Why even bother with the names of streets? In a world of sound, the names of streets ring silent. They are dwarfed by the din of traffic, overwhelmed by thousands of diffuse sounds from the city hulking above. Market Street, for instance, beckons to be renamed every time I walk out onto it. My feet are willing to forget, but my head still wants to know: where am I going today?
East. The Lunchwalker needs not the guidance of familiar street names. It’s not as though these walks are to be repeated. Nor could they be. Tracing the footsteps of a previous day’s walk is not possible. (Although that would make a fascinating walk to attempt to do so, even memorizing the sounds as though scripted by iambic pentameter, and to recite and overlay the previous day’s walk upon a new day’s walk.) The soundtrack on a given day, at the same time and with the same route, will capriciously yield an entirely different experience. So I walk east, and I could walk east every day and still find new things to hear, new worlds of sound to discover even though the world we see appears much the same.
What is that funny thing about an urban walk which enables the feeling: “I’ve walked here many times and yet I’ve never seen that before.”? Getting lost in a familiar place is part of it. We all read the street signs and use them to familiarize ourselves with our whereabouts and communicate to others our experiences there. Practicality aside, the real advantage of an urban walk is ignoring precisely the need to communicate the location. Streets should be named instead for the sounds one may hear on them.
Discover the rest of the lunchwalk series at Soundscrapers.