How could it be that this word, this idea, this approach to life has passed me by all these years?! Fuck fireman, astronaut or Prime Minister, a flâneur is who I want to be, it’s a flâneur’s life for me.
Of course, wikipedia has all the details. It is long, sumptuous, beguiling:
a literary type from 19th century France…[i]t carried a set of rich associations: the man of leisure, the idler, the urban explorer, the connoisseur of the street.
Susan Sontag describes the photographer / flâneur as
an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy…
What strikes me, however, is how apropos is the flâneur’s approach to the world in the here and now. Observant, immersed, knowledgeable and acknowledging everything around her, the flâneur is of the people, networked in the community, able to navigate the ebb and flow of ideas, theories, and forces around her. Controlled, yet intrigued.
What a thoroughly modern skillset and approach to the amorphous world we inhabit. Participatory but not carried away; aware but never dogmatic; full of delight rather than zeal. A wry eye on the world, with one foot in. Curious, undaunted.
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