There is a genre of writing that can be called “On the Road” literature. It often attempts to portray the enigmatic ordinary of Elsewhere in a series of trenchant, if necessarily superficial, observations. Writers of this kind of ostensible nonfiction are almost always outsiders, intellectually curious sophisticates with a wandering bent who bring a sharp eye, ear, and journalistic voice to their travels. Photographers hit the road for the same purpose, sometimes producing indelibly memorable, culture-defining images. Still, there are pitfalls here. Within the seemingly dispassionate writer’s pen or photographer’s lens lurk preconceived political positions and an inevitable, if unconscious, sense of superiority, which even the most sympathetic artists and writers have toward their subjects simply because they are in control of the presentation of their material.

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