On Walking, Phil Smith,, 2014

“A sensitive walk up any High Street is a Pilgrim’s Progress” Phil Smith – playwright, walk-performance artist and author (Mythogeography and Counter-Tourism) – recently retraced W.G. Sebald’s famous ‘Rings of Saturn’ walk round East Anglia. At one level On Walking describes this blistered walk from one incongruous B&B to the next, taking in places like Dunwich, Bungay, Covehithe, Orford Ness, Sutton Hoo and Rendlesham Forest – with their lost villages, Cold War testing sites, black dogs, white deer and alien trails. Phil Smith’s walk soon becomes every bit as remarkable as Sebald’s and he matches Sebald’s erudition, originality and humour swathe for swathe. At a second level, the book sets out a unique kind of ‘hyper-sensitised’ walking for which the author is quietly famous. It burrows beneath the guidebook and the map, looks beyond the shopfront and Tudor facade and feels beneath the blisters and aches of the everyday. The Suffolk walk described here is an exemplary walk that goes beyond ‘wandering around looking at stuff’ and shows how every walk can be art, revolution and pilgrimage. At a third level, On Walking is an intellectual tour de force, encompassing Situationism, alchemy, dancing, jouissance, geology, psychogeography, 20th century cinema and old TV, architecture, grief, pilgrimage, WWII, the Cold War, Uzumaki, pub conversations, somatics and synchronicity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s