Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.

Monday, June 4, 2012


 Just in case you doubted that Fiona Apple is a self-dramatizing, self-aggrandizing twerp (and I know you didn’t really doubt it for a minute) there she was in yesterday’s New York Times, with journalist Jon Pareles as her enabler, describing how she dealt with the profound angst she experienced when the record company delayed the release of her album.

Pareles writes, “She started to walking up and down a hill near her home in Venice, California ... for eight hours a day, day after day, until she could barely walk, until she was limping, and then until she could not walk at all.  Her knees required months of therapy.”  Then Pereles quotes the women herself, “Something about that was a rite of passage.  I think it’s really healthy to lose things or give things up for a while, to deprive yourself of certain things.  It’s always a good learning experience because I felt it really was like, ‘I must learn to walk again.’”

And yes, they actually let this woman out on her own.

Compare and contrast with the walking wounded of Afghanistan.  The story is that at a time when NATO troops are about to withdraw from that country, the Afghan army and police have started to get their act together and have even found a local hero in this man:

The above photograph by David Gill has apparently stirred great feelings of patriotism and heroism.  It shows an Afghan commando – his name seems to be Hamidullah – after he’s been involved in an eighteen-hour gun battle on the streets of Kabul.  He’s wounded in the leg but he’s on his feet, he’s walking, having stood up to the insurgents.  Well, we know that pictures never tell the whole story, and that social media tell even less, but apparently on Twitter and Facebook there is enormous support for the local forces and many wishes that they will defeat the “enemies of Islam,” whoever they might be right now.

I wonder what that wounded soldier will have to give up, how many months of therapy he’ll need or get. I wonder whether he’ll find the whole thing “a good learning experience.”

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