The trope of the encounter with the other is really, at its heart, an encounter with oneself.

In our selfie culture, in which even ISIS members glower at their camera phones and snap their own portraits, the fascination with the story of oneself has never been more tantalising.

Take for instance the tourist I spied not long ago at Café Les Deux Magots filming her magenta macaroon for Snapchat, or its ilk. (I didn’t ask. I’m making an assumption for the purposes of argument, the cardinal right of the travel writer.)

At the next table, another young girl fondled and photographed her dessert for her Instagram. (You, dear reader, will have to wonder if I’m now creating this second character to make my point. This isn’t fact-checkable – another weapon of the far-flung correspondent, even if it’s only Paris.)

The point is, did one young woman’s delectation render the other’s any less compelling a journey? When each returned late that evening to her tiny slope-ceilinged garret to draft her respective dispatch on social media, did the fact that someone across town was doing exactly the same thing invalidate her adventure?

Of course not.


Hymen Elegy
Nobody Represents Me