Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category

The Brooklyn Dérive – A Texan Falls Back in Love With the Wander

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Our graphic designer, Teddy shares some thoughts about living in Brooklyn…

As a new Brooklynite, one of the things I find most charming about living here is getting lost in Brooklyn – not the metaphorical gesture – like getting “lost in love”, but literally getting lost. Having no idea where you are. On the second night of my arrival here a year and a half ago, after a few drinks with friends, I ended up getting separated from them in the middle of Brooklyn. On top of that, my contact lenses had dried up and fallen out and my phone had died, so there I was – second night in an unfamiliar city, completely lost and halfway blind on top of that. For some reason though, I felt a great sense of ease.

In the 1940s, The Situationist International, a loose group of Parisian revolutionaries, artists, and poets coined the term dérive to describe an unplanned wander through the streets of Paris. Their goal was not to end up at any particular destination, but to create experiences. They used the feelings of neighborhoods and streets to design their own psychogeography. They even drew up maps of their (sometimes vin-soaked) wanderings. This is what one of their maps looked like:

In Manhattan, it’s exceedingly easy to not get lost. Gridded streets and extreme vertical cues easily guide you directly to your intended destination. In Brooklyn though, it’s far easier to curve down the streets into a quiet alley full of interesting shops, or through multiple ethnic enclaves. I love passing by out of the way artist studios and talking to strangers that I would never normally pass going from A to B. In Manhattan, every inch is staked. In Brooklyn, there is space to get lost. In that sense, Brooklyn is not that different from Texas.

Looking lost in the Ellis Peacoat