Monday, July 16, 2007


In a debate about art and politics, Peter Sellars quoted what he said was Jean-Luc Goddard’s definition of an image: ‘two or more distinct realities made to touch each other’.

This brings to mind a stream running through Wildwood by the late Roger Deakin (to whom the recent conference Passionate Natures was dedicated).

Deakin sometimes wrote as if the woodlands were seas and coral reefs. The metaphor might creak in clumsier hands, but the two had grown together in Deakin’s mind so that its expression seems entirely natural. Some examples from the first few pages:
Once inside a wood, you walk on something very like the seabed, looking up at the canopy of leaves as if it were the surface of the water, filtering the descending shafts of sunlight and dappling everything.

…Lying in bed in the shepherd’s hut is an out of body experience in which you are suspended six feet above the bottom of a wooden boat, gazing into its wooden hull and along the line of its keel. Everything is upside down, of course, but it is such another world in there that anything is possible. You gaze out of the open door at the wake of bubbling cow-parsley and the green depths of a hedge in May. Lift your face to a porthole and you can survey the green waters of Cowpasture Meadow coming up to meet you as you voyage across doldrums of Sargasso buttercups in lazy pools, or navigate towards the beacon of a solitary green-winged orchid.

…A fragment of the Newlands oak stands on the windowsill…I have stood in its ruins and do not doubt the measurement [forty-four feet eight inches in girth] or Alan Mitchell’s estimate that it was 750 years old when it fell. Now it is no more than a stubborn atoll of dead wood…

…In the upper wood, Rosemary leads us down narrow paths through the dense blue seabed [of bluebells] to a 500 year old oak...
[Sellars also suggested the world may be entering a new century of perpetual war. For artists (showpeople?) like him, he said, the aim should be to help ‘create conditions in which thought is possible’ – with this as a contribution.]


Blogger Kevin Z said...

Interesting post, metaphor plays a key role in science and poetry. In the system I study, we refer to methane seep tubeworm aggregations as "bushes" that have "deep roots and long lives". There are also "stick" sponges.

3:17 am  

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