The street is a useful thing for walking.

surface
Surface 2016

copyright © Olsen 2016

Through the body and mind, a place can be recognised.[1] Yet I noticed how distant the street is depending on my focus, using Mains Road, Dundee as an example of place. I would like us to consider a quote from my favorite philosopher, Heidegger and the image above:-

“the street, the useful thing for walking. When we walk, we feel it with every step and it seems to be what is nearest and most real about what is generally at hand, it slides itself, so to speak, along certain parts of our body – the soles of ones feet. And yet it is further remote than the acquaintance one meets while walking at the remoteness twenty steps away “ on the street”.”[2]

Heidegger would identified the street as ‘equipment’, a thing that is encountered in our environment, the place I use when I walk. I understand how its usefulness becomes remote and unnoticeable to myself as I walk, by thinking about my journey on Mains Road. The phycical street shifts between earth and world depending on my awareness of it. I am more likely to notice a passing car or pedestrian than the street I walk on, it only becomes available in my awareness by a disruptive influence of the uneven surface seen above.

[1] Casey, E. S. (2013) The Fate of Place: A Philosophical History. United States: University of California Press p244.

[2] Heidegger, M (1996). Being in Time (Trans Stambaugh, J). 3rd ed. New York: New York Press. P99.

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