Alder OriginsOfSightseeing

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<p>ORIGINS OF SIGHTSEEINGJudith AdlerAbstract: Sightseeing has not always held its present pride of place in travel ritual. Thesenses have received differing kinds of attention from codifiers of travel conventions.Between 1600 and 1800, treatises on travel method shifted from a scholastic focus upontouring as an opportunity for discourse, to enthusiasm for travel as "eyewitness"observation. In the course of this shift in attention from the traveler's ear and tongue tothe traveler's eye, many of the conventions of sightseeing performance were firstdeveloped. The historical "visualization" of travel experience is to be understood inrelation to cultural and social features of the period.INTRODUCTION Even a brief perusal of travel literature, or short look at contempo-rary tourists, is sufficient to suggest that travel practices might be conveniently groupedaccording to style. The conventions which, at various times, have governed the artfulperformance ofjourneys include norms pertinent to ritual preparation; modes oftransportation; duration; design and pattern of itinerary; foci of attention; dress, demeanor, and social relationships to be maintained en route; and forms of discoursemarking termination. The list, meant only to be suggestive, far from exhausts all possiblecategories of convention. The relative emphasi given anyone category can be expected tovary; indeed, this variation often helps to define the distinctiveness of a travel style. Butall travel conventions bear upon human movement through culturally conceived space,movement which is deliberately undertaken in order to yield meaning ertinent to thetravelers and their publics.Judith Adler is Associate Professor of Sociology at Memorial University of New-foundland (St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada AlC 5S7). Her publications include Artistsin Off;s (1977), "Youth on the Road," Annals of Tourism Research (1985) and "Travel asPerformed Art :' American Journal ofSocioloQ (1989). Sh e is presently completing abook entitled Tourism Obserued.7 age 2 8 ORIGINS OF SIGHTSEEING Space and time- and the traveler's own body asit moves through both-are the baseline elements of all travel performance. This paperexplores one dimension of the human "embodiment" of the travel art. It has never beenirrelevant whether a traveler set out in a male or female body, and for centuries moraltreatises warned of the dangers which travel posed to women (Giles 1976). Age andhealth have also drawn attention, early treatises often setting an ideal age for tour- ing,while interdicting it to those whose bodies were too young, too old, or too infirm to bearout the desired experience (Barretti 1768; Bourne 1578; Leigh 1671; Turler 1575). Butone may further argue that even beyond such classifications, the traveler's body, as theliteral vehicle ofthe travel art, has been subject to historical construction and stylisticconstraint. The very senses through which the traveler receives cultur- ally valuedexperience have been molded by differing degrees of cultiva- tion and, indeed, discipline.In examining the link between a particular style of travel that flourished in theseventeenth and eighteenth centu- ries and a historically new, overweaning emphasisupon the isolated exercise and systematic cultivation of the sense of sight, the concern ofthis paper is twofold. It attempts to suggest that the way in which the human body isexercised as an instrument of travel is deeply revealing of the historically shifting mannerin which people conceive themselves and the world to which they seek an appropriaterelation through travel ritual. More specifically, it urges that the strong present linkbetween tourism and sightseeing should not be taken for granted or regarded as static innature. For not only is sight just one of several sense modalities around which styles oftravel have been elaborated, but sight itself has been differently conceived in the courseof tourism history. In a convention of Western tourism which has become so taken forgranted that it risks passing without remark, it is often said that people travel to "see" theworld, and assumed that travel knowledge is substantially gained through observation.This longstanding association between travel and vision, tourism and sightseeing,demands closer scrutiny. It has not always existed, has undergone importantmodifications even for its duration, and its history offers intriguing glimpses into earlierphases of Western epistemology and subjectivity. The practices of the contemporarysightseer, so often caricatured with his camera in tow, must ultimately be understood inrelation to the historical develop- ment (and eventual popularization) of post-Baconianand Lockeian orientations toward the problemof attaining, and authoritatively repre-senting, knowledge. They must be seen in relation to forms of subjec- tivity anchored inwillfully independent vision, and in the cognitive subjugation