Saturday, November 25, 2017

Trivia: Or, The Art of Walking the Streets of London (1716)

In the postlapsarian lansdscape of the metropolis, with its 'winding alleys' and 'long perplexing Lanes' as well as is 'spacious Streets', the poet's ambition, in an almost oxymoronic formulation, is to 'securely stray'.  The Old French verb 'to stray'. which was once thought to derive from the Latin noun strata, meaning 'street', signifies movement that escapes confinement or control, and hints in addition at moral deviance.  But this pedestrian proposes, paradoxically, to remain safe and free from apprehension in thus erring or straying. It is a difficult and delicate equilibrium to achieve, and it is only possible with the guidance of Trivia, the Roman goddess of crossroads.  At one point (John) Gay refers to her as his 'vagrant Muse'.  She is the patron saint of psychogeographers.

                                                                                    Matthew Beaumon -  Nightwalking

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