Wanderings #11/52a: Ancient Lands And A Very Particular Atmosphere From Back When
I feel that “say no more” might be appropriate at this point…
For a while now when I find myself in those reasonably-rare-nowadays places, bricks and mortar second hand bookshops, I will take myself off to browse the section/s called something like Topography, Landscape or maybe Nature for largely photography based books that capture a particular kind of mood or atmosphere.
What that atmosphere is I find hard to quite be able to put my finger on but the books often seem to be from the 1970s, to have a quietly haunted atmosphere, a certain kind of dour British representation of the landscape (and I don’t use dour here in a negative sense, it’s more in a, hmmm, expressively subdued manner).
Maybe a certain sense of loss or melancholia but not in a purely hankering after the past and stasis manner.
I think one of the first of such books I bought along such lines was probably The Right Side Of The Hedge by Chris Chapman or possibly, when I was heading in the general direction of such things, Vanishing Britain by Roy Christian (both of which are from 1977).
Such books and work aren’t deliberately hauntological, the idea and phrase had not yet been created, it’s rather that with the passing of time they seem to contain within them an often quite subtle left-of-centre sense of the land, its layers, marks and spirit.
As I say, it’s hard to quite define but I know it when I see it (and sometimes it can be just in one or two photographs in a book rather than the whole thing).
One of the books along these lines that I’ve mentioned before is Monumental Follies, which I was pointed towards by Jason Hazeley, author of B* To Alton Towers and the modern day humorous reinterpretings of Ladybird books that the nation seems to have taken to their hearts and homes in fairly large quantities.
Monumental Follies and other similar books seem to step aside from the more chocolate box, rose tinted view of such things; there is a sense in the photographs they contain that maybe the weather was fairly permanently under an overcast, grey 1970s sky that was forever about to ruin family days out.
(The image that starts this particular wandering is from Anthony Burton and Jorge Lewinski’s Wilderness Britain book. Published in 1985, just to break the mould a little.)
Intertwined wanderings around these parts:
Week #4/52: The Following Of Ghosts – File Under Psychogeographic / Hauntological Stocking Fillers
(Wherein I consider Mr Hazeley and fellow writers/journeyers B* To Alton Towers… which if I was writing this post in thirty or so years time I expect may well be included in with such books as the above due to an understated melancholy and sense of loss which can be found amongst its pages.)