I Choose Flâneuse: A Tale in Four Parts 


The Founding Legend of the New York Branch of La Société des Flâneurs Sans Frontieres (SFSF) 

by Walking Off the Big Apple

Annotations and Guide

People & Fairies:
Charles Baudelaire
Virginia Woolf
James Joyce
Walter Benjamin
Henry James
Edith Wharton
King and Queen of Hearts
Titania
Jackson Pollock
Gerry and the Pacemakers
Peaseblossom
Puck
Yoko
Ophelia
John Everett Millais
Peggy Guggenheim


Websites

The Flâneur
The Arcades Project Project
A Midsummer Night's Dream (complete, MIT)
La Fée Verte
 

To learn more about John Everett Millais, Ophelia, 1851-1852. Tate Museum, London. Click here.

KEY TERMS AND CONCEPTS

  • modernity
  • flâneuse
  • the green fairy
  • the Mersey Beat
  • the Pre-Raphaelites
  • Public Theater 
  • Central Park (NYC) 

 

 

 

 To learn more about Kilgore College and the Kilgore College Rangerettes, click here.

The Walk of the Confused Flâneuse

Big Hits of Gerry & The Pacemakers in the US:
"Ferry Cross the Mersey"

http://jacksonpollock.org/

Texas hold 'em (Wikipedia)

 

Please review your school's acceptable use policy for work on the Internet with your teacher.

I. PART ONE

Over the course of the past several weeks, while strolling the avenues of New York City, stopping to gaze at this thing and that, I have contemplated the relationship of this publication to the rich heritage of the flâneur, or in my case, the flâneuse. Associated with the strolling aristocrats of the Parisian Belle Epoque and the poet Charles Baudelaire in particular, the flâneur tradition came to prominence in literary circles as a trope of modernity. (I went to graduate school.) Virginia Woolf, with Mrs. Dalloway, and James Joyce, with Ulysses, are often cited as authoritative on this subject. Influential critic Walter Benjamin meditated deeply on the flâneur.

From
The Arcades Project,
The crowd is the veil through which the familiar city beckons to the flâneur as phantasmagoria–now a landscape, now a room. Both become elements of the department store, which makes use of flânerie itself to sell goods.

And then he starts talking about The
Communist Manifesto.

A dear college friend called me a "flâneurette" last week, a name that made me giggle like a school girl, because it sounds like a combination of a flâneuse and a Kilgore College Rangerette. I imagined a "flâneurette" marching down Fifth Avenue in cowgirl boots and twirling a baton. I see this every day in New York. But since I can't hold a smile for that long, I choose flâneuse to describe myself. It's proper, and though I take liberties with my own language, I don't mess with the French.

Strolling this rich avenue of flânerie, I have taken to my study late at night, the one hidden behind the secret door, to read further upon the subject. There, by gaslight and a flickering flame, I read matters mystical, hysterical, prophetical and prosaic on the tradition of flânerie. I search for the American counterparts of the tradition. Poe is certainly known, but we can add Henry James and Edith Wharton when they're not riding carriages. In fact, most all fictional characters before the twentieth century had to walk at least part of the time as they had no car. The spouse, a colonel and a film fan, handed me a book on the subject in Weimar culture. Book recommendations will come in due course.

It was during such an evening in my study, deep into a moonless Gotham night, that I came across the existence of a publication so startling, so full of genius, that I could scarce believe my very eyes. Produced by a brotherhood of fellow flâneurs, their publication must serve us as the starting point (and all that's in the middle) for what is known on the subject. Excitedly I dashed off a note of introduction. Nervously hitting the send button, for that is how we communicate in our era, I didn't even dream of a reply.

Oh, readers!

   
 II. PART TWO

After dashing off my letter of introduction, I returned to reading the publication I encountered. Finding so much to explore, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, knocking off a bottle of Pinot Grigio, a tiny bit of absinthe and three bags of corn chips in the process.


The great news is that the publication under consideration, The Flâneur, is available to anyone and everyone via the world wide web. That is how I found it, thanks to my fairy friends who often aid me in my tasks and who possess a knack for Java, HTML, and particularly flash media. In the spirit of public culture and all things flânerie, The Flâneur is quite possibly the most appropriate reading material for the institution known as the internet cafe.

Throughout the evening and morning, I came to know more of the society behind the publication - La Société des Flâneurs Sans Frontières and the libertine spirit of the Liverpool chapter. Founded by well-educated and charming individuals, The Flâneur, like Walking Off the Big Apple, proves that clever souls who celebrate under-achievement rather than condemn it may find in internet publishing a way to conveniently bypass the prissy and endless editorial tedium of print production or in some cases, not mine, a means to escape the vengeful motives of academic colleagues during the tenure process. Broadcasting genius to the world is now easy, just the way we like it.

I digress.

