Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Spirit of Place

What is the Spirit of Place?

It is tuning in to the place having a greater feel for it. The writer, Lawrence Durrell suggests travelling with eyes open. Capturing the spirit thus has to be experienced first and not necessarily narrated. Capturing is perhaps what the serious mountaineer does well. With just a pause, breathing, a rest sitting in a stone, some quiet moments or a gaze at the tree and the summit, he knows the place. Because the physical trek in itself which requires some degree of effort already prepares him for the commune with nature. Slowly leaving behind the woes of organization, tasks and routine of urban living, he slowly enters into the realm of the mountaineer’s “freedom of the hills.” When this happens, he has experienced and captured the spirit of their place, the mountain.

Quoting Lawrence Durrell, a novelist, dramatist, travel writer and poet
 “It is a pity indeed to travel and not get this essential sense of landscape values. You do not need a sixth sense for it. It is there if you just close your eyes and breathe softly through your nose; you will hear the whispered message, for all landscapes ask the same question in the same whisper. 'I am watching you - - are you watching yourself in me?' Most travelers hurry too much ... the great thing is to try and travel with the eyes of the spirit wide open, and not to much factual information. To tune in, without reverence, idly -- but with real inward attention. It is to be had for the can extract the essence of a place once you know how. If you just get as still as a needle, you'll be there.”

Lawrence Durrell, Spirit Of Place: Letters And Essays On Travel

Quoting lines from Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo's introduction to the book Over a Cup of Ginger Tea
"I remember a phrase from Durrell – “a spirit of place.” He believed that travel writers needed to have a feel for that, a country’s special ambiance, compounded of landscape and history and the taste of the wine produced in its vineyards and the songs sung by its poets, which in turn affected the people’s character. And he believed one didn’t get that sense by going on tours. One got it by sitting quietly in a café or under a tree and allowing it to happen to one."

Hidalgo, Cristina Pantoja. 2006. Over a Cup of Ginger Tea. Quezon City: The University of the Philippines Press

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