I took my worn copy of Wanderlust to Galtarviti Lighthouse in Iceland as a literary rite of passage last summer. In April 2011, I bought the book following an epic browse at Charlie Byrnes bookshop in Galway (another literary rite of passage ). I opened the first page on the afternoon train back to Dublin, disembarked and meandered slowly by the river Liffey into the city . I remember that evening vividly as it was unusually warm, hazy and full of the nostalgic pull of summer. I felt like a pilgrim moving through the city secretly, silently and with intent.
Rebecca Solnit observes that walkers are “practitioners of the city, for the city is made to be walked. A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities. Just as language limits what can be said, architecture limits where one can walk, but the walker invents other ways to go.”
Solnit spoke at The Long Room Hub at Trinity College that warm evening in April and I felt the Pilgrimage Project awaken and begin to hum somewhere deep inside. That same tattered copy has become something of a bible to me and opened a portal to Solnit’s body of work – radically changing my perspective on cultural activism, art practice, the patterns of human evolution and the art of getting lost à pied.
Reading this book is a rite of passage .
“…the subject of walking is, in some sense, about how we invest universal acts with particular meanings. Like eating or breathing, it can be invested with wildly different cultural meanings, from the erotic to the spiritual, from the revolutionary to the artistic.”