A history of walking
I read Rebecca Solnit's A Field Guide to Getting Lost at the suggestion of Claire. It was a wonderful meandering, thinking, reflecting book that merged intellectual ideas about solitude with punk rock and so much more. When I came across the title of this book, the R.E.M. song Wanderlust (followed by Pilgrimage and We Walk as I read the book) came to mind as well as the German word it is. The best discoveries often come from wandering or browsing and this book was all one could hope it to be. I have a list of many more books to read as a result. Solnit wonderfully merges art, architectural and intellectual history into her discussion while keeping in mind pop culture, experience, activism and reflection. I have only lived in a few where walking for most everything was possible and I hope to return to places like that again. I knew I hated treadmills and gyms but I thank Solnit allowing me to understand the roots of both and the greater cultural implications of both.
Highlights from the cards:
p. 4 "The history of walking is everyone's history... a desk is no place to think on a large scale."
p. 5 "...thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented culture, and doing nothing is hard to do. It's best done by disguising it as doing something and the something that is closest to doing nothing is walking."
p. 6 "...it is both means and end"
p. 7 "Think of the ruin as a souvenir from the canceled end of the world."
p. 8 "It was a revelation to me, the way this act of walking...could articulate political meaning..."
-Thoreau's essay Walking
p. 9 "the sense of place that can only be gained on foot"
-people living "in a series of interiors...On foot everything stays connected."
p. 10- "It's the unpredictable incidents between official events that add up to a life, the incalculable that gives it value."
p. 10-11 erosion of public space
p. 11- "The random, the unscreened, allows you to find what you don't know you are looking for, and you don't know a place until it surprises you."
p. 13- "When you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back."
"Exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains."
p. 20-21- Rousseau "Reveries of a Solitary Walker"
p. 23-25- Kierkegaard
p. 24- "Kierkegaard's great daily pleasure seems to have been walking the streets of his city. It was a way to be among people for a man who could not be with them..."
p. 27 mentions George Orwell's statement "The opinion that art should not be political is itself a political opinion."
p. 33- John Napier "Human walking is a unique activity during which the body, step by step, teeters on the edge of catastrophe."
"walking begins as delayed falling"
p. 55-57- The Peace Pilgrim
p. 58- "a pilgrimage makes an appeal while a march makes a demand."
"Nonviolence means that activists are asking their oppressors for change rather than forcing it."
p. 67-68- quote at the bottom of the page- "An active line on a a walk moving freely, without goal. A walk for a walk's sake." Paul Klee, Allegorizing Drawing
p. 68 "A path is a prior interpretation of the best way to traverse a landscape..."
p. 69- moral of mazes
p. 70- Marianne Moore
-"...sometimes the map is the territory."
p. 71- labyrinth- 1 route
p. 72- "Just as writing allows one to read the words of someone who is absent, so roads make it possible to travel the route of the absent."
p. 88- ha ha ditch
p. 90- French gardens and English gardens
p. 95- guidebooks- what to see, some how to see
p. 96- picturesque- William Gilpin
p. 106- "The poem is also a kind of atlas of the making of a poet"
p. 119- William Hazlitt, 1821, On Going on a Journey, "One of the pleasantest things in the world is going on a journey, but I like to go by myself,"
-"solitude is better on a walk because 'you cannot read the book of nature without being perpetually put to the trouble of translating it for the benefit of others.'"
p. 124- "You must be complex to want simplicity"
p. 143- "What is recorded as history seldom represents the typical, and what is typical seldom becomes visible as history, though it often becomes visible as literature."
p. 149 "...the consequence of the theory that nature is supposed to make you happy is that those most desperately in search of happiness tend to show up there."
p. 158- when walking becomes marching
p. 160- rambling
-"walking is classless" (access to the land another issue)
p. 162- "Walking focuses not on the boundary lines of ownership that break the land into pieces but on the paths that function as a kind of circulatory system connecting the whole organism. Walking is, in this way, the antithesis of owning."
-"Nomads have often been disturbing to nationalism because their roving blurs and perforates the boundaries that define nations; walking does the same thing on the smaller scale of private property."
p. 167- "Walking has become one of the forces that has made the modern world- often by serving as a counterprinciples to economics."
p. 171- "Cities have always offered anonymity, variety and conjunction, qualities best basked in by walking: one does not have to go into the bakery or the fortune teller's, only to know that one might."
-"A city always contains more than any inhabitant can know, and a great city always makes the unknown and the possible spurs to the imagination."
p. 174- Sierra Club dictum, "Take only photographs, leave only footprints."
p. 175- "Streets are the space left over between buildings."
p. 176- "the ideal city is organized around citizenship- around participation in public life."
