British Hill Power: Mountain Video Monday June 17, 2013

This is a fun video. After I made it however I pondered it’s style, and reflected on the excess of such material and what we might think about it. When I studied video at university, one of my tutors made a comment about the running scene in the film Chariots Of Fire. He praised it and thought it was one of the best examples for the use of music. I remember thinking at the time, no you’re wrong. He was wrong because the Vangelis soundtrack does not reflect or express the reality of running. This is not a trivial point. I’ll explain what I mean, and then explain how it applies to hill walking and mountain video…

When he made this remark, sitting in front of powerful Apple Macs equipped with Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere, I remembered an earlier experience I’d had in martial arts…

What I noticed is the enormous difference between fantasy martial arts and actually doing it. I might be fantasising about Bruce Lee acrobatics and his leopard shout – wa daaaaa! take that! – but the reality was otherwise. I was panting, sweating, sometimes even ill with exertion. I pushed myself very hard. But there was no drama…

The Chariots Of Fire scene is fantasy…(whereby)…The experience is utterly different. It’s important to note this disjunction, what it consists of, and how pervasive and growing it is as a cultural habit…

Advertising does it, politicians do it, religions do it. It is unhealthy and pervasively extreme when it concerns the internet. The best place to see it is at YouTube. To say the site is full of nutters is to put it mildly and flippantly. The most peculiar deranged stuff gets invented and circulated, reinforced with the seductions of pixels and light. Some of it is semi criminal; it’s well known how terrorists are influenced by poisonous internet material. The establishment fantasy is, it’s uneducated men mouthing off like adolescents. The reality is, it is exactly such men who plot and perpetrate terrorists acts…

Ultimately the only way to make sense of this is to regard it as a psychological experiment where people can and do express strange stuff, which easily appears as credible because the internet medium is so powerful: a combination of easy access, worldwide audience, and a persuasive form which is private in your room and semantically compelling. As such, the medium is the problem. There’s no doubt that it amplifies and facilitates crazy and sometimes dangerous criminal activity…

What I’m considering here is a kind of sensory derangement whereby the senses impart information. Music and video provoke certain feelings. And I can tell you now, much as it’s fun to pretend, I do not feel like my old punk heroes Jean Jacques-Burnel or Joe Strummer when I walk British hills or any other…

Nietzsche said “All things that live for a long time become so saturated with reason their origin in non-reason comes to seem improbable.” This ties in very closely with my observations about the cultural habit of fantasy. It’s not as specific as the example of religion but rather a general criticism, whereby the point is the same regarding that which is established, the basis on which it rests, and the effect that it has…

My video style is philosophical and personal documentary. I walk the hills to escape nonsense not to create more of it. Scafell Pike is not a social construct. Wastwater is the deepest lake, which means it has qualities you may think are superior to those of Rydal Water. You might formulate an argument to explain this and no one will accuse you of being Rydalphobic – not yet anyway. You walk on solid earth and you feel it. That earth is not owned by a bank, and you experience and understand it free from any media bias or representation…

Somewhere, at least, you find sensory truths whereby it makes no difference what you “believe” and within this semantic fact we might find greater significance. How much of the universe is like this in which I include the universe of our internal lives, and what is the nature of whatever sits between the two…

The child experience of life is very small, but I think part of it at least represents a loss when we as adults don’t have it. I suspect the entire sensory apparatus shuts down as we advance in years; it’s not only eyesight which degrades but taste, hearing, smell, and touch. These senses are the interface by which we encounter the hills, and the clear relationship helps us recover a sense of harmony.

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