Robert Macfarlane

“I have come to understand that although place-words are being lost, they are also being created. Nature is dynamic, and so is language. Loanwords from Chinese, Urdu, Korean, Portuguese and Yiddish are right now being used to describe the landscapes of Britain and Ireland; portmanteaus and neologisms are constantly in manufacture. As I travelled I met new words as well as salvaging old ones: a painter in the Hebrides who used landskein to refer to the braid of blue horizon lines in hill country on a hazy day; a five-year-old girl who concoted honeyfur to describe the soft seeds of grasses held in the fingers. When Clare and Hopkins could not find words for natural phenomena, they just made them up: sutering for the cranky action of a rising heron (Clare), wolfsnow for a dangerous sea-blizzard, and slogger for the sucking sound made by waves against a ship’s side (both Hopkins). John Constable invented the verb to sky, meaning ‘to lie on one’s back and study the clouds’. We have forgotten 10,000 words for our landscapes, but we will make 10,000 more, given time.”

Robert Macfarlane, from Landmarks (Penguin, 2016)

Books, like landscapes, leave their marks in us. Sometimes these traces are so faint as to be imperceptible - tiny shifts in the weather of the spirit that do not register on the usual instruments. Mostly, these marks are temporary: we close a book, and for the next hour or two the world seems oddly brighter at its edges; or we are moved to a kindness or meanness that would otherwise have gone unexpressed. Certain books, though, like landscapes, stay with us even when we have left them, changing not just our weathers but our climates.
—  Robert Macfarlane, Landmarks
Wildness, according to this etymology, is an expression of independence from human direction, and wild land can be said to be self-willed land. Land that proceeds according to its own laws and principles, land whose habits – the growth of its trees, the movements of its creatures, the free descent of its streams through its rocks – are of its own devising and own execution. Land that, as the contemporary definition of wild continues, ‘acts or moves freely without restraint; is unconfined, unrestricted’.
—  Macfarlane, Robert (2009-10-01). The Wild Places (p. 28). Granta. Kindle Edition. 

“Some of the Celtic Christian literature that emerged from these centuries took the form of immram*, a word which might be translated perhaps as a ‘wonder-voyage’, a sea journey to an other-world. [These voyages] are narratives of passage, which move easily from the recognizable to the supernatural, fading from known into imagined geographies with minimal indication of transition.”

Robert Macfarlane, from “Water–South, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot (Penguin, 2012)

*An immram is a ‘rowing about’, from the Gaelic ramh, meaning ‘oar’, and can designate either a pragmatic journey or a mystical spirit-voyage; an iorram is a rowing song that laments the dead.”

It was only once I’d got home that I researched the folklore of Chanctonbury Ring. I now know it to be one of the most haunted places of the Downs. Sussex folklore, mostly from the late nineteeth and early twentieth centuries, is rife with examples of it as a portal to the otherworld. Arthur Beckett in his 1909 The Spirit of the Downs had reported that ‘if on a moonless night you walk seven times round Chanctonbury Ring without stopping, the Devil will come out of the wood and hand you a basin of soup’, in payment for your soul, which sounds like a poor exchange. More energetic variants of the summoning story stipulated that practitioners should circumambulate the Ring seventeen times on a full-moon night while naked, or run backwards seven times around the Ring at midnight on Midsummer Eve. The ghosts that had been summoned in this manner, apart from the Devil, included a Druid, a lady on a white horse, a white-bearded treasure seeker, a girl child, and Julius Caesar and his army. It clearly got crowded up there on busy nights.
—  Robert MacFarlane, The Old Ways

“[Vladimir] Nabokov, in his novel Transparent Things, reflects on the temporal vertigo that can come from the contemplation of the earth’s substance. ‘When we concentrate on a material object whatever its situation, the very act of attention may lead to our involuntarily sinking into the history of that object,’ such that we become ‘not of the now.’ [Jacquetta] Hawkes knew how to become not of the now–how to break the surface tension of the world, and sink into the deep-time dream-life of debris.”

Robert Macfarlane, from “Stone-Books,” Landmarks (Penguin, 2016)

Birbirine Dokunmayan Ağaçların Muhteşem Birlikteliği

Taç utangaçlığı” fenomenini duymuş muydunuz? En azından ağaçlık bir bölgede doğayla baş başa kaldığınızda gözlemleme fırsatınız olmuştur. Ağaçların üst dalları ve yaprakları birbirine değmez. Ağaçların kenarlarına adeta gökyüzü renginde bir kalemle kontur çekilmiş gibidir. Ağaçların arasından sızan gün ışığı ise ortaya büyüleyici bir görsel tablo çıkmasına neden olur.

“Taç utangaçlığı” kavramı, geçtiğimiz ay İngiliz yazar Robert Macfarlane tarafından sosyal medyanın gündemine taşındı.

İlk kez 1920’lerde gözlenen “taç utangaçlığı” hakkında birçok araştırma yapılmış ancak bilim insanları bunun nedeni hakkında hala bir fikir birliğine varamamışlar. Bu fenomen hakkında öne çıkan tezlerden biri, zararlı böceklerin yayılmaması için gösterilen bir davranış olduğu yönünde. Bir diğer tez de fotosentez için ihtiyaç duyulan ışığın kesilmemesi için bu boşlukların bırakıldığını savunuyor. Ağaçların rüzgar ve benzeri dış etkenler nedeniyle çarpışıp fiziksel hasar görmemesi için de bu davranışı gösterdiğini savunan araştırmacılar var.

