Thursday, February 19, 2009


Flânerie? Is it a kind of stone work as above? Just a squishy French word that the Blogger spell check doesn't recognize even though a good English dictionary will have a listing? Am I a flâneur? Is that a confession I should make on the Internet?

Got an e-mail a couple of days ago that Michael Barnes, the uber-social blogger and columnist over at the Austin American-Statesman, had posted a blurb about a book about walking. In it, says he, this Brit Geoff Nicholson talks about synonyms for walking. One of which is flânerie. Anyway my friend who alerted me to the post is a friend that I used to have lunch with monthly. We still have a monthly lunch but we add a stroll to it before and/or after. I have been familiar with flanerie for a long time. It's not really about walking. It's about the the kind of observation you can only usually do while walking. Or sitting in a public place. I like to walk around with my digital camera and, if I'm alone, perhaps with a notebook. Sure I'm motivating on my feet but, more importantly taking in images (whether actual ones or just mental observations) and ideas. The stone wall above is interesting. It's tucked away in a walkway behind Book People. Only walkers would probably ever see it.

I already own two books (one read, one unread) about Flânerie. This one and this one. Starting small book collections about an obscure subject and perhaps reading (or pretending to read) them in a cafe or sitting on a wall...that's very much in the spirit of the flâneur. It's all related in my mind to the dilettante. Something I've frequently written about. And even wrote a poem about.

Yesterday I had a walk and a lunch with my flânerie friend. It was random and fulfilling. As such things should be. And this morning this vain attempt to write about how I feel about these things I have wasted time that should have been devoted to cleaning, exercise, finances or, at least, some reading. But somehow that's OK with me. And what would we expect from a dilettante fan of flânerie. Now I' m thinking that since FFP has taken the dilettante mantle (he has 'Consulting Dilettante" on his business card) that I should make some new cards that say "Flâneur." (Right now mine say 'Pretending to Write but Really Just Blogging.' Much less pithy if funny and accurate.)

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