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Path between autumn trees.


...that compelling need we all have, for stories that order our memories and hopes, and give shape and meaning to our individual and collective lives...Durkheim argued that without such overarching stories, what he called ‘an idea that it constructs of itself’, there can in fact be no society.

Neil MacGregor (2018)


A path articulates its constituents: diverse elements are brought into relationships. Hoy sound looking out from Orkney. On the sewing of elementes together to form an explanation. A linear whole is formed from disparate parts. Complex of clouds. Disparate parts which seem originally to have been whole. So with stories which trace a way through our communal knowledge, linking previously scattered elements, offering meaning to otherwise random experiences. On a grander scale myths perform a similar role at a cultural level. Stories seem archetypal; ubiquitous, esteemed, absorbing. They take our nonlinear, a-temporal, particular Shafts of light on the landscape north of Sa Pa in Vietnam. Are these the building blocks of thought?
experiences, and form, out of these, a pathway that appeals across time, Model of south Iceland glacier wiwth inset of real thing. These pathways are part of how we construct the worlds in which we we live. and offers the security of universality. Configured from universals they become communally, publicly, memorable. But there is always a gap between our private subjective experience and the need for a shared objective view of our worlds. So stories are always approximations, umbrellas under which the particular and subjective can shelter.

The quote is taken from page xii of MacGregor’s book Living with the Gods, published by Knopf, in which he casts an acute art historian’s eye across the whole sea of human religious experiences as embodied in material artefacts

The photograph is of the walk beside the River Annan at Moffat in southern Scotland, in early autumn.

Above, hovering on blue introduces a link: click to go, move away to stay.


Saturday 25th December 2021

Murphy on duty to this site