Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rebecca Solnit inspires

I knew that I was onto something when I invited Rebecca Solnit to be the keynote speaker at the Woolf conference. I knew that her admiration for Woolf was enough: that all that is interesting about her writing would make her an inspiration to the 200 or so scholars and readers who are coming to New York in June.

Still, how exciting to read that Solnit's book on walking (that most Woolfian of topics) inspired director Astra Taylor's latest film. The 29-y.o. director of "Zizek!" wanted to make another film on philosophy, but:
If people found talking-head films uncinematic, what would they make of a talking-egghead film? “Secretly I thought it was going to be disastrous,” Ms. Taylor said in a recent interview. “I might as well do an audio interview.” Then it occurred to her that her talking heads should walk and talk. She had just read “Wanderlust,” a discursive study of the history of walking by Rebecca Solnit, and was reminded of the figure of the peripatetic philosopher, from Aristotle (who paced the Lyceum while teaching) to Kierkegaard (a proponent of thinking while walking, which he frequently did in the Copenhagen streets) to Walter Benjamin (the embodiment of the Paris flâneur). She realized that putting her subjects in motion would elicit a different kind of interview than if they were seated behind their desks in offices. This conceit became a guiding principle for a film that would attempt to take philosophy out of the ivory tower and affirm its place in the flux of everyday life.
I share this sense that walking is central to thinking. Had I more patience, I could regale you with smart reasons why, but let's leave it at:

Isn't this cool?


Rebecca H. said...

Rebecca Solnit is your keynote speaker??? Wow, I was excited about the conference before, but now I'm even more so. Wanderlust is such a great book. I'd like to see Taylor's film too.

ds said...

Found you through Blogging Woolf.
Rebecca Solnit does inspire. I loved A Field Guide to Getting Lost. "Wanderlust" is a condition I share, but not yet, alas, a book that I can claim to have read (working on that...). Is your conference open to anyone, or must one be an academic? I have this 'thing' for Woolf, you see...

Thank you.