Flâneuse is a word I’ve always loved. It has such a different connotation that its Baudelairean counterpart Flâneur. I’m pretty sure that the French poet hadn’t intended the whole flâneur thing to be a feminine pastime. Baudelaire’s The Painter of Modern Life relays the nature of wandering without intent—for men.
However, the Flâneuse is not so much a person without intent, or male for that matter. Indeed, Virginia Woolf in her essay, Street Haunting, might argue that a woman does not wander. She takes agency by walking. She finds autonomy in the stories she discovers. Woolf surely would never leave the house on a street haunting adventure without her pencil. Intent, that is the nature of the Flâneuse, but not structure.
Walking As A Form of Divination
I’ve been reading a lot lately about walking as a form of calling in storytellers from other places. A sort of divining in which artists can tease out ideas and fully form them within the rhythm of a brisk afternoon stroll.
Woolf’s street haunters and this idea decided to set up camp in my head. I thought about it all for a long time, really. Then, I wrote the poem, tucked it in a notebook, and walked away.
It found me again yesterday and insisted I finish telling the story. So, here’s my latest poem.
I hope you find something of yourself in it.
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