Last night on the bus ride up to the DMZ I read an awesome article in the September 1 issue of the New Yorker. Adam Gopnik’s “Heaven’s Gaits” was quite informative, intriguing and well written. Everything you might already expect from a New Yorker article, but I found this one in particular to be beyond exceptional.
The article begins by pondering the question of why people walk.
In the famous diagram, Darwinian man unfolds himself from frightened crouch to strong surveyor of the ages, and it looks like a natural ascensio: you start out bending over, knuckles dragging, timidly scouring the ground for grubs, then you slowly straighten up until there you are, staring at the skies and counting the stars and thinking up gods to rule them.
Adam then explores Matthew Algeo’s work in “Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America’s Favorite Spectator Sport” which tells a fascinating story about competitive walking which I never knew ever existed in the first place. The article is worth reading just to learn about this fascinating piece of history alone.
He also talks about the Frédéric Gros book, A Philosphy of Walking, which explores the three different types of walkers (contemplative, cynical and contemplative-cynic). Another interesting examination that I couldn’t do justice to by trying to summarize, just read the article!
I absolutely loved reading this article and recommend it to anyone and everyone. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite lines from the article.
There’s no point in walking if you’re not getting ahead, even if the track you’re walking on turns out to be a perfect oval, taking you home.