Skip to main content

Houllebecq on Tourist Destinations, Sightseeing

I completely misplaced/lost/threw away a magazine that had an interview with the French writer Michel Houellebecq. I was going to share a quote, but a paraphrase will have to suffice since I cannot find the magazine anywhere, or the interview online.

The only part of the interview that really interested me was Houellebecq's take on tourist destinations. Because this year in France, more than usual, my family and I have had regular opportunities to visit such places. I am referring (as Houellebecq does in the interview) to the monuments, museums, and buildings that are "must-sees," such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona or the Manneken Pis in Brussels.

The problem, and the reason the interviewer asked Houellebecq what he thought about such places and the phenomenon that is "sightseeing," is that we all tend to have this nagging feeling that we are being extremely shallow to want to visit and take pictures only of the things that everyone else visits and takes pictures of.

Houellebecq, in his characteristic devil-may-care fashion, dismissed this idea altogether. He said, and to my chagrin I now paraphrase, that those destinations are famous for a reason, so it just makes sense to visit those places. There's no interest in visiting other places anyway.

Now Houellebecq was exaggerating a bit, as he did in pretty much all of his responses in the interview. In fact, if my memory serves me, he seemed to be answering the questions with whatever well-turned phrase just happened to fall out of his mind at the moment regardless of how obviously wrong it was or contradictory of something he had already said. A bit Wildesque. And that is certainly the prerogative of an atheist, amoral writer who is financially independent and doesn't have to answer to anyone, such as Houellebecq or Oscar Wilde.

Nonetheless, and to wrap up this winding blog post-like fragment of my thought, Houellebecq's evaluation of tourist destinations and sightseeing sat well with me. To understand a culture and its people, you need to visit places where everyday life is happening (grocery stores, markets, banks, bus stops, bus interiors, schools). But to understand cultural history, and to have memories that you want to share in photographic form, you need the (in)famous tourist traps.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Movie Review: A Better Life - Part 2

This is the second part of a two-part review of A Better Life. The first part dealt more with the background issue of illegal immigration, whereas this part focuses more on the movie itself.

In the movie, neither the undocumented immigrants (representative of all the undocumented, but particularly those with upright motives) nor the police (representative of the legal system, including courts, prisons, and immigration) is entirely at fault. Both are stuck in an imperfect, human system.

The viewer is led to sympathize with the undocumented man, an honest landscaper who wants nothing but to work hard so that his one son can have a better life. He’s away from home; his wife left him when his son was little; he has next to nothing; when he does acquire something (a lawn business and pickup with equipment) it gets stolen from him. And yet, the movie does not excuse what he does wrong nor does it try to show him as a man victimized and ruined by the consequences of his actions.

Apart fr…

教会に影響を与えるために神様が用いる人々の九つの特徴

Read this in English.

これらの9つの特性は、アンドルーボナーから来る。説教でそれらを議論する私の牧師を聞きながら、コピーしたので、ボナーの何本から来たのは覚えていません。これらはクリスチャンに対してとても大事の本質ではないでしょうか。

教会に影響を与えるために神様が用いる人々は次の特徴がある...

1.まじめな人
2.成功を目標する人
3.信仰を持つ人
4.勤勉な人
5.忍耐強い人
6.大胆な人
7.祈る人
8.強力な教義の人
9.深くに清新な人

黒澤監督の『隠し砦の三悪人』

今週初めて黒澤明の『隠し砦の三悪人』という映画を見ました。この三悪人とは、だれですか? 三船敏郎が演じる真壁六郎太(まかべろくたろう)と二人の百姓です。この3人の登場人物の関係はとても面白くて、全ての人間の弱さも愛される性質も示します。

最後の場面で、二人の百姓、太平(千秋実)と又七(藤原釜足)、姫と真壁からもらった金1枚をどうやって分けるかと黙っていて、太平は又七に任そうとしていても又七は断ります。いつもケンカしているこの二人は、後で再びケンカしてしまうと思われますけれども、取りあえずまた仲良くなって幸いです。