The Case for Loitering

Anandi Mishra in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

As the pandemic raged in 2020, my boyfriend and I were confined within the closed quarters of my two-bedroom flat in Delhi. When the claustrophobia got too heavy, I would step out to rediscover the pleasure of walking with a sense of calm. I would try — and regularly fail — to meet my pre-pandemic mark of eight kilometers every day. It was not a means to an end. I did not have a grand plan. It was just a way to be a part of the city.

“Aimlessness — in art, in life, in writing, in thought, in being — is always more than the lack it names.” So begins Tom Lutz’s most recent collection of essays, Aimlessness. He takes the reader on a journey, knocking on several doors and discovering that all are answered by the same protagonist: the aimless way of life. Stops on the journey include his travels in Mongolia, the Polish author Olga Tokarczuk, the Los Angeles émigré Theodor Adorno, and Friedrich Nietzsche. But his real subject is the unspooling of discursive thought, particularly that seen in writing.

Wandering through the streetscapes of the three most prominent forms of literature — the essay, the poem, and the novel — Lutz finds they all follow a sly, if not obvious, routine of aimlessness.

More here.