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In Motion: The Experience of Travel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 12, 2010

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Editorial Reviews Review

In In Motion: The Experience of Travel, Tony Hiss argues that motion--so often a form of distraction and annoyance in our forward-flung lives--can, if approached in the right spirit, lead to heightened perception of both our surroundings and our own thoughts, whether traveling far abroad or just walking around our neighborhood. With that idea of travel (what he calls "Deep Travel") in mind, we asked him to think of some books that share the same sort of perception. The result is an expansive list of travel books in which the movement takes place as much in the brain as on a map:

Tony Hiss on Ten Books and a Movie That Evoke "Deep Travel"

Each of the following were valuable and enriching guides for me while I was writing In Motion and exploring Deep Travel--my expression for that revelatory sense of wonder and amazement that lets you discover something altogether new even in an old familiar place.

  • A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor: Thought by many to be the greatest travel writer of our time and by others to be the greatest travel writer of all times, Fermor’s story of his walk as a teenager across the peaceful Europe that was about to be consumed by the Second World War is a haunting and poetic narrative of great power.
  • Mani by Patrick Leigh Fermor: A post-war book by the same wonderful author, who this time seeks out the most inaccessible landscapes and villages of southernmost Greece. Beautifully observed and felt; among many treasures is Fermor’s page-long, single-sentence description of the air in Greece.
  • The Head Trip by Jeff Warren: An exciting, entertaining and authoritative look at the modern science of consciousness, with an insightful chapter on the "SMR"--the sensorimotor rhythm of the brain, which is the physical manifestation of our wider awareness.
  • My Khyber Marriage by Morag Murray Abdullah: An unknown classic. Morag Murray was a conventional young Scottish woman who married an Afghan prince during the First World War and left her sheltered life behind forever. A fascinating look at the transformative power of unexpected circumstances.
  • The Dance of Life by Edward T. Hall: A favorite author of mine, who spent a lifetime closely observing human behavior. In this book, this brilliant sociologist shows how time can extend indefinitely, bringing us into a longer "now."
  • The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann: One of the most celebrated novels of the 20th century. Although his subject is the disappearance of pre-First World War Europe, Mann, the Nobel Prize winner, pleads with his readers to keep "our sense of time" awake so that none of us will not have to live through "paltry, bare, featherweight years."
  • Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Tahir Shah: Rollicking and exuberant and full of insight, Shah recounts his year as a student to an Indian magician, a mysterious and forbidding man who believed in always keeping one eye on the detail, and the other on "the entire picture."
  • Ceremonial Time by John Hanson Mitchell: Without leaving his small town outside of Boston, Mitchell is able to resurrect the 15,000-year-old reality of the place, as it emerged from glacial times and became a beloved home to Native Americans. Mitchell moves through only a single square mile of space but glides back and forth through the millennia--and it's a magical journey.
  • Adventures in Afghanistan by Louis Palmer: Sixty years after Morag Murray, Palmer visits war-torn Afghanistan with the freedom fighters, and visits remote monasteries, hidden palaces, healing springs, and other startling treasures that seem like real-life continuations of the Arabian Nights.
  • Encountering the World by Edward S. Reed: A totally original synthesis of modern psychology and philosophy. Reed, who died much too young at age 42, convincingly places awareness at the center of all mental and cognitive ability. A masterpiece.
  • I Know Where I’m Going!, directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger: A lovely movie about a headstrong young woman (a marvelous Wendy Hiller) on her way to marry the wrong man. Suddenly stranded on a Scottish island, she awakens to everything she’s been missing and finds her true love and, more importantly, her true self.

From Booklist

Hiss describes “deep travel” as an elevated awareness one can experience as one moves about, locally or globally. This book explores cognitive access to that aspired-to awareness, resulting in a work that resembles more an excursus into psychology than a concrete description of the travel experience. For example, Hiss writes prolix passages about the consciousness of the flow of time, positing improved perception of time as a way to higher acuity about one’s surroundings. In Hiss’ case, those are his home of New York City, in which most of his personal observations are set. For the wider world’s aid in defining the concept of deep travel, Hiss quotes extensively from notable travel authors ranging from Marco Polo to Paul Theroux. He eventually diverges into human evolution, taking this direction to show that wanderlust is innate to humans. A discursive and intentionally incomplete work—in one chapter, Hiss collects thoughts for a possible future title called A Short History of Awareness––this work will appeal to readers interested in the psychological aspects of travel. --Gilbert Taylor