Late into the night, I found that the portal to The Flâneur opened to such an endless series of rabbit holes of flânerie that me and some of the fairies ended up playing Texas Hold 'Em with the King and Queen of Hearts. Titania thought I should lay off the absinthe, but she was drinking PBR and hallucinating herself after exploring a link to Jackson Pollock. In honor of the Mersey brotherhood, Peaseblossom dusted off all our old Gerry and the Pacemakers records and cranked up the hi-fi. Puck went off on Yoko, as he had just visited with her uptown, and it was then that I retreated to a quiet corner and and wrote my fan letter to The Flâneur.

But, first! Let me escort you to the door to all matter of flânerie. Stay tuned! There's more after our commercial break.

The Flâneur: Official Website of La Société des Flâneurs Sans Frontières

  

III. PART THREE

The following day I awoke to a great sense of confusion regarding the events of the night before. I remembered that I had stayed up late in my study reading, and I have certain memories of writing a letter to The Flâneur, a publication I had barely scanned. The more I thought about it, however, maybe I wrote them two letters. Perhaps I began the second one and didn't send it. As I gathered my waking consciousness, I still found myself confused. I had vague memories of a card game and some sort of dancing, but all of this was impossible because it was very quiet during those late hours, and I was quite alone in my study, drinking warm milk.

More alarming was where I woke up. As I opened my eyes I could see a clear sky and some trees, and I could hear the sounds of geese and ducks. I also seemed to be floating, very much the drowned Ophelia of the John Everett Millais painting, but alive. Making my way to shore I looked about me for signs of a familiar location. Spotting Belvedere Castle to the south across the water, I was able to determine that I somehow ended up in Turtle Pond in the middle of Central Park.

Though I wanted to ride the C train back home, I realized I was wet and without money, and so I started walking south toward home. As soon as I started walking I encountered a group of actors standing outside the Delacorte Theater practicing lines from a play. When one actor, a pretty woman, asked, "What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?," I thought the line sounded familiar on a deeply personal basis, but when I realized that it was just the Public Theater performing
A Midsummer Night's Dream for Shakespeare in the Park I thought nothing more of it.

I continued my long walk home, still dripping wet in my long flowing gown, grateful only that I had somehow managed to wear my best pink sneakers. Reaching the intersection of the park and 72nd St., I happened to look up at the Dakota. I felt my usual wonder looking at the magnificent building, but additional feelings of guilt and the need to apologize overcame me, and I knew not why. I was the picture of a sad flâneuse as I made my way back to Greenwich Village.

Once home, I entered the parlor where I found my spouse, the colonel, comfortably sprawled out upon the divan reading a book on early cinema. After changing into some dry and warm clothes, I entered my hidden study to check the day's mail, both snail and electronic, and to sort out the confusion of the recent events. Checking the electronic mail, I saw a letter with the return address of The Flâneur, and so I sat down to read the response.

IV. PART FOUR.

Growing up literate and pretty in the Wild West is sometimes a burden on a girl. As a young woman I frequently fantasized that some French guy or a like-minded gent from the Upper South would just show up and take me
outta there - to the Left Bank, Covent Garden, Peggy Guggenheim's villa on the Grand Canal, or even New York City, especially Fifth Avenue and Greenwich Village. Many of the young men that I met in my real life just wanted to sit in air-conditioning, drink any kind of beer and watch the Dallas Cowboys on TV.

I tell you this so you understand my background and state of mind when I returned to my study after a day of self doubts and confusion. There I found, in my computer's inbox, a letter from a mysterious M. de Vouvray from
La Société des Flaneurs Sans Frontières. Being a grown woman now, I first checked it for viruses. The charming letter began with many pleasantries and some technical web matters of transatlantic diplomacy, but then the missive cut to the chase with an alarming announcement! M. de Vouvray, a marquis, said that the society has appointed me the chair of the New York branch of La Société des Flaneurs Sans Frontières, whether I like it or not! Shocking! Fabulous! Maybe they foisted this honor upon me because I was the first New Yorker to contact them. That is probable. But I like to think it was because I am pretty and originally from the Wild West.

Upon receiving this honor and distinction, my mood greatly improved! When I read that my new office entitled me to the "inalienable right to drink absinthe and champagne in excess wherever and whensoe'er the mood takes you," I felt like celebrating!

At that very moment my eyes happened upon a half bottle of absinthe in the corner of the room. I have no idea how it got there. After locating a slotted spoon made for such a purpose and a sugar cube, I drank some absinthe the traditional way, enjoying just a taste. I was thinking about fetching some champagne from the kitchen when I heard a rustle at the window pane, and happy me!... It was Titania, Puck and Peaseblossom showing off their new cell phones and looking, as always, for a good party.

Later, after listening to music and discussing the relative merits of this new band and that, Titania said that we should all stroll, or fly as the case may be, to Central Park, "like we did last night," watch the play and then swim. In the end, we nixed the idea and decided to call it a night. Tentative plans were made to meet early for breakfast and then a walk down Broadway.

But we stayed up anyway, chatting and dancing to the break of day.

THE END.

Sweet Peace.