Today our stroll gets more literal and more Gallic, as we pick up Frederic Gros’s A Philosophy of Walking. Still working our way through The Cave and the Light too, now up to Galileo, another Bacon, Descartes, Newton, Hobbes, and Locke. Herman’s emerging thesis seems to be that real light must shine from above and beyond, must transcend and transform the material earth of things, must impose civilization upon recalcitrant humans who can’t or won’t exit the cave on their own without divine guidance and instruction.
It’ll be interesting to see whether and how our new text engages this thesis. Walkers are an independent breed, we like to stand and move on our own pegs and don’t like the insinuation that we’re incapable of doing so. When I first picked up Gros’s book last summer I was initially put off by what I perceived as the author’s deconstructive and textualist sensibility, specifically the idea that walking deconstructs personal identity and self-possession.
My philosophy of walking [I wrote] denies the dichotomy between working and recreating, the dualism of discoursing and experiencing that I think I read in Frederic Gros. I need now to go back and re-read his Thoreau section, with the question before me: does he also take from Henry what I do, viz., a sense of walking as a form of life that straddles the worlds of text and experience? Again, I must pluralize. Texts, experiences, realities are my quarry, not just words and verbal constructs. Something there is, Horatio (and Jacques), that is not merely dreamed up and written in your philosophy texts. That’s one of the implications of “more day to dawn.”
Later I wasn’t so sure.
I may have been hasty in detecting deconstructionist tendencies in Frederic Gros’s Philosophy of Walking. Overtly at least, he’s on the side of immediate experience and reality, against that of the Derridean overtextualizers. Or so it appears, given his sympathetic rendition of Thoreau’s famous “rocks in place” declaration of independence from tradition, convention, and cultural inertia. Honest writing must first acknowledge the truth of the writer’s own experience. If he cannot tap that well, he has no business writing. “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
So we’ll see. The question for all who crave reality is where to seek the light, and how. The answer, to begin with, is: Stand, and move.
5:45/5:32, 77/96, 8:06
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