The Cyberflâneur

by Kiko Matsing

(Fernando Pessoa, Bob Dylan, James Joyce, Jose Garcia Villa)

Highly self-aware, and to a certain degree flamboyant and theatrical, dandies of the mid-nineteenth century created scenes through outrageous acts like walking turtles on leashes down the streets of Paris. Such acts exemplify a flâneur’s active participation in and fascination with street life while displaying a critical attitude towards the uniformity, speed, and anonymity of modern life in the city. (Wikipedia)

Since I moved the Fresh page of my main WordPress blog into Blogger it has taken a life of its own. ORBIS: Fresh was intended for short, quick postings of anything interesting I stumbled upon while trawling the Web, while the main site, ORBIS, remained the place for extended, more worked-out efforts that take time to write. “Fresh” suggested something immediate and current, if not the topic itself, then my encounter with it. Soon afterwards, I noticed that I put as much thought in writing even these pithy commentaries. This is why I am re-christening this blog The Cyberflâneur to signal its own autonomy. The flâneur is a Baudelairean “gentleman stroller of city streets,” a notion at odds with the efficient bourgeoisie of the urbanized and industrialized 19th century. The flâneur is a saunterer, idly meandering the labyrinthine city streets, observing everything with a detached, aesthetic gaze. He is removed from the action, but intellectually engaged. Like Pessoa’s Álvaro de Campos regarding the tobacco shop across the street from his apartment window. Here, I adopt this same stance, this mode of perceiving, in my rambling excursions to our cyberspaces.