Understanding the relationship between discussion and travel
If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? In The Odyssey
, Ulysses encounters a series of trees falling, yet finds himself the only man around to hear them and share the tale with others. Do these acts of storytelling and sharing his tales of travel validate the actuality of such happenings? Sharing information with others can offer solidity to the information in that it may outlast the source, or man, himself.
Although Ulysses has traveled far and wide and experienced more than any man ever should or might again, his tale is shared only through his own eyes. The tale itself is not presented to the reader (or listener, as was originally intended) as it happens, but rather, as a story Ulysses shares after the fact.
The choice of using this particular form of recounting the information to the audience suggests that the actual travel is not of as great importance as the effect that it has on those involved, and the result overall. Ulysses begins the account of his adventures by sharing, “I do not know how to begin, nor yet how to continue and conclude my tale,” placing more emphasis on the final result than on the experiences he went through (74).
The functionality of travel, then, becomes a means to spread information and recount a history, rather than to actively enjoy or appreciate a journey. A tale, it seems, makes the trip worthwhile, leaving travel as merely the source for a story, and without the importance of providing experience and joy to the traveler himself.
Ulysses, certainly, experiences very little joy in his journey, or at least in his retelling. Because his account is subjective, though, it is up to him to determine what may or may not be worth sharing, tainting the voyage from its original form. If travel is meant to be retold, but is always retold subjectively, how, then can travel ever hope to be an accurate depiction of encounters with new people and cultures? Perhaps travel was never intended for such joyful functions, but rather simply as a pretext to relay information.