Thursday, June 20, 2019

Kerry Says ~ Human-Landscape Interactions

I have long been fascinated with art and creative writing, not only as a means of self-expression, but also as a clue to certain psychological structures within the minds of both artist and audience.
Starry Night is, perhaps, an obvious example of this, which is why the painting has remained relevant.

Starry Night - Vincent Van Gogh

We, as the audience, 'see ourselves' in the way other people portray the world. Lately, I have been considering how that can also be applied to the way we perceive the actual world around us, the landscape or geography which we inhabit or which we feel drawn to. Do we recognize something of ourselves in favourite places?

In researching my idea, I read some interesting theories, which I share here to create some context for today's challenge.

"We wanted to explore how the surrounding landscape affects people, both in terms of their perceptions and their behavior," explains Scott Yabiku (ASU). "Since human behavior ultimately transforms the environment, the feedback people get from their surroundings is important to understand."

Human-landscape interactions, also often described as nature-society or human-environment interactions, is a topic examined by multiple disciplines.. Major theories that link culture and landscape address how environments affect the development of cultures, how cultural activities impact environments, and how interactions in both directions are processed through perceptions and cultural values that are also linked to identity. Source

In Book 1 of William Wordsworth's poem The Prelude, the poet 'describes stealing a boat and taking it for a row on Ullswater. The mixed feelings this act arouses lead to the young Wordsworth feeling pursued by the landscape – the mountains even haunt his dreams.'

I fixed my view
Upon the summit of a craggy ridge,
The horizon's utmost boundary; far above
Was nothing but the stars and the grey sky.
She was an elfin pinnace; lustily
I dipped my oars into the silent lake,
And, as I rose upon the stroke, my boat
Went heaving through the water like a swan;
When, from behind that craggy steep till then
The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge,
As if with voluntary power instinct
Upreared its head. I struck and struck again,
And growing still in stature the grim shape
Towered up between me and the stars, and still,
For so it seemed, with purpose of its own
And measured motion like a living thing,
Strode after me. With trembling oars I turned,
And through the silent water stole my way
Back to the covert of the willow tree...   (An extract from The Prelude, Book 1, William Wordsworth)

My idea for today's challenge is that we select a natural place with which we are familiar, or select a picture/photograph of a scene which has some meaning to convey about our own ideology, philosophy, psychology and to write about it in a way to transform the descriptive into something more metaphoric or symbolic to the human condition. Thus our journey to this place is both an outward and inward reflection of experience.

The Japanese Bridge - Claude Monet
Take for example, this famous scene, and ask: What does the bridge suggest to you? Do willows trailing in a lily pond have added significance to your own memories?

I believe the challenge will be easier if you feel connected to a particular landscape, but I believe it could also work if you choose a mountain range, sea shore, forest setting, so long as it appeals to your way of thinking. Here I am sharing a poem I wrote back in 2010, recently handwritten in ink, which shows the link between melancholy and the immediate environment.


I hope that this challenge is broad enough to encourage participation. I do wish for it to be as open-ended as possible to invite various unique responses. So I leave you with the idea, but no distinctive 'rules' of engagement.


Sanaa Rizvi said...

Loved the prompt, Kerry! ❤️ Early Thursday morning here ... will be back later to read and comment. I m excited and looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with! 😊

Kerry O'Connor said...

Thanks, Sanaa. I have been thinking about this challenge for a while but have yet to write my own response. Haha! I am also looking forward to the responses.

Lori said...

I had a write come immediately into mind. For me it's water.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Wonderful! thanks, Lori.

Margaret said...

I loved this prompt - I hope I did it correctly. I'm off to NYC and Montclair NJ until July 2, but I am going to try and keep up.

Linda Lee Lyberg said...

Kerry- Your prompts are always so interesting. I hope I came close to what you were aiming for.

Susie Clevenger said...

I'm sure I didn't meet the nature aspect of this prompt, but it sparked something I needed to write. I thank you as always for such beautiful inspiration.

Jim said...

This was a nice prompt for me personally, Kerry. I like both Van Gogh and Monet and have traveled through their haunts in France (walked Monet's bridge, touched Van Gogh's sanatorian). My sentiments rest with the poor underdog, Gogh, because of the hard life he led personally and financially. We've spent time with some Letrek of Toulouse haunts also, visited his Museum Albi, and walked with his immoral living especially in Paris.

iamthewalrus said...

A bridge prompt is always so plum perfect for me. Thank you so, Kerry~

Rommy said...

Sliding in with a later than average entry, but I couldn't resist.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Hi Kerry, I am VERY late to this as have been having adventures out in the Real World. LOL. But this is a story that is important to me, so I wrote this rather incoherently, but from the heart, as it just matters so much - how we take care of the land. Or, these days, how we don't.

brudberg said...

This prompt came right in our midsummer celebration, but I will not forget it and will for sure return to it.