Wednesday, 30 September 2009


Most writers like to walk. They can continue writing while walking. It gives great agitation, as in the novella Walking (1971), by the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard, where the actual walk is more abstract than the thoughts while walking.

Henry David Thoreau’s Walking (1861), is an essay that probes deep in the art of walking. It’s a kind of knowledge that doesn’t change much, but still, it's uncanny the way he anticipates our modern life. Thoreau’s walking is the opposite of Bernhard’s; the walk overtakes the thoughts; the walk in nature puts the walker straight.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about Thoreau: The length of his walk uniformly made the length of his writing. If shut up in the house, he did not write at all.

photo: Henrik Nor-HansenWhen we stayed the winter at Tapawingo, in Alberta, Canada, the wilderness demanded solitude and silence, if we wanted to see any wildlife. But me and Nina also preferred to walk alone for another reason; the thoughts got cleansed by nature, because the mind got distracted by something bigger than itself. Talking would destroy all this.

Annie Dillard wrote, in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, that walking in nature is not so much about seeing, as being seen. We're not really thinking either, it's nature thinking through us.