The Derive or Drift
Last night Elaina helped me read (see the photo above), and by “helping” I mean she drooled on my papers while simultaneously trying to claw and sit on them. While Elaina did her cat-like things, I read a few short stories, essays, and found quotes that resonated with me.
Here’s one of the quotes:
"If we were to map out our daily movements, we'd find that we tend to stick to what we know with little deviation. We move from our house to our job to the gym to the supermarket, back to the house, and get up the next day to do it all again. Guy Debord, one of the key figures in situationism, proposed taking a holiday from those routines in the form of the derive or drift, which was meant to renew the urban experience by intentionally moving through our urban spaces without intention, opening ourselves up to the spectacle and theater that is the city. Debord claimed that our urban spaces are rich places — full of untold encounters, wondrous architecture, complex human interaction — that we've grown too numb to experience. His remedy was to take a day or two out and disorient ourselves by stumbling about our city, tempering the grid of urbanity with the organic quality of not knowing, being pulled by intuition and desire, not by obligation and necessity. … By talking our city's physical geography and overlaying it with psychogeography — a technique of mapping the psychic and emotional flows of a city instead of its rational street grids — we become more sensitive to our surroundings. ... Psychogeography can take many forms: One could create a psychogeographic map of a city's language by making a derive from point A to point B, writing down every word your eyes encounter on buildings, signage, parking meters, flyers and so forth. You’d end up with a trove of rich language, myriad in its tones and directives, comprised of peripheral words you'd most likely never paid attention to, such as the fine print on a parking meter."
—Kenneth Goldsmith, Uncreative Writing
I love my daily routine, and I also love changing my routine because it allows me to experience and see the world differently. For example, my upcoming trip will change everything about my daily routine. In the quote above Debord recommends taking one or two days away from one’s routine to derive or drift.
I’ll be drifting for a month, and I’m curious to see how my experience at school—and in Paris—will change my writing practice. I aim to notice "peripheral worlds," and write about them.