"Indeed, a minimum of life, an unchaining from all coarser desires, an independence in the middle of all kinds of outer nuisance; a bit of Cynicism, perhaps a bit of ‘tub’."
Friedrich Nietzsche

1 Oct 2012

A Philosophy of Tramping — Introduction


What made the vagabond so terrifying was his apparent freedom to move and so to escape the net of the previously locally based control. Worse than that, the movements of the vagabond were unpredictable; unlike the pilgrim or, for that matter, a nomad, the vagabond has no set destination. You do not know where he will move next, because he himself does not know or care much.

Zygmunt Bauman, Life in Fragments: Essays in Postmodern Morality


Bauman has identified an age old distrust of tramping, a suspicion that can be traced back centuries to fears of wandering strangers, escaped slaves and runaway servants. The periods in history when numbers of homeless and jobless drifters swelled to epidemic proportions, mirror the enactment of various vagrancy laws in both Europe and the New World; fuelled as they were by a perceived threat of idleness in the population and breakdown of the social order. One of the earliest such laws in Britain dates back to 1349 following the 'black death', others followed prolonged military campaigns, such as the Napoleonic Wars in Europe which gave rise to the 1824 Vagrancy Act in England and Wales, and the ‘tramp scare’ following the American Civil War which triggered 'Tramp Acts' in many states (and also 'Black Codes' in the South to control freed slaves). Former soldiers (used to a harsh outdoor life, long marches and little thought of anything but their immediate needs) joined other economic migrants, and also those who adopted tramping as an alternative lifestyle choice. Parallel crises can be traced back to ancient times. Following a great gathering of Cynics from all parts of the Greek-speaking world at the Olympic games in 167 A.D., it was reported that many of the humbler classes in Rome and Alexandria were ‘turning Cynic’ in such numbers that alarm was expressed at the prospect of work being brought to a standstill.

As part of this project I will be crediting Cynicism (which emerged 600 years before the Cynic scare of 2nd century A.D.) as the first organised 'movement' of tramping as a positive lifestyle choice. But for now, I will stay with the negative portrayal of the tramp, well illustrated by the long list of (mainly) pejorative terms below:

Beggar
Bindlestiff
Boomer
Bum
Derelict
Dingbat
Down-and-out
Drifter
Floater
Flopper
Gonsil
Hobo
Indigent
Itinerant
Jocker
Jungle Buzzard
Landloper
Loafer
Mendicant
Moocher
Padder
Panhandler
Peripatetic
Piker
Plinger
Postman
Punk 
Rambler
Ranger
Roamer
Rover
Scatterling
Shellback
Shuttler
Stewbum
Stiff
Stroller
Tatterdemalion
Tramp
Transient
Traveller
Vagabond
Vagrant
Wanderer
Wandering Willy
Wayfarer
Wheeler
Wobbly
and, less frequently but more affectionately, Gentleman or Knights of the Road, and the British tramps designation for each other, Sons of Rest

Ben Reitman (1879–1943)
Many attempts have been made to classify these terms, most of which, in any case, have several meanings. The most frequently quoted, is the work of former hobo and radical activist Dr. Ben Reitman, husband of the anarchist Emma Goldman—at a time when sociology's obsession with classification had reached absurd proportions. In Reitman's study of women tramps, Sister of the Road: The Autobiography of Box-Car Bertha, he provides an appendix with over 30 pages classifying women tramps alone. Reitman started riding trains as a hobo from the age of 12 after being abandoned by his Jewish immigrant father. He later qualified as a medical doctor but continued to work with Chicago's burgeoning hobo community, and also with the prostitutes enticed there by the parallel local economy (hobos returning to the city from other parts of the Mid-West spent significant sums of money from transient work harvesting, logging, mining, construction, etc.). Reitman was also an early advocate of birth control and abortion for which he received a six month jail sentence. The title of the book from which the passage below is taken, provides adequate testimony to Reitman’s achievements: The Damndest Radical: The Life and World of Ben Reitman, Chicago's Celebrated Social Reformer, Hobo King, and Whorehouse Physician. In his role as a sociologist, Reitman classified vagrancy into three main divisions:

'A tramp is a man who doesn't work, who apparently doesn't want to work, who lives without working and who is constantly travelling. A hobo is a non-skilled, non employed laborer without money, looking for work. A bum is a man who hangs around a low class saloon and begs or earns a few pennies a day in order to obtain drink. He is usually inebriate.'

