Take a Journey Without a Map, Flâneur Style

Have you ever wandered aimlessly while on vacation somewhere? How about in your own city? Personally, I love the idea of being an adventurer right where I live, exploring hidden crevices, squeezing out sweetness from every corner of life. We all have an accessible playground calling to us in our own backyards. Flâneurs understand this.

American writer Edmund White describes the flâneur as “a stroller, a loiterer, someone who ambles through a city without apparent purpose but is secretly attuned to the history of the place and in covert search of adventure, aesthetic or erotic.”

But why keep our inquisitive natures a secret? Curiosity about our very own dwelling spaces ought to be openly cultivated and celebrated! We can all be urban explorers, our home cities seen newly as fragrant forests beckoning our curiosities and observations both intellectual and primal. Imagine yourself the captain of your very own local safari, no itinerary required!

Human brains are stimulated when we take alternate routes to and from familiar destinations. Our creativity gets a jump-start when we mix things up sensorily and experientially. Fortunately, it doesn’t require abundant resources (time, money, etc.) to do so when we keep it close to home.

French poet Charles Baudelaire developed a derived meaning of flâneur — that of “a person who walks the city in order to experience it”. Because of the term’s usage and theorization by Baudelaire and numerous thinkers in economic, cultural, literary and historical fields, the idea of the flâneur has accumulated significant meaning as a referent for understanding urban phenomena and modernity.

[Baudelaire] settled on a word to capture the attitude he felt one should adopt when walking along the streets. One should become, he suggested, a flâneur…The defining characteristic of those flâneurs is that they don’t have any practical goals in mind. They aren’ t walking to get something, or to go somewhere, they aren’t even shopping…Flâneurs are standing in deliberate opposition to capitalist society, with its two great imperatives: to be in a hurry and to buy things…What the flâneurs are doing is looking. — Alain de Botton, Swiss writer and philosopher

For me personally, intentionally putting on my flâneur hat now and then makes me feel alive. It rejuvenates my community connections while soothing my restless nature with enticing novelty and nuance awaiting my delighted discovery in both expected and unexpected places. This mindful — certainly not mindless! — journeying also reminds me of the powerful force of gratitude.

I love where I live and challenge you to see your own community with new eyes. Feed yourself a fresh and colorful sensory diet that’s healthy for both body and spirit. New images and experiences are there just waiting to be discovered! Make a commitment to take a new path now and then and see where it takes you.

For your listening enjoyment: https://soundcloud.com/david-coonan/flaneur: Flâneur was composed in February 2011, and is scored for flute (doubling piccolo), b-flat clarinet, vibraphone, harp, and piano. The first performance was given by the Manson Ensemble with condcutor Benedikt Hayoz, at the David Josefowitz Hall, London, in March 2011. The performers were Lu Du (flute), Jamie Elston (clarinet), Philip Welder (vibraphone), Jimin Lee (harp), and Philip Howard (piano).


My new Artful Living column in Scene Newspaper debuts March 2015. It’s all about feeding senses and spirits through the exploration of art, music, fashion, lifestyle, culture and creative happenings. I invite readers to journey along with me on an eclectic melange of artistic adventures, searching out muses and amusements, meandering as we go.http://www.scenenewspaper.com/ #JeanOnTheScene #SeenByJean


Work Summary

I’m collaborative, intuitive, engaging and resourceful, with abundant positive energy and an innate desire to make a meaningful impact on the world via the art of life. Every day is a privilege to live fully and I’m intent on doing just that!

My diverse work and community leadership experiences have provided a productive landscape for me to enhance quality-of-life in ways small and great. My wide-ranging skills in Marketing & Communications, Public Relations, Event Planning, Social Media, Promotions, Modeling, and more come with a penchant for writing to tie it all together. Wearing a variety of hats is something I’ve always enjoyed doing and I continually seek new ways to contribute and share my gifts.

Venturesome, inquisitive, and highly expressive, I’m always seeking new ways to tap into my creative reservoir and passion for meaningful initiatives and causes. I connect quickly with others with a natural ability to cultivate and sustain dynamic, meaningful partnerships. Integrity, respectful attention, and mindfulness are always present in the relationships I form in both my work and personal life.

I’m currently freelancing while I pursue new opportunities and can be reached either through this profile, via email at jeandetjen@sbcglobal.net, or by phone at (920) 574-6841.

“One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.” ― E.M. Forster

Delicious Ambiguity: Questions and Curiosity Make Life Tasty

How often do you take advantage of ambiguity in the world? When is the last time you looked at something and thought to yourself, “What else might this be?”

As American actor, screenwriter, film director and producer Edward Norton once said, “All people are paradoxical. No one is easily reducible, so I like characters who have contradictory impulses or shades of ambiguity.” In the academic disciplines which study the human condition (history, philosophy, literature, etc.), ambiguity has often been valued as the basis of depth, subtlety and richness in art. Yet we often fail to embrace these qualities central to the Humanities in practical life applications.

We all have our hidden “mysteries,” do we not? And all of us will deal with unfair labeling throughout our lives by people looking for absolutes. Who cannot forget Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book The Scarlet Letter, a complex portrayal of social and moral issues highlighting the dangers of eliminating ambiguities to get the meanings “right” (if that’s even possible to do with any real accuracy)? The allegorical tale shows that even so simple a label as the first letter of the alphabet is full of burgeoning meanings dependent upon changing contexts and nuance.

“There are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities, so we act as though they don’t exist!” claimed The Wizard in Wicked. Yet even in the “land of the free” we still struggle to tear off suffocating labels which others put on us to fit their own needs to find comfort in (unrealistic) absolutes.

Ultimately, looking at how people respond to ambiguity says a lot about both human creativity and adaptability. Faced with life’s complexities it is natural that we desire to seek a sense of order and meaning. Yet multiple interpretations and the difficulty of achieving consensus remain a challenge. Perhaps there is a certain refuge in embracing uncertainties as a mysterious and wonderful part of existence itself. Not having all the answers about the world and each other certainly makes life interesting.

Is your mind mature enough to endure uncertainty? If so, how do you successfully navigate through it? Please share your thoughts on the subject, no matter how uncertain they may be.

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”

―Gilda Radner

Featured art: ‘Uncertainty Principle’ by Regina Valluzzi, René Magritte, The Uncertainty Principle (Le Principe d’Incertitude), Etching: contemporary Russian artist, name unknown