Tourist Complications

The essential part of functioning as a tourist is the subject’s awareness of being a tourist. Kathleen Stewart calls this curious creature, knowledgeable of their being tourist, “post-tourist” (K. Stewart, Nostalgia: The Polemic), but I would suggest  that unless the tourist knows s/he is a tourist, s/he is not; s/he is a meanderer, a wanderer, a flâneur.

Tourism is a sweaty labor. One goes from a historic vista to another, eager to see as much as humanly possible, to delude oneself in the hot mess of momentarily entangled episodic experiences. The tourist does not retain the information for it is unneeded and unrequired. Was that statue of the eighteens century or of the sixteenth? Flemish or general Dutchmen? Madonna Litta or the Dame with ermine? Who cares. The tourist stores memories s/he would never revisit, in the boxes of their camera and phone. S/he incessantly photographs because pressing the masturbatory magic button (Cartier-Bresson) means the acclaimed by protestant ethics anti-idleness of constant work, even at rest (Sontag, On Photography), and justifies vain gazing. S/he collects souvenirs to recollect places (S. Stewart). The tourist is busy. S/he is not the native who by privilege of their constant access to landmarks is exempt from ever visiting them.


To be supplied.

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