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"Forest bathing": trail run in New Jersey


In the category of things that should be kind of obvious but that seem to require a name or even a "movement" to remind us, one comes across the occasional article exhorting us to turn off the electronics and tune in to nature (or in a different twist, to "listen to one's body").

"Forest bathing" is a translation of the Japanese term shinrin-yoku. The idea is to spend time in nature without specific goals (such as miles, time, pace, elevation, effort, etc.), and instead to take in the natural environment with all our senses. It is not really about running through nature (rather, it is more of a desultory stroll), but I think of this concept when I manage to get in a little trail running on the few occasions I am out of urban settings, as I did this weekend in New Jersey.

For the research project, I am interested in examining the different ways runners might think about the given environments through which they pass, and deconstructing some of the dichotomies between seemingly "unnatural" environments such as cities and "natural" ones (and perhaps even between the activities of running and walking). Thinking about how and why we have created these contrasts—and more generally between what might be called instrumentalist and quantifiable activities on the one hand, and naturalist or realist ones on the other—is partly what this project is about.

(There are other things to consider here too; for example, I write about "birdsong" as a generic phenomenon, but what we hear in this clip is of course specific birds found in a particular part of the world during certain times of the day/year. In this way the category "birdsong" stands in for "nature" in opposition to the presumably unnatural or "noisy" sounds of the city, and these dichotomisations need to be picked apart a bit more.)

#wil2wir #soundstudies #ethnomusicology #MarathonMusicProject #forestbathing