“If you go slowly enough, six or seven months is an eternity—if you let it be—if you forget old things, and learn new ones. Even a week can last forever.”
Rick Bass, Winter

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 71: The Flâneur and the Dog, Part Two

The flâneur--or in my case, flâneuse--wanders without a destination.  She is a passionate observer who delights in getting lost in the crowd.  She is easily distracted.  If this is a form of mindfulness, then the flâneur's aim is to fill his mind with his surroundings until he, as a self, as a mind, disappears. 

But what if you are far from the metropolis?

What if you are exploring not a foreign landscape but the one where you live?

What if there are very few people to absorb your meandering consciousness?

No intriguing signpost to remind you, at the meta-level, of your mission? 

No compelling graffiti or sticker art?

No arcades to poke your head into--no secret doorways with worlds beckoning just inside the window?

The St. Paul area in the Marais, Paris

This is the intriguing Butte de Chaumont area in Paris, the 13th arrondissement

To be a flâneur in the North Country is to be conspicuous.  The landscape is the crowd that absorbs you, but it is mostly not-human.  The squirrels take an interest in you.  The birds scatter.  The clouds become characters become Rorschach tests: is that a flag, a kilim rug, a dog's head, a minotaur, a minaret, a miming clown on a city street, or a storm coming in tonight? 

If anyone is awake in the vicinity, you will be noticed.  But you won't see them.  They'll be behind a window, looking out.  They will know if your dog is in a good mood today or not.  They will know if you tucked your pants into your boots, or if you pick up after your pet.  As a flâneur, you are witnessed more than you can witness, unless you take your time and try to see every little thing.

photo by Tara Freeman
But if a North Country flâneuse is in the right company, she can still lose herself completely.

photo by Tara Freeman
photo by Tara Freeman
photo by Tara Freeman

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