Saturday, 3 April 2010

Memory Maps

We started making them after the 1st Quarter, and a week or so ago I found that Marina Warner has already beautifully articulated what it is we are doing:
Mapping memories involves listening in to other people's ghosts as well as your own. Dérive - the French for drift - characterizes this approach, rather than more purposeful terms like quest or research, though memory maps demand processes of investigation and endless curiosity and an impulse towards wonder. Memory mapping grows out of daydreaming, reverie, and the unbidden images that come up in the mind. This is writing as fugue, as enigma variations, as ... the phantasmic flow of consciousness. A dériveur arrives at 'astonishment upon the terrain of familiarity,' writes Robert Macfarlane, and becomes 'more sensitive to the hidden histories and encrypted events of the city' - or the country.
I strongly encourage you to read and relish the rest of this wonderful essay and explore the Victoria & Albert's Memory Maps site.

Perhaps my favourite part of Warner's piece is the penultimate paragraph:
As the Memory Maps grow, they will go on connecting different people and places across time and in the present. Such an exchange between images and writings, past and present, memory and imagination, releases energy: the energy of stories.
The energy of stories is certainly what has drawn me back to the Weald, and particularly to the one small patch of it we now spending a year documenting and exploring. I feel inspired to try and find others in the village who have memories of Parson's Wood and weave their stories into my own.


  1. Fascinating!
    Memory mapping is what we do when we blog I suppose... gathering fragments, places, memories, words, images and connecting across space and time...

  2. I've often wondered what it is about blogging and Twitter that so appeals to me - a woman who secretly wishes we still lived in the world of manual typewriters. I think you've just answered that question and created a beautiful analogy...thank you!