One time hobo and Chicago sociologist, Nels Anderson, was even more obsessed with classifying tramps. One such study he commissioned (from tramps themselves), included five main divisions, with 30 subdivisions, further subdivided again. Although in this case, women are thrown in as a subdivision of 'Other Classes' along with Cripples, Stew Bums, Spongers, and Old Men; and, unlike Reitman's 30 page appendix of women tramps, only further subdivided into three: prostitutes, dope fiends and drunks, and mental defectives. Fascinating as these studies may be, they are not particularly helpful to the work in progress here. Tramps Reitman and Anderson may have been, but my own definition of tramping defies such narrow definitions, deliberately avoiding 'scientific' explanations of the phenomena. The available literature on tramping, including books written by actual and self-proclaimed tramps, is surprisingly rich and abundant. However, partly due to the coincidence of Chicago becoming a hobo mecca at the turn of the last century, and the birth of the Chicago School of Sociology (responsible for popularising 'urban sociology' as specific research area), most of the non-fictional works on tramping from the time do tend to concentrate on socio-political and historical investigations and 'facts', rather than get underneath the very essence of tramping itself. For this reason, much of this work in progress will revolve around the scores of fascinating characters, real and imagined, that make up the history of tramping from ancient times to the present day.

So who will be included in this study of tramping? I do not rule out the itinerant worker (one definition of the hobo) where this mode of existence is a lifestyle choice rather than purely an economic necessity. Neither is my own definition of tramping confined to walking. The call of the road, the view around the next bend or hill, the need to put distance between one's narrow provincial surroundings and succumb to the lure of the unfamiliar and the exotic, is timeless and compelling. And if the means to satisfy wanderlust involves hitching a ride in an automobile, jumping a train, or stowing away on a ship, one is no less a tramp for that. Then again, we are all familiar with our local wayfarer who pounds the same streets day after day, a creature of habit whose dominion is the local neighbourhood; he or she is just as much a monarch of the road as those who tramp further afield. And, like some of Beckett's tramps, one can even tramp in one's imagination from a bed or other confined space. Also like Beckett, many writers choose to tramp in the pages of books, as I intend to do here. At this stage of my philosophy of tramping then, I reserve the right not to categorise or provide a precise definition of this genus of human; a meaning that will hopefully become clearer as my research progresses.

Radio Times 1958 illustration for Beckett's Malone Dies
We have adapted more than any other animal to survive as a species. It's what makes us human. But our explosion in numbers means that, for most of us at least, we have had to abandon our genetically programmed role as hunter gatherers to live in vast metroplexes, governed by increasingly complex systems of laws and conventions in an attempt to impose order and control out of what should be a natural state of chaos and caprice. In the urban landscapes of North America, the domestication of human life has reached such a state of evolution, that walking in the suburban sprawl, much of it too scattered and dispersed to make public transport viable, has long since given way to the exclusive use of the automobile as the only acceptable means of perambulation. Rebecca Solnit in Wanderlust: A History of Walking describes how more than 1,000 pedestrian crossings were removed in California, quoting an announcement from LA planners in the 1960s that, 'The pedestrian remains the largest single obstacle to free traffic movement'. And in New York, Solnit describes the scenario where then mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, ordered police to start citing jaywalkers and fenced off sidewalks in some of the busiest areas of the city. But it was wannabe hobo and beat poet Jack Kerouac who first observed modern America’s intolerance to tramping in an essay he wrote in the 1950s, The Vanishing American Hobo. He noted that the aggressive implementation of vagrancy laws, backed up by intensive police surveillance, including the use of helicopters, meant that you cant even be alone anymore in the primitive wilderness:

In America camping is considered a healthy sport for Boy Scouts but a crime for mature men who have made it their vocation.  Poverty is considered a virtue among the monks of civilized nationsin America you spend a night in the calaboose if youre caught short without your vagrancy change. […] They pick on lovers on the beach even. They just dont know what to do with themselves in those five thousand dollar police cars with the two-way Dick Tracy radios except pick on anything that moves in the night and in the daytime on anything that seems to be moving independently of gasoline …’

And so in spite of the current hysteria over carbon emissions and damage to the the environment, there is a much deeper panic about tramping; which explains the continued paranoia about the pedestrian in America today—and all this in a nation built by tramps! But if tramping was tough for Kerouac's hobos, how much tougher nowadays for the tramp with the ubiquitous CCTV and electronic databases that analyse even our shopping habits. To remain under the radar today requires no little skill; not just the absence of a registered address but also foregoing welfare payments, health care and brushes with the law. By way of introduction to this philosophy, a useful starting point is to make some further comparisons between the Cynics and the rise and fall of hobohemia in America, before going on to acknowledge the modern cynic philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's contribution to tramping, and my own motives for writing this philosophy.

