Why I Walk And Escape Monday May 13, 2013

The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori

EXTRACTS FROM A PUBLICATION

Technology is often an extension of human faculties. A microscope, telescope and camera extend our vision. The telephone extends our ability to talk. A computer extends our nervous system, thinking, and emotions. A bicycle and car extend our capacity to walk. However technology doesn’t always work. One of the most frustrating experiences I know is working with a slow computer…

Technology deadens us and so do many jobs. The more we are brutalised, compartmentalised and dictated to by managers, a corporation, a system, the less alive and human we feel. We cannot feel. Feeling opens the door to impressions we don’t want because there’s no place for them. In the First World War poets such as Wilfred Owen were an extraordinary testimony to hell-like dangers and conditions. Some men must feel and because of the particularity of gender and in their case appalling circumstance, when they wrest their internal lives into poetic shape it’s astonishingly beautiful. DH Lawrence also articulated the struggles of a feeling man amongst men where it’s not allowed; in his case the Nottingham mining community…

In EM Forster’s Room With A View, Leonard Bast likes to read and carries a novel in his jacket pocket which represents the same resource as it is for the absurd aristocrat Cecil Vyse. Cecil walks and reads out loud, part vicar, part aesthete, show off and ultimately a fool, while the lower kind have fun playing tennis. They are alive and he is not…

In addition to reading, Leonard likes to walk. He takes a night walk across London in a spirit of discovery. What will he find, what will it be like. Lucy Honeychurch (wonderful names) asks him about it in a similar spirit of fun. How daring, how jolly, why did you do it but tell me all about it. Leonard explains it became quite a boring and also hungry experience because you need food as if it were daytime. He conveys this however with some excitement and relish. Doing it was the thing, as an affirmation of self and proof that it was possible…

Time and convenience rule, and every part of our lives is now industrialised, mechanised, no longer at the command of personal agency. Most worrying of all is where this extends to the faculties of thinking and feeling: told what to think by corporate media, deranged with internet misinformation and vacuous exchange, provoked into moving and jumping around with the most inane music we’ve ever heard corresponding to industrial capitalist decadence. This is the Waste Land. Not so long ago music consisted of playing instruments, singing with some ability, and shaping tune, melody and harmony to artistic effect. Female nasal singing is the current trend characterised by tonal flatness and simpering whines: ooh baby baby. At carnal moments and love moments we do groan. The rest of the time it’s stupid and meaningless…

What we see in popular culture is a social pornography effect based on display and comic style presentation. We are not people any more, but, like, you know, like, people like this or that: all part of a theatre where we play parts but never the real thing. It’s like, that’s what I, like, think: so what do you really think if that’s only like what you think? And where do you do it?…

These are some reasons why I walk. I don’t think of them when I’m in Wales, Scotland, the Lake or Peak District or the Pyrenees. They are background noise from which I want respite. Defining the noise helps contain it because you give it an edge, a limit, not the power to spread over your life. I enjoy the fact of my freedom, my self determination, shaping and directing the day as I walk across the mountains…

It has qualities of craft whereby you express yourself organically, with thought and emotion through the activity of the body. You walk, you move, and we need to feel this connection between impulse and result. There is no computer delay, no hard drive crash, no inflated petrol expense, no politician, manager, or religious fool lying about your experience…

It has no tangible result but the transcendent building of memory. Your experience is the result. Walking is supremely and quintessentially physical, but the experience of moving up and down the hills is exquisitely imaginative. You feast on colours, rock shapes, trees, clouds, streams, and the paradox of silence. The air is fresh and if you sleep in the hills, uninterrupted. You sleep then wake then set off again: the joyous moment which makes me smile with solitary happiness because this is all about me. Me. And nature, me and these lovely peaceful hills. Me, perhaps, with a new sense of my place if not in the universe then certainly within a toxic brutal and outrageous world. It’s the old lie, Dulce et Decorum est, that it’s otherwise.

Lake District

Peak District

Wales

Scotland

Alps

Pyrenees

Gallery

Chorlton Meadows

Comment

  1. Marie · May 15, 12:33 PM · §

  2. Marie · May 19, 06:02 PM · §

  3. James Lomax · May 22, 01:48 PM · §