The Pedestrian • Editor's Blog
Thanks to everyone who supported The Pedestrian this past year. Regrettably, the journal is going on hiatus until more resources can be found to support it. During the hiatus content will continue to be posted to the blog and The Pedestrian's Facebook page. If you would like to be one of the first to hear when publication resumes with Issue No. 3, please subscribe to the blog's RSS feed or become a fan of the Facebook page where the announcement will be posted.
Thanks again for your interest in The Pedestrian.
Lesley Dame reviews The Pedestrian No. 1 at NewPages.com. Take a look.
The Pedestrian is dedicated to immortalizing what some may view as a dying art, the essay. With the rise of creative nonfiction, the essay has been sorely missing from many modern journals. The existence of this magazine is promising, and, like any good essay, ripe with curiosity, wonder, and philosophy.
From The Pedestrian No. 2, Jenn Brisendine essays on the use of Shakespeare for coping with the day-to-day challenges of being a mom:
You’d be amazed at the number of references to the mighty works of Will that come up around here. Suitable lines surface with a curious immediacy: “Come not between the dragon and his wrath,” I’ll warn my husband of the baby in a fussy mood. Or, a personal favorite of mine, “Oh hell! What have we here?” – a perfect line to use at the discovery of a suddenly-appearing mystery pile of Lumpy Something on the carpet.
A nice article by Sarah Bakewell, author of How To Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty-One Answers, in the Paris Review: “What Bloggers Owe Montaigne".
From the essay “Auscultation” by Steven Church, one of three original essays included in The Pedestrian No. 2:
Recall the ice-cold press of the metal disc against your cavity, the sting and soft burn as it warms on your clavicle, your breastbone, fingers moving metal across your naked chest, around behind, fingertips stepping down your spine, one hand on your hip, maybe your shoulder, the other sliding around your rib-cage, always, always with the whispered command, breathe … breathe … good, and the eyes staring not at you but at the cold diaphragm, the metallic spot on your body, listening as if your body possesses a voice of its own and speaks in a language only others understand.
A sponge bath, a scrap of sturdy ash plywood from a dresser drawer abandoned at curbside, eight scavenged brass screws to attach the plywood to the underside of the seat, and a black magic marker to mask the spatters of white paint: this is how the chair was rescued.
From the essay “Scavenging” by Jonathan Franzen in his collection How to be Alone: essays (Picador, 2003), an essay in which Franzen scavenges an old essay and refinishes it like he did a discarded chair. The essay is reprinted in The Pedestrian No. 2, which is forthcoming.
Phyllis Rose, in her essay “Tools of Torture", takes a candid look at the dark side of tools, a look that is all the more chilling for exposing the historically mundane and pragmatic process of torture – a process that is not so different from that of beautification, like a trip to the spa. The essay, from her collection Never Say Goodbye (1991), is reprinted in The Pedestrian No. 2, out in December. The essay begins:
“In a gallery off the rue Dauphine, near the parfumerie where I get my massage, I happened upon an exhibit of medieval torture instruments. It made me think that pain must be as great a challenge to the human imagination as pleasure. Otherwise there’s no accounting for the number of torture instruments. One would be quite enough. …”
E. B. White is perhaps best known as the author of books for children, such as Charlotte's Web or Stuart Little. But he was also a masterfully entertaining essayist – not to mention an exemplar of pedestrianism. Issue No. 2 of The Pedestrian (Tools) includes three essays by White, each of which considers life on his Maine farm. From the essay “The Practical Farmer”:
“A good farmer is nothing more nor less than a handy man with a sense of humus. The repair aspect of farming looms so large that, on a place like my own, which is not really a farm at all but merely a private zoo, sometimes months go by when nothing but repair goes on. … I have been fooling around this place for a couple of years, but nobody calls my activity agriculture. I simply like to play with animals. Nobody knows this better than I do – although my neighbors know it well enough and on the whole have been tolerant and sympathetic.”
From a classic essay, reprinted in the forthcoming issue on Tools:
All of these tools are a pleasure to look at and to hold. Merchants would never paste NEW NEW NEW! signs on them in stores. Their designs are old because they work, because they serve their purpose well. Like folksongs and aphorisms and the grainy bits of language, these tools have been pared down to essentials.
“The Inheritance of Tools”
First published in The North American Review (1986)
A writer in the familiar style speaks in an unbuttoned mood. He completely exposes his weakness, and is therefore disarming.
The relationship between writer and reader should not be one between an austere schoolmaster and his pupils, but one between friends. Only in this way can warmth be generated.
“The Familiar Style”
in The Importance of Living
There's a new font in use (for every visitor) at ThePedestrian.org thanks to the services of Typekit. The font, Apolline STD, has been fine-tuned to work well on the screen. It also perfectly compliments the typography of The Pedestrian's print edition, which makes use of venetian-style fonts like Adobe Jenson Pro and Centaur MT. Typekit also serves up a separate family of small-caps, allowing the website to make use of true small-caps rather than those created on the fly by different browsers. I hope that all of this adds up to a better, more elegant user experience.
Here's a link to learn more about Apolline STD or Typekit itself.
Tony Hiss, in the current issue of The American Scholar, has written a wonderful essay called “Wonderlust: how ‘deep travel’ opens our minds to the rich possibilities of ordinary experience.” As can be seen from the following quote, the essay exemplifies pedestrianism. Get the issue at your local bookstore; read the essay.
My expression for moments like this is deep travel. In an instant, our sense of the here and now that we're a part of expands exponentially, and everything around us is so vivid and intensely experienced that it's like waking up while already awake. … In my own deep travel, I've found that, once I reactivate it, even a long familiar route – like a walk through nearby streets – exists within such a fullness of brand-new or never-before-considered details and questions that I wonder how I ever had the capacity to exclude this information from consideration. …
Deep travel is not so much the enemy of the ordinary as it is an understanding that when you start to look closely there is no ordinary.
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