considine, Horace Sutton, Louella Parsons, Hedda Hop- per, and Cobina Wright, not to mention my very old friend, Leo Carillo, who once owned a deer named Sequoia, there is no question but that we all felt the antiquity, romance and mystery of this ancient city. . . . I felt this ‘City of the Golden Horn’ was a tremendous place to plant a little bit of America.” “Each of our hotels,” Hilton announced at the opening, “is a ‘little America.’ ” I have been in both the Caribe Hilton and the Istanbul Hilton and can testify that both are models of American mod- ernity and antisepsis. They are as indistinguishable in inte- rior feeling and design as two planes of the American Air- lines. Except for the views from the picture windows, you do not know where you are. You have the comforting feeling of not really being there. Even the measured admixture of care- Tbe Lost Art of Travel 9 9 fully filtered local atmosphere proves that you are still in the U.S.A. IV THE SELF-CONSCIOUS effort to provide local atmosphere is itself thoroughly American. And an effective insulation from the place where you have gone. Out-of—doors the real Turkey surrounds the Istanbul Hilton. But inside it is only an imita- tion of the Turkish style. The hotel achieves the subtle effect, right in the heart of Turkey, of making the experience of Turkey quite secondhand. A similar insulation comes from all the efforts of different countries which are or hope to become “Tourist Meccas” to provide attractions for tourists. These “attractions” offer an elaborately contrived indirect experience, an artificial prod- uct to be consumed in the very places where the real thing is free as air. They are ways for the traveler to remain out of contact with foreign peoples in the very act of “sight—seeing” them. They keep the natives in quarantine while the tourist in air-conditioned comfort views them through a picture win- dow. They are the cultural mirages now found at tourist oases everywhere. Oddly enough, many of these attractions came into being, rather accidentally, as by—products of democratic revolutions. But soon they were being carefully designed, planned in large numbers and on a grand scale by national tourist agencies eager to attract visitors from far away. The modern museum, like the modern tourist himself, is a symptom of the rise of democracy. Both signal the diffusion of scientific knowledge, the popularization of the arts, the de- cline of private patronage of artists, and the spread of literacy among the middle classes. Collections of valuable, curious, and beautiful objects had always been gathered by men of wealth and power. There 'had long been private museums, but I o O From Traveler to Tourirt: these were seldom open to the public. In ancient days, and es- pecially before the printed book, museums and libraries had been closely allied, as in Alexandria, for example. Of course, there had always been some works of art especially designed for public display, as in the Pinacotheca (a marble hall of the propylaeum on the Athenian Acropolis) or in the forum of Augustus in Rome. At least since Roman times, the best collections of the works of art and of learning were privately owned. And the first modern public museum was the British Museum, established by Act of Parliament in 1753. It had been inspired by the will of Sir Hans Sloane, who on his death that year left the nation his remarkable collection of books, manuscripts, and curiosities. On the European continent most of the great art museums are part of the booty which the ris- ing middle classes have captured for themselves in the revolu- tions since the late eighteenth century. The Louvre, which had been a royal palace, became a public art museum after the French Revolution of 1789. Nowadays a visit to the best art museums in Europe is often a tour of the vacated residences of magnates, noble- men, and monarchs of the pre-democratic age: in Florence, the Ufiizi and Pitti Palaces; in Venice, the Doge’s Palace; in Paris, the Louvre; in Vienna, Schonbrunn. Beautiful objects, taken from scores of princely residences, are crowded to- gether for public display in the grandest of defunct palaces. Painting, sculpture, tapestries, tableware, and other objets d’art (once part of the interior decoration or household equipment of a working aristocracy) were thus “liberated” by and for the people. Now they were to be shown to the na- tion and to all comers. Common people could now see treas— ures from the inner sanctums of palaces, treasures originally designed to adorn the intimate dining tables, bedrooms, and bathrooms of a well-guarded aristocracy. At last everyone could take a Cook’s Tour of the art of the ages for a nominal admission fee or free of charge. Statesmen saw these new museums as symbols of wide-spreading education and cul- ture. as monuments and catalysts of national pride. So they The Lost Art of Travel 1 o I were. Today they remain the destination of tourist—pilgrims from afar. To bring the paintings of Botticelli, Rubens, and Titian into a room where one could see them in a few minutes, to gather