Walking as Dissent

Brooklyn-Queens ExpresswayPhoto of Brooklyn-Queens Expressway by See-ming Lee on flickr.

Author Will Self walks. He walks where people are not meant to walk. He walks out of airports into cities and from cities into airports. He has walked from the middle of London to Heathrow, from LAX to Watts, from O’Hare into downtown Chicago. In a humorous piece by radio show Studio 360, Will Self walks a particularly unwalkable piece of terrain, from La Guardia into Manhattan. In the process he climbs fences, walks through cemeteries and somehow must deal with the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (a project of Robert Moses, New York City’s “Master Builder”).

In his new book, “Psychogeography”, Self explores how geographical environments shape our psyche. He believes that modern transportation such as highways and airplanes disorients and distances us from the world around us but that walking has the ability to reconnect us to the spaces we inhabit.

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Self claims that,

“I’m interested in orientation. I’ve been traveling around the States on author tours for 15 tours now. A lot of these North American cities I’ve been in and out of numerous times, but I never knew where I was. That’s an abuse of me and an abuse of the city, to reduce it to an assemblage of cab rides, bookstores, encounters with journalists, barrooms, and then back to the airport. These walks allowed me to reclaim these cities.”

In an urban world dominated by cars and freeways, walking around cities “is a form of dissent,” Self tells us, it’s “an insurgency against the contemporary world.”

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