A chance combination of three major events heralded a golden age of tramping in America (and also in Canada which is less reported): the end of the American Civil War, the development of the railways, and the financial crash of 1873. At the end of the Civil War in 1865, thousands of former soldiers, well used to an outdoor life and tramping, now found themselves homeless and certainly ill prepared for the domestic responsibilities of home and civic life. With the first transcontinental railroad opening in 1869, followed by the first of a series of catastrophic international financial crashes and associated 'depressions' (1873, 1893 and 1930), it is not surprising that, through choice or necessity, large numbers were thrown into, and maintained, a transient life, forced to roam the continent, surviving on whatever resources came to hand. This episode of tramp history alone could occupy several ‘chapters’ of this work but is already comprehensively reported in two major studies (that were published, coincidentally, two years apart): Tim Cresswell's The Tramp in America (2001) and Todd DePastino's Citizen Hobo: how a century of homelessness shaped America (2003). Both DePastino and Cresswell drew from numerous first hand studies and accounts of tramping, many by former hobos.

Between 1870 and America's involvement in World War II at the end of 1941 (which provided a distraction and alternative occupation to many former hobos) tramping developed into a significant parallel culture, one that was about more than simply homelessness and joblessness. From the mainly white male hobos of the late 1800s, through the organised political tramp movements, black, latino and chinese work gangs, 'Okie' migrant families of the dustbowl era, to the 'skid row' bum between the two World Wars, what emerged for thousands of individuals caught up in the depressions (aside from simply meeting the basic need for food and shelter) was a philosophy and way of life for those alienated from, and dispossessed by, the rest of society—a society drunk on the capitalist dream.

DePastino notes that in a 1930s census, Nels Anderson, put the population of those sleeping in public shelters and out of doors in America at 1.5 million, and this excluded the millions more sleeping in cheap boarding houses. Periodically gathering together for relief in the major cities of America, with Chicago as its cultural and entertainment capital, the hobo created urban centres of their own with up to 75,000 in Chicago's 'main stem' (an area centred for half a mile in every direction around West Madison Street). This city within a city included cheap saloons, restaurants, flophouses, whorehouses, gambling dens, clothing, cigar and drug stores, but also bookstores, theatres, missions and meeting halls; providing evidence that the tramp army included those from cultured as well as the labouring classes. Indeed, these tramp cities also became a regular destination for those seeking temporary thrills and escape from mainstream society. Before drawing some parallels between the American hobo and the ancient Cynics, I will mention one further hobo statistic that both stayed with and disturbed me. DePastino reports that during the five year period from 1901 to 1905 alone, nearly 25,000 hobos lost their lives, and many more suffered horrific injuries, riding the trains. Not only from jumping into moving boxcars, but riding on the roofs, couplings and, most dangerously, on the rods beneath the carriages. One such victim, fortunate to escape jumping a train with the loss of only a foot, was the Welsh author of The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp, W.H. Davies, who I will discuss in a future post. In spite of the well understood risks of riding the trains without buying a ticket (and Davies actually did have more than sufficient money at the time, which in the event was spent on doctors bills instead), many who rode the trains describe an exhilaration and freedom in tramping that was addictive, even when personal circumstances meant it was no longer a necessity.



Trains aside (although the Cynics would no doubt have ridden trains had they been available) there are clear parallels between hobohemia and ancient Cynicism. As with Chicago's main stem, the Cynosarges, a gymnasium and temple dedicated to the worship of Hercules (proto-cynic and mythical tramp par excellence) just outside the ancient walls of Athens, became a regular gathering place, not only for Cynics but others who felt exiled within their own community. A law passed in the fifth century B.C. prohibited 'bastards' (defined in Athenian law as including anyone with an Athenian father but whose mother was a slave, a prostitute, or a foreigner, as well as those whose parents were not legally married citizens) from exercising in the gymnasiums, but for some reason this law did not extend to the Cynosarges. It thus became a regular gathering place, not only for official bastards, but also 'self-proclaimed bastards', a definition of which (from Luis E. Navia's Classical Cynicism: a critical study) provides a description that could equally apply to the hobo: men and women who were or felt illegitimate and foreign everywhere, and who lived ill at ease within the established civic community. A major distinction, though, between ancient Greece of 300 B.C. and America of the late 19th century, was the way in which these two different societies regarded the tramp. Both cultures shared some cosmopolitan features and also multi-ethnic populations, yet, unlike America, ancient Greece showed a tolerance to tramping not enjoyed by the hobo. So much so, that Alexander the Great showed a respect and admiration for Diogenes’ lifestyle, even when the Cynic showed contempt for the king’s interest in him by asking him to stand out of his light while sunbathing in a public park.


