Authors: Rebecca Solnit
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First published in the United States of America by Viking Penguin,
a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. 2001
Published in Penguin Books 2001
Copyright Â© Rebbeca Solnit, 2000
All rights reserved
Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to reprint the following copyrighted works:
Cold Mountain: 100 Poems
by Han-Shan, translated by Burton Watson. Copyright Â© 1970 by Columbia University Press. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher.
“On Climbing the Sierra Matterhorn Again After Thirty-One Years” from
by Gary Synder. Copyright Â© 1992 by Gary Synder. Reprinted by permission of Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara
, edited by Donald Allen. Copyright Â© 1971 by Maureen GranvilleâSmith, Administratrix of the Estate of Frank O'Hara. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Page iii: Detail of postcard, ca. 1900, showing passerby in front of Notre Dame de Paris.
1: Linda Conner,
Maze, Chartres, Cathedral, France,
1983. Courtesy of the artist.
79: Cedric White,
Sierra Club Mountaineers on Mont Resplendent in the Canadian Rockies,
1928. Courtesy William Colby Library, Sierra Club.
March of the Mothers in the Plaza de Mayo,
April 1978. Courtesy of the Associacion Madres de Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires.
Marina Abramovic, from The Lovers,
1988, black and white photograph. Courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York.
Wanderlust: a history of walking / Rebecca Solnit
p. Â Â Â cm.
Making or distributing electronic copies of this book constitutes copyright infringement and could subject the infringer to criminal and civil liability.
First edition (electronic): March 2002
I owe the origins of this book to friends who pointed out to me that I was writing about walking in the course of writing about other things and should do so more expansivelyânotably Bruce Ferguson, who commissioned me to write about walking for the catalog accompanying his 1996 show
Walking and Thinking and Walking
at the Louisiana Museum in Denmark; editor William Murphy, who read the results and told me I should think about a book on walking; and Lucy Lippard, who, while we were on a trespassing stroll near her home, clinched the idea for the book for me by exclaiming, “I wish I had time to write it but I don't, so you should” (though I have written a very different book than Lucy would). One of the great pleasures of writing about this subject was that, instead of a few great experts, walking has a multitude of amateursâeveryone walks, a surprising number of people think about walking, and its history is spread across many scholars' fieldsâso that nearly everyone I know contributed an anecdote, a reference, or a perspective to my researches. The history of walking is everyone's history, but my version of it particularly benefited from the following friends, who have my heartfelt gratitude: Mike Davis and Michael Sprinker, who supplied fine ideas and much encouragement early on; my brother David, for luring me long ago into street marches and the pilgrimage-protests at the Nevada Test Site; my bicycle-activist brother Stephen; John and Tim O'Toole, Maya Gallus, Linda Connor, Jane Handel, Meridel Rubenstein, Jerry West, Greg Powell, Malin Wilson-Powell, David Hayes, Harmony Hammond, May Stevens, Edie Katz, Tom Joyce, and Thomas Evans; Jessica, Gavin, and Daisy in Dunkeld; Eck Finlay in Edinburgh and his father in Little Sparta; Valerie and Michael Cohen in June Lake; Scott Slovic in Reno; Carolyn from Reclaim the Streets in Brixton; Iain Boal; my agent Bonnie Nadell; my editor Paul Slovak at Viking Penguin, who
took to the idea of a general history of walking immediately and made this one possible; and particularly Pat Dennis, who listened to me chapter by chapter, related much on mountaineering history and Asian mysticism to me, and walked alongside me for the duration of this book.
THE PACE OF
Isn't it really quite extraordinary to see that, since man took his first step, no one has asked himself why he walks, how he walks, if he has ever walked, if he could walk better, what he achieves in walkingÂ .Â .Â . questions that are tied to all the philosophical, psychological, and political systems which preoccupy the world.â
HONORÃ DE BALZAC
THEORIE DE LA DEMARCHÃ
An Eskimo custom offers an angry person release by walking the emotion out of his or her system in a straight line across the landscape; the point at which the anger is conquered is marked with a stick, bearing witness to the strength or length of the rage.â
We learn a place and how to visualize spatial relationships, as children, on foot and with imagination. Place and the scale of place must be measured against our bodies and their capabilities.â
BLUE MOUNTAINS CONSTANTLY WALKING
Then one day walking round Tavistock Square I made up, as I sometimes make up my books,
To the Lighthouse,
in a great, apparently involuntary rush.â
MOMENTS OF BEING
In my room, the world is beyond my understanding; / But when I walk I see that it consists of three or four hills and a cloud.â
OF THE SURFACE OF THINGS
As a result of walking tours in Scotland while he was an undergraduate, he recalls in his autobiography,
(1940), that “the works of Aristotle are forever bound up with me with the smell of peat and certain stretches of granite and heather.”â
ON JOHN BUCHAN
FIRST BARON TWEEDSMUIR
AN ANTHOLOGY OF THE LITERATURE OF MOUNTAINEERING
.Â .Â . while he himself began to walk around at a lively pace in a “Keplerian ellipse,” all the time explaining in a low voice his thoughts on “complementarity.” He walked with bent head and knit brows: from time to time, he looked up at me and underlined some important point by a sober gesture. As he spoke, the words and sentences which I had read before in his papers suddenly took life and became loaded with meaning. It was one of the few solemn moments that count in an existence, the revelation of a world of dazzling thought.â
