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Kävelyn filosofiaa (2009)

– tekijä: Frédéric Gros

Muut tekijät: Katso muut tekijät -osio.

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Frédéric Gros charts the many different ways we get from A to B--the pilgrimage, the promenade, the protest march, the nature ramble--and reveals what they say about us. Gros draws attention to other thinkers who also saw walking as something central to their practice. On his travels he ponders Thoreau's eager seclusion in Walden Woods; the reason Rimbaud walked in a fury, while Nerval rambled to cure his melancholy. He shows us how Rousseau walked in order to think, while Nietzsche wandered the mountainside to write. In contrast, Kant marched through his hometown every day, exactly at the same hour, to escape the compulsion of thought.… (lisätietoja)
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englanti (10)  ranska (2)  espanja (1)  italia (1)  Kaikki kielet (14)
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  stravinsky | Dec 28, 2020 |

This is another entry in what I’ve come to think of as "Craig Mod books," reflections on walking and what that activity does to thought through the body. I initially read Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust on his recommendation from that essay and loved it. It treated walking as something with a history, with many purposes in time and in different cultures, and treated those purposes with respect and a genuine criticality that reflected the impossibility of covering as broad a concept as "walking" in a book only a couple hundred pages long.

A Philosophy of Walking is something ostensibly in this vein, but it’s more poetic and abstract, more distant. It opens with language like, "Walking is the best way to go more slowly than any other method than has ever been found" and "what liberates you from time and space alienates you from speed." I feel these things in walking. But I wonder how useful any of this is to people who have never walked in the woods a ways.


What I mean is that by walking you are not going to meet yourself. By walking, you escape from the very idea of identity, the temptation to be someone, to have a name and a history. ... The freedom in walking lies in not being anyone; for the walking body has no history, it is just an eddy in the stream of immemorial life.


That’s lovely. And vague. I feel what he’s saying. I can easily lose myself in these reveries, and the book feels like that’s the point of reading it. But I don’t understand it, because the path up to that point is surely part of the history of the body that led the sensing mind there. In a chapter called "Silences," he says, "Walking: it hits you at first like an immense breathing in the ears. You feel the silence as if it were a great fresh wind blowing away clouds."

The book’s real meat comes in reflections on history’s beloved walkers: Nietzsche, Rimbaud, Rousseau, Thoreau, Nerval, Gandhi. All (troubled) men. The histories are fractured in a way that I think the reader is supposed to know about these men and what they’ve done, or at least their stature in the skyline of western thought. These histories are also tightly coupled with walking and the liberation walking provides to the (hurt) mind. He leaves out details about the way some of the people treated the people around them that don’t fit the mold of romantic reveries about philosophy, literature, and the mind and body.

And then come passages like these:


Among the sources of morning, we find the West. The East is where our memory resides: the East is culture and books, history and old defeats. There is nothing to be learned from the past, because learning from that means repeating former errors.


This claim flops about the page, undiscussed. I hate it.


Nerval has this quality of dreamy melancholy: slow rambles awakening ghosts from earlier times, kindly women’s faces. And the certainty, when walking, of a childhood spent only and always in this light. Not nostalgia for lost years, nor nostalgia for childhood, but childhood itself as nostalgia (only children know the miracle of nostalgia without a past).


What the hell does that mean? But in the same vein, this description of pleasure felt correct:


Pleasure is a matter of encountering. It is a possibility of feeling that finds completion in an encounter with a body, element or substance. That is all there is to pleasure: agreeable sensations, sweet, unprecedented, deliciously unexpected, wild ... It is always some sensation, and always triggered by an encounter, by something that confirms, from outside, the possibilities inscribed in our bodies. Pleasure is the encounter with the good object: the one that causes a possibility of feeling to blossom.


He goes on to describe habituation, and the clarity of reflection that becoming accustomed to some pleasure can provide. He does this in fittingly pleasurable prose.

The book is a pleasurable read. It’s better to think of this as a kind of reverie of walking, poems reflecting a walking body, just set in text and contextualized in history. As an exhaustive reference, it’s poor; it’s uncritical both of its subjects and the whole subject of walking, which only recently became accessible and safe to women, and even then only in limited contexts. It doesn’t attempt to describe the history of walking itself, a history of the difference between the societal views of the kind of walking a medieval pilgrim was doing (the subject of one of its chapters) and what Rousseau was doing (also a chapter). I’m glad I read Wanderlust before this otherwise I would be pregnant with questions throughout. This lack of criticality shows in the sense that the author wrote a book in 2011 using "he" everywhere, and the translator chose to maintain that. He uses phrases like "Oriental" poorly and without the specificity that a nine-year-old with five minutes and an iPhone could provide. Never mind the constant ableism and lack of discussion of disability and how that relates to the reverential headspace he seems intent on maintaining.

If you like walking and have read Wanderlust, this might be nice. Don’t read it if you haven’t read Wanderlust: it’s important to know the vast chasms this book leaves out to maintain its sense of reverie and abstraction.
( )
  jtth | May 4, 2020 |
A Philosophy of Walking by Frederic Gros is an enlightening look into the most basic form of human transportation. Gros is a French philosopher who specializes in Michel Foucault. He is a professor of political philosophy at the University of Paris XII and the Institute of Political Studies of Paris.