Dilerim gelecek nesillere de bu fenomenin gözlemlenebileceği ormanlar miras bırakabiliriz.

Burada bende konuya dahil olmak istiyorum. Açıkçası hayatımda bir kez gittiğim Gülhane parkında taç utangaçlığı dikkatimi çekerken Sakarya’daki ormanlık alanlarda pek gözlemlenebilen bir fenomen değil. Belki ağaçtan ağaca değişen bir fenomendir.

Formerly eager optimist, presently gloomy pessimist, I’m afraid. The planet will survive us/the Anthropocene, of course, as it has survived other great extinction pulses. But that’s about the best I can say
—  Writer Robert Macfarlane, in response to a question in Scotland Outdoors as to whether he is optimistic or pessimistic about the environment and our chances of avoiding catastrophe.

“[T]his dictionary [Home Ground] proceeds, lyrically renewing a language of place. The aim of Home Ground … was to recall and to explore [such] language … because we believed in an acquaintance with it, that using it to say more clearly and precisely what we mean, would bring us a certain kind of relief [and] would draw us closer to … landscapes’. This is the language … that ‘keeps us from slipping off into abstract space’.

It is true that once a landscape goes undescribed and therefore unregarded, it becomes more vulnerable to unwise use or improper action.”

Robert Macfarlane, from Landmarks (Penguin, 2016)

Mountain ★★★★★


MOUNTAIN is a unique cinematic and musical collaboration: an epic odyssey through the Earth’s most awesome landscapes, showing the spellbinding force of high places – and their ongoing power to shape our lives and our dreams.


Film Review:


Mountain is a film about Life and celebrating one of the greatest wonders on Earth, our mountains. It is a fascinating collaboration between music, words and pictures that tell a magnificent story about mountains and how humans have evolved through time in search for bigger adventures.  

This film, directed by Jennifer Peedom and words by Robert Macfarlane with brilliant music lead by the artistic director of ACO Richard Tognett and narrated by Willem Defoe, created a one of a kind artwork. It is in itself a unique and breathtaking experience. The awe and astoundment in the existence of these massive buildings of nature in which humans were primarily afraid of and are now allured by its strength and beauty.

Most importantly, this film brings a powerful message of environmental awareness when it also documented a time-lapse of destruction and modification of these well-revered mountains, cheapened to accommodate personal leisure and sports.  A truly inspiring essay film that is both philosophical and mind blowing that brings us to a realisation of our limits as human beings. As well as our purpose on this planet.

In NZ Cinemas: October 5, 2017

Close friends called him ‘The Boy’: a Peter-Panish nickname - a charm against ageing, a chrism against death. He was handsome: an angular face, large dark eyes, a sloped nose, dark hair, long fingers always holding brush, pen or cigarette. He liked tennis, billiards, propellers, winter, the shadowlessness of sea light, northerliness, ceramic, boxwood, crystal and ice. Fastidious but also impetuous, he had a habit of putting his head out of train windows and losing his hat to the wind.
—  Robert Macfarlane describing Eric Ravilious.
The road atlas makes it easy to forget the physical presence of terrain, that the countries we call England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales comprise more that 5,000 islands, 500 mountains and 300 rivers. It refuses the idea that long before they were political, cultural and economic entities, these lands were places of stone, wood and water.
—  Robert Macfarlane, from The Wild Places.
Wandering With Purpose: How Bruce Chatwin Rose Above The Travel Writing Industry

1. “[Chatwin’s] The Songlines begins as a novel before fraying into a commonplace book, in which a ragbag of quotations from two decades of reading about restlessness are deployed in lieu of an argument….."I’ve never seen anything like it in modern literature, a complete hybrid between fiction and philosophy,” he modestly remarked to Elizabeth Chatwin in 1983, having reached the second chapter. “It takes the form of about six excursions into the outback with a semi-imaginary character…during which the narrator and He have long conversations…Needless to say the models for such an enterprise are Plato’s Symposium and the Apology….”

2.  "Really, though, Chatwin was right: there had been nothing like it, and his patent was so strong that there has been nothing like it since. He wrote in his lifetime five books that were not only entirely different from anything that had come before but - much harder, this - entirely different from each other. He saved travel writing by changing its mandate: after Chatwin, the challenge was to find not originality of destination, but originality of form.“

3.  "Among those who have followed Chatwin, the most interesting have forged new forms specific to their chosen subjects: thus Pico Iyer’s sparkily hyperconnective studies of globalized culture and William Least Heat-Moon’s "deep maps” of America’s lost regions. Perhaps most important were W.G. Sebald’s enigmatic “prose fictions” - particularly The Rings Of Saturn - that likewise hover between genres, make play with unreliability, and fold in other forms: traveler’s tale, antiquarian digression, and memoir. What Sebald, like so many of us, learned from Chatwin was that the travelogue could voyage deeply in time rather than widely in space, and that the interior it explored need not be the heart of a place but the mind of the traveler.“

- Robert Macfarlane, Voyagers: The Restless Genius of Patrick Leigh Fermor and Bruce Chatwin, Harper’s, November 2011