of a world of things."Above all, they need to be under- stood in relation to that Eurpoean culturaltransformation which Lu- cien Febvre first termed "the visualization of perception"(Febvre 1947: 473; Mandrou 1961:68-77).TRAVEL AS DISCOURSE Travel was first widely proclaimed as an art, and openlysecular forms oftourism were first systematically racticed by European elites age 3JUDITH ADLER 9 in the early sixteenth century. One need only turn to the treatises ontravel method produced during a period which was preoccupied with the problem of"method" in all branches of learning to find evidence that sightseeing did not alwaysenjoy its later pride of place. The travel- ers these treatises addressed, scholar-courtiersand young aristocrats reparing for diplomatic and legal careers, went abroad seekingeduca- tional experience at universities in Paris, Bologna, or Padua, as well asopportunities to engage the services of Europe's foremost dancing, mu- sic, fencing, orriding masters with whom they would be forced to speak in a foreign tongue. Booksplayed a prominent art in the preparation for a journey and their purchase was one of itsobjects. The aristocratic traveler who was addressed, often by his tutor, in early manualsof advice, went abroad for discourse rather than for picturesque views or scenes. The artoftravel he was urged to cultivate was in large measure one of discoursing with the livingand the dead -learning foreign tongues, obtaining access to foreign courts, and conversinggracefully with eminent men, assimilating classical texts appropriate to particular sites,and, not least, speaking eloquently upon his return. At a time when the social role of thenobility was being transformed and bur- geoning institutions of diplomacy opened newopportunities in a cour- tier's career (Mattingly 1955:211), European aristocraciessustained an art oftravel, explicitly legitimized by service to the state, which sought todevelop the international contacts, judicious olitical judgement, adeptness at foreignlanguages, and skill in oratory deemed desirable in a Prince's counselor. The experienceof the world at which this art aimed, was understood to involve primarily a reflective anddisciplined exercise ofthe ear and the tongue. Advice to "confer with expert men andwith many," to go a hundred miles out of one's way to speak with a wise man, rather thanfive to see a fair town, and to be neither credulous nor overly eager to contradict when inconference was reiterated in one early travel sermon after another (Essex 1596:13). Manytravelers carried with them a book of blank pages, an Album Amicorum, with which theywould call upon men of reputation, begging them to inscribe some words (Hazard1953:6). The young Earle of Bedford is lectured by his tutor, J. Spradling: Everie one cangaze, can wander, and can wonder, but to few it is given to seek, to search, to leame, andto attaine to true policie and wisdome (which is traveling indeed) Now this search andinquisi- tion I speake of is to be practiced either by reading the several 1 histo- ries ofthose nations where you are to travel1 or else by hearing.Therefore to attaine to a moreexact and perfect knowledge it shall not be amiss for your Lordship to talk with thelearned ofthe lande where you go. For albeit wisdome and safetie do wish to counsel youto silence in travelling: yet I thinke it not amiss, though you give the rains now and thento that unbridled member, the toong: which you may use as occasion shall serve (Lipsius1592:A4). And might I have leave to direct you also in the subject of your talke, in mineopinion nothing were more meet for one of your honor- able estate then to question anddiscourse ofthe fashions, lawes, nobilitie, and kind of warfare of the people where youtravell (Lipsius 1592:B2). age 410 ORIGINS OF SIGHTSEEING Elaborating furtherupon the advantages to be gained through "confer- ring with the wise," the tutor affirmsthat mere contact with eloquence "will make a man much more rhetoricall and civil inspeech:' and concludes by anchoring his travel program in hwnan anatomy, "Leam- ing .is obtained either by the eare, or by the eie: by hearing (I meane) or by reading" (Lipsiusl592:B3). Both senses are given equal weight, but, far more tellingly, sight is exclusivelyequated with read- ing, or at best with the confirmation of classical texts. For in traveling,a man "shall have occasion to call into remembrance that which is set down in Livy,Polibius, Tacitus, etc. [and] see before his eies the trueth of their discourses and thedemonstration of their descriptions" (Lipsius 1959:XC). The word, not the image, the earand the tongue, not the eye, stand at the center of such treatment. Any sightseeing whichtakes place remains at the service of textual authority. reparation for travel in- volvedgathering information at home for exchange abroad, learning foreign languages,compiling systematic lists of questions, obtaining the letters of introduction necessary foraccess to high status settings of