ArnaudBarras.ch ArnaudBarras.ch

ArnaudBarras.ch

Critical, creative and digital writingEcriture critique, créative et numérique

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07 June

0840 – Hostel in BroomeToday I will be roaming aimlessly. It feels rather good. I might go to the beach, or I could spend some time in the town. I don't really know yet. Even though it makes me feel a tad uncomfortable, it is also the point of my journey. To learn to "let go". I've done my travelling and sightseeing, and I am now ready for the relaxing. After a year of constant thinking, I need to break away from that, lest I break down myself. At least that's the excuse I tell myself this morning. I've never thought about that before actually. It's funny how the flow of words can take you to places you had not even envisioned independently of language. The question is whether this linguistic world matters, or if it's just another illusion that masks our true intention? 1107 – Cable BeachI can't complain. I live the good life. 1252 – Zanders Restaurant, Cable BeachI'm sipping a beer (James Squire's "50 lashes") at the super expensive restaurant that towers over Cable Beach. I'm not rich, but here I feel like I am. Compared to the numerous broke people/youths I see here, I think I must appear as a billionaire. I don't mind, actually. I've got the feeling I've been writing a lot. Yet, I wonder: have I written anything of value? Am I gonna get anything out of this trip and writing journey? I had a nice chat today at the hostel, with a bloke named Scott. For once someone seemed interested in my job as an academic in environmental literary criticism. We talked about the prescriptive nature of texts, about technology and modernity, about fracking and oil sands, about Dune and Dan Simmons's Hyperion quadrilogy. I realise I'm more social than I thought. I'm just not good at initiating first contact. But when I start talking and listening, I'm easy going. The sun was scorching when I was on the beach. I spent 90 minutes there, and went to the water three-four times. Why I'm writing this, I don't really know. I guess this is a bit cliché, but I wanted to let it out. I miss Leslie. She brings me so much. More than I could imagine. We've been away from each other for too long. I can't wait to make her part of my environment again. It feels weird to be on holiday on my own. It's the first time in my life. I'm not sure I like it as much as others. I'm more of a couple person, I guess. Having someone to converse with, someone I've chosen, someone I know well and with whom I know I'll have future talks. I don't mind small talk, but I fail to see the long-lasting effects of these ephemeral relationships. I've always strived to build/weave a life of my own. My impression is that micro-friendships do not participate in that endeavor. Sure, they bring novelty and change, but in the end they seem pointless. More a way of killing time than a way of moving on in life. I heard three 30-year-old folks say "yolo" to each other today at the beach. "You only live once" is the tritest thing one can say. I guess it functions as a speech act for acting stupidly and unreasonably. It's as if the phrase justifies any behavior, as if a slogan could rule your life. It is definitely an illness of our time, where people live by rules they have themselves created, without even thinking about their long-lasting effects. Of course you only live once, you moron! That's why rash behaviors are selected out. That's why stupid practice is eradicated by natural selection. It's antithetical to use this phrase to justify rashness. It's proof you don't understand anything at all! "You only live once" means you must savor this life, but also that you must cherish it, make all that's possible to keep it going. Geez! People scare me. Sorry if I'm ranting. I can't help it. Leslie would understand. That's why I love her so much. 1356 – Zanders Restaurant, Cable BeachRaaaaarh! Pizzaaaaaaa! I'm full. I had a big fat ol'pizza at the restaurant by the beach. Now I feel like napping for the rest of the day. Funny how a meal can reverse the tide of your day. It's like a good meal was a prerequisite of a good day. Or perhaps a good day is a corollary of a good meal. Whatever. I'm satisfied. I've noticed I can't write poetry these days. I assume it's because I'm never truly alone. I do get what Wordsworth meant by poetry being "recollection in tranquility". You need a peculiar environment if you want to write well. This is in substance what Tom Griffiths told us at the environmental history workshop: you need a workbench, a desk, an office of your own if you want to write good quality research. This is similar to Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, where she is arguing against the idea that women are less creative than men. On the contrary, given the same circumstances, the same environment, anyone could have a creative streak of some sort. 1715 – Hostel in BroomeDoing nothing that matters is an interesting moment in one's life. But it can't go on for too long, lest you get sick of it. I'm not there yet, but I have to say that not having a place where I feel safe and at home makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable. I'm wary of other people's looks, of their judgment. It's high school all over again. I'm clearly not in my natural habitat here. I need privacy, and not having it keeps me on edge. Perhaps am I too observant, or perhaps too influenced by others' feelings; too empathic for my own good perhaps? Maybe… It's Saturday: two more days to go... And in exactly 10 days, I'll see my sweet Leslie, after 134 days away from her. Way too long… I can't wait for her to be around. 1915 – Hostel in BroomeI's funny how a place can seem so depressing when the ratio area/people is off. Or perhaps the farniente atmosphere of the day has taken its toll, and now people are just bored out of their mind. Apathy arises when too much inactivity has taken place, or not taken place... I've started rereading To the Islands today. It's been much easier to relate to landscape descriptions of hills, gorges, rivers, pools, winds, etc. There's no mistaken, experiencing a region directly enriches reading about it. The question is why? Is it because I now have experiential memories of it? Or perhaps I now pay more attention to the descriptions of the landscape? Perhaps my attitude towards the text has changed. What is sure is that I can relate more fully to the storyworld. What does that imply in relation to the power of literary texts to create a link between readers and described places? I wonder… I've got the feeling that texts can create an affective resonance with place. But can they substitute the actual experiencing of places? Texts have immersive powers for sure. Bu the story is as important as the place description. It is easier to feel affected by a story than by a landscape, at least in my opinion. Strangely, I can sympathise with Heriot, and idealist who has been disillusioned by the reality of mission life. I was disillusioned the same way after my first few teaching experiences. Of course, I'm aware of the paternalistic attitude of the protagonist, but this doesn't undermine the analogy. I was very patronizing too when I first taught undergraduate students. Although I tried my best, my take on teaching was wrong, like Heriot's. So a good text is one that has a world animated by a story; a storyworld that is dynamic, fluid, evolving, etc. That's no breakthrough, I know. To conclude with my lament, I think that one cannot completely experience a world through representations. One needs to interact with this world directly. Of course, it is easier to relate to a story insofar as it depicts situation you have experienced yourself. Perhaps the power of literature is to create a link between familiar stories and unfamiliar worlds. In that case, descriptions of the landscape do not matter as much as how the space/place relates to the story. Am I making myself clear here? It is the conjunction of story and place, of organism and environment that matters. Nice landing back on your feet, Mister B!