The summer ‘break’

I’ve not added to this blog for quite a while – in large part because of major preoccupations on the domestic front but also because what I would once have called the summer holiday or ‘break’ provides time to go north to spend time with my wife and daughter in Weardale, where our internet connection is both fragile and expensive, and to visit the Borders country to walk, look, and ponder. Each year I find new things to enjoy – from an abandoned castle (once home to the Ker family) to a small blue purple butterfly I’ve not noticed before in the rides of the borders Sitka plantations.

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But in fact there’s really another, much more fundamental, reason why I’ve not added to this blog. I need quiet time just for my own thought processes to unspool that, in turn, hopefully provides the headspace in which to think through half-grasped or undeveloped ideas and, subsequently, find ways to articulate these effectively.

This summer these activities have been focused in large part around a number of papers I’ve been asked to deliver later in the year. The first of these is a paper for a panel on Geo-aesthetics: Art, Environment and Co-production at the Royal Geographical Society conference and is called Re-placing: artful practices in place ‘after’ Art. This links fairly closely to a second paper – ‘Reframing Northern Spaces’: place, creative practice, and collaboration – for the Northern Peripheries network workshop at the beginning of September, which precedes a two-day conference – Further Northat the University of Northumbria. In both papers I’m trying to locate a position for forms of creative eco-praxis concerned both with translation between the often antagonistic lifeworlds of professional experts on one hand and those who work in rural taskscapes on the other and that work across the cusp between a traditional philosophical and art-centred aesthetics the aesthetics of the everyday – including mundane landscapes – so well articulated by Yuriko Saito in her Everyday Aesthetics (Oxford 2007).

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At the back of both these papers is a continuing preoccupation with the notion of lifeworld as polyverse and its connections with animism. I hope to pick this up again in more directly and in detail in a keynote at the ‘Locating the Gothic’ conference in Limerick at the end of October. This has the horribly cumbersome title of: Debatable Lands (between an expanded Gothic and the ecosophical). Notes from a multi-media exploration of a psychosocial borderland but will in fact be an opportunity to expand on the paper around neo-animism I gave in Cornwall earlier this year.