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Mama Eyeshot: Child, I read your essay. Some beautiful writing in it. Is this part of your new book? I loved the Werner Herzog part a lot. I think you make a very convincing argument for both walking and reading although I still don't see how you do both without throwing up. What you miss though is the purely visual because you are reading and are you really giving the author your full attention? Would you rather someone read your book while walking or while seated in a train seat or an armchair giving it your full attention?

Eyeshot Editor: I started the essay in the summer of 2008, so it has nothing to do with the new thing. You do miss a lot of visuals if you're reading but I find it easier to pay attention to what I'm reading when walking than when reading in a chair because the heart's going, the blood's pumping, you don't get sleepy . . .

Mama Eyeshot: But is it necessary to be in a high state of physical arousal to read instead of a passive state. I do my best reading in a train because I only have an hour, can block out my surroundings and am sitting upright. Also know there will be no distractions. Maybe it's a focus thing with me but I'd be dizzy as hell walking and reading and would for sure walk into a wall.

Eyeshot Editor: It's actually really easy. Try it one day while walking Dreyfus!

Mama Eyeshot: It might work until he sees a squirrel or rabbit. I need to be ready for anything, plus I like watching out for birds, hawks, etc. I'd miss stuff.

Eyeshot Editor: True -- but if your intention is to go out and get some exercise AND read you wouldn't be missing stuff since seeing stuff wouldn't be the name of the game.

Later . . .

Mama Eyeshot: Something disturbs me about what you wrote. How that nice couple with a kid on the way would see you walking and reading and decide that this was a nice place to live? Why? What were your assumptions? 1. That you were a white dude reading a difficult piece of literature??? 2. What if you were a construction worker, latino and reading a book . . . maybe a bodice ripper novel . . . would they still be so inclined to move to So. Philly. Are you saying that a man of quality, such as yourself, with your sense of taste, experience and education, with excellent taste in books, just by your appearance on the streets, will become catnip for gentrification. I keep thinking of the dirty construction worker I saw in the subway in 1982 reading a novel, which he covered with brown paper so that his dirty hands wouldn't dirty the book. I think it was Somerset Maugham's famous book. Can't remember the title.  Isn't he just as much of an enticement to gentrification or does he have to be a graduate of several fancy schools??????? Also there is a solipsistic quality. You are walking, reading, not paying attention to the people or surroundings nearby. YOU are being observed, questioned, maybe even admired by passersby who decide that if a person of your quality can live here, so can they. That's what I get from the story.  Questionable, icky politics. Might be turned on its head to be funny.

I think the story has the strongest impact right after the Herzog thing and when you quote those statistics. I thought it had ended and was surprised to see 2 or 3 more pages which felt like idealistic musings and fantasies. You forget to consider all the various health and mental problems associated with poverty. Like being too hungry and too skinny already to want to walk and read or not having a place to live and walking all day because you have too, etc. etc. So your premise seems myopic about how walking and reading can save Phila. and the world.

Eyeshot Editor: You're taking it too seriously. It's not possible. I'm sort of half-joking about a lot of the stuff. And it looks like you missed the sentence where it says "All this sounds elitist and hateful. But Iím really just exaggerating to make a point." 

Mama Eyeshot: No, I didn't miss that part. What point were you making...that reading and walking are both good for you??? How can I not take it seriously? Isn't writing supposed to be serious? Otherwise it's verbal scribbling right? Nothing makes us think like words do!

Eyeshot Editor: The idea that walking and reading can save a city is sort of beautifully absurd! I wax about how people seeing me reading might think it's a positive sign instead of a guy pissing on a fire hydrant . . . I suggest that 50 millions Bush voters be forced to walk and read with solar panels on their heads and windmills on their shoulders. It's not scribbling. It's something to think about but I'm not taking the walking and reading idea too seriously. LIBAMBULATORS UNITE?! C'mon, Mom.

Mama Eyeshot: Except that reading isn't a funny subject. Neither is walking actually. You are asking an army of people to do something you can do but others might find difficult. Like the tightrope walker guy saying everyone should walk on ropes or something. If you think it's jokey,  you're not committed to your argument then. Then why write about it if it's meant to be ironic or funny? Why quote all those real statistics?

Eyeshot Editor: Because I had some ideas about simultaneous walking and reading that I wanted to explore in a semi-humorous way. 


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The Legend of the Holy Drinker (Roth), All the Sad Young Literary Men (Gessen), 
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eyeshot is really quite impressed with chris ware's recent work

earthquake vid!

excerpts from the eyeshot e-mail crypt!


I'm a lumberjack and I'm ok

enter the resonance chamber

will always associate man on wire with dfw's death -- saw it a few hours before i found out he was dead -- not so life-affirming ending to an life-affirming evening