Robert Macfarlane on using landscape to make sense of ourselves

‘I have long been fascinated by how people understand themselves using landscape, by the topographies of self we carry within us and by the maps we make with which to navigate these interior terrains. We think in metaphors drawn from place and sometimes those metaphors do not only adorn our thought, but actively produce it. Landscape, to borrow George Eliot’s phrase, can ‘enlarge the imagined range for self to move in’.

As I envisage it, landscape projects into us not like a jetty or peninsula, finite and bounded in its volume and reach, but instead as a kind of sunlight, flickeringly unmappable in its plays yet often quickening and illuminating. We are adept, if occasionally embarrassed, at saying what we make of places – but we are far less good at saying what places make of us. For some time now it has seemed to me that the two questions we should ask of any strong landscape of these: firstly, what do I know when I am in this place that I can know nowhere else? And then, vainly, what does this place know of me that I cannot know of myself?’

‘The Old Ways’ – Robert Macfarlane

Fascinating excerpt from a fascinating book, about walking the ancient paths and ways that criss-cross our land – and the intimate and inextricable interweavings with the topography of creativity and the human psyche. Here’s the book link:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Old-Ways-Journey-Foot/dp/0141030585/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1483532442&sr=1-1&keywords=robert+macfarlane+the+old+ways

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

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