It is interesting to note that, although both hobos and Cynics distanced themselves ideologically from mainstream society, both claimed the city streets as their natural habitat, scavenging out an existence like stray dogs (see earlier post) on the margins of 'civilised' human activity; a society that the tramp views in turn as imprisoned by their own possessions. The term cynic is derived from the Greek kynicos, adjectival form of the noun for dog, and is a literal reference to the dog-like appearance and behaviour of the followers of this sect: fornicating and defecating in public, scavenging for scraps of food, etc. Where others used it to deride the Cynics, they themselves embraced the term as a positive choice of lifestyle. Unencumbered by what they regard as the trifles of civilised society, hobos and Cynics were free to claim their own sovereignty of the city streets. It might be the cosmopolitan nature of cities that provides the attraction, or it might be the ability to more easily blend into the landscape, or, it might be the greater mobility that cities provide; these are questions to be exported further. Either way, tramps were easy targets on the move between larger centres of population and it would have been natural, even for those who preferred solitude, to occasionally seek out the companionship and security of other tramps, particularly when the need for food, shelter, security or rest became critical. And so although homelessness is a central feature of tramping, the need for habitation, to claim dominion (often illegally) over some dispossessed scrap of terrain, whether it be Diogenes in his barrel, an abandoned doorway, a cardboard box in an underpass, or the hobo 'jungles' and 'main stems' of America at the turn of the last century, remains a fundamental human need, even for the tramp.

How and why those who chose an aesthetic lifestyle became objects of fear and loathing will be explored further in future posts, but it is worth noting that, paradoxically, one such aesthetic, Jesus of Nazareth, remains the spiritual leader to millions of conventional hobophobic Americans who have forgotten his mortal tramping beginnings and worship him today as a deity. The hypochrisy between what Jesus originally stood for and the mischief carried out in his name, was noted by Friedrich Nietzsche (N. as a cynic philosopher) in Germany, at the very same time that hobos were being persecuted across America. Nietzsche well understood the way that morality had been used throughout history as the justification for the tyranny that human inflicted upon human; carried along under the banner of improving and enlightening peoples. And Nietzsche expressed just how much he thought humankind had lost their way when he argued that: As a moral code it [Christianity] produces dull, static and conformist societies that dampen down human potential and achievement. It may have been just such a social vacuum in late 19th and early 20th century America that the tramp army filled; a demand for a simpler, more meaningful way of life.

Expounding the virtues of tramping and the deceit of Christianity with equal vigour (N. as antichrist), Nietzsche was greatly influenced by the Cynics as his sister Elizabeth confirms: 'There is no doubt that . . . my brother tried a little bit to imitate Diogenes in the tub; he wanted to find out with how little could a philosopher do.' This imitation can be seen in Nietzsche's obsession with self-discipline and testing himself against the elements. Living on his meagre pension, Nietzsche embraced the minimum necessary for life as a strategy for survival. The tiny rented room where he lived and worked in the Swiss alpine village of Sils-Maria, devoid of decoration or comfort, has parallels with Diogenes tub. His typical day would start at five in the morning where he would write in his room until midday before tramping up the surrounding peaks, eventually retiring early to bed after a snack of bread and ham or egg alone in his room. An examination of Nietzsche’s work reveals many examples of this testing himself against the elements, raging against comfort in all its manifestations: physical, intellectual, and moral. But further credentials as a tramp philosopher come from his cosmopolitan convictions and rejection of German culture and religion. The following lines from Thoughts out of Season, Part II, underscore what are a central motif of this blog, and motivation for the true tramping spirit: 'Why cling to your bit of earth, or your little business, or listen to what your neighbour says? It is so provincial to bind oneself to views which are no longer binding a couple of hundred miles away.'


