Find your flâneur?
The title of this video sent me on a mad Wikipedia search in pursuit of Le Flâneur.Originally a derivation of flâner - “to stroll” - the term has become a philosophy unto its own. The term lacks a direct English companion, but imagine an individual with a desire to experience city life on foot - now expand that outlook to a holistic manner of life. There’s your flâneur.
The limits of language can be a great indicator of cultural perspective, and this is an excellent example. Scoffed by the elite for gazes skyward, accosted by the poor for interested glances at mysterious doings, the flâneur doesn’t have a place, doesn’t easily fit into a category in this nation built on specialized pragmatism. A core facet of the beauty of urban space is its ability to take captive a wanderer who lacks a true destination, but all too often this urban trance is corrupted by monied interest; rarely is the flâneur taken on the adventure of genuine aesthetic variety. All too often, urban space collects individuals as raindrops and presses them into ravines lined with storefronts. The modern urban world casts a second glance at the flâneur, and the English language fails to even acknowledge his existence - but I know the flâneur perseveres, because it is in me.
It is in me, but it is at-risk. GoogleMaps, Yelp and the rise of the rest of the portable internet have made the flâneur an endangered species. A couple flicks of the finger can create purpose amidst the unknown. Now, don’t get me wrong - purpose can be good. But purpose limits perception - like everything else, it’s best taken in moderation.
When’s the last time you put on your flâneur? Lost in urbanity. But happy for it, together. Anyone down for a walk? I’m filled with intention.