The Practice of Everyday Life

Roberto Tejada will lead today’s craft workshop the group of which I am a part (B). He assigned, in preparation for his session, selections from Michel de Certeau’s “The Practice of Everyday Life”. It was dynamic, intense, engaging, bewildering, delightful, problematic, inspiring. After reading a single page, I could apply all of those descriptors. After nearly 30 pages, the checks of application of terms would be in the hundreds. I was most intrigued by the concept of walking in relation to speech acts, the inventions that happen just by the act of walking and the patterns in which we engage or choose not to engage. We walk the same paths. In my case, once I have determined what I believe to be the most efficient walking route to an often traveled location, I rarely deviate. I find myself timing the journeys that I take to make the determination, eschewing any considerations for the beauty of the buildings or the people I might see along the way. Time and perception of safety are my primary considerations. Are there enough lights, if I will be walking at night? Is this path too isolated? Could others see me if I called for help? Would they be able to quickly respond? I never considered, as de Certeau does, the functions of objects along that path. Why is it that I walk only on the paved ground? What would happen if I decided that I would only travel by walking on taxis? This could happen in a condensed area like New York City. Surely, I would be arrested or stopped in some way as, while this action would represent a re-imagination of pathways and a removal of perceived obstacles, it would contest the agreed upon rules within the community/city.

How can one re-imagine objects previously considered as obstacles? Honestly, I find it difficult. Can a person be used as a stairway? A taxi as a brick? A subway car as a resting place? These are things that have been done before, and generally not received well. And if walking can be related to the speech act, what does this mean for the reception of change?

I want to read this text again and again.

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