From Proust’s armchair
Text Sara Magro
The first armchair-bound holiday, without taking a flight or boarding a train. It is a break from everyday life, taking you to the world of the author, and the place he describes. It is a holiday, albeit static. Armchair tourism is the modern term used to describe this home vacation. Not a traveller’s perversion or frustration, but just one of the many kinds of tourism available today.
The real trend is Adjectival Tourism, in which the accompanying adjective defines the destination and purpose of the holiday. From Websurfing through virtual lands to Movie tourism to places where films and TV series were shot. From war tourism to zones of conflict to medical holidays in luxury clinics in the Far East, today there are more than one hundred definitions of ways to travel. Armchair Tourism restricts the range of action to one room. Its perfect, though unwitting endorser is Marcel Proust, who travelled lying on his bed in his room, surrounded by maps and train timetables.
There is also a more active version which Aldo Grasso defined in an article written a few years ago as TAS, namely Turismo adrenalinico sedentario (Adrenaline-filled Armchair Tourism), which is experienced by watching programs about wild exotic places, thrilling journeys and perilous expeditions. And it would seem that people do get emotionally involved in such programs: “The spectator – writes Grasso – must be frightened, despite knowing that everything is under control.” The idea for a holiday springs from unpredictable combinations of events, thoughts and impressions from another person’s carnet de voyage.
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