Honesty and truth in travel writing
28 March 2013
My philosophy is very simple: tell the truth so that when someone follows up on your journey they cannot fault you for inaccuracy. That is it. It is essential that a travel writer must always be meticulously truthful, accurate and honest. Anything short and the very purpose of travel writing is defeated, nay, killed.
Bear in mind that Plato suggested that travel writers must be examined vigorously upon their return in order to ascertain the quality of the knowledge he/she has acquired during the journeys. He went on to say that a traveller returning with corrupted knowledge should be forcibly isolated, perhaps even killed. This is as quoted by Roxanne Euben in her book Journeys to the Other Shore.
Even earlier, we have another greater exemplar of upholding accuracy: the 6th century BCE Athenian philosopher, statesman and businessman Solon. He once rebuked the dramatist Thespis for including what he considered untruths in a play. To this Thespis said make-believe was permissible on stage. Solon almost exploded, 'Yes, but if we allow ourselves to praise and honour make-believe like this, the next thing will be to find it creeping into our serious business.'
Such great minds such as these should be our guiding beacons. Not the puny, publicity-seeking, self-aggrandising pygmies that rule the roost today in Pakistan. I try, as far as I can, to follow the Greeks in the principle of truthfulness in reporting. If I misconstrue, as is the norm in Urdu travel writing, I am willfully fooling ignorant people who mistakenly read my word for edification. So, what knowledge am I offering? This attitude places me among fraudsters and liars. I do not wish to belong there, even if that means fewer people wish to read my work. But I would much rather stick to the truth as research has shown it to be.
posted by Salman Rashid @ 3:32 PM,
Links to this post: