Flâneur, a touch of surrealism
In travel it is easy to become a flâneur, one who wanders without destination. To simply saunter, like a connoisseur of the street with equal parts curiosity and laziness. Stroll along the boulevards, the parks, the arcades and lounge in the cafés. It is a way of understanding the landscape, taking in the urban experience with a moving photograph. Totally absorbed in the outside world, the flâneur finds the world picturesque, a “gastronomy of the eye”.
The passionate wanderer is essentially timeless. The flâneur is keenly aware of the flurry of modern life, of increasing productivity and the modern horror of the thought of doing absolutely nothing. But with the influence of technology as we grow increasingly busier, take a step back, encourage the pursuit of flaneur. Seek out in unknown cities, don’t rely on the tools, gadgets and technology that direct our every step these days. Explore the hidden crevices of a city. Intentionally create a space of idle wandering without a destination. Discover what is right in front of you, what is under your feet, what is above you. Walk for walking sake, not in a hurry just to get from one place to another, but to experience the labyrinthine streets, the cityscapes and hidden corners.
The flâneur moves through space and among the people with a viscosity that both enables and privileges vision… The flâneur possesses a power, walks at will, freely and seemingly without purpose, but simultaneously with an inquisitive wonder and an infinite capacity to absorb the activities of the collective, ‘the crowd.’
To wonder about the lives of the people you pass, constructing stories about them in your head, studying how people dress, to see and to be seen, yet somehow remain detached. Be a stroller of city streets with large numbers of people, be away from home yet at home anywhere. See your city as magical with the surrealism you know it has, be a tourist, even at home. Put down the map, get lost and embrace the unexpected of what is around you. Don’t think about getting from A to B, don’t think about arriving at the destination, think about what lies where there is no destination, with aimless wander.
Disassociate yourself from your surroundings, take a step back, walk more. Find yourself in vintage shops, in coffee houses or sit in a bus shelter by the shore. With the accompanying stress of artificial busyness these little things do matter. We spend our time in cities too preoccupied, too tired or too busy to take note and admire small details in architecture. Our visual astuteness is becoming rusty. Slowing down and letting go can liberate us to open our eyes and find pleasure experiencing the world around us.
Is it time to resist being swayed rhythmically on the commute on the bus and train and let things pass unnoticed? Is it time to rekindle our engagement with the environment? So, as life grows busier with the brunt of society, may flânerie be due a revival?
Flâneur – (French noun), means “stroller”, “lounger”, “saunterer” or “loafer”. A man who saunters around observing society.
Quote by sociologist Chris Jenks
Article written in response to The Daily Post challenge “add a dash of magic and a touch of surrealism to your writing”