For the third instalment of Blackpool Speakeasy’s series of monthly talks, we screen writer Will Self’s discussion of walking and our relationship with the built environment, followed by an opportunity to explore the ideas and questions raised.
In the talk, Self discusses his own eccentric walking habits – such as walking directly from his home in central London to Heathrow Airport – and argues that they enable him to overcome the primarily disjointed relationship to space which is characteristic of modern society, in which we tend to see our environments as made up of distinct sections, rather than constituting a whole. By walking through neglected areas and amalgamating distinct zones of the city, we can form a clearer and more accurate picture of the world we live in.
Self also points out that we tend to have a correspondingly narrow conception of beauty, missing out on the compelling nature of the in-between spaces in the built environment and coming to appreciate only that which has been marked out in advance as ‘beautiful’. He asserts that by developing an ethic of exploration and more immediate engagement with our surroundings, we can avoid the trap of viewing the bulk of our lives as merely functional. By doing so, we can stop negating our own lived experience, heighten our sense of aesthetic appreciation, and also recognise a wider array of beautiful things.