“In Motion_The Experience of Deep Travel” Book by Tony Hiss

| March 5, 2014

Manning seems to microscopically(?) analyze what movement itself is, trying to articulate the unnoticeable and invisible aspects of movement, however, her descriptions are rather allusive and poetic than scientific. She goes on elaborating her content through references of artworks – I find this aspect very interesting because it seems only through art, her writings make sense… Most of her references of artworks have a quite simplistic formal appearance (and are repetitive), which helps us focus on what she is trying to say, if the artworks were filled with visually complicated forms I would be totally lost. The simple and abstract forms elucidates the aesthetics of movement she is trying to talk about.  When I was watching Norman McLaren’s Pas de deux today, it made me think of Mondrian and Malevich – forefathers of the pure abstract paintings, the prototype or origin of the aesthetic style… I thought Pas de deux had an authentic sense of beauty because it was the first of the technique, that seemed to generate a sense of gracious beauty, elegance, and nostalgia… I mean you see so many manipulated digital versions of it and so many Mondrians, but I believe there is an authentic beauty to the original…(Making me think of the aura, Walter Benjamin now)…I know others would argue with me, but I did think that Pas de deux had an authentic beauty to it probably cause I read that it was one of the first of such techniques at that time…

Anyways, maybe we could apply Manning’s idea into the everyday life of moving around and going to different places, that it’s not just about a physical displacement but something more to it. Tony Hiss names this in his own terms as ‘Deep Travel.’ I stumbled upon this book coincidentally(?), by googling the keyword “Experience and place”… His other book “Experience of Place” came up, and then I saw another title of his – “In Motion_The Experience of Deep Travel.” I was instantly intrigued by the title, and immediately placed a request for the book at the TC Library.

I haven’t been able to read the entire book yet, but I think it’s kind of related to what we’ve been talking about the going in and coming out of an experience. Basically, his term of deep travel is about the consciousness in motion, to me it seems more like free association… but is related to what I would refer to an ‘aesthetic experience.’ He talks about the sense of a heightened awareness, an mindset we often experience when we visit new places traveling. He insists that we can have this sense of awaken vividness in our everyday moments, also introduces techniques to access that state of mind to have an aesthetic experience even in the most mundane routines. I don’t really take on everything he writes about but it is interesting to follow his flow of thought.  The book starts with an incident of his ten minute walk to the bagel shop, the same route he’s been taking for twenty years, but one day he goes through an extraordinary sensation during the walk. I’m sure we have all had those moments..

This gave me a boost to trying to perceive my everyday surroundings with fresh new eyes.

— Excerpt from p 3-5

Although it was a perfectly ordinary day, like hundreds of others that unfold in any year after year, something was no longer the same. Before the door had even closed behind me, the familiar world outside immediately seemed- unexplored. That comes closest to describing the unexpected sensation that had arrived. “Fresh” and “new” were part of it, but only a part, even though there were undoubtedly now some things present that hadn’t ever previously appeared on my block, such as the particular play of light on the buildings across the street, and the array of zigzaggy clouds in the sky overhead, and the patterns formed by the various groups of people walking by. But it was the familiar objects, the ones that were still what they had always been, that seemed the most transformed. It wasn’t as if they had changed shape or color, but they now seemed charged with purpose, beckoning, calling out, and almost glowing or shimmering, with each detail etched in the sharpest kind of focus. Each thing I looked at seemed now to have a story curled inside it, and to represent something that many people from many places and times had thought about over long periods with great care and deliberation and a kind of intelligence that takes generations to accumulate and then get sifted through and refined and pared down. …

I could go on; there were so many things to notice, so many explorations and side trips that could now be undertaken. Because of my fascination, a ten-minute trip to the bagel shop seemed, once I got home with the iced coffee I’d gone out for, to have lasted far longer, and I felt as though I had come home enriched and refreshed and in some small way slightly better equipped for my next trip outside. I had also arrived with food for thought that, as it turned out, I was still digesting days later…

..I’ve come to understand that the only difference between such greatly rewarding trips and the more conventional ones that get you there and bring you back and nothing much more is that, during the memorable trips, people somewhere along the way enter a different part of their own minds and begin to make use of an awareness that has its own range of interests and concerns and methods. And when the mind is in motion in this way, the experience of travel changes.