The Fool’s Paradise: To Where Does Travel Lead?

Krishnan Venkatesh + David Carl

Why do writers travel? Why do some authors write their most influential works in foreign countries? Does the unknown bring new insights and transformation, or do new lands provide nothing more than romantic myths for the imagination? In the essay “Self-Reliance,” Emerson says “Traveling is a fool’s paradise . . . My giant goes with me wherever I go.” Is he right? Or is getting lost the best way of finding higher truths? In this episode, Santa Fe host Krishnan Venkatesh joins tutor David Carl in a conversation that explores Carl’s journey as a writer who travels alongside these larger, universal questions, taking us from his time as a boy in rural Oregon, to Paris, to India, and ultimately back home, to ponder these questions at St. John’s College.

In this Episode

  • David Carl
    Guest David Carl

    David Carl is a tutor at St. John's College. This semester, he is discussing Mendel in senior laboratory and leading a history seminar in the Graduate Institute.

  • Krishnan Venkatesh
    Host Krishnan Venkatesh

    Krishnan Venkatesh is a tutor at St. John’s College. This semester, he is reading Austen in junior seminar, translating Molière in junior language, and leading a Chinese tutorial in the Graduate Institute.

Featured Release

The power and beauty of Homer’s imagery in the Iliad is undeniable, and his scenes of battle often prompt vexing questions about ancient and modern virtues. Can killing and dying in war be beautiful? Is a just cause required for glory to be gained? Is war a courageous way of fulfilling human nature and, ultimately, of embracing the reality that death awaits us all? This episode, in which Annapolis host Louis Petrich and tutor Erica Beall delve into the dramatic contrasts that make Homer’s work powerful and war potentially beautiful, invites us to question our own modern perspectives on this ancient text.

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Executive Producers Welcome

Continuing the Conversation was funded through the philanthropy of donors to St. John’s College. If you’d like to give to the college’s Annual Fund, your gift will go to support the kinds of inquiry and conversation that comes to life at St. John’s College. It also frees up money for creative projects like this one, which brings great conversation and great books into homes across the world.


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St. John’s College invites the community to awaken their intellect by engaging in mindful exploration. The college offers an array of online and in-person events, ranging from world-class concerts and art exhibitions to lectures and theater performances, as well as tutor-led seminars that provide lifelong learners opportunities to study the Great Books.

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