msb ~092 Imagination: not just the mind’s eye

Imagination: not just the mind’s eye  

A Mile in My Shoes, Katie Hodgkins on the mind's eye
A Mile in My Shoes: the mind’s eye?

I’ve been listening to the Empathy Museum’s A Mile in My Shoes podcasts. It’s refreshing to get these short empathy bursts: insights into others’ lives, in their own words. Katie Hodgkins’s podcast introduced an experience that maybe seems unimaginable. Katie herself couldn’t imagine it if she weren’t experiencing it. As she says, “I have something called aphantasia. It means I’ve got no imagination, and there’s no pictures in my mind … So I struggle with putting myself in other people’s positions, and I don’t have a very good memory because of it … I need to see something to remember.” As she says, “It’s really amazing that people have full-on images in their heads!”

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msb ~091 Shaped by stone

Shaped by stone   

Shaped by stone - Tegg's scalping, Image by Tom Baskeyfield
Tegg’s scalping, Tom Baskeyfield

Tom Baskeyfield asks questions about stone that “focus on relationship to place and the stuff of place” and contemplation of “the slow and the local.” In Dark Mountain’s TERRA, he considers both the stones in his hometown, Macclesfield – “a cobble protruding through tarmac .. drystone walls hidden between newer brick buildings .. weathered surfaces of paving slabs underfoot” – and the town’s Welsh slate roofs. The local stone also migrated, in this case from a hillside quarry. Hillside and town were familiar to each other; “like a trickling stream, it is not hard to imagine the flow of stone from this hill shaping the footpaths and roads on its meandering descent, and pooling in the medieval streets in the valley below.” Continue reading “msb ~091 Shaped by stone”

msb ~086 Rooted, again

Rooted, again  

Rooted, Juhi Saklani
Rooted, Juhi Saklani

Another rich vein of discovery in Dark Mountain’s new collection, TERRA: Rooted is Juhi Saklani’s short essay on the heritage and fate of India’s trees. In response to displacement and distress at relocating deep into Delhi’s congestion after years living in its leafier areas, “I started photographing trees. It was the most meditative and ‘at home’ I felt in my unsettled life.” Her images accompany the text, revealing the deeply textured interplay of living tree and decaying stonework, of (as this small blog keeps returning to) nature-and-culture. Continue reading “msb ~086 Rooted, again”

msb ~082 Pale Blue Dot syndrome (fable of a lost world)

Pale Blue Dot syndrome   

Pale Blue Dot: Voyager image of Earth
Pale Blue Dot: Voyager image of Earth

(colloquial, ‘Blue’; archaic, ‘Sagan’s Pixel’): a malaise of Gaian-class consciousness, in legend derived from the ProtoGaian Terra before its first outwave. Though Terra’s existence is doubted, the term’s origin is implied in that fabled aquatmosphere’s supposed chromatocharacteristics.

According to the legend, ‘Blue’ malaise arose among Terra’s self-extincted Homosagans, a biosubstrate-component that developed protoawareness, dominance delusions and abortive fledgeflight. Their very first projectiletechnoproxysensorium view back from their solsystem’s margins (attributed to preconscious emissary Voya) fed mistaken notions of Terra’s solitary life-bearing status. Fabulists speculate that Homosagans sensed this one-dimensional image – their ‘pale blue dot’ – contained all their species had ever known, done or been; achievements, failings, experiences and emotional states which they soon after recited into the Blue List Library (now lost, except to legend). Continue reading “msb ~082 Pale Blue Dot syndrome (fable of a lost world)”

msb ~080 Nature shock

Nature shock  

nature shock: wild applesJourneying further into Dark Mountain’s new anthology, TERRA, I reach Sara Hudston’s wonderful, powerful parable, Wild Apples. “Francis hated animals.” It’s not just animals. Francis — named ironically for that Assisi guy, of course — hates all evidence of the non-human, natural world. An ex-countryside refugee — “He’d escaped as soon as he could to the city where women liked to be looked at and men could talk intelligently of important matters” — he’s forced back into rural exile, singled out for unidentified duties by an unnamed bureaucracy with no apparent purpose. Continue reading “msb ~080 Nature shock”

msb ~077 Landscapes written in the skin

Landscapes written in the skin  

Hereford Cathedral's Mappa Mundi
Hereford Cathedral’s ‘Mappa Mundi’ – world dream-map

Maps hold me. The collection I marked during my ‘sabbatical’ exploration of personal unknown England. My afternoon with the Hereford Mappa Mundi’s medieval worldview squashed onto a sheet of vellum. First Nations hunters’ dream-maps, recalled in Anticipatory history: “a piece of moosehide as large as a tabletop … ‘Up here is heaven; this is the trail that must be followed; here is a wrong direction; this is where it would be worst of all to go; and over here are all the animals. They explained that all of this had been discovered in dreams.'” My own dreams of floating above unreal landscape-map hybrids, still real years later. Continue reading “msb ~077 Landscapes written in the skin”

msb ~075 A feel for the place

A feel for the place 

Geoff Dyer: 'a feel for the place'
Geoff Dyer: ‘a feel for the place’

Am I wrong to want from a programme called ‘Travel: is it worth it?’ some focus on the climate implications of a lifetime travelling to write? I agree that, while we travel with our preconceptions, travelling opens them to disruption; travellers’ accounts shake and reshape my worldview. But what of my prejudice: mass travel wastes the world faster than it makes it? Who can deny there’s a mass of travel writers? Continue reading “msb ~075 A feel for the place”

msb ~074 Negative Capability revisited: not knowing

Negative Capability revisited: not knowing  

not knowing: youths clashing with police, Paris
not knowing: “located somewhere at the edge of the world”

I’ve enjoyed this article where Paul Tritschler revisits poet John Keats’ idea of Negative Capability via psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion. “Bion said that one discovers truth, the ingredient essential to psychic growth, on the cusp of knowing and not knowing. On the cerebral map, not knowing is located somewhere at the edge of the world.”
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msb ~073 Picture this

Picture this  

Picture Icelandic elements: a photograph by Gareth Goldthorpe
Iceland elements

As recent passages here — TERRA and The Library of Ice — hint, my reading’s had an Arctic preoccupation recently. I’ve never been north of 60o, so my polar regions are imaginary zones. Although reading is intensely visual, photographs still jolt my every-day, word-fed way of ‘seeing’ the distant world. I’ve dabbled in photography, but my brother does the real thing, and I’m envious of his skills and travels. I’d forgotten his recent Iceland trip, my anticipation of his new images and, checking his website, there they were: freshly discovered places that others’ words had been walking me toward. Continue reading “msb ~073 Picture this”

msb ~071 Knowledge that does not know itself

Knowledge that does not know itself  

questions marks on trees in a forest
Forest of unknowing?

Revisiting Donald Rumsfeld’s sage words on knowns and unknowns, philosopher Mark Kingwell helpfully unpacks different species within Rumsfeld’s missing fourth quadrant of knowledge: the Unknown Knowns.

Some might be our subconscious dreamscape of suppressed knowledge — a form of surreal self-mapping, which sometimes surfaces in disguise into the conscious world.

Others might be the very real workings of our selves within the world, through the store of tacit knowledge we bring to our daily practices: knowledge that’s routinised, submerged. Continue reading “msb ~071 Knowledge that does not know itself”