I’ve toured a lot in the last decade, though things pandemical put a crimp – a proper, necessary crimp – in automatic travel for a while.
When I started all this, paper maps – the ones with the worn folds obliterating some of the critical information, with road food stains making it hard to read – were vital to the proceedings. They were paper hints, really, that we traced with our fingers, guessing how long it would take to drive an inch.
Since that time, as everybody seems to know, it’s mapquest and google map and the like. I watch the drivers ‘look things up’ now, head down, screen bound, and if the circuits all work we get where we mean to go. But we didn’t learn anything enroute, not really, except to hang on every word the canned voice with the optional accent uttered. Having just driven the route, we’d be hard pressed to to it again. We’d need the technology. We’d need it every time out. We were ectopic, every time. We’d moved. But we still weren’t anywhere. We didn’t learn a place. We overcame a place.
Modern humans in our corner of the world are water spiderish, masters of surface tension, pronouncing upon the depths of the life beneath us without ever getting wet or dirty, increasingly strangers in an increasingly strange land, efficient and vagrant and care worn all at once, the way homeless people can be. No wonder ‘rewilding’ looks like a good idea to so many. They seem to imagine it’s like going home, minus the drudgery of mortgage and maintenance.
My upcoming residency at the Pari Centre is me taking this dislocation, this strangerhood, the inchoate yearning after home and after belonging more than seriously. This world we’ve been entrusted with needs us to start belonging here, while we still can – if we still can – and stop owning the joint, stop pretending they’re the same thing. Dying will teach you that none of us really own anything. It’s a conceit born of transience and amnesia. Belonging somewhere is us coming to our senses, while we still can. If we still can. It isn’t wise to wait for instruction on the matter from our own undoing.
This matters to you. I’m sure it does. That’s why you’re reading this. It matters to me, too. I’m travelling an awful long way in four weeks time, across another ocean, another continent, to take up the Pari people on their kind offer to host this reclaiming, this four day prayer for getting claimed by the particulars of place.
I’ll no doubt have to rely on some kind of AI to get there. I won’t be doing anything like this again.
Nothing’s pure, nothing’s easy when you’re trying to do something about the death spiral of a people mapquesting for culture. But the people to come are going to ask what we did when we began to learn how rough things were, how serious. Never Land is one of my answers. It could be one of yours, too, if you’d like. It won’t be about getting more, being more, feeling more. Enough already with increase. No more ‘more’. We’ll get earthbound, to find out what the ground means, what belonging asks of us.
This is me asking for allies.
Founder of Orphan Wisdom