The concrete travelogue

Why It Takes Ten Extra Years To Grow Up, (Cerridwen, 2014) includes travelogues written at the representational, linear and complex nonlinear levels. Here is a brief summary of the ones in the book:

Representational travelogue (from The Orkneyinga Saga)
Earl Rognvald Kali and his happy-go-lucky Vikings go on a tourist visit to the Holy Land during the era of the Crusades. They sack a bandit castle and an enemy merchant ship along the way, go swimming in the Jordan River, get drunk and into bar brawls, and basically have a good time.

Linear travelogue (Gulliver’s Travels)
The novel’s satire is used as an example of stage 3.2 (formal operations), and the utopianism of the Houyhnhnms as an example of stage 3.3 (linear synthesis).

Complex nonlinear travelogue (Travels, by Michael Crichton)
Crichton recounts his travels and personal explorations as he finds himself.

And here are two examples of travelogues not in the book that are written at the level of concrete operations (stage 3.1):

The concrete travelogue
The Buddhist monk Xuanzang (Xuan Zhang, Hiuen Tsiang, Hsüen-tsang, 596-664 CE) was one of many monks in the first millennium CE who travelled from China to India on pilgrimage. He eventually collected over six hundred manuscripts on his fourteen-year journey, and wrote up his journey in Records of the Western World (Ta-t’ang-si-yu-ki). His description of his journeys is mostly a dry catalogue of a list of countries. Historians may find it exciting, but it’s unlikely very many other people will.

The kingdom of ’O-ki-ni (Akni or Agni) is about 500 li from east to west, and about 400 li from north to south. The chief town of the realm is in circuit 6 or 7 li. On all sides it is girt with hills. The roads are precipitous and easy of defence. Numerous streams unite, and are led in channels to irrigate the fields. The soil is suitable for red millet, winter wheat, scented dates, grapes, pears, and plums, and other fruits. The air is soft and agreeable; the manners of the people are sincere and upright. The written character is, with few differences, like that of India. The clothing (of the people) is of cotton or wool. They go with shorn locks and without head-dress. In commerce they use gold coins, silver coins, and little copper coins. The king is a native of the country; he is brave, but little attentive to (military) plans, yet he loves to speak of his own conquests. This country has no annals. The laws are not settled. There are some ten or more Saṅghârâmas with two thousand priests or so, belonging to the Little Vehicle, of the school of the Sarvâstivâdas (Shwo-yih-tsai-yu-po). The doctrine of the Sûtras and the requirements of the Vinaya are in agreement with those of India, and the books from which they study are the same. The professors of religion read their books and observe the rules and regulations with purity and strictness. They only eat the three pure aliments, and observe the method known as the ‘gradual’ one. [Records of the Western World, book 1.1; Beal translation, volume 1:17-18]

The Travels of Marco Polo (c. 1298 CE) describes the same terrain from the opposite direction six centuries later. As perhaps is to be expected from travelling merchants, it is primarily a description of travelling conditions and the economic marvels of foreign countries, though it is not as dry as the previous example.

Let me begin with Armenia. The truth is that there are actually two Armenias, a Greater and a Lesser. The lord of Lesser Armenia is a king who maintains good and just government in his country under the suzerainty of the Tartars. It is a land of many villages and towns, amply stocked with the means of life. It also affords good sport with all sorts of wild game, both beast and fowl. The climate, however, is far from healthy; it is, in fact, extremely enervating. Hence, the nobility of the country, who used to be men of valour and stalwart soldiers, are now craven and mean-spirited and excel in nothing except drinking. [The Travels of Marco Polo; Latham translation:46]

Both of these travelogues are mostly pure description of what can be seen by travellers in these countries, or what has been reported by previous travellers. There is no speculation about what could be, just description of what is.

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