Walking in the World: Zhuang Zhu and Frédéric Gros

A Taoist sage said: ‘Feet on the ground occupy very little space; it’s through all the space they don’t occupy that we can walk.’ …

Zhuang Zhu also meant that the feet as such are small pieces of space, but their vocation (‘walking’) is to articulate the world’s space.  The size of the foot, the gap between the legs, have no role, are never lined up anywhere.  But they measure all the rest.   Our feet form a compass that has no useful function, apart from evaluating distance.  The legs survey. Their stride constitutes a serviceable measurement.

In the end to say that it’s through what remains to me of the journey that I can walk makes obvious reference to the Taoist void: that void that isn’t empty nothingness but pure virtuality, a void creating inspiration and play, like the play of letters and sounds that makes the life of words.  Walking in that way articulates the depths of the space and brings the landscape to life.

Frédéric Gros, A Philosophy of Walking, pp 185-186


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