reimagining flanerie


I’m going to be wandering into Washington D.C. At the end of some work over here, to see what I can see and imagining the new direction I’m taking  and doing some doodling.

I am going to be a flaneur (female: flaneuse).

My friend Charlotte had sent me an article on flanerie and this seemed to be the perfect time to read it – which is an act of flanerie in itself.

The French flaneur first appears in the late sixteenth century.  There’s also a Scandinavian flana (a person who wanders) from which the French term may have been derived.  This article outlines one way in which flanerie, and particularly the flaneuse is being reimagined:

‘Flanerie, [Pierre-Alexis Dumas] explained, is not about “being idle” or “doing nothing.”  It’s an “attitude of curiosity … about exploring everything.  It flourished in the nineteenth century, he continued, as a form of resistance to industrialisation and the rationalisation of everyday life … .’*

As I read this, I found myself reimagining flanerie as being about actively taking oneself off the well trodden path, out of the familiar environment, to follow curiosity and to be open to more.  But more than this, the aim of this wandering is to expand the capacity of our hearts towards taking a new direction and finding ourselves in new activities and pursuits, particularly wrapped around being a helpmate to those we may meet along the way.

Flanerie is an antidote to the same old same old of life that has the effect of contracting rather than expanding our hearts.

3 thoughts on “reimagining flanerie

  1. I have heard of masters of life, who would travel from city to city. In their travels they would help, heal, teach and uplift the spirits of those they meet. We too can emulate the lives of those “masters” and do as they did allow our pathways in life.

    Thank you for introducing me to “flaneur (female: flaneuse)”. I suppose some individuals are called to be “cornerstones”, those who ground their workplace, neighborhoods and homes. And it is it not also true that others of us are called to spread our wings and carry our light of love and peace to the far reaches of the world!

    May the light of love and peace empower you as you flaneur! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Across a lifetime and into a day | THIN|SILENCE

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