Where we came from

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Oct 312006

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walkingtalkingwriting emerged from the wilderness; a wilderness of hurt and ‘well, what do we do now?’ and ‘where do we go from here?’ A place (or position) that was well captured by some of the bleaker parts of Dartmoor and at the same time belonged in the great cities of the world–cities being spaces that not only have their own wildness but also have cafés where we can sit and write (not many of those on Dartmoor).
So Paris–Vienna–Belgrade–Istanbul by train was a perfect vehicle to test out walkingtalkingwriting. The schedule only allowed a couple of hours in Paris and Vienna, but in Belgrade we had two nights and one full day, and in Istanbul we managed three days.
Travelling by train proved both an inspirational idea and a brilliant modus operandi: not only did we have the sense of timelessness of many hours trundling across the Hungarian plain and through Serbian mountains (constantly stunned by beauty), but it was a timelessness that reached back into our shared European history of the last couple of hundred years. A journey through the current versions of nation states, and through the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires, the cataclysmic wars of the 20th century and consequent division of Europe into East and West, Communist and Capitalist.
And there to remind us of another sort of timelessness was the peasant economy, the small fields, the non-mechanised agriculture, the horse and cart, and maybe a small tractor here and there. Seeing it with a sense of gratitude because how much longer does that way of life have, as more and more of us are led into the cities.


Uncertain Tasks

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Oct 312006

ref: mmj Post 21 Oct 2006 12.05 : ‘THISISABOOK… The uncertain task… to condense and funnel… a work entitled "Istanbul" ‘.

ak describes the uncertain task this way – ‘making the invisible visible’. The invisible moment. In other words an event:

1. for the art of making the present visible; ref Anne Carson, The Economy of the Unlost

2. for the impression of the visible (a theory); ref Slavoj Zizek, The Parallax View

What the reviewer (London Review of Books, 7 Sept 2006, Pp 7-8) described as these "scandalous" modes of intervening in the world.ak and mmj are travelling without laptops, cam-corders or other sophisticated electronic apparatus – apart from our digital cameras, and photographs which we anticipate being able to add to pour posts, as evidence, and proof of travel, material to assist the work (of fiction).

This may all take a little time (reader be patient!). We practice this Yoga… along with meditation and prayer – these are personal revelations from the Files marked "Confidential" – ak is a Roman Catholic, mmj a Buddhist. Both converted to their faiths; this uncertain task, looking for God, looking for the Triple Gem. Both recognise the restraint of their faiths: this uncertain task; the restraint of God, the restraint of the Triple Gem.


Back to front thoughts

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Oct 302006

Because there are too many thoughts folded in, one upon the other, interleaved, without apparent order, I fear there will be a somewhat random unfolding of experiences and interpretations.
One thing I read (in Istanbul) and was forcibly struck by, was Anne Carson (in Economy of the Unlost) quoting (in a footnote on page 105) Thomas Carlyle:

“I was strong, of unknown strength, a spirit, almost a god . . . Thus had the Everlasting No peeled authoritively through all the recesses of my being, of my Me: and then it was that my whole Me stood up, in native God-created majesty and with emphasis recorded its Protest. Such a Protest, the most important transaction in life might be called.”

I knew I wanted to start the posts from Istanbul, though I didn’t quite know why, I think it’s in the nature of a shout – that “Everlasting No” of Carlyle.


The lost agenda

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Oct 262006

This is one of the best city in the world to be lost, Istanbul has so many of the characteristic of lostness; a blue haze both falling from avbove and rising from the waters between Europe and Asia, a feeling akin to sadness (huzun or melancholia) but a cool invigorating morning air; the oxymoron, finding where to get lost; a loss of direction, and the call to prayer; the recollection of the loss of memory, no cleverness but contradiction, Rebecca Solnit described it so.

