Landscape, Walking, Poetry, Memory, Perception, Representation, Spectral, Estrangement, Absence
This paper uses descriptive and experiential creative writing as a method to unsettle, and constructively critique certain geographical accounts of landscape. Inspired by, W.G Sebald and Walter Benjamin in particular, fragments of landscapes are written, which take phenomenological accounts of being-in-the-world and human dwelling elsewhere, and intertwine the seemingly separate realms in geography of the representational and non-representational. Time and space are displaced, and I question subjectivity, thinking in terms of estrangement, loss, and haunting, ‘outside the unfolding locales of chronology’ (Dubow, forthcoming: 3). My wanderings across landscape, extrapolate out from ‘a poet who believed he belonged nowhere,’ Edward Thomas, his work, and his fellowship, who I wander with (Motion, 1980: 141). Whilst wandering, my initial thought was to attempt to salvage, make present, record, memorialise, or preserve, like much recent work on the topic of landscape, perception, embodiment, memory, material culture, and the spectral has stressed. As I began wandering however, conveniently pressing a narrative of ghostly presence into material, did not feel right. This work does not invite forgetting the past; I confront the endless fading away, of meaning and memory in landscape, trying to ‘make visible this loss’ (Dubow, forthcoming: 2). Lastly, this is not pastiche – wandering invokes a perception in me born of estrangement not dwelling – it is a serious engagement with a neglected art within geography, poetry, emphasising one of many possible creative responses to representations of landscape we can perform, by using ‘an oblique and attenuated form of practice’ (Wylie, 2009: 283).