Walking one of the simplest acts a person can complete. We depend on it and rarely think of it. Gros argues it is more than just a form of transport; it, in a way, defines us. Today, we think of walking simply as a means the takes us from one place to another. The start and the destination are the important parts. Walking is just a means to get to our ends.

American Indians walked barefoot so that they would stay in contact with the earth that nourishes everything including the walker through direct contact. Walking should connect the walker with nature. It is becoming one with your surroundings. Nietzsche walked for hours on end; it disconnected him from the world around him. His ideas came to him while walking, and walking was a type of mediation where ideas became clear and could be written later. It may not be surprising that Nietzsche's insanity did not begin until he was unable to continue his walks. Thoreau was at one with nature and walked. Rousseau had to walk, and he walked all over Europe. “I was young, and in good health; I had sufficient money and abundant hopes; I traveled on foot and I traveled alone.” Rimbaud walked when he was poor and to escape. After he lost part of his leg he waited impatiently for his wooden prosthesis so he could resume his walking. Kant never walked far, but he walked everyday. For Kant, walking was cleansing. It was a break from the musty indoors of the library. It is said he walked the same loop in the park for years, only deviating from it twice. His path became known as the “Philosopher's Walk.”

There are other reasons for walking. Pilgrimages are a reason for walking. Christian pilgrims went to to sites to give thanks to God. The sites were usually a great distance so the walk became a form of payment for good fortune. Pilgrims traveled simply. A walking stick, a pouch to hold documents and meager rations, a broad brimmed hat, and a large cape. The pouch was made of leather to remind the pilgrim of his mortality and the pouch was always open because the pilgrim was required to share. Other pilgrimages were for penance. A priest might assign a pilgrimage as penance for sins. The graver the sins the longer the pilgrimage. Here walking is still a connection with nature, but the church's definition of nature.

Walking follows us into modern times. Gandhi walked with the masses for freedom. We can walk with purpose even in the cities. Rather than connecting with nature, it is a blocking of modern distraction to try and achieve that feeling of walking in nature. Walking in nature has become impractical for most of us today. Even in city parks we hear traffic, our cell phones, and many other modern distractions. We have lost the connection to earth that the Indians had. We have lost the ability to walk for hours completely alone in the wilderness. In modern suburbs, we have lost the ability to walk to the store or let out children walk to school because there are no longer sidewalks. Walking is something people do to get from their car in the parking lot to their desk at work or from their car to the grocery store. Something I remember from years ago: “We now have plenty of philosophy teachers, but no philosophers.” Perhaps we need to walk more. ( )
  evil_cyclist | Mar 16, 2020 |
> Comme une rando qui s'éterniserait…
Par Daniel Robert, le 19 août 2011 (Sur Amazon.fr) 3/5… ; (en ligne),
URL : https://www.amazon.fr/gp/customer-reviews/R315P31YU4220C
  Joop-le-philosophe | Feb 20, 2020 |
Not philosophy, I think. Though many philosophers get mentioned along with poets, painters, and thinkers ancient and modern. Basically, Gros thinks walking — that is, “real” walking — is good. It’s great! Apart from any health benefits that may accrue to the walker (i.e. real walker), there are less well-codified benefits such as a connection to the earth, which is apparently a good thing, and a connection to nature in its broadest sense (again, a good thing, says Gros). Also, you can sometimes get from one place to another by walking, even places very far away. It’s just one foot in front of the other. The same is true, however, even if the place you are getting to is the place you set out from in a longish circular walk. However, strolling about city streets, peering into the shops, noticing others walking near you, being a flâneur if you will, is not good. It’s bad. As Walter Benjamin long ago explained. But real walking, going for long (sometimes very long) hikes by yourself with as little gear as possible, is good.

Even if you aren’t convinced by Gros’ overall project, there may still be part of this book that you will enjoy. He is, after all, a fine wordsmith and his enthusiasm for his subject(s) goes a long way. The book divides, for the most part, into chapters of semi-historical biography (on such figures as Nietzsche, Rimbaud, Rousseau, Thoreau, Nerval, Proust, and Gandhi) which are pleasantly informative, and alternating chapters in which Gros gets a bit more speculative. However, no coherent philosophical treatment of walking emerges. Which leaves the reader merely with enthusiasm. And perhaps that’s what you’ve come to this book for in the first place. Thus, success.

It’s a gentle read which might well accompany a long walk far away from anywhere. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Jun 2, 2019 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 14) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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Frédéric Gros charts the many different ways we get from A to B--the pilgrimage, the promenade, the protest march, the nature ramble--and reveals what they say about us. Gros draws attention to other thinkers who also saw walking as something central to their practice. On his travels he ponders Thoreau's eager seclusion in Walden Woods; the reason Rimbaud walked in a fury, while Nerval rambled to cure his melancholy. He shows us how Rousseau walked in order to think, while Nietzsche wandered the mountainside to write. In contrast, Kant marched through his hometown every day, exactly at the same hour, to escape the compulsion of thought.

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