Desire Paths

The above picture is an overhead shot taken of different surburban neighbourhoods revealing the deviations from the established paths taken by the residents as they make their way through their local spaces. Gaston Bachelard called these ‘Desire Paths’,

“A desire path is a path created by usage, not a pre-determined path. Normally these paths are created by people taking shortcuts across fields to get from point A to point B more quickly”.  Gaston Bachelard

Departing from the predetermined path embodies much of Bachelard’s ideas in the Poetics of Space.  Although an established path of science knowledge and rationality has been laid down it may not provide the best way to reach a goal or destination and may ultimately become confining and limiting.  For Bachelard, allowing the familiar to inspire the new daydream opens up other possibilities.

It’s in branching off the established path and creatively following your own footsteps that new ways are discovered and new ground covered.  Although it is true that new paths soon become inscribed behind us, they still serve as a valuable reminder to look beyond the familiar.  Many of the theorists I have explored in this space started down the pathways inscribed by their fellow theorists only to deviate at some point to follow ‘their desire’ and in doing so creating  new paths.



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