 I must now confess to my own yearnings, and the conflict I've always felt between the pull of the wild and that of the metropolis. Perhaps it was genetically programmed in me long ago. My mother arrived in the UK on the kindertransport; a comfortable middle class life in Vienna cut short by Hitler's dream of creating an empire of übermenschen. My father lied about his age to join the army and escape a harsh rural life in Dorset as son of a farm labourer and servant in a large house. So, I have both the city and the country in my veins, am drawn to both, but still harbour a nostalgia for a place that only exists in my imagination. Although born and raised in the UK, I have never 'felt' or identified myself as British, always yearning for this other place. As a child on my father's small farm, I vividly remember lying in a field on my back staring up at the clouds and wishing myself riding above them to some far off exotic location. By the age of nineteen, I had managed to leave British shores for the first time, staring out of an airplane window in wonder at being above the clouds at last. I was on route to Northern Zambia where I had managed to get myself a job as an agricultural research assistant. Not a choice of destination, just the most alien place to offer itself to me at the time. A typical month would be driving 100 miles or more, setting up a base camp, and then driving each day to a previously determined  spot on a map from where, guided only by a compass, we would walk up to thirty miles a day through largely uninhibited forests and grassland, taking samples of soil for analysis along the way. The pattern was three weeks solid work, Saturdays and Sundays included, and then back to town for a week off and my monthly pay cheque—most of which was spent in the township beer halls—then back to work broke and hungover but glad for another three weeks of tramping in the wilderness. There were many memorable adventures during the two years I spent away, but my fondest memories were those existential moments; such as the time we came across a herd of hippopotamus in a wide stretch of river and sat on the bank for hours enjoying the performance. I remember thinking, if I could come back to earth as any animal, it would have to be a hippo. My first two years abroad were a life affirming experience, one that changed my perspective of the world. The culture shock was not arriving as a teenager in Africa to an explosion of the senses from heat, smells, tastes and vivid colours that surpassed my expectations; it was returning to a grey dismal Britain two years later that I found impossible to adjust to. A further trip to Africa some years later (hitchhiking the 700 miles from Dar-es-salaam to Kasama in Northern Zambia, being arrested on trumped up terrorist charges, saved only by the fact that at the time I was staying in the house of the local mayor's daughter), trips across North America, the Middle East and Europe, then later working in the Honduran Rain forest in Central America, including a trip to the Bay Islands (legendary hideout of Morgan the Pirate), did not quell my wanderlust. But, paradoxically, there has also always been a side of me that appreciates the comforts, privileges and relative security of a comfortable, middle class life in the West; something to take seriously when bringing up a family, as tramping is of necessity an occupation for those with responsibilities only to themself. I still love to travel, and am off shortly with my wife for a nine week spell of recreational tramping and writing in the mountain region North West of Madrid. We have both adopted the life of literary tramps since my retirement and our children's first adult steps into the world.

As discussed in my Preface to this work, unlike writing a conventional book where the thesis is already established and the introduction may well be penned at the end of the work, I intend this blog to follow a journey of discovery (not unlike the journey of the tramp) allowing me to go wherever the fancy takes me, and gain enlightenment and disappointment along the way. Neither will this philosophy of tramping be chronological in time; some posts will concentrate on an individual character, others on a particular theme such as abjection or cosmopolitanism. Maybe every post will be an introduction to an elusive destination, that is a risk I take—I won't know until I get there, wherever there is. I have not even read or purchased most of the books I intend to use for my research and many others will emerge as a result of further reading. Also, given the potentially interactive platform on which I write, I have the hope that others will contribute ideas, suggestions, even their own stories, adding richness and energy to the text.

And, why am I calling this work a philosophy? The branch of knowledge we describe as 'philosophy' in the West, was hijacked by Plato, Aristotle and their successors from the view of the world held by Socrates, and further embraced by the ancient Cynics, over 2,000 ago. Until Plato introduced scientific logic based on first principals (the view that still dominates in the West today), the human world was explained either through gods and other myths, or in the way that ‘lower animals’ experience their world: received, or felt, through the senses rather than intellectual and scientific reasoning. That most genuine tramps and cynics veer towards this more existential view of the worldchoose to experience and feel what is important in life, rather than write or read scientific theories on the subjectis why I have chosen to refer to this work in progress as a philosophy; to claim the term back from those who would make the study of the subject something exclusive to academicians. 

