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The Wander Society

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Published by Penguin Books on 2016-03-29
Hardcover: $20.00
HEALTH and FITNESS, SELF-HELP, HOUSE and HOME, CRAFTS and HOBBIES, SCIENCE, BODY, MIND and SPIRIT, FAMILY and RELATIONSHIPS


wan·der
verb  \ˈwän-dər\
to walk/explore/amble in an unplanned or aimless way with a complete openness to the unknown
 
Several years ago when Keri Smith, bestselling author of  Wreck This Journal, discovered cryptic handwritten notations in a worn copy of Walt Whitman’s  Leaves of Grass, her interest was piqued. Little did she know at the time that those simple markings would become the basis of a years-long, life-changing exploration into a mysterious group known only as The Wander Society, as well as the subject of this book.

Within these pages, you’ll find the results of Smith’s research: A guide to the Wander Society, a secretive group that holds up the act of wandering, or unplanned exploring, as a way of life. You’ll learn about the group’s mysterious origins, meet fellow wanderers through time, discover how wandering feeds the creative mind, and learn how to best practice the art of wandering, should you choose to accept the mission.
(Hardcover, 2016-03-29)
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ASIN: 0143108360
ISBN: 9780143108368
EAN: 9780143108368

ACTIVITY FROM AROUND THE WEB

When Smith (The Imaginary World of…, 2014, etc.) stumbled across an old copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass in a used bookstore and found some handwritten notes in the book, a wave of excitement went through her body. What did "WW will show you the way," "Solivitur ambulando," or the small thunderbolt symbol under the words "The Wander Society" mean? Determined to learn more, the author spent considerable ...

The amusing and informative philosophy of a hidden culture that proposes that wandering is the key to a soulful life.

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THE WANDER SOCIETY Keri Smith is a contemporary artist and the author of the international bestseller Wreck This Journal. Her work spans a broad range of media, including drawing, sculpture, public art, and book making. She lives in New England with her family.

THE WANDER SOCIETY Keri Smith PENGUIN BOOKS

PENGUIN BOOKS An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC 375 Hudson Street New York, New York 10014 penguin.com Copyright ? 2016 by Keri Smith Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader. ISBN 978-0-14-310836-8 Printed in the United States of America 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 Set in Chronicle Text G4, Glypha LT Pro, and Metallophile Sp8 Designed by Keri Smith and Sabrina Bowers While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers, Internet addresses, and other contact information at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

This book is dedicated to all of the wanderers who have gone before and those who have yet to begin. Solvitur Ambulando.

| XI CONTENTS INTRODUCTION BY KERI SMITH .................................................. XV FOREWORD BY PROFESSOR J. TINDLEBAUM ............................. XXV WELCOME ..................................................................................... 1 THE WANDERING PRECEPTS (A KIND OF MANIFESTO) ................. 3 THE NATURE OF WANDERING A Brief Definition of Wandering ..................................................... 7 Wandering as Metaphor ................................................................... 8 What Wandering Is Not About ....................................................... 9 The Philosophy of Wandering ....................................................... 11 The Importance of Randomness .................................................. 15 The Mystical Nature of Wandering ............................................. 19 The Truth About Boredom ............................................................ 31 How to Summon the Spirits of Fellow Wanderers ................... 35 Fellow Wanderers (An Incomplete List) .................................... 38

XII | XII | CONTENTS THE WANDER SOCIETY'S TACTICAL GUIDE The Wandering Essentials ............................................................. 55 Unplanned Time .............................................................................. 59 Secrecy, or How to Be Invisible .................................................... 63 Observation, or Nature as Teacher .............................................. 65 Wandering Meditation ................................................................... 69 The Wanderer and Technology .................................................... 70 Read, or Wandering Library, or the Gateway to Other Worlds ............................................................................... 72 Skill Building, or Becoming an Autodidact ............................... 75 WANDERING INITIATION Setting Out ........................................................................................ 81 The Portable Research Station ..................................................... 82 On Creating a Uniform ................................................................... 85 How to Find a Talisman ................................................................. 87 How to Have a Deep Rest in the Midst of Wandering .............. 88 How to Invoke the Inner Wanderer in Any Situation ............. 91 ASSIGNMENTS/RESEARCH/FIELD WORK Document Everything .................................................................... 95 Slow Wandering ............................................................................... 96 Wanderer's Filmography ............................................................... 97

| XIII CONTENTS | XIII Color Tracking .................................................................................. 98 Sound Tracking ................................................................................ 99 Wandering Drawings .................................................................... 100 Time Log .......................................................................................... 102 Perception Hacking ....................................................................... 103 Document the Wind ...................................................................... 104 Find the Slant of Light .................................................................. 105 Find Something That Has Been Transformed ....................... 106 Hunt for Water/Moisture ............................................................ 108 One Thing ........................................................................................ 109 Same and Different .........................................................................110 Psychogeography ............................................................................112 Leave Behinds ..................................................................................114 Leaving Symbols .............................................................................115 Wandering by Bicycle ....................................................................117 Seek Out Spirits Hiding in Plain Sight .......................................118 How to Incorporate Randomness ...............................................119 Imaginary Wandering .................................................................. 120 The Art of Getting Lost .................................................................121 Create a Temenos ........................................................................... 123 Library Wandering ........................................................................ 124 Random Painting ........................................................................... 125 Outdoor Studio: Tinkering with Things/ Found Materials ....................................................................... 126 Listening While Wandering ........................................................ 127 Following/Tracking ...................................................................... 128 The Quest of the Rambling Wanderer ...................................... 130

