Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Final Wander

Gérard de Nerval’s ‘final wander’ towards a ‘beckoning star’ ended in a macabre, picturesque self-initiated interruption of life, a sacrificial spectacle of self-annihilation, suspended in the air like a sacrificial causality of ritual; dangling from the balcony of a stranger—his feet elevated above the ground where he once trudged. The next morning the sun came up, the grass still grew, as the birds sang for the dead and the living, alike. Perhaps he inspired Camus to ask what he thought the ultimate philosophical question, or perhaps the arduous walk through his renascent childhood dreamscapes led him into a maze of tangled emotions that only finality that offered sufficient succor. Time for Nerval, as he was known, came to a stop, which was surely marked by a hunk of cold chiseled stone—a return to the earth. Is this tragic or simply the absurdity of humanity's desire for order, meaning, and purpose. 

Our author asks “do we know why we walk?”  Nerval’s story lives on, and the question remains.

DQ: Why do those who walk out of something other than necessity do it?

"I am a wanderer and mountain-climber, said he to his heart, I love not the plains, and it seemeth I cannot long sit still. And whatever may still overtake me as fate and experience— a wandering will be therein, and a mountain-climbing: in the end one experienceth only oneself." ~ Thus Spake Zarathhustra


  1. Nerval seems to have had mental challenges that walking alone could not solve, thus displaying the danger of trusting one's health and sanity to only one form of therapy - even the best. Camus's Sisyphus was a better role model, but I still can't quite imagine him "happy" either. Nor Nietzsche. I like to think instead of James on Mt. Chocorua or Mt. Marcy in the Adirondacks, alone or with a hiking party, cheerful and delighted to be away from what he considered the artificial demands of teaching (to be a walking encyclopedia of erudition). He would not have agreed that we're doomed to isolate ourselves in resentful solitude, that we must "experienceth only oneself."

  2. One is definitely responsible for their own mental health. The solitude of walking for some brings about peace because it allows them to gather their thoughts, while some others are afraid of being alone. Perhaps Nerval was a human being, within whom, solitude opened a door of pain and anguish that upon overthinking brought about his demise. Emotions are such a strange concept as I have been investigating with my reopening of previous studies within the Philosophy of Mind. Perhaps too much walking solidified a routine that was a constant downward spiral upon conclusion resulted in a deathly discovery. As with anything there is responsibility and self-knowledge and awareness is vital, in every sense of the word.