-most American cities and towns organized around consumption and production
-"Walking is only the beginning of citizenship, but through it the citizen knows his or her city and fellow citizens and truly inhabits the city rather than a small privatized part thereof."
-"Walking the streets is what links up reading the map with living one's life."
-"To me, the magic of the street is the mingling of the errand and the epiphany."
p. 186- Patti Smith, when asked about how she prepares for performances, "I would roam the streets for a few hours."
p. 187- Virginia Woolf, "How beautiful a street is in winter! It is at once revealed and obscured."
p. 191- Alan Ginsburg
p. 192- Frank O'Hara, about whose work reveals as Solnit says "Cities are forever sprawling lists."
-David Wojnarowicz, Close to Knives, "He writes in a collage of memories, encounters, dreams, fantasies and outbursts..."
p. 197-198- Walter Benjamin- "...Paris taught me this art of straying." The Arcades Project
p. 199-200 the flaneur
p. 202 Proust
-Baudelaire- "The poet enjoys the incomparable privilege of being able to be himself or someone else...Like those wandering souls who go looking for a body, he enters as he likes into each man's personality."
p. 204 Haussmann
p. 205- what upset people most was what he obliterated, which was "the mental map walkers carried with them and the geographical correlatives to their memories and associations"
p. 206- Benjamin on Louis Aragon's book, so exhilarating, "evenings in bed I could not read more than a few words of it before my heartbeat got so strong I had to put the book down."
-Benjamin and Franz Hessel has worked on a translation of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past
p. 210 "Parisian writers always gave the street addresses of their characters"
p. 211 Hannah Arendt "...so one inhabits a city by strolling thought it without aim or purpose"
p. 212- Guy DeBord- Psychogeography and Theory of Derive (drifting)
p. 213 "map of your own thoughts, the physical town replaces by an imaginary city."
p. 213 De Certeau- "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities."
-"frightening possibility...post pedestrian city...risks becoming a dead language"
p. 216 Joseph Beuys "Everyone an artist."
-"This is the highest ideal of democracy- that everyone can participate in making their own life and the life of the community- and the street is democracy's greatest arena."
p. 218- "But when public spaces are eliminated, so ultimately is the public."
-"Paris is the great city of walkers. And it is the great city of revolution."
p. 229 and 230
p. 230- "A revolution is a lightning bolt showing us new possibilities and illuminating the darkness of our old arrangements so that we will never see them quite the same way again."
-Reclaim the streets
p. 231 "Stop the car, Free the city"
p. 232- walking and courtship
p. 233-234 women and walking
-"women's walking is often construed as performance rather than transport"
p. 249- 1970s census- majority of Americans suburban
p. 250- suburban home only a place of consumption
p. 251- suburb product of the Industrial Revolution
p. 255- "Political engagement may be one of the things suburbs have zoned out."
p. 260 "The body has ceased to be a utilitarian entity for many Americans, but it is still a recreational one."
-treadmill- "meant to rationalize prisoners' psyches"
p. 263- "The everyday acts of the farm had been reprised as empty gestures"
p. 264- treadmill most perverse- "simulating walking suggests that space itself has disappeared"
"disinclines people to participate in making that world habitable or to participate in it at all"
-the modern treadmill consumes power (originally could be used to power things)
p. 267 "The disembodiment of everyday life I have been tracing is a majority experience."
-Walking as art, 1960s
p. 269- Lucy Lippard- sculpture- Carol Andre, "My idea of a piece of sculpture is a road."
p. 270- Richard Long, artist from England, Line Made by Walking, 1967
p. 271- Long, "A walk expresses space and freedom and the knowledge of it can live in the imagination of anyone and that is another space too."
p. 272- Stanley Brouwn
p. 278- Las Vegas- new outpost of pedestrian life
p. 278-279- quote at the bottom of the page- Ivan Illich, "The world has become inaccessible because we drive there."
p. 283- Michael Sorkin and theme parks
p. 286- Vegas reinventing the garden and the city
-"But the world gets better at the same time it gets worse."
p. 289 Red Rocks
-fight for free space, fight for free time
"Otherwise the individual imagination will be bulldozed over for the chain-store outlets of consumer appetite, true crime titillations, and celebrity crises."
p. 291- "The constellation called walking has a history...but whether it has a future depends on whether those connecting paths are traveled still."
p. 288-291- bottom of the page- Yoko Ono, Map Piece, 1961
p. 284-287- bottom of the page- A.R. Ammons "A poem is a walk"
p. 325-326 Sources for Foot Quotings