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Permanently Unlost in the Infinitely Receding Forest

August 11th, 2011

Where I live now, no matter where I stand or how far I walk, it always looks like the woods are just beginning beyond the farthest-away squat little fenced-in company cottage I can see. I can pursue them, but when I get there, they’ve inevitably receded to exactly the same distance as before.

These days the actual forests have barb-wire fences around them and the skulls are decidedly un-mossy, so I dwell in forests of the mind. Justin has recently introduced me to the concept of psychogeography, which I gather basically demarcates any attempt to interpret urban landscape as the product, or the manifestation, of the internal landscapes of its inhabitants. I’m going to bend that a little to fit my own purposes. Or maybe completely ignore it, just fall back on the usual influences—Castaneda, Borges, Freud and Thoreau—under a different auspice.

Outside my office window there is an auto-body shop. It’s ugly. It makes high-pitched metallic noises repetitively. I have undertaken the mental exercise of replacing it with various monolithic elements of natural landscape lifted from my experience: a lichened granite ledge shaped by glacial processes, a kettlehole pond, a field of wildflowers, a hemlock glade, a Yucatan thicket, a colossal zoomorph of the Classic Maya. It works, to a point. There are some landscapes to which that space just won’t lend itself, even in my imagination: the mazelike warrens of thirty-foot boulders populated by owls and deer and Polyporous berkleyii in the woods of Satans Kingdom surrounding the neighborhood where I grew up. Or, you know, any mountainside I’ve ever fallen down.

But it keeps the bats out, if you get me.

   Environmentalism, Religion, Writings | 6 Comments »



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6 Comments »

  • Justin says:

    What would happen if you were to let the bats in, even if only for a little bit?

    • mjd says:

      They would probably start ordering RPGs from the internet. Or maybe try to rent a fleet of wrecking balls and bulldozers. It would go badly.

  • Liz Smith says:

    This reminded me of a post I saw on Peter Chausseud’s blog (which is here: http://trenchmaps.blogspot.com/) about trench names in WWI. I can’t find the post I remember from then, however. You may find a couple of other interesting things on that site, but perhaps he took that other post down, or moved it to another blog, or I am too tired to figure it out.

    Best of luck to you.

  • ronya says:

    I suspect we’re all practicing this definition of psychogeography (I love that there is a name for it).

    • mjd says:

      It’s a great concept, isn’t it? I was recently reminded of the existence of the word “solipsism”, which refers to the philosophical conviction that you yourself are the only thing that actually exists in the universe. Egomania raised to heroic scale. I thought a lot about that concept as a kid, though I didn’t know the word. But I like how those two ideas fit together: we’re all a bunch of solipsists battling for supremacy. 😉

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