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November 26, 2005

Thoughts on walking

I am reading Rebecca Solnit's Wanderlust: A History of Walking. Since I was little, I've been a walker. I walked to school from grades 3 through 12 (I lived within a mile of both schools I attended, a rarity in Los Angeles). I would walk weekends to the mall, and then I'd walk all around the mall. I'd walk along the beach, the boardwalk. When I moved to Berkeley, I'd walk up into the Berkeley hills. In San Francisco, I'd traverse high and low. In New York, well, it's foolish not to walk.

And when I travel: walking. Heel toe. Heel toe. When I was younger, and I would travel with parents, I'd get a shitty hotel map, and just start wandering, meeting up with them at some appointed time and place. I walked San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, and London in such a fashion.

Anyway, as I read this book, it will spur various thoughts. Some of them I will write down.

A few so far:

For my money, perhaps the most haunting depiction of walking in literature is Yossarian's ramble through the "Eternal City" in Catch-22. In an otherwise satirical and absurdist work, the bleakness of this chapter is deeply chilling.

Walking, or rather, bipedalism, is considered by some to be the original human trait. When I think about australopithecines walking around, the image that comes to mind is of the footprints found in the volcanic ash, left 3.7 millions years ago by a couple of ancestors, scurrying with some intent, quite possibly safety.

And something I just learned. The adjective "pedestrian," meaning dull or prosaic, predates the noun "pedestrian," meaning one who goes on foot.

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Posted by peterme at November 26, 2005 02:38 PM

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And don't forget Paris. You, your Mother and I left the Passy district to meet Joe at the Pomidou Center. Your Mother and I went to the Metro station but you decided to walk clear across town. And you beat us to the Pompidou.

Posted by: BJMe at November 27, 2005 09:30 AM

Solnit has a new book out -

A Field Guide to Getting Lost

haven't read it yet, but I put it on reserve at the Ann Arbor District Library and hope to see it show up soon.

Posted by: Edward Vielmetti [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 27, 2005 02:01 PM

If all of America loved walking as much as you do, I bet we'd all be in much better shape, and better spirits!

Posted by: Emily at November 29, 2005 07:32 AM

Would you be frustrated if those weren't really footprints?

Posted by: Livia Labate [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 1, 2005 09:30 PM

Those are different footprints! Those are the footprints of the "first Americans." The ones I'm talking about are australopithecine footprints from Laetoli in Africa.

Posted by: peterme at December 2, 2005 11:20 AM

'Course the publisher is reprinting here in the UK right now, so can I get a-hold of this book for a Christmas present (under the guise of buying it for my partner of course...!) ??
Not on your life (well for a hefty fee I could get it shipped from the States I guess!).

Thanks for the review though!

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