A History of Walking, kondigt de ondertitel van Rebecca Solnits Wanderlust aan. Helemaal juist, ik ben net over de helft, ik heb ondertussen gelezen over bipedalisme (tweevoetigheid), pilgrimages, labyrinths and mazes, William Wordsworth, het Engelse landschap en zijn ‘ha-ha’, het verhaal als reis en een reis als het verhaal, climbing en mountaineering. Momenteel lees ik over het wandelen in achttiende-eeuwse Europese steden.

Maar Solnit staat ook bekend om haar, laat ik het simpel omschrijven, zorgen over de wereld. Ze kijkt voorbij de vanzelfsprekendheid van onze wereld, in Wanderlust mede door de wandelende mens van enkele eeuwen terug te vergelijken met de maatschappij van nu. Ze schrijft:

‘The multiplication of technologies in the name of efficiency is actually eradicating free time by making it possible to maximize the time and place for production and minimize the unstructured travel time in between. New timesaving technologies make most workers more productive, not more free, in a world that seems to be accelerating around them. Too, the rhetoric of efficiency around these technologies suggest that what cannot be quantified cannot be valued—that that vast array of pleasures which fall into the category of doing nothing in particular, of woolgathering, cloud-gazing, wandering, window-shopping, are nothing but voids to be filled by something more definite, more productive, or faster paced. Even on this headland route going nowhere useful, this route that could only be walked for pleasure, people had trodden shortcuts between the switchbacks as though efficiency was a habit they couldn't shake. The indeterminacy of a ramble, on which much may be discovered, is being replaced by the determinate shorter distance to be traversed with all possible speed, as well as by the electronic transmission that make real travel less necessary. As a member of the self-employed whose time saved by technology can be lavished on daydreams and meanders, I know these things have their uses, and use them—a truck, a computer, a modem—myself, but I fear their false urgency, their call to speed, their insistence that travel is less important than arrival. I like walking because it is slow, and I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour. If this is so, then modern life is moving faster than the speed of thought, or thoughtfulness.’ (p. 10)

Solnit is niet bang een (politiek) standpunt in te nemen, maar doet dit zeer zelden in Wanderlust, er zit meer verhaal, geschiedenis en filosofie in dit boek dan dit fragment suggereert. Toch, het is geschreven, gelezen; het bleef me bij terwijl ik verder las, ik plaats het nu op mijn blog.

Ik lees verder.

the ‘in here’ and the ‘out there’

Siri Hustvedt in The Believer book of Writers talking to Writers (in gesprek met Thisbe Nissen):

‘I've always felt the gap between words and things, the impossibility of articulating what's really out there in the world, the strangeness of naming everything, including the self, how completely arbitrary it all is, and yet, at the same time, how it determines identities. The theoretical or philosophical bottom line? It was then and is now the dialectical relationship between self and other and the often fragile threshold between them. (...)

Perception is determined by language to a large degree, but our perceptions aren't the same as the Real—the stuff of the world out there. I think in my work, I've always wanted the sense that both underneath and beyond our perceptions, our feelings, our thoughts is the unknowable. George Makari, a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and medical historian, described Freud's idea of consciousness beautifully in his essay “In the Eye of the Beholder: Helmholtzian Perception and the Origins of Freud's 1900 Theory of Transference”: ‘For Freud consciousness was surrounded; it was a feeble, faulty lamp stranded between the unconscious and the darkness of outer reality.’ (Makari began his life as a poet.) This articulates precisely my sense of living in the world. For me writing is an activity that allows me to push at both dark sides—the in here and the out there.’



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