together the sculpture of Donatello and Cellini from widely dispersed churches, monasteries, and drawing rooms for chronological display in a single hall, to remove the tapes— tries designed for wall-covering in remote mansions and hunt- ing lodges, and spread them in the halls of centrally located museums—this was a great convenience. But there was one unavoidable consequence. All these things were being re- moved from their context. In a sense, therefore, they were all being misrepresented. Perhaps more was gained in the quantity of people who could see them at all than was lost in the quality of the experience. This is not the question. The effect on experience is plain and undeniable. Inevitably these museums—and others made later on the defunct-palace model—become major tourist attractions. They still are. It remains true, however, that, almost with— out exception, whatever one sees in a museum is seen out of its proper surroundings. The impression of individual works of art or of a country’s past culture as a whole, whenever it is formed from museum visits, is inevitably factitious. It has been put together for your and my convenience, instruction, amusement, and delight. But to put it together the art com- missioners have had to take apart the very environment, the culture which was once real, and which actually created and enjoyed these very works. The muéeum visitor tours a ware- house of cultural artifacts; he does not see vital organs of living culture. Even where (as in the Prado in Madrid or the Hermitage in Leningrad) one visits what was once a private museum, the original collection has been so diluted or ex- panded and the atmosphere so changed that the experience is itself a new artifact. Only the museum itself is quite real— a functioning part of a going concern. The ribbon across the chair, the ancestral portrait no longer viewed by its descend- ant, is a symbol of the change. Each living art object, taken I O 2 From Traveler to Tourixt: out of its native habitat so we can conveniently gaze at it, is like an animal in a zoo. Something about it has died in the removal. Of course, there remain sites all over the world—Windsor Castle, the Medici Palace in Florence, the Hindu rock carv- ings at Elefanta, Japanese Imperial Palaces, and countless churches, shrines and temples—where works of art remain in their original sites. But in nearly all Tourist Meccas much of the tourist’s sight—seeing is museum—seeing. And most mu- seums have this unreal, misrepresentative character. The museum is only one example of the tourist attraction. All tourist attractions share this factitious, pseudo-eventful quality. Formerly when the old-time traveler visited a coun- try whatever he saw was apt to be what really went on there. A Titian, a Rubens or a Gobelin tapestry would be seen on a palace wall as background to a princely party or a public function. Folk song and folk dance were for the natives them— selves. Now, however, the tourist sees less of the country than of its tourist attractions. Today what he sees is seldom the living culture, but usually specimens collected and embalmed especially for him, or attractions specially staged for him: proved specimens of the artificial. Since the mid-nineteenth century, international exposi- tions have increased in number and grown in prominence. They usually have some solid purposes—to promote trade, to strengthen world peace, to exchange technological informa— tion. But when expositions become tourist attractions they ac- quire an artificial character. From the London Crystal Palace Exposition of 1851 and the Exposition on the Champs Ely- sées in 1855 down to Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposi- tion in 1933—34, the New York World’s Fair of 1939—40, the Brussels World’s Fair of 1958, and the annual Cinema Festi- vals in Venice, modern expositions have been designed for propaganda, to attract foreign tourists and their currency. An exposition planned for tourists is a self—conscious and con— trived national image. It is a pseudo-event for foreign con- sumption. The Lost Art of Travel I 03 The rise of tourist traffic has brought the relatively recent phenomenon of the tourist attraction pure and simple. It often has no purpose but to attract in the interest of the owner or of the nation. As we might expect, this use of the word “attraction” as “a thing or feature which ‘draws’ people; especially, any interesting or amusing exhibition” dates only from about 1862. It is a new species: the most attenuated form of a nation’s culture. All over the world now we find these “attractions”—of little significance for the inward life of a people, but wonderfully salable as tourist commodity. Examples are Madame Tussaud’s exhibition of wax figures in London (she first became known for her modeled heads of the leaders and Victims of the French Revolution) and the Tiger Balm Gardens in Hong Kong. Disneyland in Califor- nia—the American “attraction” which tourist Khrushchev most wanted to see—is the example to end all examples. Here indeed Nature imitates Art. The visitor to