Saturday, 31 January 2015

Mindful Walking and the Postmodern Urbanscape – Part 2

Please click here for part 1

Encouraging forms of mindful walking that respond directly to individuals’ affective reaction to space encourages a more positive engagement with that space. I do not mean ‘positive’ as opposed to ‘negative’ - it is fine for someone to dislike an aspect of their town or city - but positive in regard to a wish to explore it, to understand how it came to be the way it is and to think about the feelings they have which might arise in regard to it. This type of walking can be seen as a form of enactment which “might serve to both challenge and confirm prevalent forms of spatial ordering, dependent on the possible intersections of experience, power and ways of seeing and doing that inhabit the individual at any given moment” (Hancock and Spicer 2011). Mindful walking can help to create counter-narratives to the dominant discourse on particular spaces, becoming what Edward Soja would describe as a “thirdspace”.

I do not want to be prescriptive in how mindful walking should be enacted. I also would not necessarily employ, in any wholesale kind of way, the Situationist form of psychogeography to every scenario. The strategies employed for particular groups would emerge from the groups themselves through the help of facilitation: literally from the ground up. In this way the desire of the group (the “subject-group” as it would be for Félix Guattari) would promote a “semiotic poly-centrism” that supports “equal acceptance to all desire whether it makes sense or not, by not seeking to make subjectivation fit in with the dominant significations and social laws” (Guattari 1984). It would be in this way that citizens can speak to their city. As the sentence quoted by Roland Barthes in part 1 continues: “the city speaks to its inhabitants, we speak our city, the city where we are, simply by living in it, by wandering through it, by looking at it” (1967).

I introduce this concept of mindful walking in these two blogs as a way of opening up discussion on further exploring the urban imaginary through the act of walking…

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