Experimental Geographies

"There is tenderness only in the coarsest demand: that no-one shall go hungry any more" – Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia (1974: 156)

Landscape and Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways

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“[…] ‘landscape’ is not something to be viewed and appraised from a distance, as if it were a panel in a frieze or a canvas in a frame. It is not the passive object of our gaze, but rather a volatile participant – a fellow subject which arches and bristles at us, bristles into us. Landscape is still often understood as a noun connoting fixity, scenery, and immobile painterly decorum. I prefer to think of the word as a noun containing a hidden verb: landscape scapes, it is dynamic and commotion causing, it sculpts and shapes us not only over the courses of our lives but also instant by instant, incident by incident. I prefer to take ‘landscape’ as a collective term for the temperature and pressure of the air, the fall of light and its rebounds, the textures and surfaces of rock, soil and building, the sounds (cricket screech, bird cry, wind through trees), the scents (pine resin, hot stone, crushed thyme) and the uncountable other transitory phenomena and atmospheres that together comprise the bristling presence of a particular place and a particular moment” (Macfarlane, The Old Ways, 2012: 254-255).

A wonderfully evocative description of ‘landscape’ in Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways. It seems to me that the question of how we – as geographers – write has never been more timely and urgent. This should not be seen as a question driven by the imperatives of ‘impact.’ Rather, it seems to me, that it is a fundamental question of craft. How we practice geography is, in other words,  woven into the very form of our writing, the shape and substance of our sentences, the texture and tone of our descriptions.

Image: Stanley Donwood (source: http://thequietus.com/articles/12233-holloway-dan-richards-robert-macfarlane ) 

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This entry was posted on August 26, 2013 by in Art, Geography, Landscape and tagged , , , , .
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