the usefulness of placelessness
I went to hear Iain Sinclair’s talk at University College Falmouth today on the subject of place in literature. He covered a range of authors particularly interested in locality, including Herman Melville, Charles Olson, James Joyce, Ed Dorn, and T.S. Eliot, and anchored his talk around the construction of the new 2012 Olympic site in Greenwich.
The talk had a sort of wandering structure, moving seamlessly and naturally through ideas with total fluidity and clarity, which was a sort of perfect accompaniment to his speaking about the beauty of wandering aimlessly in wildness (or wilderness) — albeit as something now lost beneath the more popular 21st-century pastime of roaming through shopping malls under police camera surveillance. (He also talked about the prison wandering of Adolf Hitler’s architect Albert Speer, one of whose projects during his 20 years’ imprisonment was to walk the distance from Berlin to Heidelberg in carefully measured circles around the prison yard.)
Sinclair mentioned once asking the poet Ed Dorn, whom he had interviewed (and who was apparently very taken with the quality of the light in the West Country), whether or not he thought that poetry was redundant. Of course it is, said Dorn, and what’s wrong with that?