Pierre Blache, L’insolence des villes — Stay Home; Take a Walk, Michel Hardy-Vallée

[Fall 2022]

Stay Home; Take a Walk
By Michel Hardy-Vallée


My memory of the early months of the pandemic remains blurry, but these two contradictory, yet simultaneous, injunctions issued at the beginning of lockdown have suddenly popped up in my mind. These imperatives, apparently banal – even apparently insignificant – were to change our world. Asking people to do, deliberately, what they did every day seemed to me a bizarre victory of the sociology of common sense: bending over backward to make us understand the complexity of the obvious.1

In the suburb to which I had inevitably moved with my young family, staying home wasn’t so difficult: we had a backyard and a basement to relieve the boredom – easier than in an apartment in the city. Taking a walk was simply an extension of the realm of isolation. And yet, on each of my outings I dreamed of the density of the city, even though it was suffering the economic consequences of the pandemic. I would have liked to encounter passers-by who weren’t surprised to be walking, rather than driving, around their neighbourhood, or to enter a public space such as a store or a library and emerge from it in an unexpected, unpredictable state, but it was becoming less and less possible – eventually it was banned after a certain time of day – to stroll about. Walking, like, living somewhere, is a socially differentiated practice…

1 Without making an exhaustive list, I’ll note mainly Georg Simmel, “The Metropolis and the Life of Spirit by Georg Simmel: A New Translation,” trans. John D. Boy, Journal of Classical Sociology 21, No. 2 (May 2021), 188–202, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/epub/10.1177/1468795X20980638; Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (New York: Anchor Books, 1959); Michel de Certeau, Luce Giard, and Pierre Mayol, The Practice of Everyday Life, Volume 2, trans. Timothy J. Tomasik (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998).


[ Complete issue, in print and digital version, available here: Ciel variable 121 – WANDERINGS ]
[ Complete article and more images, in digital version, available here: Stay Home; Take a Walk, Michel Hardy-Vallée ]