Disneyland encounters not the two-dimensional comic strip or movie orig- inals, but only their three-dimensional facsimiles. Tourist attractions serve their purpose best when they are pseudo-events. To be repeatable at will they must be facti— tious. Emphasis on the artificial comes from the ruthless truthfulness of tourist agents. What they can really guarantee you are not spontaneous cultural products but only those made especially for tourist consumption, for foreign cash cus— tomers. Not only in Mexico City and Montreal, but also in the remote Guatemalan Tourist Mecca of Chichecastenango and in far-off villages of Japan, earnest honest natives em- bellish their ancient rites, change, enlarge, and spectacularize their festivals, so that tourists will not be disappointed. In order to satisfy the exaggerated expectations of tour agents and tourists, people everywhere obligingly become dishonest mimics of themselves. To provide a full schedule of events at the best seasons and at convenient hours, they travesty their most solemn rituals, holidays, and folk celebrations—all for the benefit of tourists. In Berlin, in the days before the First World War, legend 5-2...» I 04 From Traveler to Tourist: tells us that precisely at the stroke of noon, just as the im- perial military band would begin its daily concert in front of the Imperial Palace, Kaiser Wilhelm used to interrupt what- ever he was doing inside the palace. If he was in a council of state he would say, “With your kind forbearance, gentle- men, I must excuse myself now to appear in the window. You see, it says in Baedeker that at this hour I always do.” Modern tourist guidebooks have helped raise tourist ex- pectations. And they have provided the natives—from Kaiser Wilhelm down to the villagers of Chichecastenango—with a detailed and itemized list of what is expected of them and when. These are the up—to—date scripts for actors on the tour- ists’ stage. The pioneer, of course, was Karl Baedeker (1801— 1859) of Leipzig, whose name long since has entered our language as a synonym for his product. He began offering his packaged tours in print at the same time that Thomas Cook in England was perfecting the personally conducted packaged tour. Baedeker issued a guidebook to Coblenz in 1829, first in German; then in 1846 came his first foreign- . language edition (in French); in 1861 appeared his first English-language edition. By the beginning of World War II the Baedeker firm had sold more than two million copies of about a hundred different guides in English, French, and Ger- man, the languages that reached those nations with rising middle classes who were now strenuously adapting the Grand Tour to their more meager budgets and more limited educa- tion. Despite the setback of the war and the destruction of l the Baedeker plant in Leipzig by the Royal Air Force, fifty new editions were published in the decade after 1950. In the single year 1958 about 80,000 Baedeker guides were sold at a price of nearly five dollars apiece. At this rate, within twenty-five years as many Baedekers would be sold as in the whole previous century. Karl Baedeker himself was a relentless sight-seer. In the beginning he refused to describe anything he had not person- ally seen. His guidebooks have held a reputation for scrupu- The Lost Art of Travel 1 05 lous accuracy, leading many tourists to share A. P. Herbert’s faith: For kings and governments may err But never Mr. Baedeker. A testimony to Baedeker’s incorruptibility was his statement in an early edition that “Hotels which cannot be accurately characterized without exposing the editor to the risk of legal proceedings are left unmentioned.” Baedeker saved his read- ers from unnecessary encounters with the natives, warned against mosquitoes, bedbugs, and fleas, advised wariness of unwashed fruit and uncooked salads, told the price of a post- age stamp, and indicated how much to tip (overtipping was a cardinal sin in Baedeker’s book). Eventually Baedeker actually instructed the tourist how to dress and how to act the role of a decent, respectable, toler- ant member of his own country, so as not to disappoint or shock the native spectators in the country he was visiting. By the early years of the twentieth century Baedeker was prompting the English reader to play this role “by his tact and reserve, and by refraining from noisy behaviour and con- temptuous remarks (in public buildings, hotels, etc.) , and es- pecially from airing his political views.” “The Englishman’s customary holiday attire of rough tweeds, ‘plus fours,’ etc., is unsuitable for town wear in Italy.” “The traveller should refrain from taking photographs of beggars, etc.” Baedeker’s most powerful invention was the “star system,” which soon had as much charm over sight-sects as its name- sake later came to have over movie-goers. His system of rat- ing gave two stars (**) to sights that were extraordinary (the Louvre, Yellowstone Park, Windsor Castle, St. Peter’s, the Uflizi, the Pyramids, the Colosseum), one star (*) to sights of lesser rank (merely noteworthy), and no stars at all to