To be human is to be on a journey. It’s a cliché to say so – but it’s also true. To be human is to be on a journey. And since literature to some extent reflects what it is to be human, it will come as no surprise to us that one of the oldest pieces of literature in western civilization is Homer’s Odyssey. The Odyssey, of course, traces the 10 year journey of Odysseus back from Troy and the Trojan wars to his home on Ithaca. It is an eventful ten year journey, to put it mildly – during his travels he encounters the murderous Cyclops, he meets up with six-headed Scylla, and he runs up against the cannibalistic Laestrygonians. Now perhaps our journeys will be so eventful as that of Odysseus, but we are human so we are on a journey.
This is reflected not only in ancient Greek myth and literature, not only in that grand epic of Homer – it is reflect also in many of the films that have come out of Hollywood over the past decades. There is O brother where art thou, and Rain Main, and Sideways, and there is the older film Easy Rider. These are known as road movies – films that reflect the fact that to be human is to be on a journey – that human identity is shaped through journeys. Continue reading