Published on [Permalink]
Reading time: 2 minutes
Posted in:

On flaneuring


A French noun referring to a person, literally meaning “stroller”, “lounger”, “saunterer”, or “loafer”, but with some nuanced additional meanings (including as a loanword into English). Flânerie is the act of strolling, with all of its accompanying associations… Traditionally depicted as male, a flâneur is an ambivalent figure of urban affluence and modernity, representing the ability to wander detached from society with no other purpose than to be an acute observer of industrialized, contemporary life.

Flânerie has been anglicized into flaneuring, a term I first saw when Nassim Taleb described his strolls through Belgrade but which is popular enough to have had its segment on the Today Show, plugging a book that looks like something that I would never in my life touch, but hey, the concept is sound! Take a leisurely walk through the city without a destination or a particular plan. Don’t wear headphones. Do have a partner or two to share your observations.

It is exactly what we have been doing in Honolulu for the last few days and I mentioned off-handedly to my wife the Taleb post and the term. It clicked instantly, like “premium mediocre” did back in the day. What was once premium mediocre has become an unbridled luxury To keep the Talebian theme going, this is as clear of an example of the Lindy effect as any. — thank you, inflation — so we don’t mention the phrase much, but as long as there are cities there will be flaneuring.

Flaneuring goes hand in hand with good food. This is Waiola Shave Ice, Honolulu, HI.

Photo of the Waiola Shave Ice (literal) hole-in-the-wall storefront.

The non-touristy parts of DC — which is most of them, actually — would probably be in the US Top 5, which is damning with faint praise because the competition is so bad. It is a shame that it wouldn’t be the clear number 2 — with New York being the obvious number 1 — but DC is fairly small, and Chicago is even better for flaneuring than NYC for 3 months of the year. Of course, if we started taking weather into account Honolulu would soon rise to the top and overtake all; but as we are not effective altruists, let’s not.

✍️ Reply by email

✴️ Also on