Armchair Travelling, Part 2
The series about travel literature continues. This time we’ll take a plunge into the world of fiction and reality TV, where life itself is a travel.
Travelling is a convenient theme for a writer as it contains a lot of action. Aristotle already said that action is the vital principle and very soul of drama. When only depicting the innermost of the protagonist, the story often becomes a formless monologue full of self-appraisal and self-pity. So why not to do something and seek some adventures for a change!
Travelling is often used to describe a change that the protagonist goes through in his life. This so called bildungsroman is a novelistic form which concentrates on the spiritual, moral, psychological, or social development and growth of the protagonist usually from childhood to maturity. Some of the most well-known examples of the genre are Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist, Hermann Hesse’s Siddartha, and John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World, To That Which Is to Come.
The power of action-driven description is best revealed not only in bildungsroman, but also in plays. Instead of talking, the characters are depicted by their gestures, movements, and actions rather than their thoughts and sayings. There are also examples of the same kind of style in novelistic fiction, for example in Finnish literature in Raija Siekkinen’s books. Her short stories are often puzzle-like when only concentrating on the outside and almost relieving to read in this era of analysing and explaining everything away.
I travel, therefore I am
Travelling offers, therefore, exciting plots for a writer: adventures, exotic milieus and fascinating characters. If the Athenians were attracted by Odysseus’ trips to the land of Cyclops, the audience of today is fascinated by reality TV in which protagonists carry out weird chores in strange and sometimes even dangerous milieus.
The plots of reality TV-shows follow the classic formula of folk tales: the protagonist meets people who either help him or try to hinder his mission; sometimes he wins, sometimes he looses, and usually there is also some romantic adventures included. The growth of the protagonists is being followed by interviewing them of their relationships. Quarrels are often mere social porn, but it seems to satisfy the audience’s ever-growing hunger for scandals. The protagonists are chosen among common people and they are competing for a handsome prize which makes the show more tempting.
Who would like to watch a TV series of a man, who works from nine to five, goes home to watch TV and drink some beer? Except if the story is ironic as the British series The Royle family. The protagonists spent most of the time on their couch watching TV and making remarks about the programmes and recent happenings in the neighbourhood. Their greatest travels were done from the couch to the fridge.
The first part of the series “Armchair Travelling” dealt with non-fiction travel books.