Inspired by events in Boston yesterday, I wanted to share excerpts from a paper I presented at the 2012 Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium. I’ve written and re-written this several times. Thought about not sharing, but I need to. So here goes:
Running is an improvised performance of place and of self, a discourse between running-place and running-subject…improvisation in space…experimental behaviour, shaped by the landscape and the environment. Running provides a dynamic vehicle to experience and learn about space, location and community.
The running act is the embodiment of something larger than the physical definition. Running is a state of mind and a way of operating. The running-subject, be they engaged in physical, mental or emotional activity, is positioned differently than the non-runner. Even while not actively engaged in the physical act, the running-subject experiences the world differently.
Echoing de Certeau’s writing on the role of Wandersmänner (the walker), the runner authorizes possibilities of space by moving through it, privileging, inventing, transforming, and abandoning different spatial elements (1984: 105). The runner explores the space beyond the self, a place of encounters, interactions, trajectories and improvisations with physical space. Through these encounters, the runner creates and enunciates place.
Running and walking are acts of becoming (Cresswell 2006: 47). The city is a denseness of realities from which the running-subject performs and creates their spatial story. “The streets arrange themselves around this person’s presence, giving up their complicated secrets as though every turning now was marked. A strange geography becomes smaller and tamer as part of a personal history” (Tonkiss 2005: 123).
Cresswell, Tim. Place. A Short Introduction. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2008. Print.
de Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life. Trans. Steve Rendall. Berkley: U of California P, 1984. Print.
Tonkiss, Fran. Space, the City and Social Theory. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005. Print.