Some travellers never return. They become villagers instead. This happened to a man I know, the symbolist of Itaparica. An American landscape painter, his masterwork is the house he lives in, an island villa in Brazil that is lined with painted panels showing views of land and sea in all directions from his studio. In his paintings the ocean and shoreline are transformed into mythical seascapes. The paintings incorporate representations of his neighbours and friends, local fishermen and their craft, indigenous flora and fauna, the changing seasons on the bay. He has transfigured them; they have anchored him. And he has painted himself in, becoming part of what he portrays, a captive of distance.
Other artists and writers travel, but do not stay. They too feel the lure of otherness, the desire to see other cultures before they are submerged by a tide of globalisation, the pull of the edge of the world. As westerners, creatures of privilege, they can easily move back and forth. We live in a golden age of getting to places. This kind of traveller is a trader in ideas, returning to the metropolis with notes and sketches, photographs and found objects, a weight of representation in their luggage.