Political theorist, professor, and Verso author Marshall Berman passed away on 11 September 2013 at the age of 72.
A life long New Yorker and analytical and humanist Marxist, Berman was heavily critical of the destructive effects of modernity on New York City's urban landscape. Yet, he remained hopeful that the conditions of modernity created possibilities for creative everyday resistance.
A bestseller in France, A Philosophy of Walking by Frédéric Gros charts the many different ways we get from A to B — the pilgrimage, the promenade, the protest march, the nature ramble — and reveals what they say about us.
Inspired by this brilliant and erudite new book, out this month on Verso, we present Verso's updated guide to political walking.
1. A Philosophy of Walking - Frédéric Gros
Gros illuminates a new philosophical history of walking, and provides new ways of navigating and interacting with one's environment politically. Walking has long been held as the key to opening the mind, reconnecting with one’s self and nature. From Kierkegaard to Kant to Kerouac, some of the finest thinkers of history credit a good walk with inspiration for their ideas (dating back to the Aristotle's 'peripatetic' lectures) Gros’s new book details how this most basic of human transportation can cause commonsensical-looking things to be unfounded and certain improbable-looking things to be true. Gros details how walking can help us join as one with the natural world, and liberate us from crises and stresses of identity.
2. Explore Everything - Bradley L. Garrett
It is assumed that every inch of the world has been explored and charted; that there is nowhere new to go. But perhaps it is the everyday places around us—the cities we live in—that need to be rediscovered. Bradley L. Garrett has evaded urban security in order to experience the city in ways beyond the boundaries of conventional life. He calls it ‘place hacking’: the recoding of closed, secret, hidden and forgotten urban space to make them realms of opportunity.
The book is also a manifesto, combining philosophy, politics and adventure, on our rights to the city and how to understand the twenty-first century metropolis.
3. The View from the Train - Patrick Keiller
In his sequence of films, Patrick Keiller retraces the hidden story of the places where we live, the cities and landscapes of our everyday lives. Referencing writers such as Benjamin and Lefebvre, this collection follows his career since the late 1970s, exploring themes including the surrealist perception of the city; the relationship of architecture and film; how cities change over time, and how films represent this; as well as accounts of cross-country journeys involving historical figures, unexpected ideas and an urgent portrait of post-crash Britain.
Michael Sayeau, contributor to Restless Cities, has written on the changing forms of demonstration across the world today for Frieze. Sayeau considers the various methods employed by groups such as UKUncut, the August rioters, Greek rioters and Arab Spring revolutions, and in turn sheds light on the Occupy movement. Sayeau draws inspiration for his enquiry from Eric Hazan's The Invention of Paris, a vibrant tour through the revolutionary past of the streets of Paris, a city shaped by the history of the barricades:
Hazan argues that the barricades - emblematic of both the practicalities and the romance of Parisian protest and a persistent symbol of civic unrest - were products of their time in all of its social, technological and political aspects. In a story that most of us are familiar with, their emergence and persistence sparked a reactionary revolution in urban planning and architecture, which to this day defines many of our modern cities.
But in recent months, as a wave of civic protest has washed over the world from Athens to Syria and from Spain to Egypt, a strange reversal has taken place in the practices of urban demonstrations - a reversal that suggests that nearly two centuries' worth of protest tactics and policing strategies are undergoing a paradigm shift.