A Line Made By Walking: Wandering Thinking

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These fragments are my thoughts unwound. If I orbit these disparate fragments, will they eventually form a coherent whole?

Part 1

Klee talked of a line “going for a walk” as a nice metaphor for drawing. Perhaps, as we move through the world, we are literally taking the line for a walk. Robert Long literally made lines by walking, and then he documented them for galleries.

A Line Made by Walking 1967 Richard Long born 1945 Purchased 1976 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P07149

“Walking along the Poem” was written a sign in South Korea. My friend sent me a photograph of this unique translation (was it correct?). I am taken with it. I have saved it on both my phone and my computer as a curiosity I return to every so often. Sometimes, translations are just approximations of language. Sometimes the map isn’t aligned to the actuality of the world…unless one could “walk along the poem,” which I really like right now.

The map is not the territory.

Alfred Korzybski
“Walking along the Poem” Photo- Benjamin Joslin, South Korea

The map is not the territory. Even when created to reflect the exact dimensions of the territory itself, the representation is not the thing in itself.  

Maps can help move through space, but it is only in the last half of the 20th century that they could really document the movement through time. The measurement of movement through time and space has become very precise in the last few years.

When I think of lines, I don’t think of drawing. I think of moving across distance and time. I am very visual in my conceptual understanding of ideas, and I think in maps when I think of lines. Specifically, I think in the visuals provided on my Garmin watch, maps with lines, a cartography of my place in the map itself.

Race Map from Mandarin 10K, November 9, 2019
As an aside, it is extraordinary to think of map-making as a inherently pointing back to the self instead of the vastness of the world.


I keep thinking of Terry Fox, an important figure in the memories of my childhood. I never met Fox, but my parents let us watch a movie of the story of his cross-continental run through Canada on the quest to bring attention and more funding to cancer research. Having lost his leg through surgical amputation, running this ultra-ultra marathon to completion seems unlikely. Fox was undeterred, and he must have appeared superhuman. Stopping just outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario, he would not traverse the continent. Cancer cut his run short and took his life. This amazing distance (3,339 miles) over the course of 143 days of running is shown in the map below.


My parents took us to Thunder Bay, and there is a photo of me, my brother and sister sitting at the pedestal supporting a statue commemorating Fox’s run. I was not aware of how impactful this moment was for me until much later in my life, when I took up running. Fox’s deep resilience and drive are motivators for me still, beyond running. I feel like his early example influenced my need to create in all facets of my life. Creativity and movement are not strangers, as we have recently been reminded.

Me, Jennifer, and Joseph at the foot of the Terry Fox Memorial in Thunder Bay


Today, one can no longer sit at Fox’s feet. There is a fence constructed to protect the statue. I saw this while navigating Google Earth and attempting to revisit places of my past. It seemed completely out of alignment with my memories. This was akin to viewing an empty lot where once stood a childhood home. This small change in the presentation of the iconic statue changed my relationship to it. To paraphrase Heraclitus, no one can step into the same river twice. 

By Jeremy Gilbert – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3354942

The memory of this early hero inspires me. The move to try the improbable or unpopular is a deeply embedded piece of me. It should not surprise me that contextual elements of this comforting memory portrayed in the photograph should change slightly in the actual space.


Is the image the memory, or does the memory exist beyond the image now? So much time has passed, I don’t know the answer.

Google is currently mapping the globe in the attempt to capture the world in images. Won’t this vast collection just reflect a collective (and limited) memory of the world? Won’t it change by the time we view it?

I am rambling now, more of a wandering line.

Snake, St. Simons Island, GA

Our perception is limited.

Our language is limited.

Time is limited.

The river is vast and moves at extraordinary speed.


Fragments as Compositional Style

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Composition as Fragments- List and Thoughts (January 2015)
  • Maggie Nelson- Bluets
  • Susan Sontag– anything, but the second diary is the best. To pair that with her essays of the period re: photography, film, and visual art is mind-blowing.
  • Jenny OffillDept. of Speculation
  • Emily DickinsonEnvelope poems. The essay by Susan Howe is worth the price of the book. Just Google the terms “Dickinson” and “envelope poems”…you’ll be amazed.
  • Wittgenstien– especially his writings around culture and value…but the Tractatus and Investigations are both consumed with language and are basically amazing.
  • And of course…some others I’m thinking of as I write…Emil Cioran, Paul Valery,

Maybe, we are writing more like we think. This is my thinking about any postmodernistic trend that has turned to many individuals writing in fragments. I believe the fluidity of the writing tool (computer) and the publishing tool (internet) have allowed writers to start creating as the thoughts come. That is not always a good thing…bad writing, etc.

Also, it could be the result of really looking at our collective cultural history in a fragmented way. This is how history is largely taught, completely separate from art, from mathematics. We spend a great deal of our lives (if we are even interested in these things) in realizing that Van Gogh was painting his masterpieces at the same time as Jack the Ripper was murdering (thanks to Patton Oswalt’s new book, Silver Screen Fiend, for this reference). What we have from the past prior to publishing seems to disappear.

Even film and music succumb to decay in memory and in practicality-

Example 1 (film created from the destruction of the actual film…like a distorted memory)- Bill Morrison’s Decasia

Example 2 (disintegration of tape, played as it self-destroys)- Basinski’s Disintegration Loops
As usual, I’m just jotting these thoughts as they arrive, with little to no editing…and, this will make little to no sense to anyone else. It is probably just a map of my thinking about random ideas. Obviously, fragments and decayed artistic works and memory are possibly linked but not in any really tangible way. At least, I can’t communicate well enough to make the link tangible at this time.