Rediscovering the long walk with Will Self

Over at World Hum, Frank Bures has an interesting interview with Will Self, a British novelist, journalist, and ardent defender of the long, meandering walk. Last year, on a journey from London to New York, Self walked the 26 miles from his home in south London to Heathrow Airport, then walked 20 miles from JFK in New York to his hotel in Manhattan.

For this peripatetic author, the urban hikes are about more than fitness; indeed, Self is often seeking puffing on a cigarette during his walks. Self is a student of psychogeography, a very smart-sounding term that is actually relatively simple– it’s about removing city dwellers from their hermetically-sealed modes of transportation– cars, subways, buses– and finding a way for them to really experience the urban landscape.

“People don’t know where they are anymore, ” he said last year in a story about his lengthy airport walks. “In the post-industrial age, this is the only form of real exploration left. Anyone can go and see the Ituri pygmy, but how many people have walked all the way from the airport to the city?”

In the World Hum interview, Self compares his practice of psychogeography to another of his passions, writing. “Like writing-which is low start-up, all you need is a pen and a piece of paper-psychogeography is bare-bones. You just get out there and experience. It doesn’t require the hypermediated world, it is more akin to a meditational practice.”

Check out Self’s new book Psychogeography right here.