The artist Maira Kalman summed up the current popular regard for walking when she said, “Go out and walk. That is the glory of life.”
Philosophers and thinkers have long pushed the idea of walking as respite, as a creative fountain — or as Nietzsche said: "Only thoughts that are reached by walking have value." But what if walking, far from being benign and noble, instead represents just another conflict of our ongoing culture wars, where the forces of progress have whitewashed the past to reach the present? This proxy battle celebrates the walker of leisure and ignores those who walk because they have no other choice.
These techniques and the goods they produce do have origins, specific ones rooted in history and in people. The character of craft culture, a special blend of bohemianism and capitalism, is not merely overwhelmingly white — a function of who generally has the wealth to start those microbreweries and old-school butcher shops, and to patronize them — it consistently engages in the erasure or exploitation of people of color whose intellectual and manual labor are often the foundation of the practices that transform so many of these small pleasures into something artful. A lie by omission may be a small one, but for a movement so vocally concerned with where things come from, the proprietors of craft culture often seem strangely uninterested in learning or conveying the stories of the people who first mastered those crafts.
The faded advertisements on old brick buildings often go unnoticed, and they’re disappearing fast. That’s why one artist is shining a light on just how much they tell us about a city’s history.
To leave or not to leave, that is the question. Excitement and adventure, or the warm bath of blissful routine. Characters in Swiss writer Peter Stamm’s remarkable novels – On a Day Like This, Seven Years – seem equally attracted to both, afraid of missing out on the action, but afraid too of being unprotected and disoriented in a hostile world. In love with life, frightened of life – perhaps the two are not so different.