Repost, first published 17th December 2015: part of a series of reposts which I may schedule once a month or more
During World War II the British government tried to discourage travel at Christmas time with the slogan “Is your journey really necessary?” But, as popular culture, psychology, history and of course literature all tell us, journeys are as necessary to human beings as love, food and shelter.
Time was that any reality or talent show featuring wannabe celebrities would feature the phrase “I/you/we’ve been on a journey,” implying that the individuals concerned had somehow grown or matured due to the experience regardless whether or not they had actually changed location. The Journey has however always been a metaphor, sometimes characterised as a tripartite image schema: ‘source-path-goal’. Though not all elements need be present whenever the metaphor is employed, the sense of beginning-middle-end is nearly always implicit, with the journey – the ‘path’ – as the central core. In this the metaphor encapsulates the Aristotelian definition of narrative plot as a ‘whole’: “A whole is that which has a beginning, a middle, and an end,” Aristotle asserted in Chapter VII of The Poetics, a principle that can be applied not just to tragedy (as Aristotle did) but to most narrative structure.