Notebook for Thursday October 26th: Agenda. The day began in a state of lostness, and the decision was to walk in the direction of the city walls aiming to reach the church whose name that could not be remembered, another museum, and following the road that lead straight to the west, walking along broad pavements accompanied by the other walkers of the city, walkers whose pace was similar, suitable for one to two hours walking.

Mosaics in gold. Ikons. The face of an identifiable Christ, and the 8-sided cross in the corner dome.

After visiting the church, a shower of rain forced shelter under a grimy arch through the old city walls, an old soot blackened gate, the Ottoman seals of conquest barely discernable in the key stones, the new accompanying the old, the gate alongside the restored parts of the city walls, then the glistening road leading downwards towards the Sea of Marmaris.

- Danger, he said. The young man, perhaps a student, had emerged from nowhere. A meeting on the damp road, gestures of a desire to continue. – Danger, he repeated, so that it was necessary to retrace our steps and go another way.

Belgrade -”Perfect for the Purpose”: PART ONE

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Oct 232006

Autumn2006pics_027 READ this photograph this way:

1. The railway track in the foreground; as if this is where we got off en route from Vienna to Istanbul, Belgrade representing the FRONTIER between those two states of mind (that of Europe and of the Middle East) better than any other city.

2. ABOUT "The Spice of Danger" – Although some might think this kind of criss-crossong dangerous, here in Belgrade it is unexceptional for all and sundry on foot to walk accross railway lines and busy city highways with no pedestrian crossing points (note the crash barrier) in order to reach the relaxing and delightful grounds of the famous Kalemgaden fortress. Indeed, this kind of ‘touristic walking’ is considered so normal a thing in the city that somebody kind has constructed concrete steps to ease our passage up the embankment between railway line and road: the spice of danger. The equivalent gastronomically is the standard "Serbian Salad"; sliced tomatoes and onions, deliciously sweetened by the sun, with oil and vinegar, and then the whole spiced with chunks of raw red chilis.

3. "BALKAN" is one way of saying how geography creates a squeeze: our backs here were at the junction point of the mighty rivers Sava and Danube, between north and south, or east and west. Our route was to the south, the Holy Man leads the way- straight up the ramparts of course!


Belgrade – “Perfect for the Purpose” PART TWO

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Oct 232006

Later we promenaded through the garden like everyone else, enjoying the midday warmth of a last dry autumn day – the browns, yellows, reds and dissolving greens.


It ought to be the "Radetsky March", and there should be young men in Hussar uniforms, and walking arm in arm with women holding white lace parasols, while the military band plays on.

But this is now the city of "Turbo-Folk" (nationalist music); close by on the ornate wrought iron and wood park bench, the young woman is sitting astride her boy-friend. They kiss passionately, the SLEEK STYLE tightness of their jeans hardly separating cloth from cloth.

Then on south along the pedestrianised Kneza Mihalia, Cyrilic letters give way to Roman, and there are names like Prada and Top Shop. Café society, boys and girls out walking. Sleek. Here everyone is sleek. Some are beautiful, but few actually have the money to buy.

On out along the "Terazije" of the Kneza Mihalia, the Terrace; the long 1000 metre Boulevard along the central ridge of the city, the crowds on wide pavements now joined by cars and buses in the wide street; the "Terazije" that joins Kalemegdan to the Sanctuary of Saint Sava, fortress direct to church, church direct to fortress, to remind that Belgrade is frontier and here all walking is upon an edge.


Is this a journey?

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Oct 222006

All day on the flat dust-dry Magyar plains, warm sun , intense autumn colours, brown, saffron yellow and cochee red, the first hills after the Serbian border lift the heart. But we are not journalists; travel, when we meet, who we meet; the web publication of unabashed story.

ISTANBUL timetable

 Posted by at 11:55 am  Atelier  Comments Off
Oct 212006

London: 12.09 depart Waterloo – Paris: 17.16 depart Gare d’Est – Vienna: 22/10 10.03 depart – Belgrade: 24/10 08.40 – arrive Istanbul 25/10 08.25