John Ruskin who was born in London in February 1819, was a very interesting historical figure. His parents realised from a young age that he was very sensitive to everything around him, and that he enjoyed identifying beauty in all things around him. Therefore, they went ahead and encouraged this interest of his, and would take him out and travel quite frequently. For the family, this manner of travelling was not merely for entertainment or diversion but for the sole purpose of admiring and recognising beauty. This became a part of Ruskin’s life. His purpose in life not only became all about recognising beauty in places, but more importantly – what all us humans yearn for – how do we go about possessing the beauty of places as Botton (2002) mentions that beauty is fugitive, frequently found in places we may never return to.
Botton (2002) quite profoundly explains in his book, The Art Of Travel, five central conclusions that Ruskin arrived to, which also answers the question: why we write and/or take photos whilst travelling?
- Beauty is the result of a complex number of factors that affect the mind psychologically and visually.
- Humans have an innate tendency to respond to beauty and also desire to possess it.
- There are many lower expressions of this desire for possession; from the desire to buy souvenirs and carpets, to carving one’s name on pillars and taking photographs.
- There is only one way to possess beauty properly and that is through understanding it and through making ourselves conscious of the factors (psychological and visual) that are responsible for it.
- The most effective way of pursuing this conscious understanding is by attempting to describe beautiful places through art, through writing or drawing them (even photos and videos count here), irrespective of whether we happen to have any talent for doing so.
Taken from the book ‘The Art of Travel’ by Alain De Botton