Walking through Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown LA

“The ordinary practitioners of the city live ‘down below’, below the thresholds at which visibility begins. They walk — an elementary form of this experience of the city; they are walkers, Wandersmänner, whose bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban ‘text’ they write without being able to read it.
The walker, through her/his everyday practices of life, resists the organizing power of both the gaze and the map. The city is produced every day, inscribed with her/his journeys, journeys that create the city but ‘elud[e] legibility’. “
Michel de Certeau, ‘The Practice of Everyday Life’ (1984)

I wonder what de Certeau would make of Los Angeles, a city (or federation of cities) where walking is considered aberrant behaviour. Can a city be produced by daily car non-journeys. The contrast when I went to Downtown the other day was palpable – the fact of poverty, of diversity in body size, of people conducting the usual transactions of city life – walking from place-to-place, the possibility of random encounters, the ability to narrate your own transit through the space. These are things absent from the rest of the city that I have seen.

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  1. Pingback: Back to Birmingham - City of Surrealists - the lost byway

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