The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, and the Search for Home

Iyer, Pico

Published by Knopf, 2000
ISBN 10: 0679454330 / ISBN 13: 9780679454335
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Synopsis: Pico Iyer has for many years described with keen perception and exacting wit the shifting textures of faraway lands anchored on a spinning globe that mixes and matches East and West. Now he casts a philosophical eye upon this curious state of floatingness.

In the transnational village that our world has become, travel and technology fuel each other and us. As Iyer points out, "everywhere is so made up of everywhere else," and our very souls have been put into circulation. Yet even global beings need a home.

Using his own multicultural upbringing (Indian, American, British) as a point of departure, Iyer sets out on a quest, both physical and psychological, to find what remains constant in a world gone mobile. He begins in Los Angeles International Airport, where town life — shops, services, sociability — is available without a town, and in Hong Kong, where people actually live in self-contained hotels. He moves on to Toronto, which has been given new life and a new literature by its immigrant population, and to Atlanta, where the Olympic Village inadvertently commemorates the corporate universalism that is the Olympics' secret face. And, finally, he returns to England, where the effects of empire-as-global-village are still being sorted out, and to Japan, where in the midst of alien surfaces, Iyer unexpectedly finds a home.

"As a guide to far-flung places, Pico Iyer can hardly be surpassed," The New Yorker has written. In The Global Soul, he extends the meaning of far-flung to places within and all around us.

Review: Pico Iyer's book of essays about international locales contends that the modern world-scurrying citizen, pushed by business demands or political migrations, can easily lose both roots and sense of home. Airports have morphed into cities where scores of languages are spoken, thousands work, and millions travel through mazed villages of McDonalds, massage parlors, and self-help groups that twist along for miles; the Dallas-Fort Worth airport alone grabs more space than Manhattan. And city life is no different: Iyer's apartment building also houses an immigration office, banks, four cinemas, dozens of restaurants and nearly 100 boutiques; the technologically plugged-in businessman with whom he stays has five phones across the world, a dozen international bank accounts, and travels more than a pilot.

Whether in Toronto--where in larger schools nearly 80 languages may be heard--London, or at the Olympics in Atlanta, Iyer witnesses the overlapping of hundreds of heterogeneous cultures, often pushed by corporate concerns toward commercial homogeneity and powered by technology that offers an office in the sky. The picture painted by Iyer--himself a confused and well-traveled multicultural citizen--is extreme, sci-fi, and futuristic even though set in the present: a global village turned spinning metropolis, with so many fragments set loose in its gyrations that it threatens to explode the minds of its residents. But even this shell-shocked world traveler finds peace, concluding that a simpler life may be a richer one and that home is simply where the frazzled mind decides it will be. In an era when new frontiers open monthly, when frequent flyer miles serve as currency, and constant change may be a lifestyle demand, Iyer's frantic words and dizzying images may prove as prophetic as Alvin Toffler's Future Shock. --Melissa Rossi

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Title: The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, ...
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: 2000
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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