October 13, 2011

I had no other choice but to walk


So I began to think about how long I’ve been taking walks. Years, decades. And if I live significantly longer I could keep on adding, because one thing I’m sure of is that I’ll never stop. But despite this great amount of walking, however, no walk has provided me with any genuine revelation. In my case it’s not as it was in the past, when walkers felt reunited with something that was revealed only during the course of the walk, or believed they had discovered aspects of the world or relationships within nature that had been hidden until then. I never discovered anything, only a vague idea of what was new and different, and rather fleeting at that. I now think I went on walks to experience a specific type of anxiety, one that I’ll call nostalgic anxiety, or empty nostalgia. Nostalgic anxiety would be a state of deprivation in which one has no chance for genuine nostalgia. There may be various reasons for the block. If I’m going to explain it, I have to tell the story of my borrowed ideas, which I’m full of – I say “borrowed,” but I’m not suggesting I don’t have full rights to them, on the contrary…

One of these ideas, among the first I assimilated so thoroughly as to make it my own, was the idealization, initially during the Romantic Era, then the Modern, of the long walk. There must have been something wrong with me, because at the point at which I should have chosen a way of life for my future, I found nothing persuasive. From early on I’ve felt unequal to any kind of enthusiasm: incapable of believing in almost anything, or frankly, in anything at all; disappointed beforehand by politics; skeptical of youth culture despite being, at the time, young; an idle spectator at the collective race for money and so-called material success; suspicious of the benevolence of charity and self-improvement; oblivious of the benefits of procreation and the possibilities of biological continuity; oblivious as well of the idea of following sports or any variety of spectacle; unable to work up enthusiasm for any impracticable profession or scientific vocation; inept at arts or at crafts, at physical or manual labor, also intellectual; to sum up, useless for work in general; unfit for dreaming; with no belief in any religious alternative while longing to be initiated into that realm; too shy or incompetent for an enthusiastic sex life; in short, given such failings, I had no other choice but to walk, which most resembled the vacant and available mind.

- Sergio Chejfec, My Two Worlds


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