the mine-run tourist attractions. This scheme, later cop— ied or adapted by Baedeker’s successors (Russell Muirhead of the successful Blue Guides and Penguin Guides, and nu- I 0 6 From Traveler to Tourist: merous American authors of guides), has dominated the un- easy, half-cultivated modern tourist. Hermann Goring, in— structing his Luftwaffe in 1942, is said to have directed them to destroy “every historical building and landmark in Britain that is marked with an asterisk in Baedeker.” These were sometimes called the “Baedeker raids.” Anyone who has toured with Baedeker knows the com- placent feeling of having checked off all the starred attrac- tions in any given place, or the frustration of having gone to great trouble and expense to see a sight only to discover after- ward that it had not even rated a single asterisk. Tourists versed in one—upmanship who visit some frequented place like Paris or Florence have been known to concentrate their sight-seeing on unstarred items, so that in conversation back home they can face-down their plodding acquaintances who go by the book. But the star system, like the public museums and the whole phenomenon of middle—class touring, has been a by—product of the democratic revolutions. It, too, has helped blaze “an easy path to cultural sophistication for mil- lions.” As Ivor Brown shrewdly observes, this star system has tended to produce star—gazers rather than explorers. The tourist looks for caricature; travel agents at home and national tourist bureaus abroad are quick to oblige. The tour- ist seldom likes the authentic (to him often unintelligible) product of the foreign culture; he prefers his own provincial expectations. The French chanteuse singing English with a French accent seems more charmingly French than one who simply sings in French. The American tourist in Japan looks less for what is Japanese than for what is Japanesey. He wants to believe that geishas are only quaint oriental prosti- tutes; it is nearly impossible for him to imagine they can be anything else. After all, he hasn’t spent all that money and gone all the way over there to be made a fool of. The Noh or Kabuki or Bunraku (which have long entertained the Japa- nese in their distinctive theatrical idiom) bore him, but he can grasp the Takarazuka girlie show, a Japanesey musical extravaganza on the Ziegfeld-Billy Rose model, distin- The Lost Art of Travel 1 o 7 guished from its American counterparts mainly by the fact that all the performers are women. The out—of-dateness of its manner he mistakes for an oriental flavor. Even the ofiicial Japanese Tourist Bureau guidebook, anxiously reminding the American that in Japan he will not fail to find what he wants, notes that “strip tease . . . performances are ad- vancing somewhat artistically.” The Takarazuka extrava- ganza is described at length as “an opera peculiar to Japan, known as the girls’ opera.” Like its Frenchy counterpart, the Folies Bergeres which is sometimes featured in Las Vegas, a Takarazuka-type show from any country will be a box-office success in the United States. As the obliging foreign producers work harder to give Americans just what they expect, American tourists, in turn, oblige by becoming more and more naive, to the point of gullibility. Tourists, however, are willing gulls, if only because they are always secretly fearful their extravagant (and {ex- pensive) expectations may not be fulfilled. They are de- termined to have their money’s worth. Wherever in the world the American tourist goes, then, he is prepared to be ruled by the law of pseudo-events, by which the image, the well-con- trived imitation, outshines the original. Everywhere, picturesque natives fashion papier-maché images of themselves. Yet all this earnest picturesqueness too often produces only a pallid imitation of the technicolor motion picture which the tourist goes to verify. The Eternal City becomes the site of the box-oflice hit Roman Holiday; tourist-pilgrims are eager to visit the “actual” scenes where famous movies like Ben Hur and Spartacus were really pho- tographed. Mount Sinai becomes well-known as the site about which The Ten Commandments was filmed. In 1960 a highly successful packaged tour was organized which traced the route of events in Leon Uris’ novel Exodus; the next year El Al Israel Airlines announced a new sixteen-day tour which promised to cover the very places where Otto Preminger and his film crew had shot scenes for the movie version. I 0 8 From Traveler to Tourist: The problems of satisfying the tourist expectations of a great middle—class market were summarized in a government study (1936) under the auspices of the Union of South Africa and the South African Railways and Harbours: Supply of Tourist Attractions In the wake of advertising and demand, creation must ordinarily follow an organized and systematic supply. If publicity has been given in foreign countries to the na- tional tourist attractions of a country and if a demand has been created therefor, then it is imperative not only that that which has been advertised should come up to reasonable