Sunday, February 5, 2012


Evgeny Morozov's opinion piece, "The Death of the Cyberflaneur." Also, a cat.

The flâneur would leisurely stroll through its streets and especially its arcades — those stylish, lively and bustling rows of shops covered by glass roofs — to cultivate what Honoré de Balzac called “the gastronomy of the eye.” order to engage in flânerie, one must not have anything too definite in mind

You may rest assured, readers, no matter what manner of frictionlessly shared future Facebook designs for us, I will remain, at heart, a flaneur (both virtual and actual), cultivating "the gastronomy of the eye," "taking turtles for a walk," celebrating "solitude and individuality, anonymity and opacity, mystery and ambivalence, curiosity and risk-taking," and, generally, making it my goal "to observe, to bathe in the crowd, taking in its noises, its chaos, its heterogeneity, [and] its cosmopolitanism."

Because as much as I love listening to music with friends, sometimes it's nice to put on a pair of headphones and live alone in the music.

Because as much as walking, and traveling, with friends is great, there's something necessary and nourishing, at least for me, in the solitary stroll, the one-man adventure, and the random joy of meeting new people along the way.

Because, as much as I love going to see movies with friends, sometimes I love watching them alone with strangers.

Because sometimes I know not everyone wants to watch that 4-hour Japanese cinematic opera of kung-fu upshots and true love I keep going on about.

Because spending time alone makes being with people better.

Because I don't want a single portal to the world wide web, especially Facebook, no matter how much I love my friends. You are all brilliant, lovely people, but you do not know everything. And I don't expect you to.*

So, don't worry.

Flanerie lives. Tell your friends. Write it on the subway walls. Meet me at the arcade. But don't say hello. Just nod and stroll away. We'll know each other by the silly hats we wear.

ttfn, readers.

*Twitter, with it's original and intended emphasis on following people of interest--and not just friends--seems to encourage a certain amount of cyberflanerie, which is quite nice of them, really. It's possible that, like Twitter and now Google+, Facebook will also cultivate (will want to cultivate) such broader concepts of connection. We shall have to wait and see. One portal will always remind me a bit too much of AOL, though. I love the wander of things, and I'd rather not give that up.

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