Image of the Week: The Red Thread

DSC05784b.jpgA rainy day in Waterford I spotted this piece of red cord snagged my eye. The image appealed, not only the scarlet against the grey but how it had fallen into the grooves created by the cobbles. I thought of the invisible structures that control our path through life and whether we are really free.

It brought to mind the concept of paths of desire  – which sounds like the title of a poem by Kahil Gibran or a line from Sog of Songs. It is a concept referred to by architects to delineate the paths that people naturally take to get from one point to another. Think of a large, square green in a housing estate surrounded on all four sides by a footpath and houses. Then see the path worn across the grass diagonally by thousands of feet proceeding from point A to point B by the fastest route. That is a path of desire. More practical than magical it is not so much Kahil Gibran as Cahill O’Brien. Why it is related to architecture is hard to say as most paths of desire appear despite the surrounding architecture – even to spite it – and are in fact underlined by it.

Related to this idea is Michel de Certeau’s Walking in the City. De Certeau describes a city as being more than the bricks and mortar we see. It is made up of layers of the paths each denizen of the city has taken – imncluding the foxes, the cats, the birds – from far in the past to the present. The well travelled paths and those less so. The habitual journeys and the unique ones. Some of these paths remain only in the street names or the nature of the buildings but remain they do and added to each day by each of us.

I think then of The Red ThreadDe Rode Draad – which was an advocacy group for prostitutes in The Netherlands fromed in 1985. It was designed to protect and strengthen the position of sex workers, to inform about human trafficking, violence against women (and men), and health issues and so on. As practical as this seems to me, The Red Thread was sometimes controversial.  The Red Thread was declared bankrupt in 2012.

And so it is all about desire the good and the bad of it, desire to get from one place to another, the desire to be free or to be guided, the desire of one person for another, the desire to protect and to harm…

A rainy grey day, a piece of cord, a flood of thoughts. Eat your heart out Proust…

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