expectations but that it should also be ordi— narily available and normally accessible. So, for exam- ple, if animal or native life is made to feature in foreign publicity then as such it must be ordinarily available to tourists. Under no circumstances should any aspect of animal or native life which is not ordinarily present be made to feature in a country’s tourist publicity. Thus it is wrong to make a feature of native initiation ceremo- nies or native dances which are only seen on rare occa- sions since in their true character they have ritual sig- nificance. The sight-seeing items which can be confidently guaranteed and conveniently and quickly delivered to tourists on arrival have these merchandisable qualities precisely because they are not naive expressions of the country. They cannot be the real ritual or the real festival; that was never originally planned for tourists. Like the hula dances now staged for photographer—tourists in Hawaii (courtesy of the Eastman Kodak Company), the widely appealing tourist attractions are apt to be those specially made for tourist consumption. And the tourist demands more and more pseudo-events. The most popular of these must be easily photographed (plenty of daylight) and inoffensive—~suitable for family viewing. By the mirror-effect law of pseudo-events, they tend The Lost Art of Travel I 09 to become bland and unsurprising reproductions of what the image-flooded tourist knew was there all the time. The tour- ist’s appetite for strangeness thus seems best satisfied when the pictures in his own mind are verified in some far country. V So FAR I have been writing about foreign travel—tours to distant places. I have shown how Americans going to re- mote parts of the world have been transformed from travelers into tourists by the very same advances which have made travel cheap, safe, and available. A similar transformation has been going on here at home. Even within the United States to go from one place to another is no longer to travel in the old sense of the word. Not only because, as we often hear, the culture of difierent parts of the country has been homogenized—so that wherever you go in the United States you see the same motion pictures, hear the same radio pro- grams, watch the same television shows, eat the same pack- aged foods, select from the same ice cream flavors. We all know how desperately Chambers of Commerce work to cre- ate local color, how auto license plates advertise unreal distinctions. Alabama is the “Heart of Dixie,” Arkansas is the “Land of Opportunity,” Illinois is the “Land of Lincoln,” Maine is “Vacationland,” Minnesota has “10,000 Lakes,” North Dakota is “Peace Garden State.” All this is obvious. But in addition to this, the democratizing of travel, the lowering cost, increased organization, and improved means of long—distance transportation within our country have them- selves helped dilute the experience. Even here at home we are little more than tourists. “Traveling,” the Swiss novelist Max Frisch observes, “. . . is medieval, today we have means of communication, not to speak of tomorrow and the day after, means of communication that bring the world into our homes, to travel from one place to another is atavistic. You laugh, gentlemen, but it’s true, travel is atavistic, the day I I 0 From Traveler to Tourist: will come when there will be no more trafiic at all and only newlyweds will travel.” That day has almost arrived. Not be- cause we no longer move about the earth. But because the more we move about, the more difficult it becomes not to re- main in the same place. Nearly all the changes in foreign travel have appeared with equal or greater effect in domestic travel. . Organized domestic conducted tours have grown only re- cently. In 1927 what is claimed to be the first escorted tour by air was planned by Thomas Cook & Son. It was an excur- sion from New York to Chicago to see the Dempsey-Tunney fight in which the famous “long count” occurred. Since this was even before any regular passenger air service between the cities, the trip was made by chartered plane. In recent decades the multiplying conventions of professional organiza- tions, trade associations, unions, fraternal groups, and of the employees of large firms have supported the domestic travel business. As late as 1928 the travel department of American Ex- press was sending only five or six tours out West each year, and for each tour eighteen people were considered a good crowd. Then an enterprising new manager of the Chicago of- fice' sent 120 members of the Chicago Athletic Club on a tour to Alaska; 2 special train took Chicago doctors to the an- nual convention of the American Hospital Association in California; two shiploads of Spanish-American War veterans were sent to Cuba; and 300 electrical workers went to Miami. A new program of packaged Western tours was then developed. Even during the depression these tours somehow stayed in demand. In the depression summer of 1933 at the opening of the Chicago World’s Fair, American Express did over a million dollars’ worth of business within