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The question, invariably formulated in English, could be the following: “Are you a tourist or a traveller?” The answer, with all the nuances one might want, will always be reminiscent of the erratic character invented by Paul Bowles in “The Sheltering Sky”: «He didn’t consider himself a tourist; he was a traveller. He explained that the difference resided, in part, in time. Whereas the tourist generally hurries back home at the end of a few weeks or months, the traveller belonging no more to one place than to the next, moves slowly over periods of years, from one part of the earth to another». Or, to put it another way: as opposed to the “local” element, there exists a sort of « cosmopolitan avant la letter » or «citizen of the world » who, far from following the interests of the herd, is capable of discovering the essence of villages (?) without, however, ever falling prey to the risk posed of being still for too long or worse still renouncing exoticism as a principle motor of his particular, élan vital (to borrow Bergson’s concept).
In this sense, the resurgence of what [[Òscar Jané i Xavier Serra [eds.], Ultralocalisme. D’allò local a l’universal, Ed. Afers, Catarroja (País Valencià), 2013]] has quite rightly called the «International ultra-localist» shouldn’t surprise us. The idea is launched in the prologue of the magnificent book of articles he has compiled –along with Xavier Serra- under the title of “Ultralocalisme. D’allò local a l’universal”. According to Jané, it’s about refuting this ever so customary form of cosmopolitan modernity that, sheltering under the guise of a cool universalism, evades the past of oppression and colonization that maintains it: «In reality -explains Jané – in the subordinate areas of culture we are experiencing the era of cosmopaletisme (cosmopolitrash). A cosmopaletisme, where capital-cities convert into simple, secondary nodes (provincial nodes) in the network of the large metropolises. So, Tokyo, London or New York […] are the mirrors of a Barcelona lost in its yearning for cultural grandeur and which rejects, for reasons of social marketing, an intricate and dense, but active and compelling heritage».
Jacques Rancière –a Frenchman born in Argelia like Camus and as such an eternal foreigner- is the author of some finely honed reflections regarding this form of thought of no return [[Jacques Rancière, Mirmanda, Revista de Cultura, 1, 2006, pp. 36-42.]]: « The good awareness of the universal is nothing more than the very arrogance that constructs the genre through a process of exclusion. As far as difference is concerned it is only indifference that leaves pending the lethal games of the own and the specific. The problem is never the foreigner, the one from afar. It is the one from close by, the almost-other […] This other that is too close, different but not different enough, who causes us to suffer the sweetest form of violence, the hardest to tolerate. This violence isn’t that of the shock of cultures. It reminds us simply of where we come from, shattering the happy certainty that we belong and it belongs to us […] Nomadic reasoning has nothing to do with the cosmopolitics of the fairground that every day takes on in a clearer manner the face of neo-colonial arrogance. It is the long journey that brings us closer, little by little, to the conquest of singularity and to the community of men without belonging. The human community is a community of extraordinary exiled men.».
Exiled, in the final instance, they must coexist and support the aplomb of the «cosmopaletos»: condescending beings who have custody of a distant, very distant truth.
"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world" (John Le Carré)