Untitled (Architectures of Uncertainty)
2020 - ongoing
What is it to walk in this French summer heat, with the thermometer under pressure as it rises to somewhere near 40 degrees?
In ‘A Winter Walk,’ Thoreau describes the fire in a person’s breast, that is stoked by walking briskly, to combat the cold of the winter months. A healthy person is a ‘complement to the seasons,’ writes Thoreau: in winter ‘summer is in [their] heart.’ Does that mean that one walks with winter in their heart at the height of summer? Perhaps there is something about the slowing of the pace which suggests there is truth in this. After all, the pace can be positively glacial in such heat. Then there’s the perspiration. Precipitous in volume and rate of flow, its presence a nod to the dampness of winter, at least where I live.
But there’s something about the high summer walk that defies a reading such as this: the intensity of the light. It doesn’t make me feel like I have that northern hemisphere darkness brooding away inside.
If, as Frédéric Gros notes, the Thoreauvian well-being in walking in the cold is partly found in (re)discovering the heat of the stove that burns within, what might constitute the well-being in walking in the heat? A simple reversal will not suffice; seldom, if ever, do such binary operations yield satisfactory conclusions.
I think it’s something to do with a connection to vulnerability. A reminder of our fragility and reliance upon the delicate balance of cosmic and planetary processes. This is, of course, a double-edged joy-devastation. To feel the intensity of the connection to those processes that produce our intricate human-non-human multiplicities, but also to know that what is responsible for creating life at the same time destroys it. The sun’s light as a kind of pharmakon; one that will grow more profoundly important as the coming years pass.
In welcoming that winter morning, Thoreau notes that ‘the earth itself has slept as it were its first, not its last sleep.’ Today, it feels closer to its last.