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Encounterism: The Neglected Joys of Being In Person (Paperback)
A playful, analytical, informed, and poetic exploration of the delight and transformative power of real-life encounters.
The light touch of a hairdresser’s hands on one’s scalp, the euphoric energy of a nightclub, huddling with strangers under a shelter in the rain, a spontaneous snowball fight in the street, a daily interaction with a homeless man—such mundane connections, when we closely inhabit the same space, and touch or are touched by others, were nearly lost to “social distancing.” Will we ever again shake hands without a thought?
In this deeply rewarding book, Andy Field brings together history, science, psychology, queer theory, and pop culture with his love of urban life and his own experiences—both as a city-dweller and as a performance artist—to forge creative connections: walking hand-in-hand with strangers, knocking on doors, staging encounters in parked cars. In considering twelve different kinds of encounters, from car rides to video calls to dog-walker chats in the park, Field argues “that in the spontaneity and joy of our meetings with each other, we might find the faint outline of a better future.”
About the Author
Andy Field is an artist, writer, and curator based in London whose performances around the world create encounters between strangers. He is codirector of the award-winning Forest Fringe, and a regular contributor to publications including the Guardian.
Modern-day transcendentalist Andy Field weaves reflections on cultural touchstones from Diane Arbus to the Jetsons in celebration of the person-to-person encounter—whether that's a phone call with a lover, a snowball fight with strangers, or a sweaty nightclub dancefloor.
— Ada Calhoun, author of Why We Can't Sleep
From the history of the haircut to the mystery of The Jetsons, Andy Field is the freshest, most down-to-earth, most constantly surprising (and endearing) explorer of urban life I’ve read in a while. He seems to know everything, but he carries himself lightly. And whether he’s guiding us into mass snowball fights on the streets of London or the meaning of holding hands, this unmet stranger cheerfully reminds us all of the value of touch and the virtue of trying to see the world anew.
— Pico Iyer, author of Autumn Light
Andy Field's book reawakens us to the neglected majesty and beauty of the everyday. His book returns us to a childlike state of wonder. It's profoundly charming - and, in the best sense, lovely.
— Alain de Botton, author of The Course of Love
It is easy to forget: life is a delicate matter of meetings and partings. Andy Field provides a gentle, beautiful reminder.
— John Kaag, author of Hiking with Nietzsche
I loved this beguiling, uplifting debut by an artist, writer, and curator who specializes in human interactions. From the hairdressers’s chair to sitting with others in a car, and fleeting meetings while walking in the park, Field examines the nature, grace, and importance of everyday, face-to-face human interactions…Prepare to be ‘newly dazzled by the wondrous complexity of our interactions with each other.’
— Caroline Sanderson - The Bookseller