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Excerpt from Walking Styxx: A Month of Psychogeographic Walks with a Greyhound

“Here begins a tale involving a dog, his doting father and their month of walks.

Styxx, shortened from his original name Firestyxx, is a greyhound. Or, more correctly he is a lurcher, the less romantic name for a greyhound mixed with a little bit of some other breed and used to race on “unofficial” dog tracks in the rural backwaters of states such as Ohio and Michigan. He has an unknown past and his age is pure guesswork (likely eight). But Styxx is every bit a greyhound, 80 pounds of muscle bound into a graceful Art Deco form.

My role as father to Styxx was accidental. The mother, my wife Gail, became enamored with greyhounds in mid-2013, the result of writing an article for the local community newspaper on Winnipeg’s greyhound rescue organization, Hi-Speed Hounds. That interest begat her need to adopt one. And along came Styxx into Gail’s life and ultimately into mine. For Styxx, it was the end of a long journey from his home in Ohio, where his owner surrendered him to a local kill shelter, to a sympathetic vet, to a series of underground-railway-style road trips to Winnipeg, to foster parents and finally to us. That was December 2013, one of the coldest of our cold winters and not an ideal time to introduce Styxx to the wonderful walking opportunities of his new home.

It’s now summer 2014 and Gail and I are out with Styxx on our daily long walks, criss-crossing our treed neighbourhood, heading out to distant sites, looking for varied sensory experiences for our dog, searching out hills to climb, rivers to cross, prairie to sniff. All this starting from the front door of our house. And it occurs to me that I am exploring my surroundings in a new and fresh way that comes from the need to walk a big dog.

So I invent a project. I will take Styxx on a month of walks, recording our mutual findings as photographs and as maps. I devise a basic set of rules that I hope will create an interesting document:
  1. Each walk has to start from the front door of our house.
  2. Each walk should attempt to go somewhere new, avoiding overlap with previous walks wherever possible.
  3. Avoiding the course of previous walks should only be based on memory of what has already been done, not on a review of collected maps or photos. Faulty memory is to be expected.
  4. Other than a general direction or endpoint, each walk should be a spontaneous undertaking.

These are the kind of rules that define a psychogeographic walk, a term of art adopted by Guy Debord and promoted by the Situationist International in 1955 to describe an unplanned, uncharted, pedestrian amble (or drift) designed to take one beyond the conventions of imposed road maps, directions, what-have-you to understand geography on a purely sensory level. Styxx, a sight hound with a keen nose, might be the ideal psychogeographer.”


Softcover book, 6.5” x 6.75” (168mm x 172mm), 72 pages, 31 colour photographs, 31 illustrations. 800 words. Published 2014.Preview and purchase this book at my Blurb Bookstore: http://www.blurb.com/user/davidfirman (USA) or http://www.blurb.ca/user/davidfirman (Canada)

Categories & Keywords
Category:Travel and Places
Subcategory:North America
Subcategory Detail:Canada
Keywords:Blurb, artist, artist, book, book, debord, demand, derive, dog, greyhound, guy, hike, lurcher, map, on, photography, print, psychogeography, situationist, walk, winnipeg

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