a single month, and handled nearly a quarter-million visitors to the Fair during the season. At the close of the Fair in 1934, American Express organized the annual Rotary Club con- vention in Mexico City; a Pullman city was brought down to house Rotarians taken there to see Mexico. In 1936 Ameri— The Lost Art of Travel 1 I I can Express expanded its “Banner Tours,” and in the sum- mer of 1939, it sent out West twenty-two special trains on all-expense tours. Since 1928 the domestic excursion business of American Express has increased a hundredfold. The items have ranged from expensive “Grand Tours” of the West and the Canadian Rockies, priced at nearly $1,000 apiece, to a bargain package three-day tour of New York at $19.95, “in the course of which the traveler stays at a well-known midtown hotel and does the metropolitan area from Bear Mountain to the Bat- tery, including seeing the Hudson from an excursion steamer, Chinatown, Greenwich Village, a baseball game at Yankee Stadium, and an evening at Billy Rose’s Diamond Horse- shoe. . . . It rather makes a native New Yorker believe in miracles.” The growth of tourist attractions—or the better baiting of tourist traps—has been unprecedented in recent years. From the grandiose Disneyland, which we have already noted, and its smaller imitators (Freedomland, Frontierland, etc.) to the plaster—of-paris “Covered Wagon” and “Indian Tepee” filling stations and “museums” now lining highways in Kan- sas and Nebraska. The pre-eminence of Yellowstone Na— tional Park as a tourist attraction is doubtless due to the fact that its natural phenomena—its geysers and “paintpots” which erupt and boil on schedule—come closest to the artifi- ciality of “regular” tourist performances. They are Nature imitating the pseudo-event. The automobile itself has been one of the chief insulating agencies. And the insulation has become more effective as we have improved body design from the old open touring car to the new moving “picture window” through which we can look out from air-conditioned comfort while we hear our familiar radio program. The whizzing cross—country motorist stops at his familiar trademark, refueling at gas stations of uniform design. His speed makes him reluctant to stop at all. On a train it used to be possible to make a casual acquaint— ance; the Pullman smoker was a traditionaHy fertile source '1; l . If S a? I I 2 From Traveler to Tourist: of jokes and folklore. Now the train is dying out as a means of long-distance travel. And if we travel by air we are seldom aloft long enough to strike up new acquaintances. But for meeting new people the private automobile is the least prom- ising of all. Even hitchhikers are slowly becoming obsolete as well as illegal. The nation—wide route numbering system, with its stand- ardized signs of the new era, was adopted in 1925 by the Joint Board of State and Federal Highways, supposedly to eliminate “confusion” from the “motley array” of signs which differed from place to place. Even before our new transcon- tinental super highways it was not necessary to know where you were (provided you could remember the number of your route) or where you had to go to reach your destination. To- day when we ask directions we usually inquire not for a place but for a number. Super highways have been the climax in homogenizing the motorist’s landscape. A friend of mine recently drove his family from Chicago to New York on one of these tollways. His boy had heard about the prosperous Ohio farms and wanted to visit one. But this proved too difficult. Once on the super highway (with not a traffic light to stop them), they seemed more remote than ever from the environing farms. Where would one leave the toll road? How and where could one return? As late as the early years of this century in the United States the general demand was for roads extending only two to five miles from railroad stations. Then the Federal Highway Act of 1921 began to co-ordinate state highways and to standardize road-building practice. The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1944 established the new National System of Interstate Highways, an arterial network of 40,000 miles planned to reach forty-two state capitals, and to serve 182 of the 199 cities in the country having populations over 50,— 000. There has been an increasing tendency to concentrate road improvements on these most-used roads, which become more and more like one another in every respect. The seven- Tbe Lost Art of Travel I I 3 hundred-odd thousand miles of Federal Aid roads (primary and secondary) make up only a quarter of the total rural road mileage in the United States. Yet they serve almost 90 per cent of the total rural highway travel. An increasing pro- portion of passengers go over well-traveled roads. The better traveled the roads, the more they become assimilated to one another. Economy and good engineering require that they traverse the dullest expanses of the landscape. Increase in motor travel, both for business and pleasure, has changed the character of lodgings en route. Formerly the motorist seeking