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The art of walking: pulling the plug on procrastination

By Angela Chan

Walking – through doors, alongside walls and around malls – we seem to only move our legs to reach destinations in and out of buildings. We also walk with our heads down at our smart phones, and whether we’re texting or just following directions, the battery-drain is always going to win. So what happened to strolling for pleasure? We justify our walks with purpose and aimless ganders have taken the boot in favour of stationary activities with our technology, which slot into our schedules with secure predictability. The fear of leaving the comfort of the indoors leads to numerous psychological risk assessments: will we be too tired, or get lost?  Will it rain?

We are very sure that our productivity is highest when we are advanced by technology. What would happen if we took time away from our various sized pixelated screens and take an excursion in more natural elements? After all, we’re mostly all guilty of procrastinating on the computer for hours, wasting electricity on infinite scroll.

The philosopher Frédéric Gros believes that walking unlocks our creative and intellectual potentials. In his book “A Philosophy of Walking”, he banishes the idea that pace moves you to desired results. He ponders with cases on well-known philosophers like Nietzsche, Rimbaud, Kant, Rousseau and Thoreau, have all had fresh air and exercised muscles to thank for their extensive ideas. Gros’ inquisitive piece gestures more at the types of walks thinkers took – how frequently, and the destinations that inspired them – rather than fixate on the body and mind duality that may arise out of this consideration.

We can alternatively think about how perhaps thinking is disconnected from walking, such that walking serves more as an aimless act – an outline guide that becomes a diversion from purpose other than to walk and think. Maybe our fear is not of being outdoors in the rain, but of being in a constantly changing location where we have no guarantee of something to show for our productivity. This could change if we let ourselves reverse back in time and allow some of our productivity to be powered by a slower, voltage-free pace. Let’s switch off and go for a walk.


About the author

Angela Chan is an intern at Cape Farewell having recently graduated from UCL in History of Art and Scandinavian Studies with Norwegian. She researches on contemporary art and the politics of ecology, and has written and curated under Worm (wormworm.org). She makes quiet twee pop about climate change and likes to stroke moss (IG: @mossy.soft.spot).


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