Of course, without science I would not be able to write on this website, but would what I write be any different if I penned it on a piece of papyrus? Then there are the claims made of all the lives saved by medical science, but how many lives are lost and ruined by medicine? It is more likely today that the human race will be wiped out by our interference with micro-organisms, enabling them to mutate and cross the species barrier (Lassa, Rift Valley Fever, the Ebola virus, antibiotic resistance, and of course AIDS; of which an estimated fifteen million people had died by the end of the last millennium) than natural disasters, even global warming. The ability of bacteria and viruses to mutate into ever more deadly strains is much faster than the ability of scientists to control them. Such is the arrogance of scientists. End of digression on medical science.

My definition of tramps; what distinguishes them from the rest of human kind, what drives them to abandon 'civilisation', is not helped by the long list of terms provided above, and may never be defined precisely. It is my hope though, that a clearer interpretation will emerge from the writings of this blog. What I can do, is to identify some further questions that need to be asked. Does the tramp, for instance, feel exiled from their own communities or do they feel, as Nietzsche suspected, that it is the rest of us who have lost touch with what it is to be human in our quest for some higher moral purpose? It would not be surprising then, if some of those who chose a tramping lifestyle did so from their own moral sense of purpose, a rejection of wider society's misguided morality, that the tramp finds difficult to reconcile with. But is there also a part of the tramp that perhaps wants to belong? Does he or she feel envy for the metaphysically innocent: those for whom slavery to a tribe, a religion or a state is a source of pride? Or is the tramp above such inconsequential preoccupations? Do they, like the Cynic, regard themselves 'citizens of the world', free to roam wherever they feel the fancy, adopting any customs and habits that suit their needs? Is a tramp born a tramp, through some endogenous but unexplainable sense of 'not belonging'? Or conversely, 'belonging' to the world in a different way to his or her fellows; is it something the tramp actually chooses to feel at all?

Perhaps the tramp, like the Cynic Crates, has a sense of a 'republic', but one not restricted to a geographical place, an ethnic group, religious or cultural traditions, a republic without boundaries or social distinctions. The tramp fully accepts the risks that such a lifestyle brings, but whether or not this is motivated by any external 'cause', especially political, is not at all certain. Nevertheless, the tramp would seem to live out their apparently existential existence, in most cases, without the sermonising or sentimentality one associates with some others who choose 'alternative' lifestyles, such as the hippy or new age traveller. Even the Cynics, who did engage in an exhortation of sorts, practised 'anti-philosophy' rather than an alternative ideology; they stood against what they saw as human arrogance and hypocrisy but offered no alternative belief system to put in its place. Neither did they seek to persuade others to join their 'movement'. One feature of tramping, however, unites all of the disparate characters discussed in this introduction. Asceticism is the lifestyle choice of the tramp, whether hobo, ancient sage, 'son of God', or university professor. It is a position sought in direct contradiction to those who regard the acquisition of money and possessions as the key to a better life. The ascetic's belief that 'freedom from unhappiness' (a more realistic goal than 'happiness') is more attainable through independence from material desires than striving to fulfill them. But I will resist the temptation to expand further on these concepts here and write about them more comprehensively in my next post.


I opened this introduction with Bauman's description of the tramp's impact on the rest of human kind. I close with Beckett's description of just what it means for the tramp to survive the alien world that human's have created—a description that says more in three lines than I have managed to convey here in 11 pages.

And a little less well endowed with strength and courage he too would have abandoned and despaired of ever knowing what manner of being he was, and how he was going to live, and lived vanquished, blindly, in a mad world, in the midst of strangers. (Trilogy, 1994: 193)






3 comments:

  1. Very interesting post, thanks for that! Will be reading much more from this blog over coming months...

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  2. "Who is free? The vagrant is free, the one crouching in the shadows at the bus station: hidden, anonymous, unavailable" or so said a hobo I know well. He means that the vagrant is quintessentially free since he is bound by nothing except his own whims in choosing his actions, taking nothing into account except what he takes to be truth. Vagrancy (or "tramping" or being a "hobo" or whatever) is a way of being on the outside looking in. And what a view it is.

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  3. I have written and digitally published about a kid who fails out of college, hitches a ride, and rubber-tramps it around the West (www.smashwords.com/books/view/123053). I am in the middle of the sequel, and I have conceived of the entire saga as a trilogy. Would it be okay with you if I quote this website in one of those novels as long as the quotation is properly cited in the bibliography?

    ReplyDelete