Collecting and Destroying Postcards: Discursive Travel in Lynne Tillman’s Motion SicknessAnnelise Heın
Lynne Tillman’s novel Motion Sickness (1991) features an unnamed American female narrator’s journeys through Europe and provides an example of textually mediated travel and relationships. Moving from city to city, the narrator collects and writes postcards as inscriptions that reveal how travel is shaped by writing and memory is inherently incomplete. In Tillman’s text, postcards function as a snapshot memory of a place by which the traveler marks her presence, but these fragments indicate that a physical or mental picture of a place is always limited by form, perspective, and time. This awareness that memory is fractional corresponds to a relational ambivalence since the narrator fluctuates between connecting and disconnecting with people by writing and destroying postcards. While these mailable traces of her journeys establish a point of contact with friends and family and the past, the traveler frequently tears up the messages she writes because they cannot adequately convey her experiences or maintain interpersonal connections. Approaching travel as a physical movement shaped by discursive practices, this article explores how the fragmentation and flux embodied by postcards in Motion Sickness emphasize that the product of the tourist gaze is textually constructed, limited, and unstable, and therefore an unreliable way to connect with people or interact with the past.