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Our Desire To Be Lost

Dog with human head leading a man to enter church

Who am I?

If this once I were to rely on a proverb, then perhaps everything would amount to knowing whom I ‘haunt’ … Perhaps my life is nothing but an image of this kind; perhaps I am doomed to retrace my steps under the illusion that I am exploring, doomed, to try and learn what I should simply recognize, learning a mere fraction of what I have forgotten.[1]

I want to be led astray. To lose myself. I crave for the unknown, the unfamiliar, or the strange in both myself and my surroundings. It is an impulse evident in my gesture of following other travelers, for this  is  an action that promises  to transform the banal reality of my mundane days.

But to follow the other is to take charge of his itinerary… It is to play the mythical role of the shadow ... it is to relieve him of that existential burden, the responsibility  for his  own life. Simultaneously, he who follows is himself relieved of responsibility  for his own life as he follows blindly in the footsteps of the other. A wonderful reciprocity exists in the cancellation of each existence, in the cancellation of each subject’s  tenuous  position as a subject.)[2]

Not till we are completely lost, or turned around - for a man needs only to be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost - do we appreciate the vastness  and strangeness of nature. Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.[3]

Quotes Cited:
[1]Breton, Nadja, 11-12.
[2]Baudrillard, ‘Please follow me,’ 79.
[3]Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1845) cited in Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, 14-15.
Post inspired by: "Desiring to be led astray" by Emma Cocker. Papers of Surrealism Issue 6 Autumn 2007

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