… or Wordsworth’s sportive hedgerows.
Trying to tell stories has become increasingly difficult, surrounded and overwhelmed as we are by the disturbing attractions of the digital world.
The deliberate act of using pen, ink and paper is perceived as clandestine, outmoded. There is a peculiar and worrying urge to share every flicker and impulse from the illuminating to the puerile. The imaginative retreat of secrecy has been forgotten it seems, and with it, a quiet flourishing of the new and strangely bold.
Yet, writing as a primary instrument of thought allows us to uncover aspects of experience every bit as enthralling as Temple Run.
In some ways mirroring the activities of the Romantic poets and reformers of the 1790s, my own acts of writing, in 2013, have acquired subversive, elusive characteristics. Like much of the Romantics’ work during a period of political repression following the French Revolution, my writing represents a coded means of examining the forces of past and present. Just as Wordsworth considers in Tintern Abbey,these compositions look at the way in which we contemplate both ‘built’ and ‘unbuilt’ space, acknowledging the desire to sensualise and poeticise the human condition, while preserving a space of political resilience and perhaps, resistance. The absence of the abbey in Wordsworth’s celebrated poem in very real physical terms, suggest that he was preoccupied with the acting present, and as well as with future perceptions of history upon the abbey. Given that the 1790s was a time of increasing surveillance, paranoia and fear, the abbey might be regarded as framing the issue of imprisonment both literal and metaphorical. My poem ‘Flag Iris’ offers a contemporary response to what I believe was troubling Wordsworth back in 1798:
open tongues of honeysuckle tangle inscriptions and press
against the door skin drawn back its flank a bed for flies
drunken peonies loosen webs of water and love survives in blobs of lichen
or gather in the broken calyxes of plastic cups.
the abbey moans
shifting its weight in the wind so at least we know it is still
alive floodlights flare and burn it has closed its eyes consciousness drawn back
it rains harder a spear of flag iris parts the morning’s blue bubble sap
invents that that should not be
bites our world in half and now
pencilled in and drawn back
a world before where ships happened to be and maps had holes in them
Coleridge, in 1795, had spoken about how social confidence, or what he called the ‘beautiful fabric of love’ had been shaken to its very core by Pitt’s system of spies and informers. Such a sentiment lies at the heart of my own preoccupations. The world at large has become distorted: less free despite the astonishing range and extent of information from the internet. Worldwide, we do not enjoy the freedoms and liberties we imagine we have inherited as current events in Syria confirm. We are intimate and ruinous at the same time and our locus as Corbusier would have us believe is a sealed community, and so memory is displaced, becoming smooth and fragmentary. David Farrell Krellin in, Archeticture : Ecstasies of Time and Space and the Human Body argues that our reactions are ‘slick’ . So how will we be remembered? Neuroaesthetics argues that our relationship with art, stories and words is crucial to our survival, allowing us to negotiate our primal desires. Thus writing is a refuge and comes into being through the conflict between the particular and the idea.