“All Our Senses Are Being Controlled”

boldness Philippe Petit “All Our Senses Are Being Controlled”

Even in the twentieth century, Philippe Petit was living in the wrong time.

The high-wire artist, a Marcel Marceau of mid-air, practiced a timeless art in an age when the clock had ascended, quantifying human activity, eclipsing idleness. In scaling the Twin Towers, one of the major symbols of what the Industrial Age transformation had created, he briefly chastened the new reality with his old-world acrobatics, conferring upon them a dignity and romance they hadn’t previously known.

As The Walk is released, here’s a piece from a 2014 New York Times Magazine interview Petit did with Jessica Gross, explaining his dual feelings about this century’s technology:


You seem to have an ambivalent relationship with your computer. In the book, you call it your “necessary evil tool.”

Philippe Petit:

I hate all electronic things that are supposed to help the human being. You don’t smell, you don’t hear, you don’t touch anymore. All our senses are being controlled. At the same time, I am a total imbecile because to have a little iPhone that can take pictures, that can find the nearest hospital, that can tell you the weather in Jakarta — it’s probably fabulous. I’m supposed to be a man of balance, but my state of mind in those things is very unbalanced. I love or I hate.•


“We observed a type of dancer because you couldn’t call him a walker”:

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