The Grand Tour, back in the day, we based on John Dewey and experiential education, at least partially. It was also based on ideas of high culture, and the lack of it in England. Also class and privilege, since mostly it was some aristocratic females and of course upper class males. Get out of the classroom and experience your culturally rich education. Come back to England and show it off with your culturally rich mind and artefacts to prove you have been there, on the continent, and have become a gentleman, or in some cases a noble lady.
Of course a dose here and there of so called high culture is fine. I also like the idea of experiential education. But not The Grand Tour. The Grand Tour evolved into a kind of package holiday, a list of famous sites to see, take a selfie, and tick the box.
The experiential is not separate from the imagination. Science is finally catching up, at least partially, with the science of the mind in the east. And also the imagination. The imagination can also be swallowed up by measures and testing. The ultimate enlightenment masculine dream of control (e.g. the idealisation of science).
Wallace Stevens understood this. And after him John Ashbery. Both influenced in varying degrees by Surrealism and Romanticism. It is the interplay of so-called reality and so-called imagination. But, as usual, we are naturally bi-polar as a species, swinging from one extreme to the other. But that’s OK. Sometimes we find nice interplays. We need an out there and in here to bounce off each other. When one loses touch with the other, we lose our grounding. This goes for dry scientific reasoning and objectifying and measuring everything, as well as imagination without any grounding in the everyday.
Stevens wrote, “The imagination loses vitality as it ceases to adhere to what is real… There are degrees of the imagination, as, for example, degrees of vitality and, therefore, of intensity. It is an implication that there are degrees of reality. ”
Yes there is Naples, all fine and dandy, but there is also NAPLES! And the Naples of one influences THE OTHER NAPLES! There are many Naples. Why try to limit yourself to just one. The one that was prepackaged for you.
Imagination, it seems, is being downplayed in education. Science and technology, and of course the world of buying and spending, are numero uno. We need imagination. Maybe we need to become more like children (not actually children maybe). Maybe that is one of the cures for what is ailing more and more. At least, that’s what I have found!
The ultimate travel involves the active imagination. It is very powerful, and many children, before it is drilled out of them, travel freely from place to place.What is travel anyway? The actual movement of the body from one place to another? Perhaps. But you can also travel alone around your room. See A Journey Around My Room by Xavier de Maistre. And also many others!