good lodging en route had to detour through the heart of the city. There he could not avoid a view of the courthouse, the shops, the industrial, commercial, and resi- dential districts. Now the motel makes all this unnecessary. Meanwhile, city planners and traffic engineers, hoping to re— duce congestion in urban centers, spend large sums on by- passes and super highways to prevent the long-distance mo- torist from becoming entangled in the daily life of their com- munity. Motor courts sprang up during the depression of the 1930’s. The earliest tourist cabins were simply a cheaper alternative to the hotel, resembling camping facilities. But within a decade motor courts were improved and standard— ized. In 1935, the first year for which the Department of Commerce reported statistics, there were about ten thousand motels or tourist courts; after twenty years there were some thirty thousand. The new chains and associations of motels soon enabled a motorist to use the same brand of soap, the same cellophane-covered drinking glasses, and the same “sanitized” toilet seats all the way across the country. The long-distance motorist, usually anxious to avoid the “business route,” then needed to wander no more than a few hundred yards off the super highway for his food and lodging. What he secures in one place is indistinguishable from that in an- other. One thing motels everywhere have in common is the effort of their managers to fabricate an inoffensive bit of “local atmosphere.” 51.4.1 : . W I I 4 From Traveler to Tourist: The next development has been the luxury motel. With its stateroom-sized sleeping rooms, “fabulous” bar, and deck—sized swimming pool, it now resembles nothing so much as the luxury ocean liner. “Getting there is half the fun.” Tourists and business travelers “relax in luxurious surround- ings.” The motel passenger, too, is now always in mid—ocean, comfortably out of touch with the landscape. On the new interstate speedways we see the thorough dilu- tion of travel experience. The motels, which Vladimir Nabo- kov has brilliantly caricatured in Lolita, are the appropriate symbol of homogenized American experience. Although (perhaps because) no place is less any place than a motel, people nowadays vacation in motels for a week or more as they used to relax in luxury liners. They prefer to be no place in particular—in limbo, en route. Some new tourist restau- rants on super highways (Fred Harvey has a large chain of these of uniform design, appropriately called “oases”) are actually built on top of the highway, on a bridge, to which speeding motorists have equally easy access, regardless of the direction in which they are going. There people can eat without having to look out on an individualized, localized landscape. The disposable paper mat on which they are served shows no local scenes, but a map of numbered super highways with the location of other “oases.” They feel most at home above the highway itself, soothed by the auto stream to which they belong. Now it is the very “improvements” in interstate super highways (at expense to the Federal government alone of a half billion dollars a year) that enable us as we travel along to see nothing but the road. Motor touring has been nearly reduced to the emptiness of air travel. On land, too, we now calculate distances in hours, rather than in miles. We never know quite where we are. At home, as well as abroad, travel itself has become a pseudo-event. It is hard to imagine how further improvements could subtract anything more from the travel experience. The Lost Art of Travel I l 5 VI NOT so many years ago there was no simpler or more in- telligible notion than that of going on a journey. Travel—— movement through space—provided the universal metaphor for change. When men died they went on a journey to that land from which no traveler returns. Or, in our cliché, when a man dies he “passes away.” Philosophers observed that we took refuge from the mystery of time in the concreteness of space. Bergson, for example, once argued that measurements of time had to be expressed in metaphors of space: time was “long” or “short”; another epoch was “remote” or “near.” One of the subtle confusions—perhaps one of the secret terrors—of modern life is that we have lost this refuge. No longer do we move through space as we once did. Moving only through time, measuring our distances in homogeneous ticks of the clock, we are at a loss to explain to ourselves what we are doing, where, or even whether, we are going. As there comes to be less and less difference between the time it takes to reach one place rather than another, time it- self dissolves as a measure of space. The new supersonic transports, already in the design stage, will take passengers across our continent in less than two hours, from Europe to America in two hours and a half. We are moving toward “In- stant Travel.” It is then, I suppose, thoroughly appropriate in this age of tautological experience that we should even- tually find ourselves measuring time against itself. We call ours the “Space Age,” but to us space has less meaning than ever before. Perhaps we should call ours the “Spaceless Age.” Having lost the art of travel on this earth, having homogenized earthly space, we take refuge in the homogeneity (or in the hope for variety) of outer space. To travel through outer space can hardly give us less landscape experience than we find on our new American super high- ways. We are already encapsulated, already overcome by the tourist problems of fueling, eating, sleeping, and sight-seeing. . . L? ,l ., ~! 