more clearly as the visual sensoria fades. Beaumont’s
emotional distraction morphs into distracted walking
– pedestrians consulting illuminated mobile devices.
However, the night walk was recognised as political,
by the pychogeographist Guy Debord and other
radical intellectuals of the 1950s Lettrist International,
who viewed the dérive or aimless stroll as a means of
countering the monotony of life under capitalism.
In his seminal essay The Right to the City, David
Harvey described the ways in which the neoliberal
city requires not gradual but violent transformation –
including of the night – for economic benefit, through
means such as Nights in the Big City author Joachim
Schlor’s ‘entertainment topography.’
Dunn exclaimed that, ‘things are metrications –
all measured, quantified, not dormant. These are
interruptions into what I want to do. Walking is a form
of protest. The act is subtly subversive.’
Are we losing our necessary, implacable, dark sides?
While apps such as Google Street View make even
remote, unvisited daylit streets known to us, night-streets, an alternate condition, have not been mapped,
classified or indexed.
Dunn and Harvey, read together, infuse the walking
mind with dichotomous states: the ontological (state
of being, the self) and political (musings on the
‘absurdities of neoliberalism’ and so on).
In this moment, my thoughts turn to Dunn’s comment
on human primal fear of the unknown: ‘the monstrous
night’. Jonathan Crary opines in his orange neon-jacketed manifesto 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends
of Sleep (2014), that sleep as a ‘restorative withdrawal’
from the ‘intensified, ubiquitous consumerism and
emerging strategies of control and surveillance’ is
incompatible with 24/7 capitalism, the around-the-clock production machine. Meanwhile, Frederic Gros
in his poetic A Philosophy of Walking (2014), refers to
Jean-Jacques Rousseau: ‘while walking he was master
of his imaginings.’
Contemporary night’s walking and sleeping dreams
have evolved into temporal states of freedom.
Night-time, perhaps, is the last bastion of culture,
freedom and the time/place where we can do whatever
the hell we want.
On Charlotte Street, daylight further darkens, interior
restaurants brighten and glitter, international, charivari
voices fill aural space. Sidewalk shadows flicker and
animate, headlights glisten, and the jewels of night –
neon, LED indicators and tabletop candles – scintillate.
In his discourse, Beaumont uses a painting analogy
when he proclaims night as field and the city walk
as figure. He refers to literature of the night as ‘through
a glass darkly’.
‘The right to the city is far more than
the individual liberty to access urban
resources: it is a right to change
ourselves by changing the city’