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Do you believe in the spirit of place?

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The novelist and island writer Lawrence Durrell believed we are each aligned with certain places. This is where we do our best work because we resonate with the Spirit of Place.  He believed landscape is not a projection of the psyche — an interpretation of your surroundings based on your interior — but a tutelary spirit which guides the growth of personality and art. This isn’t an original...

Hands up everyone who does this

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It’s been brought to my attention that I might be somewhat strange. Surely I’m not the only one who rotates their bookmarks? It’s not as though I collect bookmarks. I’m not a member of the International Friends of Bookmarks, either (yes, that’s a real thing). I don’t care what I mark my books with when I travel: an old envelope, the stub of a boarding pass, abandoned receipts. I’m unapologetic...

Why worry about things you can’t control?

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My last blog on conspiracy theories sparked an interesting discussion on Facebook. My friend Nathan pointed out that I failed to draw a clear distinction between all too real large scale actions perpetrated by governments and the sort of “Lobby of the Unhinged” conspiracy theories I was talking about. In practical terms, that difference doesn’t matter very much to me. I’ll tell you why — and what...

What do you think of the ‘deep state’?

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A friend asked me this week, “What do you think of the ‘deep state’? The short answer is, “I try not to.” Mostly because it has no meaningful impact on my life. ‘Deep state’ is the idea that some sort of shadow government made up of rich, powerful actors wields power, either within or behind the legitimately elected government. The Bilderberg Group, the Illuminati, the Freemasons, the CIA and the...

Words That Piss Me Off: The Sequel

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I never would have guessed when I sat down to write Words That Piss Me Off in March 2010 that I was creating a smash hit. Many of the words and phrases which sparked that furious rant were irritating proliferations of business English that made their way into daily use. Don’t get me wrong, they still piss me off. But more recent offences to the English language have their origins in an even more...

Planet of the Humans

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Let’s talk about Planet of the Humans, the controversial new documentary produced by Michael Moore. I figure we might as well talk about something, since travel’s off the cards for the foreseeable future. Rather than vanish into sedentary obscurity, I decided to use the blog to write about whatever crosses my desk: current reading, current events, the distant past, or the afterglow of an...

Will travel writing survive COVID-19?

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The future looks bleak for travel writing — at least, for the highly commercialized side — but I don’t think this is true for travel literature. They aren’t the same thing. What’s on the ropes? Most commercial travel writing exists symbiotically with the tourism industry, living off press junkets, review writing and advertising. It’s designed to sell a product or a destination. This side of...

A recluse’s guide to self-isolation

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How are you coping with being jailed at home? I could do this self-isolation thing for months. It doesn’t bother me at all. Okay, at this time of year I’m missing the biergarten. There’s nothing like a cold draft on a hot summer day after a weekend bike ride. But nothing else has changed for me, apart from not being able to travel and the gym being closed. I realize that’s not the case for normal...

I’m not optimistic about our current situation

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I’m not optimistic about our current situation. I think this pandemic marks a historical turning point, one we were already moving towards but which is now accelerating. We talked about this in previous blogs on the future of the European Union, the future of travel, and other post-pandemic changes. The past five or six years has felt like inhabiting a world that fell off the rails. The rise of...

What happens to travel after COVID-19?

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In recent blogs, we’ve talked about the future of the European Union, and other changes we might see in the wake of the Great Pandemic. In this instalment, I’d like to bring things closer to home and talk about the future of travel. The entire travel and tourism industry took a massive blow, and some of it is very unlikely to recover. But will we stop traveling after COVID-19? What if there isn’t...

Ryan Murdock

Author of Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Columnist at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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