Friday, January 29, 2010

Sites

THERE ARE PLACES we have visited on various travels that have seemed very special, from a "medicine wheel" at 10,000 feet in Wyoming to the Fontaine de Vaucluse in Provence; from the stone-age city at Filitosa in Corsica to the Canyon de Chelley in Arizona. What all these places have in common is the not-verbally-articulable meaning they seem to offer to our visit: they speak to us, silently, about something we recognize without understanding, without even in any ordinary sense knowing.
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I think about these places a lot, under any circumstances; but I've been thinking about them especially recently since I began transcribing my journal of a trip we took through Corsica and Sardinia over twenty years ago, in 1988. Here you have a photo of the spring at Su Gologone, in Sardinia. As these places go, the places I'm discussing I mean, it's pretty well manicured, turned almost into a park, with carefully planted willows and — hmm; what are those white-barked trees in a row? — and stone retaining walls and carefully graded walks contained by concrete curbs.

Turn away from this view, though, and look out across the pool toward a grassy clearing among the trees, and we feel we're looking at a site that's been here relatively uninflected by recent human attention. It might have looked much like this a thousand years ago, two thousand, ten. This may be merely sentimental: even so, the feeling's worth thinking about.
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Why does the place seem familiar, though I've never been here before? There are sensations here common to other such places: the calm air within these trees; the sounds of the water; the soft feel of the calm air on my skin. The place conspires to distract me from more specific and immediate issues: the car I've left in the parking lot, the few…

to be continued

3 comments:

Curtis Faville said...

I once told a friend that if Beethoven hadn't written the Pastoral Symphony, then someone else would have, it sounds so "inevitable" to my ears.

But your essay here is among the unfinished.

I spent lots of time at Canyon de Chelly in the 1980's and 1990's, lugging my big view cameras around on the rim, looking for views. Fending off the occasional young obstreperous brave looking to score a little extortion money. Avoiding the tortuous potholes. Many's the time I stood within inches of slippery 500 foot drop-offs. There's a certain romance of photography, and danger is a part of that.

You're a serious traveler.

雪糕 said...

I love readding, and thanks for your artical.........................................

努力 said...

TAHNKS FOR YOUR SHARING~~~VERY NICE ........................................