"With vacations," he continued, "there are two strands of desire. On the one hand, there is the desire for relaxation, which is almost a Zen type of emptying your mind, a freedom from anxiety and stress, etc. And then there's the idea of stimulation. Most of the time, people run those two things together, and they're completely incompatible." For him everything seems better in anticipation and in memory.
At one point, the author suggests that the hunger for travel might be better served by staying home and reading about foreign places or by looking at paintings or photographs. In passing, he says that he began to appreciate Provence only after he had studied paintings by van Gogh.
--Mel Gussow on Alain de Botton's recent book in the NY Times