XIv | XI v | CONTENTS HOW-TO SECTION How to Make a Wander Badge .................................................... 135 How to Carve a Wandering Stick ................................................ 136 How to Knit a Wrist Cuff .............................................................. 138 How to Sew a Neck Pouch ............................................................ 142 How to Make a Wander Belt Pouch ............................................ 144 How to Make a Wandering Notebook ....................................... 148 How and Why to Make a Wander Society Station .................. 153 Useful Knots ................................................................................... 158 WANDER SOCIETY LEXICON ...................................................... 159 LEAVE BEHIND QUOTES ............................................................. 161 EXCERPT FROM LEAVES OF GRASS ............................................. 169 THE WANDERER'S CREED ........................................................... 171 WANDER SYMBOLS KEY ............................................................. 172 R'S BROOKLYN STORY ................................................................ 175

| Xv INTRODUCTION Dear Reader, About two years ago, I was browsing in a favorite dusty old bookshop, one that I frequent when I am in need of a random book find. On this particular day I found myself in the poetry section and picked up a worn hardback copy of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. As I began to flip through the pages, I noticed some handwriting in the book. On the inside cover was written 'WW will show you the way.' On the title page was scribbled 'Solvitur ambulando,' and underneath that, 'The Wander Society? with a small thunderbolt symbol. Fanning through the pages, I found some underlined passages and several more interesting-looking symbols in the margins. After seeing this I found myself a bit winded and excited. It seemed that this particular volume had its own mystery embedded in its pages. What was the Wander Society? What did the random phrase mean? I wanted to find out more. I carried the book up to the register and excitedly paid the clerk the fifteen dollars. I left hurriedly, feeling like I had just received a secret message from the universe, determined to find out as much as I could about the Wander Society. I started with a Google search and uncovered a website for the Wander Society. I hoped it would provide a clue into the group's reason for being. I'll admit: Part of me was prepared to be disappointed, thinking that perhaps this was some kind of promotional campaign for a large uncaring corporation. But when I plugged the URL into the browser, I was greeted with

XvI | INTRODUCTION a black page featuring only a white thunderbolt in the middle of the page. Nothing was clickable. Next, I looked up 'Solvitur ambulando.' The phrase was Latin, and translated to 'It is solved by walking.' Interesting, but I still wasn't sure what came next. This was clearly going to take a little more detective work'possibly a lot more. But where to go now? I decided to consult Walt Whitman. He was the source of my discovery after all, and I was intrigued by the message 'WW will show you the way.' I should preface the next few paragraphs with the fact that I have limited training in literature. Aside from high school, and both an English literature and poetry class in college, I am basically self-taught. But having worked for upwards of twenty years in bookstores, I do consider myself fairly well read. In my twenties and thirties, I devoured as much classical literature as I could, determined to uncover the keys to existence in the classics of philosophy, Eastern religions, com parative mythology, postmodern theory, cultural theory, and more. In a period that I referred to as 'my research,' I dove headfirst into works by Socrates, Spinoza, Baudrillard, Benjamin, Barthes, Certeau, Debord, Derrida, Foucault, Eco, Emerson, Husserl, Nietzsche, Sartre, Thoreau, Watts, Steinbeck, Kerouac, Campbell, and Capra just to name a few. However, despite all of my reading during that time, I am sad to say I never sat down with Whitman. I had read about him in the poetry class and been exposed to a couple of his most popular poems, but the rest of his work somehow eluded my gaze. When I think about it now, his absence during this time seems strange. He definitely frequents a lot of the same circles of literature I was dipping into. But I believe that the right books come to you at a time when you are ready to read them, and I've come to think I wasn't ready for Whitman. Yet. And so, it is in this way that I came to spend a sun-dappled afternoon on a hammock with Leaves of Grass. Only a few other times in my life have I been so moved by a book. Marquez's

INTRODUCTION | XvII

XvIII | INTRODUCTION Love in the Time of Cholera, Kerouac's The Dharma Bums, Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, and a few others left me with a feeling that my heart had just expanded a couple of sizes. Somehow these books sit in your body and leave it altered in a way that is ineffable. But reading Walt took that experience further. It was in many ways a physical experience: my chest ached, my breath quickened, and my face flushed. But it was also like the act of reading it was literally causing my soul to open. The best way I can describe first reading Whitman is that it was similar to the sensation of falling in love with someone. You inhabit the world with a giddiness and a joy, as if just existing in the world makes you feel like you are going to explode. (Even now, writing this feels inadequate, the words clich'd.) Reading Walt Whitman woke up a part of me that wants to run and yell and punch things. It's a feeling similar to when I am working on a creative project and a new idea comes in, and I know I am fully alive and awake and ready to take over the world. I felt like Walt was speaking directly to me in such a close, intimate way, sharing all of his secrets, giving me access to another plane of consciousness, one that I had only scratched the surface of in all of my research. As I moved through Leaves of Grass, I noticed the following passage was underlined: I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun, I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags. I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles. You will hardly know who I am or what I mean, But I shall be good health to you nevertheless, And filter and fibre your blood. Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged, Missing me one place search another, I stop somewhere waiting for you.

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