Wanderlust

The next assignment in photography has not been well defined yet, but it starts with a walk and a reading from Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnt.

Here are some quotes from the book that particularly stood out in the short portion that was read aloud to us during class for inspiration.

  • “Where does it start? Muscles tense. One leg a pillar, holding the body upright between the earth and sky. The other a pendulum, swinging from behind. Heel touches down. The whole weight of the body rolls forward onto the ball of the foot. The big toe pushes off, and the delicately balanced weight of the body shifts again. The legs reverse position. It starts with a step and then another step and then another that add up like taps on a drum to a rhythm, the rhythm of walking. The most obvious and the most obscure thing in the world, this walking that wanders so readily into religion, philosophy, landscape, urban policy, anatomy, allegory, and heartbreak.
  • “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 closest to doing nothing is walking. Walking itself is the intentional act closest to the unwilled rhythms of the body, to breathing and the beating of the heart. It strikes a delicate balance between working and idling, being and doing. Is is a bodily labor that produces nothing but thoughts, experiences, arrivals.”
  • “To make walking into an investigation, a ritual, a meditation, is a special subset of walking . . . Which is to say that the subject of walking is, in some sense, about how we invest universal acts with particular meanings. Like eating or breathing, it can be invested with wildly different cultural meanings, from the erotic to the spiritual, from the revolutionary to the artistic.”
  • “The rhythm of walking generates a kind of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. This creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it.”

Interesting sites of note about mindful walking include:

I haven’t yet taken my walk – I don’t know if I’ll record anything personal about it. I’m debating between taking my camera and/or my phone and/or a voice recorder to record my thoughts while I walk.

Years ago I used to walk to clear my head. I think better when I’m in motion. I used to carry an old bulky tape recorder with me and transcribe the thoughts when I got back. I walked best late at night in the winter in a small rural town where I knew all the paths. I didn’t think about where I was going – just let my feet take me there and let my mind go where it wanted. I’m a little excited about getting back into this and being more aware of the things I see this time around.

One of the things I love about photography is taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary and I think that may be a lot of what this assignment ends up being about.

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