Sunday, May 05, 2013

Word of the Day: FLANERIE

"A superb alternative to succumbing to the dangers of having time on your hands is the practice of flanerie, the French invention of strolling as an art form. The flaneur is an observer who wanders the streets of a great city on a mission to notice with childlike enjoyment the smallest events and the obscurest sights he encounters. It is the exercise regimen of the artist."
 -Eric Maisel in A Writer's Paris.
Photos of Paris - Featured Images
This photo of Paris is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre engaged in plenty of flanerie on the streets of Paris.  These days, though, with everyone in such a hurry, flanerie is rare in any city, I suspect.  People are too engaged with the almighty cell phone to notice the "obscurest sights".  Surely all of the senses are engaged during flanerie.  Have you ever noticed how many people walk around plugged into headphones?

I'm as guilty as anyone.  On those rare occasions when I take the time to walk, I ruin the experience by hurrying, as though I must turn the walk into an aerobic event.

This reminds me of a long ago conversation with an admired college professors.  I was majoring in a field which is notorious for having few job opportunities, and I was depressed about the slim chance that I'd ever find a job in the field.  The professor told me about a time in his life when he'd been depressed and said that the one thing that helped was to go for a stroll, noticing the each of the flowers he passed by.

Maybe we all need a good dose of flanerie.



Mary Rafferty said...

Flanerie without cell phone or headphones, taken at a leisurely pace in the morning before the world is really stirring and the sun is rising, can be very nourishing emotionally indeed, and good for the body physically to be out and about at peace as well.


B.S. said...

I'm planning to try that soon. In my case, it will have to be without the dog as well - he is a stress magnet!