Patrick Tudoret: "Getting rid of the accessory to get to the essential"

Patrick Tudoret: “Getting rid of the accessory to get to the essential”

What was your first walk, and what were your three best walks?

My inaugural walk was the one I did one day in Marseille, at the age of 5, from the Saint-Barnabé district to the Borély park dear to Marcel Pagnol. Another Marcel, my grandfather, held my hand in his, and with him I could have gone to the end of the world!

My three most beautiful walks are not the most “athletic”: I don’t care about that aspect. No doubt the one I did with my wife and daughters to the sublime Saint-Martin du Canigou abbey (Pyrénées-Orientales); a night walk in the heart of the forest, which I talk about in my book; and, of course, a stage on the Compostela route: the climb to the Col de Roncesvalles from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (Pyrénées-Atlantiques).

You say walking is a matter of style. Which one is yours ?

I am both a city walker and a country walker. Rather lonely. Sometimes in company, but very chosen: “With more than four, as Brassens said, we are a bunch of idiots!” In the plain, in the hills or in the “mountain of cows”, more than in the high mountains and, as a good Breton, along the sea in the Côtes-d’Armor or in Bigouden country to which I have devoted a book . Finally, marked paths or side roads, it depends on the mood of the moment.

Are you more of a hiker or pilgrim?

I feel much more like a pilgrim than a hiker. The hiker too often favors – not always, let’s be fair – this kind of performance in the momentum which is indifferent to me, even if I happened to take more than tough walks. And let’s not talk about trekkers laden with expensive equipment… Like Pascal, whose Thoughts have often accompanied me on my walks, “I can only approve of those who seek”, this dimension of the quest being essential for me: quest for verticality in a tragically horizontal world, quest for something greater than us, one beyond ourselves.

You quote Charles Wright who writes, in “Le chemin des estives”: “The walker is (…) a stroller who reserves surprises along the way. What surprises did you pick up there?

The surprise can come, of course, from the external landscape, often beautiful, sometimes sublime; but for me, it most often comes from the inner landscape, from a change in metabolism, moral, intellectual or aesthetic, which makes us see the world differently. The surprise also comes a lot from encounters. As the philosopher Paul Ricoeur said, “the shortest way from self to self passes through the other”.

In 2019, you published a “Small treatise on volunteering” (Tallandier). Is the walk voluntary?

Yes. To pick up on what I was just saying, meetings require volunteerism and generosity from us. Even by small gestures, to allow the other to grow a little, it is to grow ourselves. Whatever elevates us, elevates the world.

You also quote Nicolas Bouvier’s famous phrase: “We think we’re going to take a trip, but soon it’s the trip that makes you, or unmakes you. What have your travels undone you?

One of the great strengths of travel is the humility to which it obliges you. We are always more vulnerable far from our bases, and the forced return to humus, to the earth (which gave humbled), is salutary: it shatters our little egos. Traveling taught me to get rid of the superfluous, the accessory, to focus on the essentials. That’s why, wherever I go, including the other side of the planet, I only take a modestly sized carry-on bag.

As you walk, you recite poems. Which ?

Lots of Rimbaud: The drunken Boat is my barometer. As long as I know it in full, everything will be fine… A hundred Alexandrians all the same! I also recite Musset, Verlaine, Hugo or Lautréamont to myself.

Do you write while walking?

All the time! Walking makes it possible to pass from space-time, clinical, cold, objectified, to pure, subjective, profound duration, the primordial time of creation. Thus is it this time of decantation which allows our words which deserve it to remain in the running for a book in the making. The others do not resist the demanding sieve that it constitutes.

During your travels, have you found your “inner land”, a place that particularly speaks to your soul?

Yes, on the side of Puy-en-Velay, on the way to Compostela and these overwhelming Romanesque chapels that mark it out; but also – other places where the spirit breathes – near the temples of Angkor, in Cambodia, or in Bali.

Following Brother François Cassingena-Trévedy, you bring together walking and meditation. Yourself, do you meditate while walking?

Christ said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Holy promise, right? The writings of Brother Cassingena-Trévedy, which I quote, touch me because they lead to this essential meditation that the path allows. The path is nothing if it does not allow this transformation, this transfiguration of ourselves, thanks to the communion it makes possible with the best of what we are, with those we love, even if they disappeared. I also dedicate my book “to all those I love, living or dead, of whom I think… while walking”.

Tristan Talberg, hero of your novel “The man who fled the Nobel”… until Compostela, did he continue to live in your imagination?

He lives there so well that a film adaptation project is underway. But these are heavy processes, we will see. Published in large format by Grasset, this novel (where the pilgrimage to Compostela holds a large place) continues to live now in pocket format. It touched many readers, backgammons or not, and my new book Walking, little traveling rhetoric is in a way a sequel in the form of an essay mixed with a story.

What are the conditions for a market to be profitable?

Everything that relieves us, lightens us, is profitable. “Take away all the things I see there,” says Monsieur Teste of Paul Valéry. Get rid of the accessory to go to the essential.

Your next walking project?

Next summer in Taiwan. The former island of Formosa, which my wife, who has been there several times, tells me is a real gem.

Any advice for those about to hit the road?

Abandon the trappings of vanity and ultra-consumption, of the spectacle society, make yourselves humble in the face of the elements, of nature. You don’t need a very heavy bag or expensive equipment. Walking is also profoundly egalitarian in this respect. She knows no social classes.

Similar Posts