You may have noticed that there haven’t been any posts here for a week or two. I decided to take a break from posting, partly because there’s been loads of posts recently but also so I could clear my head a bit and write afresh. Writing this blog was beginning to feel like a chore when I really love writing and I like sharing it. Writing because you have to isn’t fun and probably isn’t that fun to read in any case. That was why I took a break, to help find a way through the creative block that had emerged. Hopefully what will continue here will be better and more varied as a result.
In that spirit, then, I would like to write today about flaneuring. I was described recently as a ‘flaneur’, which is defined by Google at least as ‘a man who saunters around observing society’. I choose to take that as a complement. It was intended as such anyway. Let’s break that down a bit. I am a man, I think, though I hope there is a similar term for a female equivalent. Sauntering is one of my favourite past-times and indeed ‘saunter’ is one of my favourite words, being one John Muir uses a lot too. Never a bad thing in my book. Around is being about the place. No bother with that. Observing society is something I do a lot. I sometimes feel more of an observer than a participant in many aspects of life and it is largely where I feel comfortable. I spend a lot of my life trying to understand people and situations and observing is the best way to learn how to be in the world, for me anyway.
There will be a post on Wednesday offering some thoughts on a new book called Switched On by John Elder Robison. I will go into further detail on this in that post but I wanted to share something Robison was told by a neuroscientist he worked with. Robison taught himself how to be an engineer and car mechanic, being able to use his autistic brain to best effect in those areas. ‘You don’t necessarily know what to do in social situations by instinct, but you can teach yourself by reasoning and practice and it’s worked’ (Switched On, p. 184). That’s how it has happened for me so far and it has helped to be a flaneur in that process. Luckily I enjoy it. I am not a reluctant traveller by any means.
Our next post, which will follow soon, will be about my day trip today to York, another exercise in flaneuring. On Sunday, there will also be a post of photographs of the Merchant City, while really there for something else. Stay tuned.