Archive for March, 2015

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Chanctonbury Ring, a chalk spiral and ‘the basic motion of matter’

March 28, 2015

According to Asger Jorn, ‘the basic motion of matter has the character of the spiral’.*

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I don’t know who’s responsible for this spiral arrangement of chalk at Chanctonbury Ring, on the South Downs of West Sussex. I found the picture on an English Heritage page which now appears to have disappeared, though the picture was never attributed to anyone.

I remember the wooded hill as something of a sinister presence looming over us as we made our way to visit family in Crawley many years ago, and I read about the legend about the Devil appearing if you circled the (now much-depleted) clump of trees on its crest seven times. I wish I could track down the reference to the Theosophist perceiving the dance of Oreads on the top of this hill (or was it Cissbury Ring), manifesting as dancing light.

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Cows in the dew pond at Chanctonbury Ring in 1930 (Steyning Museum library collection).

* Peter Shield 1998 Comparative Vandalism: Asger Jorn and the artistic attitude to life. Aldershot: Borgen/Ashgate, p.43.

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Pine Trees, Embley Wood

March 24, 2015

A picture taken on my travels around Micheldever Forest a few years ago.

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One of the pines has been felled since…

Edit 11/4/2015: Here‘s an interesting article on the theft of wood and class composition.

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Burning the Temple: ‘from spark to phoenish’

March 21, 2015

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Last Saturday I finally got round to working on a log of pine, which I scavenged a few years ago on my travels around Micheldever Forest. As I sawed and hacked away at it a shape emerged, reminiscent of how I once imagined a Babylonian ziggurat looked.

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In fact, the nearest architectural correlate to this figure today (other than a fairground helter skelter) would be the Great Mosque of Samarra (long may it remain!).

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As it was, I was just chopping up a log to burn on what I hoped would be the last of the cold nights (it wasn’t). After several hours I ran out of steam and just heaved the whole edifice into the grate. I couldn’t help but think of it as a kind of temporary temple, to be consumed in the spirit of the decline and renewal of all things – that is, not as an idol to be destroyed, but an idol to be enjoyed. I saw it as a memorial to the years I used to work around that bit of Hampshire (no more, alas).

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I learn today that someone has built a huge wooden temple in Derry, filled with the wishes, prayers and thanks of people in the city. It is to be consumed in flames tonight.

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Hylda Baker and the Art of Invective

March 7, 2015