The eerie (but not weird) nature of my daily ‘lockdown’ walk
|An eerie New Square|
It is a strange feeling, stumbling upon an experience that we wish we had the apt words to describe, a precise language to capture. When we don’t, we are in a state of hypocognition, which means we lack the linguistic or cognitive representation of a concept to describe ideas or interpret experiences.
|Blossom on De Freville Avenue|
|Blossom in the Community Orchard, Midsummer Common|
I’ve heard a lot of people say to me that the situation feels to them ‘weird’ but, thanks to the work of Mark Fisher (1968-2017), I don’t think this is the right word at all because it obscures some important nuances about the uneasy, unnerving, off-kilter, angst-making wrongness of it all that we need to articulate.
For Fisher, as Roger Luckhurst puts it in his LA Review of Books piece from March 2017, the weird is a ‘disturbing obtrusion of something from the outside in’, an ‘insidious intrusion’, a ‘confounding juxtaposition’, a ‘thing found in the wrong place’ (LA Review of Books).
But, of course, as I take my daily walk with Susanna there are no insidious intrusions that make a confounding juxtaposition; there are no things found in the wrong place. Instead, on Christ’s Pieces, Jesus Green, Midsummer Common and New Square I am simply finding all the usual, and to me still quite beautiful and uplifting, ‘commonplace’ signs of burgeoning spring, daffodils, cherry, apple, black- and hawthorn blossom, new leaves, cows, squirrels, birds and so on. (All the pictures in this post have been taken whilst on these walks. Just click on a photo to enlarge it.)
So, no, the experience is not weird at all. However, having said that it sure as hell isn’t at all commonplace. Fisher helps out here by offering us a second word, namely, the ‘eerie.’ For Fisher
|An eerie Midsummer Common from Maids' Causeway|
|A martenitsa in a tree on Christ's Pieces|
For we know that all creation groans together and labours together in birth pangs, up to this moment; Not only this, but even we ourselves, having the firstfruits of the spirit, groan within ourselves as well, anxiously awaiting adoption, emancipation of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but a hope seen is not hope; for why hope for what one sees? But, if we hope for what we do not see, we anticipate by perseverance. And likewise the spirit also gives us aid in our infirmity; for we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the spirit itself makes intercession with unutterable groans.
|Cattle on Midsummer Common|
In the first instance ‘creation’, in the form of our planet’s complex, intra-acting ecosystems, is clearly groaning under the pressure of our many destructive actions and general ways of being in the world (think of the ecological crisis we are in). This groaning is increasingly making us realise that from out of this parlous and painful situation some new state of affairs will be born, though what that will be (and what it will ultimately mean for humankind) is far from clear.
|Daffodils and houseboat on the river at Midsummer Common|
|Blossom by the Fort St George Bridge|
|Flowers and boat by Midsummer Common|
But, at the very least, the eerie cry/groan I sense every time I take my daily walk (which has always been for me a kind of prayer/meditation practice), seems to me to be both a powerful wake-up call to us to pay close attention to how the world actually is and our actual place within it, and also a timely reminder that (figurative/poetic) intercessions of any kind will mean nothing if those for whom the intercessions are being made (poeisis) do not truly change their ways in consequence.
|Blossom on Christ's Pieces|
|Blossom on an eerie Jesus Green|