Thursday, 14 May 2015

In search of ghosts

Robert Macfarlane in The Old Ways says there was renewed interest in walking after World War One - as people walked to get over trauma but also in search of those who had died but who often walked the same paths.... These were not traditional pilgrimages but an attempt to slip out of one world into another. People spoke of hearing ghostly voices.
"The shock of the Great War provoked intense British interest in the old ways. Some of the returning soldiers, wounded in body and mind, retreated to the English countryside, hoping that by recovering a sense of belonging rooted in Nature and place they might dignify their damaged lives (the wish that it had all be worth something).
Other people, traumatised into superstition by the war, took to the paths in search of ghosts - setting out on the tracks of he lost and the left-behind. Old paths became mediums in two senses: means of communion as well as means of motion. Interested built in the ghostliness of these ghost;lines. The convivial pilgrmiages described by Chaucer became tinged with a morbid historicism: spectres stepped from the verge and offered brief address."

Reading and watching

  • Foot by Foot to Santiago de Compostela/Judy Foot
  • The Testament of Mary with Fiona Shaw at the Barbican
  • The Testament of Mary/Colm Toibin
  • Schwanengesang/Schubert - Tony Spence
  • Journals/Robert Falcon Scott
  • Fugitive Pieces/Ann Michaels
  • Unless/Carol Shields
  • Faust/Royal Opera House
  • The Art of Travel/Alain de Botton
  • Mad Men Series 6
  • A Week at The Airport/Alain de Botton
  • The Railway Man/Eric Lomax
  • Bright Lights, Big City/Jay McInerney
  • Stones of Venice/John Ruskin
  • The Sea, the Sea/Iris Murdoch
  • Childe Harold/Lord Byron
  • All The Pretty Horses/Cormac McCarthy
  • Extreme Rambling/Mark Thomas
  • Story of my Life/Jay McInerney
  • Venice Observed/Mary McCarthy