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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exploration of "direct experience"..., May 15, 2005
This review is from: Travels (Paperback)
In the Preface of this highly informative and entertaining collection of musings, experiences and travels of the body, mind and spirit, Crichton explains the reasons that prompted him to write this book:

"If you are a writer, the assimilation of important experiences almost obliges you to write about them. Writing is how you make the experience your own, how you explore what it means to you, how you come to possess it, and ultimately release it."

Crichton explores our need for direct experience. His premise is that modern man has lost his innate sense of himself and existence, relying on opinions, concepts and information structures, second hand knowledge, in order to make sense of the world, which, in the end, is a false perception. He proposes that the modern city-dweller, for example, cannot even see the stars at night due to the false light around him, causing a serious alienation from himself and reality. We've become so reliant on the media, hyper -realty, that simulation has become the real, thus we have generally lost our bearings, we have lost track of ourselves in relation to the greater scheme of things. Travel for Crichton, then, helped him to have "direct experience", thus achieving a greater sense of himself and his place on the planet. This book is about these direct experiences.

In Travels there are twenty- eight essays covering the author's early life in medical school and his bout with psychiatry, moving on to his first years in Hollywood as an aspiring writer and filmmaker, to his experiences in exotic lands and his musings on his experiences with the esoteric and the unexplained. These last essays are extremely interesting because Crichton attempts to rationally explain those phenomenon that dwell in the irrational - entities, other dimensional realms and the underrated "sixth" sense, that we've come to know as intuition. His proposition is that, fundamentally, just because certain phenomena cannot be explained "rationally", doesn't mean it doesn't exist. And to dismiss such phenomenon because it cannot hold up under the rigors of scientific analysis, is a mistake.

Crichton's Travels is a writer's exploration of himself and the world. It is an entertaining chronicle, at times hilarious and sad, and ultimately a strong argument for the need for all of us to have "direct experience", reinforcing his view that we also need greater insight into the mystical as well as the scientific, in order to truly understand ourselves and existence.

As usual, similar to all his books, Crichton has given us something informative, as well as tremendously entertaining.
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Location: Australia

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