Resonant Thoughts: Frédéric Gros’ “A Philosophy Of Walking” (2014)

“What is called ‘silence’ in walking is, in the first place, the abolishment of chatter, of that permanent noise that blanks and fogs everything, invading the vast prairies of our consciousness like couch-grass. Chatter deafens: it turns everything into nonsense, intoxicates you, makes you lose your head. It is always there on all sides, overflowing, running everywhere, in all directions.

But above all, silence is the dissipation of our language. Everything, in this world of work, leisure, activity, reproduction and consumption of things, everything has its function, its place, its utility, and a specific word that corresponds to it. Likewise our grammar reproduces our sequencings of action, our laborious grasp of things, our fuss and bustle. Always doing, producing, forever busying ourselves. Our language is tailored to the conventions of fabricated things, predictable gestures, normalized behaviors, received attitudes. Artifices adapted to one another: language is caught in the everyday construction of the world, participates in it, belongs to the same order of things as pictures and numbers and lists—order, injunction, synthesis, decision, report, code. Language is an instruction slip, a price list. In the silence of a walk, when you end up losing the use of words because by then you are doing nothing but walk […] in that silence you hear better, because you are finally hearing what has no vocation to be retranslated, recoded, reformatted.

The only words remaining to the walker are barely mutterings […] words not to say anything but to punctuate the silence with a supplementary vibration, just to hear his own echo.”

Frédéric Gros, A Philosophy Of Walking (2014)

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