ENCOUNTER WITH NIELS BOHR
Last Sunday I took a Walk toward highgate and in the lane that winds by the side of Lord Mansfield's park I met Mr. Green our Demonstrator at Guy's in conversation with ColeridgeâI joined them, after enquiring by a look whether it would be agreeableâI walked with him at his alderman-after-dinner pace for nearly two miles I suppose. In those two Miles he broached a thousand thingsâlet me see if I can give you a listâNightingales, poetryâon Poetical SensationâMetaphysicsâDifferent genera and species of DreamsâNightmareâa dream accompanied by a sense of touchâsingle and double touchâA dream relatedâFirst and second consciousnessâthe difference explained between will and Volitionâso many metaphysicians from a want of smoking the second consciousnessâMonstersâthe KrakenâMermaidsâSouthey believes in themâSouthey's belief too much dilutedâA Ghost storyâ.Â .Â .Â .â
IN A LETTER TO GEORGE AND GEORGIANA KEATS
Sir, I have received your new book written against the human race, and I thank you.Â .Â .Â . Never was so much intelligence used to make us stupid. While reading it, one longs to go on all fours.â
VOLTAIRE TO ROUSSEAU
ON THE DISCOURSE ON THE ORIGIN OF INEQUALITY
The diminution of the olfactory stimuli seems itself to be a consequence of man's raising himself from the ground, of his assumption of an upright gait; this made his genitals, which were previously concealed, visible and in need of protection, and so provided feelings of shame in him.â
CIVILIZATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS
Hand in hand with equal plod they go. In the free handsâno. Free empty hands. Backs turned both bowed with equal plod they go. The child hand raised to reach the holding hand. Hold the old holding hand. Hold and be held. Plod on and never recede. Slowly with never a pause plod on and never recede. Backs turned. Both bowed. Joined by helding holding hands. Plod on as one. One shade. Another shade.â
John and the Austrian walked one way along the shore discussing the formation of sand banks and the theories of the tides, and Charlotte & I went in the opposite direction for above two hours and lastly lay down among the long grass and gathered shells until our Handkerchiefs were quite full.â
EFFIE GRAY RUSKIN
You've got to walk / that lonesome valley / Walk it yourself / You've gotta gotta go / By yourself / Ain't nobody else / gonna go there for you / Yea, you've gotta go there by yourself
TRADITIONAL GOSPEL SONG
But if a man walketh in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.â
But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me. My foot standeth in an even place.â
The farther pilgrims move from their common world, the closer they come to the realm of the divine. We might mention that in Japanese the word for “walk” is the same word which is used to refer to Buddhist practice; the practitioner (gyÅja) is then also the walker, one who does not reside anywhere, who abides in emptiness. All of this is of course related to the notion of Buddhism as a path: practice is a concrete approach to Buddhahood.â
FLYING MOUNTAINS AND WALKERS OF EMPTINESS
TOWARD A DEFINITION OF SACRED SPACE IN JAPANESE RELIGIONS
At the same time continue to count inhalations and exhalations as you walk slowly around the room. Begin walking with the left foot and walk in such a way that the foot sinks into the floor, first the heel and then the toes. Walk calmly and steadily, with poise and dignity. The walking must not be done absentmindedly, and the mind must be taut as you concentrate on the counting.â
INSTRUCTIONS ON WALKING MEDITATION IN
THREE PILLARS OF ZEN
Sigmund Freud believed, for example, that the psychical foundation of all travel was the first separation and the various other departures from one's mother, including the final journey into death. Journeying is therefore an activity related to a larger feminine realm, so that it is not surprising that Freud himself was ambivalent about it. Of the landscape he said, “All of these dark woods, narrow defiles, high grounds and deep penetrations are unconscious sexual imagery, and we are exploring a woman's body.”â
NATURE AND MADNESS
The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out of an inner journey. The inner journey is the interpolation of the meanings and signs of the outer pilgrimage. One can have one without the other. It is best to have both.â
I was the first in six generations to leave the Valley, the only one in my family to ever leave home. But I didn't leave all the parts of me: I kept the ground of my own being. On it I walked away, taking with me the land, the Valley, Texas.â
An active line on a walk moving freely, without goal. A walk for a walk's sake.â
Trebuchant sur les mots comme sur les paves (stumbling against words as against cobblestones)â
At the other extreme is a group of figurative monuments in Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, which try to draw the viewer back into the tumult of the past. Several works designed by James Drake along a path named Freedom Walk commemorate the brutal police repression of the famous marches in the spring of 1963. In one work, the walkway passes between two vertical slabs, from which bronze attack dogs emerge on either side and lunge into the pedestrian's space. In another the walkway leads through an opening in a metal wall faced by two water cannons; just off the wall, by the walk, are two bronze figures of African Americans, a man crumpled to the ground and a woman standing with her back against the imagined force of the water. Integrated into the pedestrian experience of the park, these monuments invite everyoneâblack or white, young or oldâto step for a moment into someone else's shoes.â
I stride along with calm, with eyes, with shoes, / with fury, with forgetfulnessâ