Drifting

Drifting, a Newsletter on Wandering

8 December 2022

Jeremy Bassetti Jeremy Bassetti
Drifting Newsletter
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About Drifting, the newsletter

Tell me if this has happened to you.

You travel to someplace new but, for whatever reason, you don’t check the guidebooks, review sites, or blogs. You step into the unknown all alone, wander aimlessly, and… it’s great.

Same.

My favorite experiences happened when I let go of all expectations, when I embraced the unknown, or when my plans went awry. Without the crutch of other people, I met strangers and I made surprising friendships; I felt alive.

I want more of that in my life: more wandering, more following my own whims, more serendipity, more alone time, and more meaningful experiences.

Can you relate?

This newsletter will try to tap into this energy. It will be a series of cloud-headed, experimental, random, and hopefully atypical dispatches that will be infused with literal and literary wandering. It will touch on topics like getting lost, solitude, serendipity, and connection.

And, there will be photos.

Drifting?

Why “Drifting”?

Post-war intellectuals in Paris used the word drifting (dérive) to signify a practice of encountering a world they found increasingly besieged by mass media, “spectacle,” and consumer capitalism.

Because these French intellectuals, known as Situationists, were Marxists, they believed capitalism was more than an economic model; it was something that also controlled our everyday lives. From our culture to the arts, from urban planning to language, capitalism — they believed — directed our world and our experience of it.

For them, the drift was an approach to experience and engage with a place in a way that is not guided by market forces. When speaking about the people involved in a drift, the Situationist Guy Debord wrote that they drop “all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find.”1

The word “drifting” might imply aimless wandering, but for the Situationists it meant engaged wandering. It was to conscientiously resist the capitalist mode of interacting with the world and to be fully present in our experience of a place.

Of course, I’m not a Marxist. And the idea of the dérive is much more than a series of chance encounters or nonsequitors. But I find the idea to be an interesting approach to experiencing a place and, more importantly, an interesting approach to experiencing life, especially in a world besieged by “constant contact,” mass/social media, and user-generated content.2

Join me as we try to forge deeper, more meaningful connections in this world.

Let’s turn inward. Let’s find ourselves surprised. Let’s drift, together.

Subscribe to Drifting

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  1. Bureau of Public Secrets. http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/2.derive.htm↩︎

  2. I’ll have more to say about this last point another time, but if you’re familiar with the work of Ortega y Gasset, you can imagine what I might say. ↩︎