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I always get asked what does Flâneur mean and why I use the term so often. Since the new school year is starting this week, I thought it was appropriate to share what this terminology means. As an English major, and a lover of language, I always defined my stages of life with terms. My early 20s were defined with the term sublime and my mid-twenties with regret. Flâneur is a term that defined my late 20s, and in a way added further value to the search for my sublime while I curated a life with no more regrets.
Originally coined by poet Charles Baudelaire, the Flâneur is an individual who strolls the city in order to experience it. He observes his surroundings, the people, the city. Although the Flâneur is an embodiment of the nineteenth-century French literary culture, I cannot help but deeply associate myself with the term. The traditional definition of the Flâneur may have changed in the contemporary era we are living in, but there seems to be a little bit of a Flâneur in all of us without even knowing it.
Think of the term as a modern day explorer that wanders through his city. The Flâneur has no destination to get to when he is walking and he is only walking for the sake of walking. He’s walking to experience the city, explore the urban space and find locations he has never been to before. What is of essence to the Flâneur is to live vicariously through the city.
In a culture where the I am so busy phrase is taking over your life, I am relieved to be a Flâneur. To wonder the streets from time to time with no purpose, but the pure enjoyment of walking and discovering different neighbourhoods. Perhaps, it’s time for you to embrace a modern Flâneur version of yourself. To truly enjoy your life without having to look at your agenda, and plan your entire day out of when, who, where. I feel the need to encourage you to find your inner Flâneur and pursue a new mode of experiencing your city. To really take in the beauty and observe your city a la Flâneur style.