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (October 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679415971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679415978
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,060,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For years I've been fascinated by how peopole are affected by the changes in the places around them - cities and landscapes - and also by how people themselves change as they move through these places. My latest book, "In Motion: The Experience of Travel," explores a rewarding and vivid wide-awake-ness that travel can evoke - a state of mind I call Deep Travel. More information about Deep Travel and a forum for sharing your own Deep Travel stories can be found at the "In Motion" Web site:

"In Motion" is my 13th book. My previous books, which include "The Experience of Place," have also covered train travel, Hunanese cooking, giant pandas, photography, the story of my family, the landscape of the Chicago area, and the landscape and future of the New York City region. I was a staff writer at The New Yorker for more than 30 years and I've lectured widely all over the world. Currently I'm a Visiting Scholar at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. I live in New York City with my wife, writer Lois Metzger, and our son.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Richmond on January 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a long-time fan of Tony Hiss, I have often related to his insights. Here is what I rely upon when I read his writing: 1) Hiss identifies an important concept (e.g. Simultaneous Perception in his book "The Experience of Place," and now Deep Travel in "In Motion") 2) He supports the concept with personal experience as well as historic or other published works, so that you, as a reader, can continue that journey and 3) He builds upon each idea, so that the concept becomes increasingly relevant to contemporary life.

With "Deep Travel," Hiss encourages readers to see what is innate in each of us: the ability (and joy) of being highly aware of where we are, whether it is a trip far from home, or a walk in our own neighborhood. We all read books through our own individual filters; mine is the filter of creativity. The more I read about Deep Travel, the more I realize that it is exactly what feeds me as an artist.

For many people in creative fields-- writers, choreographers, photographers, musicians --a huge part of making art consists of observation feeding discovery, and vice versa. And it is not just the initial stages: observation and discovery is an ongoing duet throughout the creative process. "In Motion" takes the reader through many examples where an act of observation leads to the excitement of discovery, which, in turn, leads to more observation.

This is just one of the ways that "In Motion" feeds and encourages creativity. While it is categorized as a travel book, I would also place a copy in many more aisles (physical and virtual) of the bookstore, from Art to Philosophy to Urban Planning.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MamaLu on October 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I loved Tony Hiss's book THE EXPERIENCE OF PLACE, and his newest book, IN MOTION, is beautiful in a similar way. I love the way he chooses particular places and makes us understand the specifics and the meaning of travel--of being human and being in motion. In that sense each of us travels every day and when we do, we're that much more aware of ourselves and our surroundings. I've had that experience nearly every time I've taken a long train ride. But Hiss is so articulate, so funny, so pure in his prose, and so brilliant in his examples that he brings that long-hidden truth to light. Great for anyone who travels anywhere--which is all of us. I plan to get several copies as holiday gifts this year. My dad would love it-- and so would my niece.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Marisha Chamberlain on October 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Tony Hiss' IN MOTION awakens the reader to the profound possibilities in travel. With Hiss, we go, not only to distant lands, but through own neighborhoods with fresh eyes. I followed with growing excitement, as Hiss introduced questions of how we experience space and time, and how we can, with remarkable ease, shift from an ordinary, preoccupied sense of what's around us, to a deep encounter that stretches time and gives deep savor to life. This is an unusual book, in that it's written from within the consciousness of Deep Travel, and beckons in a way that's startlingly simple and shocks with its persuasiveness. We recognize ourselves in it, and at the same time, discover our surroundings as if for the first time. This is easily the most important book I've read this year, and like Hiss' earlier book, THE EXPERIENCE OF PLACE, is utterly transporting. Don't miss it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By dragonfly on November 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Tony Hiss is one of my favorite writers. His book, THE EXPERIENCE OF PLACE is on my all-time must read list. So I've been waiting anxiously for this book, IN MOTION, and am thrilled to have it. Hiss writes beautifully and lucidly. He uses great examples and covers travel from a simple daily commute to the Millau Viaduct to midtown Manhattan to high speed Acela trains to interplanetary travel. His notion of Deep Travel can help us bring meaning and focus, not only to the time we spend moving from one place to another, but in relation to our lives in general. A beautiful, and meaningful book! I agree with Grayreader that it will make a perfect holiday gift.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Liz Di Giorgio on January 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I agree with Wendy Richmond that Tony Hiss's "In Motion" is an important book for artists, but I think it is important for anyone wishing to live a full life. Artists in the habit of careful observation will appreciate the author's ability to beautifully articulate so much of what we observe and know intuitively, while also linking the personal experience of careful observation to the findings of anthropology, physics, astronomy, literature and poetry. This book exemplifies the very idea of travel in its interdisciplinary path. It is a generous book in that the author invites us to share in his everyday life and to understand how a single sentient human being can encounter the beautiful complexity of the universe. It is a friendly invitation to live deeply.
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