Home/Rod Dreher/The Geographical Cure

The Geographical Cure

L’Eglise St-Etienne-du-Mont (foreground), the Pantheon (background)

On the “Souvenir, Souvenir”thread below, B. Minich writes:

Wow. Makes me think of Edinburgh, which I’ve only been to once . . . and man, I’d give a lot to be back there right now. How can a city just grab you like that? A city that sometimes makes no logical sense? I am very jealous you get to spend time with your city.

I wonder if you realize the joy a city can bring only when you actually get to the one that awakens you like that. Because I never understood your Paris posts until I went to Edinburgh. And now, I get it.

People talk about the fallacy of “the geographical cure” — that is, the idea that you can escape your problems by changing your location. It’s mostly untrue, because you will arrive in Paris, or Edinburgh, or New York, or wherever, and find that you are the same old you. But not always, and not completely the same old you. You may find that certain places make you feel more alive and open to beauty and grace and possibility than you were. That for whatever reason, those places make you feel happier and more harmonious, and may give you more clear sky and solid ground on which to stand against the things that threaten and discourage you.

It can work the opposite way, certainly. I have been in places that made me feel awful, like nothing would ever be right as long as I stayed there. In one place I can think of, it was a conventionally beautiful location. But it wasn’t me.

The point is, we are embodied creatures, and that means that all of us, to one degree or another, respond to our environments. For this thread, I’d like to hear from you readers about which cities or places in the world that awaken you in the way I’ve talked about how Paris does me, and how B. Minich described Edinburgh’s effect on him (her?).

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

leave a comment

Latest Articles