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
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.
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.