Lifescapes #1

As counterpoint to a new series of books coming from Stone Country Press, I thought I'd introduce a few more elements of landscape theory and philosophy on this blog. The new series - Lifescapes - will reflect the mix of outdoor activity and philosophy as a means of expressing contemporary thoughts on various ways of 'being' in the outdoors. 

After the mechanisation of farming, the technological monoculture of living off the land has left very few of us living close to the natural world. We mostly hunker in urban centres briefly catching the play of light and nature through city windows. I write this at a tenement window, where occasionally a sparrowhawk throws panic amongst the local finches and pigeons, but it's all very fleeting. Still, the urge to be part of a bigger natural world, even within the city, exists in many pursuits and interests. 

From my own perspective, this found active representation (or non-representation, as it might now be perceived), in climbing, mountaineering and bouldering. But any modern outdoor activity shows some connection to the natural world, despite the obvious alienation that can come with obsession with technology and the formality of how we structure the social and competitive elements of our interests.

Climbing/walking/running/cycling/kayaking/fishing - name your sport - are still all methods for being in your landscape, of moving through it with purpose for a while, or for just getting your hands dirty. Sports, in essence, are the modern way of growing our identities of place. Leisure activities have progressed and become so much more sophisticated, in terms of technology and rules of engagement, since the Victorians kicked off their empire of leisure pursuits, to the point where a sport such as mountaineering can include so many sub-sports, or offshoots, such as dry-tooling, bouldering, sports climbing, and 'traditional' climbing ... a long evolution from the Alpenstock ice-axe!

They all root to the same core desire, to be outside, finding our place, temporarily marking our spots with codified athleticism, or scribbling our names on the wall of time in a kind of temporal invisible ink. I like to think of a blog or social media as invisible ink, drying briefly to focus a message, before it dissolves again before your eyes.

Here ends thought #1 on Lifescapes...

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