“Being with the wild”, a natural quest

be with the savage

by Arnaud Villani

Salamander editions, 106 p., €19

“To survey the Earth, in all directions, at any age, is to live there”, writes Arnaud Villani, poet and philosopher whose last issue plunges us into the world of trees, forests, paths, lakes, clouds… In this celebration of walking and counting, the book takes us on unexpected paths of a paradox which, unceasingly, pursues the author and the reader: to approach the savage with word-concepts to describe the abandonment and the emotions which one can find along the way. An endless and yet successful quest in the book.

→ CRITICAL. “Among the trees. Essay on living together”, by Alexis Jenni

Based on a fine and sensitive approach, Arnaud Villani succeeds in translating phenomena, emotions, relationships with the world which, although intimate and personal, are shared by many walkers. Everything rings true. “From the very first steps, I put on a silky combination of lights, shadows and crumpled foliage. This leotard, far from getting in the way of my armholes, is as if it underlined the efforts of my muscles, shaping and flattering them. » You have to let yourself be jostled, at random during the walk, by a dip in the icy bath of a mountain lake, this “transparent water stole”. Sensations so powerful, so exhilarating that they crush the weight of the muscles and transform the exercise.

“Saving Ensavagery”

By changing our view of the world, this “saving wildness” is at the same time much more than an abandonment, than a lesson in modesty. It will reach our unconscious and the choice of our words. These experiences transform us in depth. “I know the warmth of the sun on my face as an unmistakable reality. Force of ancient things which, unwittingly, spread wisdom” writes Arnaud Villani.

Such an adventure is not limited to the moment experienced by everyone. It has gone through history and marked thousands of men and women, living in ancient times in the great outdoors. They knew “taste the bouquet, the spicy, the woody, the fruity of joy”. Unlike the mortal experience ofInto the Wild, it is always a matter of knowing where “we set foot”.

These inhabitants of the forest, trappers, scouts in search of the Northwest Passage, had understood this. Their life and their language, although rough, carried a beautiful energy, stripped of clumsy concepts. “To love nature means to love the real” argues Arnaud Villani. The walkers whose “the brain and the imagination work as much as the legs” may not say otherwise.

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