Schopenhauer’s Flâneur

San Francisco: The Painted Ladies (

San Francisco: The Painted Ladies (

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, Studies in Pessimism

Perhaps a flâneur is an exception to Schopenhauer’s observation. Or tries to be. A flâneur tries to amplify his/her field of vision by infiltrating the lives of others. The visual flâneur who illustrated Schopenhauer’s words above shares his (her?) pen and ink watercolors at, a simple but enticing river of illustrations “inspired by aimless ramblings of the streets”. Think of it as an evolving digital picture book for adults.

On this site, I continue the tradition of the flaneur; explore the streets and their people, follow my whims and reflect on my findings with pen, pencil and watercolor as a ‘visual’ flaneur. (visual flaneur)

Mission Dolores (Credit: visual flaneur)

Mission Dolores (

I don’t know the visual flâneur though I feel like I do. His images are familiar as if he illustrated many of the picture books of my childhood. As if I’ve been in many of these scenes before. While his eye is trained upon San Francisco most of the time, my affinity exceeds fondness for a city that has long pulled me.

The illustrations are playful and carefree but tinged with mortality. Less Pollyanna postcard; more urban reality amuse-gueule. Temptations to ramble further. Perhaps this is the finest gift of flâneurs’ literary and artistic bounty: an open invitations to flâner!

In “How to become a flaneur” the visual flâneur tempts the reader/viewer with a reminder that the richness of flânerie is free to all, everywhere, all the time.

I believe that life is lived at it’s fullest when we open up to experience the world. And there is a lot of world. All around us. You don’t even have to go far. It’s right there! (visual flaneur)

While Schopenhauer is likely correct, flânerie stretches our field of vision. If only for a while. And certainly stretching is superior to limiting, no?