Pantar Island. Alor, Indonesia. July 2012.

Need for islands

  Between Two Journeys

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

If, like me, you love islands, here or elsewhere, dive into this book: Need for islandsby the geographer Louis Brigand. The man is a scientist, but it is as a passionate person, as a lover, that he talks about the islands he visited in the course of his research.

Starting with the Breton islands, and the one of Beniguet in particular, in the Molène archipelago. I invite you to read this report that my colleague Marc Pennec devoted to him in Ouest-France. Enough to fill up with invigorating marine freshness!

Need Islands, by Louis Brigand, Stock Editions.Need for islands
Stock editions
252 pages, 18 €

Louis Brigand is a professor at theEuropean Institute of the Seain Brest, at the University of Western Brittany (UBO). He is one of the great specialists in island issues. His job as a teacher-researcher leads him to travel from one end of the planet to the other, from island to island... Another "dream job" for globetrotters?

No Asian islands in the memories evoked in his book. But he has the right words to say the irresistible attraction that islands have on our imagination (remember Treasure Island of Stevenson!), to talk about the beauty of insularity, the happiness that consists in letting the days go by while looking at the sea... Small extract:

Finally, I prefer to move regularly from one island to another, and thus be itinerant and nomadic, rather than fixed and sedentary. As a result, I have the impression of having chosen to live in an immense archipelago, to travel permanently from one house to another, and to share my life between spaces that come together, forming a whole from which I draw energy and a certain resourcefulness. (P.67)

I don't feel anything else, at the idea of leaving again, very soon, for distant archipelagos. The Perhentian Islands, then Borneo, Sipadan and Mabul, Derawan and Sangalaki ...

I'm going there in a tourist context, for vacations, and I won't be in a situation of complete isolation, far from it. But I like being surrounded by water, having no other border around me than the sea. Contemplating the horizon clears my head. Many people feel locked up, a bit like prisoners, on an island. For me, it's the opposite: staying on an island frees me, soothes me. I leave the floor to Louis Brigand:

Maybe that's what happiness is all about! An island.
I think isolation is something that happens in the head. There are millions of guys who live in dramatic isolation, in their apartment or in the city, in front of their TV or their electronic games! I may be isolated geographically, but not at all mentally. On the contrary, the island with its closed borders is a mirror that reflects in depth and amplifies the things of life. (P.14)

Oh, my! This book is perfect for me. I am in dire need of islands.


  Between Two Journeys

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  1. Ici un parisien insulaire dans l’âme, à sec de son île depuis 30 ans et qui va la revoir dans 1, 2, 3, 4,… 27 jours… je verserai certainement une larme quand le 25 juillet, je foulerai à nouveau le sol de l’aéroport de Bauerfield à Port Vila. Je demanderai alors au taxi “Yu fala save tekem mi long ples ia…”.. Plus besoin de dico de bahasa 😉 … les mots en bislama du Vanuatu sortiront tout seuls, d’un silence de 30 ans.

    L’insularité un isolement? Mais pas du tout, l’insularité c’est le goût de la découverte, l’incertitude… c’est la condition qui t’apprend à regarder au delà de la ligne d’horizon et se demander dans quelle direction il existe une autre île similaire ou différente, … l’insulaire est sur qu’il y a un autre part, il scrute le ciel tandis que le continental pense être le centre du monde, il remue la terre… l’insulaire est mouvance alors que le continental est certitude…comment être sur de quoi que ce soit, quand trois cyclones par an balaient les mauvaises structures comme des idées reçues.

    Une condition implique usuellement son contraire ou son complémentaire : le premier réflexe du voyageur est celui de trouver comment sortir du lieu où l’on vient d’arriver, celui de l’insulaire est de savoir quel est le vent portant qui permettra de s’échapper ou de revenir à son île.

    Et bien puisqu’on parle littérature, au delà des iles, j’ai aussi “besoin de mirages” like Gilles Lapouge, writer also known for his work on pirates, other intrepid travelers.

    And then another essential work to re-enchant the small and large contingencies of the trip, on the basis of our illustrious traveler predecessors (Flaubert or Baudelaire) there is Alain de Botton with his “Art du voyage”.

    Good readings and especially selamat jalan 8).

    il va falloir que tu ouvres un section littérature où tes lecteurs mettraient chacun leur bouquin de voyage de chevet (personnellement une armoire 😆 )

  2. @ Wet & sea / Ludovic: Superbe, ta réflexion de Parisien insulaire… Et merci pour les conseils de lecture. C’est une bonne idée, ça, de collection les suggestions de bouquins des uns et des autres. Faudrait que tout le monde fasse comme toi, et enrichisse de ses contributions cette section “Livres et lectures”.

    Go, more than three small weeks of nothing to wait, before seeing your island again !!!