3 I I 6 From Traveler to Tourist: Will we enlarge our experience on the moon? Only until tour- ist attractions have been prepared for us there. Even our travel literature has shown a noticeable change. Formerly these books brought us information about the con- duct of life in foreign courts, about burial rites and marriage customs, about the strange ways of beggars, craftsmen, tavern hosts, and shopkeepers. Most travel literature long remained on the pattern of Marco Polo. Since the mid-nineteenth cen- tury, however, and especially in the twentieth century, travel books have increasingly become a record not of new informa— tion but of personal “reactions.” From “Life in Italy,” they become “The American in Italy.” People go to see what they already know is there. The only thing to record, the only possible source of surprise, is their own reaction. The foreign country, like the celebrity, is the confirmation of a pseudo-event. Much of our interest comes from our curi- osity about whether our impression resembles the images found in the newspapers, in movies, and on television. Is the Trevi Fountain in Rome really like its portrayal in the movie Three Coins in the Fountain? Is Hong Kong really like Love is a Many-Splendored Thing? Is it full of Suzie Wongs? We go not to test the image by the reality, but to test reality by the image. Of course travel adventure is still possible. Nowadays, however, it is seldom the by—product of people going places. We must scheme, and contrive, and plan long in advance (at great expense) to be assured that when we arrive there we will encounter something other than the antiseptic, pleasant, relaxing, comfortable experience of the hundreds of thou- sands of other tourists. We must fabricate risks and dangers, or hunt them out. The writings of Richard Halliburton (The Royal Road to Romance, 1925; The Glorious Adventure, 1927; New World to Conquer, 1929; The Flying Carpet, 1932; and Seven League Boats, 1935), became popular at the very time when travel for thousands of Americans was becoming a bland and riskless commodity. To make a glo- rious adventure out of travel, Halliburton had to relive an- The Lost Art of Travel I I 7 cient adventures. Like Leander he swam the Hellespont; he retraced the routes of Ulysses, Cortés, Balboa, Alexander, and Hannibal. Even “Mysterious Tibet”—one of the few re- maining places on earth which physically challenge the trav- eler—has had its mystery abolished. Recently, Justice Wil- liam 0. Douglas has shown ingenuity in seeking out travel adventures; his books are understandably popular. But they too are only a blander version of Richard Halliburton. Pierre and Peg Streit ingeniously make adventure by motoring by English Land Rover from Paris to Katmandu in Nepal: “A Jouncing Tour of Kipling’s Wild Land” (Life, September 2, 1957). ‘ Nowadays it costs more and takes greater ingenuity, imagi- nation and enterprise to fabricate travel risks than it once required to avoid them. Almost as much effort goes into de- signing the adventure as into surviving it. For this the tourist millions have not the time or the money. Travel adventure today thus inevitably acquires a factitious, make-believe, un- real quality. And only the dull travel experience seems gen- uine. Both for the few adventuring travelers who still exist and for the larger number of travelers-turned—tourists, voyag— ing becomes a pseudo-event. Here again, the pseudo-event overshadows the spontane- ous. And for the usual reasons. Planned tours, attractions, fairs, expositions “especially for tourists,” and all their pre- fabricated adventures can be persuasively advertised in ad- vance. They can be made convenient, comfortable, risk-free, trouble-free, as spontaneous travel never was and never is. We go more and more where we expect to go. We get money» back guarantees that we will see what we expect to see. Anyway, we go more and more, not to see at all, but only to take pictures. Like the rest of our experience, travel be- comes a tautology. The more strenuously and self-consciously we work at enlarging our experience, the more pervasive the tautology becomes. Whether we seek models of greatness, or experience elsewhere on the earth, we look into a mirror in- stead of out a window, and we see only ourselves. ...
View Full Document

This note was uploaded on 03/31/2008 for the course HIST 391 taught by Professor Bryant during the Spring '08 term at UNC.

Page1 / 22

Boorstin From Traveler to Tourist - BOOKS BY DANIEL J....

This preview shows document pages 1 - 22. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online