conversation, and, above all, reading. Still in thistradition, Richard Lassells' An Italian L@mp (1697) fea- tures travel as a means ofundoing the curse of Babel and restoring universal discourse. [It] takes off in some sortthat aboriginal curse which was laid upon mankind the confusion of tongues. [or]diversity of language [which] makes the wisest man pass for a fool in a strange country,and the best man for an excommunicated erson, whose conversation all men avoid. Nowtraveling takes off this curse and this moral excom- munication by making us learn manylanguages and converse freely with people in other countries" (Lassells 1697). Similarly:It contents the mind with the rare discourses we hear from learned men. It makes him [thetraveler] sought after by his betters, and listened unto with admiration by his inferiors. Itmakes him sit still in his old age with satisfaction; and travel over the world again in hischair and bed by discourse and thoughts In line it's an excellent Commentary uponhistories; aild no man understands Livy and Ce- sar, Guicciardin and Monluc, like himwho hath made exactly the Grand Tour of France and the giro ofItaly" (Lassells 1697).I.For Lassells, a Catholic tutor, the world figures metaphorically as a book after the mannerof Plotinus and Augustine, and travel through it is treated as a commentary upon othertexts. In a formulation to be repeated by other writers until the end of the nineteenthcentury, he writes, "They that never stir from home read only one page of this book; and,like the dull fellow who could never learn to count farther than five dwell always uponone lesson." Conversation with emi- nent men, assiduously sought out abroad, becomes aprime technique for "reading" the world, and in old age the traveler can hope to "travelover again" - not, it is worth noting, through a store of pretty scenes age 5 JUDITHADLER 11 which have been squirreled away in memory, but through thoughts anddiscourse. THE ASCENDANCY OF THE EYE OVER THE EAR The notion oftravel asan exercise in universalizing discourse, ar- ticularly fitting to scholastic notions of howknowledge was to be sought, endured for a long time. But it was increasingly overlapped,and eventually eclipsed, by another tradition, which gave preeminence to the "eye" and tosilent "observation." To a modem reader, one ofthe most anomalous features of sixteenthand seventeenth century travel sermons is the consistency with which they digress intohuman anato- my, rhetorically arguing the superiority of the eye over the ear. Withinevitable juridical reference, travel is praised through a favorable con- trast between"eyewitness" and "hearsay" as legally admissible evidence and ground for validjudgement. Auricular knowledge and discourse, identified with traditional authority,Aristotelianism and the School- men, are devalued in favor of an "eye" believed to yielddirect, unme- diated, and personally verified experience. The shift accompanies a newnaturalistic orientation, and attains its purest expression in the seventeenth century whenit is nurtured by a fashion in courtly circles for Natural Philosophy and anepistemological individualism which enjoins every man to "see," verify, and, in a sense,"create" the world anew for himself. R. Dallington opens A Method for Eavell: shewedby taking tJ2e view of France as it Stoode in the yeare of our Lord 1598 with arecommendation of both discourse and observation: lato thought nothing better for thebettering of our understand- ing than travels as well by having a conference with thewiser sort in all sorts of learning as by the eye-sight of those things which otherwise aman cannot have but by tradition: a sandy foundation either in matter of science orconscience, (Dallington 1605: 1). Dallington goes on to recommend that the travelercarry no books with him, but only: the papers of his own observation, especially aGiomale wherein from day to day he shall set down [whatever] his eye meeteth by theway remarquable. Even more significant, like other seventeenth century English Protes-tants who urged travelers to take protective measures against Continen- tal Catholicismand its "infection of errors," Dallington warns against auricular openness. The nextcaveat is, to beware how he heare anything repugnant to his religion; for as I have tyedhis tongue, so must I slop his eares, lest they be open to the smooth incantations of aninsinuating seducer, or the suttle arguments of a sophistical adversarie (Dallington 1605:1-2). age 6 12 ORIGINS OF SIGHTSEEING In a contemporaneous sermon, Quo Wadis?A Just Censure ofEavell as it is commonly undertukzn by the gentlemen of our Nation,Joseph Hall warns against the spiritual dangers of discourse abroad. While our ears areopen and our tongues free, they [Catholic adversa- ries] will hope well of our very denials(Hall 1617:3). In the face of doctrinal difference, when English travelers to the conti-nent might be suspected oftreasonist sympathies with Rome (Einstein 1902: 155-175),travel treatises warned, "Tho...</p>