Saturday, January 26, 2013

Thinking at a Walking Pace

by Drew Martin
In the early 1990's my friend's car broke down on a road trip in northern California, so we were stuck in Berkeley for a week while the engine was being fixed. I passed the days walking around. One morning, I came across a schizophrenic homeless man who was talking to a spaceship in the sky through a telephone receiver, cut at the cord. My thought at the time was not that the man was crazy but that one day people would be walking around talking into mobile phone devices, and this act which seemed absurd would be common.

There is a great interview in Inter
view (February 2013) with the sculptor Charles Ray, by the writer Will Self. Part of their conversation focuses on my prescient reaction to the man chatting with his mothership. Self writes,

I remember flying to Sweden in the '90s, before there were handsfree sets for cell phones in England. I landed in the airport in Stockholm and saw these middle-aged businessmen wandering around the terminal talking to themselves. I couldn't even see a cell phone. I thought, "This is schizophrenia. It's a form of electronically produced schizophrenia."

Ray and Self are big walkers. The first time I encountered Self was in an article (that I read while walking to another town) about how he flies into big cities and walks from the airport to the center, i.e. JFK airport to Times Square. Much of their interview is about walking. Self recalls a line from Rousseau's Reveries of the Solitary Walker, "We think at a walking pace." I like this a lot because there is movement to thought. Thought standing still is meditation. Thoughts racing, are just that. But our meandering thoughts do have a pace to them that share a tempo of a decent walk.

Pictured here is Sleeping Woman (2012) by Charles Ray.