Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Walk #4

Instructions: Go for a long walk. This being the final walk of the official curriculum, let's end with some amplification. Let's sing our way out the door, letting the tendrils of voices or glockenspiels or kazoos or Telecasters carry us over hill and dale. It matters not whether you listen to The Muppets or The Modern Lovers or Mahler or your own damn whistling self. Just walk with a tune, and think about what it means to augment your interactions with the world. Does music heighten the act, or complete it? Does it distance you from some things, or bring you closer? Walk on.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Walk #3

Instructions: Go for a long walk. During your peregrination, make sure you take the time to trespass upon another person's or entity's "private" property. How does walking on claimed and exclusive land differ from walking on public land? Recall that in Chatwin's "The Songlines," the aboriginal notion of space (collectively experienced, providing cultural identity) comes into direct conflict with that of the railroad companies' (owned by an entity, providing income). What other ways of perceiving space are available to you when you disregard "no trespassing" signs?

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Instructions: Go for a long walk. For this walk, you'll want to see people and you'll want to see life. If you can manage walking in a city, that would be ideal, however any place with an accumulation of people would be fine. Be, as Baudelaire said, "a botanist of the sidewalk." You may choose to follow the flaneur tradition and make yourself conspicuous by walking a turtle on a leash or wearing outlandish garments. Whatever you do, consider your relationship to the people in your vicinity.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Instructions: Go for a long walk. You may walk anywhere. The point is not to fret about the specific route, but to be cognizant of the fact that you are walking outside rather than doing anything else inside. This first walk, then, is about the fundamental usefulness of walking, and our reasons for choosing to walk. Expansive thinkers might consider why we do anything at all.

Charles Baudelaire, it's probably relevant to know, believed that getting outside and walking brought him closer to the possibilities of life: "For the perfect idler, for the passionate observer, it becomes an immense source of enjoyment to establish his dwelling in the throng, in the ebb and flow, the bustle, the fleeting and the infinite."* Baudelaire's walks were predominantly urban, and he conceived of them as new artistic statements in the context of a rapidly changing 19th century Paris, but we'll get to that later. For now, let's think about the instinct to go out and walk versus the instinct to stay in and not walk. What is the difference between these two acts? Is there a difference at all? Do we get closer to the infinite by walking and experiencing the varieties offered by the larger world outside? Or, following the example of Proust and Dickinson, can we get as much from the indoors and stasis as the outdoors and movement?

Let's walk and think.

*Baudelaire, Charles (1972) Selected Writings on Art and Artists, trans. and ed. P.E. Charvet, Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

How to Walk

Welcome, students of self-motion. It looks like I'm marginally able to use the plural when addressing you, which is a great feeling. I hear more students, though, are on the way. When that happens, I will invent the Suplural Verb Tense. Look for it.

Anyway, walking. Prior to posting the first assignment, I thought I'd clarify what The No School University of School means by walking. Each assignment, as mentioned, will involve a walk. For the purposes of The No School University of School, a walk will be considered a lengthy excursion made by a single person. You should decide what "lengthy" means, but for me I'm thinking at least an hour. Also, if you choose not to walk alone, please consider walking with someone who doesn't feel the need to say much. The point is to be observant and contemplative.

Also, it has come to my attention that some people want to know WHERE they should walk. From a geographic standpoint, you may walk ANYWHERE. Some walks will be announced with special instructions, but the creative walker/interpreter should be able to participate in the entirety of the assignment without much trouble from almost anywhere in the world.

Finally, a note about reading assignments. Although the walking instructions posted by The No School University of School will refer to the readings, you need not read certain pages by certain times. In fact, The No School University of School would be very happy to hear that you have reconsidered the western notion that time is comprised of finite and knowable measurements. Read whenever you want.

EXTRA CREDIT: Once you've come to understand walking, you may also find it germane to tackle Julio Cortazar's 'Instructions on How to Climb a Staircase.'

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Welcome to Not Being in School

The No School University of School has just flung open its conceptual doors, and is willing to acknowledge the concept of students for its inaugural not having of classes. The No School University of School is not a formal school, offers no promises of learning, and shrinks from the responsibility of your betterment.

The No School University of School does, however, have this blog. No one else has this blog.

And also, we (I) have some ideas. To be more exact, I have one idea: walking. Walking is the current curricula of The No School University of School. By walking, I mean getting from one place to another in a leisurely, open-air, and hopefully observant manner. So, the first (and likely only) class offered by The No School University of School is about walking.

The class on walking shall proceed as follows:
  1. Anyone may enroll. To enroll, you need not do anything. You are enrolled.
  2. Anyone may dis-enroll. No one cares if you dis-enroll. It's up to you.
  3. If you enroll, you should consider reading the two course texts: Charles Baudelaire's "The Parisian Prowler," and Bruce Chatwin's "The Songlines." These books are about walking. The first one is a key text in the flâneur movement. The second one is not. If you do not want to read these books, that's fine. No one cares. If you want to read other books, feel free. You may share the names of those books on the blog, or you can keep them to yourself. It's up to you.
  4. The course will run for one month, and will consist of reading (or not reading) the somewhat assigned books, and then going on four walks. You may choose not to walk if not walking suits you better than walking. Who are we to say.
  5. After each walk, you are invited to post your thoughts on the blog. We understand that you might forget to do this. Our policy on forgetting is to look the other way.
  6. What should you write about? Anything. We encourage you to be exploratory, discursive, randy, self-reflective, garish, philosophical, concrete, anything. We'll get you started, though, with four prompts, which you may choose to address or ignore completely.
  7. The blog will be ready to accept posts on July 6, 13, 20, and 27th. After that, however, the class won't necessarily be over.
You might have some questions about being affiliated with The No School University of School. We probably won't answer them. But we can say that we are operated by an actual instructor of higher education. This instructor has taught quite a few classes over the years, but would rather read a couple of books and go for 4 walks. You are invited to join in. So begins The No School University of School.

Welcome to having to do what you want.