17 September 2009

Walking in Malmö

To prepare for experiencing Malmö you can read Michel de Certeau, Walking in the City from The Practice of Everyday Life (L’invention du quotidien) - let this be your travel reading!

de Certeau, who had degrees in philosophy, literature, history and theology besides being a Jesuit, here writes about the difference between the voyeur and the marcheur (watcher / walker), between reading the urban text and writing it. On how reality, a city street as well as a text, is invented, interpreted and recreated by the practioner:

"To be lifted to the summit of the World Trade Center is to be lifted out of the city's grasp. One's body is no longer clasped by the streets that turn and return it according to an anonymous law; nor is it possessed, whether as a player or played, by the rumble of so many differences and by the nervousness of the New York traffic. When one goes up there, he leaves behind the mass that carries off and mixes up in itself any identity of authors and spectators. An Icarus flying over these waters, he can ignore the devices of Daedalus in mobile and endless labyrinths far below. His elevation transfigures him into a voyeur. It puts him at a distance. It transforms the bewitching world by which one was 'possessed' into a text that lies before one's eyes. It allows one to read it, to be a solar Eye, looking down like a god. The exaltation of a scopic and gnostic drive: the fiction of knowledge is related to this lust to be a viewpoint and nothing more."
"The ordinary practitioners of the city live 'down below', below the threshold at which visibility begins. They walk - an elementary form of this experience of the city; they are walkers, Wandersmänner, whose bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban 'text' they write without being able to read it. These practitioners make use of spaces that cannot be seen; their knowledge of them is as blind as that of lovers in each other's arms. The paths that correspond in this intertwining, unrecognized poems in which each body is an element signed by many others, elude legibility. It is as though the practices organizing a bustling city were characterized by their blindness. The networks of these moving, intersecting writings compose a manifold story that has neither author nor spectator, shaped out of fragments of trajectories and alterations od spaces: in relation to representations, it remains daily and indefinitely other."

from Walking in the City, Part III - Spatial Practices, The Practice of Everyday Life by Michel de Certeau, pages 92-93

Looking forward to see you at Louisiana on Sunday!

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