Defining My Flaneurism

Posted: January 13, 2014 in Uncategorized
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By Jane Wendorff Craps, English Faculty.

I instantly fell in love with the title of our beguiling CLA blog: The Flaneur’s Turtle. Maybe it was the monocled, top-hatted Anglo-Saxonite image that was introduced with the blog. I’ve always thought I was born in the wrong country; I’m a closet Anglophile.

Quite honestly, I had to look up what flaneur meant, and it wasn’t in my 1975 edition of Webster, which is always kept on my desk for quick reference, so I had to high-tail it to the 21st century and “Google it.” I’ve always thought I was born in the wrong century; I believe Geoffrey Chaucer and I would have been best pals in high school.


Jane Wendorff-Craps?

I discovered I may actually be a “flaneur”—an idler or loafer, according to The whole idea of “loaf” reeks of negativity, thanks to Jenny Jocks-Stelzer’s Facebook post on those 1970’s recipes inspired by gelatinizing meats, veggies, and fruits into idle loafs of uneaten globs on a plate.  I’ve always thought gelatin was weird science; I’m a left-brain language lover.

By all descriptions of me provided by others, it seems as though I often become one with my couch while befriending a book, magazine, or the Turner Classic Movie channel. I never considered it “loafing,” though. The online dictionary says a loafer is one who “idles time away,” but reading and classic movies aren’t idle hobbies. I’ll sit on my couch and argue that all day long; I’ve never been one to get up for no good reason.

A “loafer” has a connotative connection to “good-for-nothing.” So let us adjust the definition of flaneur to an idler or a lounger—one who sits or stands in a relaxed way. Relaxed is good; I like to relax.

As for turtle, I’m not so sure what the affection is to that animal. It is cold blooded, it retracts its head (more weird science), and it has sharp toenails, not conducive to snuggling under warm, cotton sheets. However, it does house itself in a cool shell with a unique design. Not to mention, there is an entertaining and timeless cartoon about four turtles named after Renaissance artists—heroes in a half-shell, turtle power!

Turtles make great soup, too. I like soup; who doesn’t?!

But there is no denying that turtles move slowly, hence a direct connection to loafer. They do appear to be relaxed as well, hence a direct connection to lounger. I wonder if this has anything to do with the Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare where the relaxed, unworried tortoise wins the race, all because he was relaxed and focused on his goal… which begs the question, is a tortoise a turtle? Back to Google. There is one major difference: a turtle is a water dweller, and a tortoise is a land dweller.

d_blumin_streetparis2000-thAs a kid, I probably spent more time in the water—living near a lake, going to summer camp, bathing daily. As an adult, sadly, I definitely spend more time on land. Not by choice, though. I’ve always thought I lived in the wrong state; Hawaii has more water.

Now back to the elusive Flaneur’s Turtle: the best darned blog this side of the Mississippi. In kindergarten, we learn “when all else fails, read the instructions.” In the “About” section of the blog, readers will discover the meaning behind the name. The historic, Parisian flaneur was known for walking his turtle around the streets of the city, which then gives him plenty of time to gaze, smell the roses, and enjoy all that Paris has to offer. I’ve always wanted to go to Paris; I took French classes on the high hopes of fulfilling that lifelong dream.

I find the image of a man, in a double-breasted wool coat, tailored knickers—oh wait, that is British—tailored pantaloons, polished shoes, and a leashed reptile quite exciting, nay sensational! It could easily be Lionel Barrymore, Clark Gable, or Charles Coburn… more likely, Charles Boyer, we are in France you know. Why, my pulse ever quickens with the thought, and I didn’t even have to get up off the couch to make that happen. I wish I liked doing cardio as much as watching old movies; wait, no I don’t.

There are many Flaneur Turtle fans out there, as rising blog “Likers” indicate. These “Likers” come from near and far and are not limited to the Liberal Arts arena. What makes us flaneur and what makes us turtles certainly varies, too, which is great. The blog speaks to all kinds, and the blog serves several purposes, not to be confused with porpoises. That is a different blog. I like the second purpose labeled “B”: to explore and discuss topics and ideas. I’m not much of a talker, but writing is even better than talking since it is way more reflective. It seems to be more formal as well; I like formal.

Maybe that’s why this turtle enjoys old movies where people dress for dinner, slap someone with a glove when they are angry, or tell someone off using no curse words, which sounds so much worse than the “f” word sometimes. I tip my hat to my fellow flaneurs as I am perched comfortably on my couch, lounging with my cat. I’m not yet aged (please read that with two syllables, as if Cary Grant said it) enough to submit to the senile idea of a pet turtle, or maybe not lonely enough, or maybe I’ve never liked reptiles. I’ll settle for a Flaneur Turtle.


  1. liliandruve says:


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