ValerieLyn's Reviews > A Field Guide to Getting Lost

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
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really liked it
Recommended for: wanderers

I am obsessed with reading about nomadism. About place, the the experience we have as we move through it, about topography, how it reveals us while simultaneously revealing itself, about wandering, how our thoughts work when we move. Solnit is a fantastic author in this vein.

Remember those rambling conversations that you had late late late into the night at some coffee shop when you were not yet twenty something, or maybe you were just, when you were discovering (inventing!?) philosophy, and you managed to link almost everything in the known universe together with some kindred soul, over endless refills and bad french fries, and then you went home, to bed, with a mixture of melancholy, world weariness, hope and the soft satisfaction of a job well done?

Solnit rambles this way. Her sources are wide and varied, from the accounts of Cabeza de Vaca as he wandered an undiscovered west, to her father's own master plan for Marin County, to a buddhist abbott's sermon, to her own dreams and recollections. Ideas nest in other ideas, and they are all connected, nesting in songs, childhood memories, lost photos, artistic projects, dreams, cultural myths, historical anecdote, and recollections of moments. Sometimes she explains, sometimes jumpcuts. It is the exact pace of walking, the same rhythm of thinking while moving.

Solnit writes about the personal experience of place, and about the layers of memory, memoir, history, and association that places have for each of us. Or maybe better said, what places cause in each of us. It finally occurred to me, in the last pages of the book, what she might be doing. All these disparate elements that she brings into the book
might otherwise be lost. Her dead high school friend, the abbott's sermon, her thoughts about the American West. She is all over the place, but has created a single spot for all of it. By weaving these snippets together and giving them a place, she ensures that they will not be lost.

PS It is fabulous synchronicity that I found and read this book at the same time as Psychogeography; they are utterly different and complementary, two perspectives on the same thing.

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Reading Progress

April 9, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
April 13, 2008 – Finished Reading

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Louis Profeta On a biz trip to India I went off alone as a nomad wanderer would and traveled on a blue rickety bus, no knowing where I was going. Suddenly I saw a temple from the mud stained windows. Got off the bus and entered a Hindu temple during a adoration of the idol, an experience I will never forget being welcomed as never before as a wanderer.

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